by Ming Tappin

Are you planning a wedding in the next year or two? If so, consider a wedding in an idyllic, sunny spot in the Caribbean or Mexico or say Aloha to Hawaii.  Or perhaps you’ll venture further afield to French Polynesia, the South Pacific or the Mediterranean -or even exchange vows in a memorable wedding at sea.

AMResorts_DreamsCourtesy of AMResorts

There are so many amazing choices these days, at a vast array of really top-notch hotels and glamorous destinations, that it's almost mind-boggling.

But it's not just about gorgeous beaches and beautiful sunsets; couples these days, especially millennials are seeking cutting-edge nuptial experiences. Some even opting for sunrise weddings, under the water ceremonies or a sky-high ride as they say "I do"!

AMResorts SecretsCourtesy of AMResorts - Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun

The key is to choose a resort or venue that will build a unique wedding experience that suits your ideas, dreams and of course your budget. Most hotels offer the services of a wedding coordinator to help you plan your big day and fulfill your true desires – making life much simpler and removing much of the stress of organizing the big day.

Sandals WeddingCourtesy of Sandals

Sandals is one of the leading travel companies when it comes to romance planning with a wonderful choice of the finest resorts throughout the Caribbean. Another all-star favorite is AMResorts: Secrets, Dreams and Breathless, and there’s also Karisma hotels. All just waiting for you to come and celebrate your big day under sunny skies, and start a lifetime of wonderful memories.  

Weddings at Sea

When couples consider a destination wedding, Mexico, Hawaii, or an idyllic Caribbean island typically comes to mind. But did you know,one of the fastest growing trends is getting married on a cruise!

Carnival WeddingCourtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

A cruise is a great way to tie the knot, as accommodations, meals, entertainment and activities are all included. Nowadays, ships are floating resorts with choices and amenities to suit every taste, budget and interest. The bonus of visiting multiple places, great food and pampering service are just a few elements that make a wedding cruise so alluring. Plus, honeymoon planning is a cinch as you are already onboard!

One of the most romantic nautical nuptials is a wedding at sea.  Imagine the thrill of having the Captain of your magnificent ship conduct your wedding ceremony. Legal weddings at sea are now a popular choice, while sailing majestically across international waters.

If your friends and family can’t join you on the cruise, they can still attend your wedding and reception onboard the ship on embarkation day, before you sail into the sunset. These shoreside weddings can have all the special touches as a wedding at sea.

A third option is to get married at an exotic port of call during the cruise, aboard or ashore. Whether you choose to say your vows on a beautiful beach, tropical garden, or even atop of a glacier, there are a myriad of options to create a wedding to remember.

A cruise wedding includes services of a wedding planner who will look after all the important details, leaving the bride and groom stress-free to enjoy their special day. Couples can choose from a variety packages to suit their wishes and budget – from a simple ceremony for two, to an extravaganza for a few hundred. Basic wedding packages include assistance with obtaining a marriage license, wedding ceremony, flowers for the bride and groom, recorded music, cake, champagne, and photography services. Additional services such as private receptions, upgraded cakes and flowers, formal wear rentals, and bridal hair and make-up are available. Cruise weddings are often more economical than resort weddings, but the sky’s the limit if you want to splurge on your special day!

Princess WeddingCourtesy of Princess Cruises

Here is a look at what each major cruise line offers for destination weddings.

Carnival Cruise Line offers wedding packages onboard their 24 fun ships in a private lounge, or couples can also choose to be married in Mexico, Barbados, Turks & Caicos, and even at a private beach in the Bahamas, in addition to numerous U.S. embarkation ports including Hawaii.  A private reception, and an elegant 4-course lunch with wine in the ship’s dining room can be added on. There are 4 wedding packages to choose from onboard depending on the amount of guests attending.

Celebrity Cruises offers weddings at sea officiated by the Captain, shipboard or shore-side weddings at 24 locations in the Caribbean, Mexico Canada, U.S., Europe & Australia. Lunch or dinner receptions can be booked in one of the ship’s gourmet specialty restaurants. Celebrity even offers a “Test the Waters” consultation package where couples can tour the ship with the wedding coordinator before making their decision to book a wedding cruise.

Norwegian Cruise Line also offers weddings at sea, harbor-side weddings in the Caribbean, Canada & the U.S including Alaska and Hawaii. Destination weddings also include Greece & Mexico. Cocktail receptions or a full service lunch are available onboard, as are upgrades for flowers, cakes and DJ services.

Princess Cruises takes the “Love Boat” concept even further with wedding chapels onboard where couples can tie the knot on embarkation day performed by a local officiant, or at sea officiated by the Captain. Some Princess ships even have wedding cams so loved ones at home won’t miss a minute of your ceremony. Destination weddings are available in 28 locations across Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Mexico, Malta, Greece, Italy, Canada and the U.S. including Alaska and Hawaii. Custom cakes, flowers, receptions and luncheons, and even a champagne waterfall are available for upgrades.

With its fleet of innovative and amenity-filled ships, Royal Caribbean offers unique shipboard wedding venues like the North Star observation pod, Central Park, and even the surf simulator! For the traditional, there are chapels onboard as well.  Island weddings include Bahamas, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel, St. Kitts, St. Lucia & St. Thomas, as are weddings at sea performed by the Captain. Receptions including elaborate buffets can be arranged at any of the ship’s specialty restaurants or lounges.

Originally published in Vacation Magazine Fall/Winter 2016 issue.

 

 

 

 

 

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