Etiquette for Cruise Destination Weddings
Whether you're considering a wedding cruise through the Bahamas or an all-inclusive Disney cruise, you will need to accommodate your wedding guests and give them time to make necessary plans.
Planning your fairytale wedding, honeymoon and a vacation all in one is now possible by utilizing a cruise destination wedding. Once you and your soon-to-be spouse have set the date and decided on a cruise for your wedding, it's time to think of the proper etiquette for an engagement party, guest list and all of the other details planning a wedding requires. While only three cruise lines (Azamara, Celebrity and Princess) currently offer at-sea ceremonies, most major cruise lines will assist you in planning the ceremony at a port of call, on or off the ship.
As soon as you have your date set and choose a specific cruise, it's time to get your guest list together. Guests do not typically expect the bride and groom to contribute to their travel and accommodations costs; however, it is only proper to give your guests plenty of time to prepare for traveling. It may be easiest to have a single travel agent handle everyone's itinerary, which could lead to group discounts and other perks, as well as resulting in less confusion. Creating a wedding website for all of your guests to get up-to-date information is another thing you can do to accommodate your guests. Either way, send out "save the date" notices at least six months in advance.
Many couples have an engagement party, during which their guests expect (and want to) give the couple a gift. For this reason, it shows poor taste if someone is invited to the engagement party and not the wedding. Only invite people to the engagement party that will be invited to the wedding. If you are planning on only having the two of you, or a very small group, skip the engagement party. Instead, send out wedding announcements right after the ceremony and plan an informal reception later on. Send the invitations separately from the wedding announcements. Handling your cruise destination wedding in this manner will likely prevent any hard feelings from those that are not invited.
Aboard the Cruise
Greeting your guests, if possible, is a nice gesture on your part and lets them know that their attendance is appreciated. Creating a wedding schedule or itinerary is helpful for guests so they know when to be with you and when they should plan alternative activities. For instance, if you and your partner wish to dine alone the night before the wedding, it's a good idea to let your family and friends know that you have set aside that time for just the two of you. This will prevent hurt feelings or awkward situations, as well as allow guests to enjoy their vacation apart from the wedding. Hosting some sort of reception aboard the cruise ship is proper, whether it is a small champagne and hors d'oeuvres or a full sit-down seven-course meal. Many cruise lines offer an on-board wedding planner or organizer to help in these matters. The whole point in having a cruise destination wedding to is to combine the destination wedding with a vacation for all to enjoy.