For couples planning a wedding, the idea of spending time with loved ones and offering guests a vacation has become more appealing in recent years. (Proof: Twenty percent of couples had a destination wedding in 2015.) Virtuoso travel advisors can double as destination wedding planners, too. My friend Shelly Hilgers recently decided to host her wedding reception at sea (after having a family-only ceremony on land a month earlier), and as we readied to board the ship in Port Canaveral, our group of scattered family and friends popped corks and toasted the newlyweds over Champagne. We spent the next three days sailing around the Caribbean in honor of their marriage, enjoying uninterrupted time together.
Here, three reasons why getting married or hosting a wedding reception at sea are attractive options:
More Quality Time with Loved Ones
Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to maintain long-distance friendships, but that doesn’t mean we don’t crave face time. Dozens came together for Shelly and Patrick’s wedding, from all corners of the U.S. After three days in the Caribbean, sipping poolside cocktails and dining on gourmet meals, old friends had reconnected and new friends had been made.
Enough Freedom to Double as a Vacation
Just as Shelly hoped, her reception felt like a vacation for guests. On board and off, we had the space and flexibility to do as much or as little as we wanted. My husband and I spent our shore day in Nassau touring pirate ships while others went snorkeling or wandered around town. We all met up for an afternoon on the beach before heading back to the ship.
Less Stress for the Newlyweds
Weddings can often seem like a lot of fun for guests, but more like endless stress for the couple. By keeping the ceremony small and the reception non-traditional, Shelly and Patrick traded typical pressures for time with guests. “We were able to enjoy the reception without any planned activities like a first dance or speeches,” said Hilgers. “This made for a great, relaxing time.”
DO IT: Several cruise lines offer an array of wedding and reception packages. Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises can arrange simple or extravagant ceremonies. Smaller, more intimate river-cruise lines including Avalon Waterways and Belmond allow guests to charter entire ships. Virtuoso travel advisors can help select the right cruise, handle group reservations, and organize wedding activities.