How to plan a wedding on the water



If you’re looking for barefoot luxury and want to jump your toes in the sand, look beyond the shores for a non-traditional place where you can surround yourself in something blue. Outdoor events and intimate gatherings are here to stay, and couples looking for a new twist on an outdoor venue may find their perfect match in a wedding. on the water.

At-sea unions can come in all styles, sizes and budgets, and there are specific elements to consider for this type of event depending on the nature of the venue. Coming up, our experts dive in and share everything you need to know about planning a wedding on the water.

The current coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. As the situation continues to flow, we’ll share tips and stories from industry experts to give you the best advice and help you navigate wedding planning today. For the most up-to-date guidelines and the latest travel restrictions and requirements, see the CDC and US Department of State websites.

Should you get married on a boat?

Aside from those who love all things nautical, who should hitch a ride on a boat, yacht or ship? “The ideal bride and groom are those who seek a one-of-a-kind experience not found on earth,” says Janine St. Denis, Event Manager at Northrop & Johnson yacht brokerage. “Those who want a wedding without the cookie cutter – a wedding that is unlike any other wedding they’ve attended, a wedding that will stand out in the minds of their guests their entire lives – that’s ideal. [couples] for a wedding on the water. ”

Despite the obvious appeal of a gorgeous backdrop and an open-air location, these ships may not be the perfect location for everyone – a floating affair is best suited for couples keen to go with the flow. “Weddings on the water are perfect for couples looking for an idyllic setting,” says Sara Bauleke, wedding planner and designer at Bella notte. “As long as they are prepared to keep in mind that the location requires a certain level of flexibility.” Because the weather is more unpredictable on the water, Bauleke says couples should be prepared to plan for multiple scenarios and then be open to making weather-based decisions on the wedding day.

Advantages and disadvantages of getting married on a boat

Liz Chan, wedding planner and designer at Lizzy Liz Events, shares the pros and cons of boating weddings to help you decide if you’re the type of couple willing to drop anchor on that decision.


Chan loves a wedding on the water because of its all-in-one appeal. “[It’s a] cruise and dinner. It’s a great way to feel like a destination wedding without having to take your guests so far, ”says Chan. “Enjoying the sunset, the city lights and being part of nature all in one. What more can you ask for? ”

Plus, with so many different backdrops to choose from, she notes that photos are sure to turn out to be amazing, and these places usually require minimal decor. “It doesn’t make sense to have extravagant large centerpieces on a moving yacht,” she says. “A fun LED dance floor and great entertainment would be more than enough! ”

The inconvenients

As much as you need to be flexible with these events, so much you need to be engaged. “Once you leave the dock, you can’t go back,” Chan warns. “For customers who arrive late, they miss the trip, and those on the boat, cannot leave if they are not feeling well.”

You will need to take into account that some guests may be seasick, so plan to have plenty of motion sickness medication on hand.

Chan also notes that catering can sometimes be tricky depending on the type of vessel you are working with. Smaller yachts will usually only be able to accommodate a drop-down menu. Also, keep in mind that you will also be limited to the number of guests you can have on board while on the water. St. Denis says that a tandem charter is a great option for couples to accommodate more overnight guests for the wedding on board. Yacht charter brokers can take advantage of two, three or more yachts that will embark together, bringing guests together for different events throughout the cruise.

Average cost of getting married on a boat

According to Keith Willard of Keith Willard Events, the cost of a boat, yacht or any other vessel will follow many of the same rules that apply ashore. “The bigger the ship, the higher the cost,” says Willard. “It is also important to consider that some of these places may not have readily available tables, chairs and linens and these should be rented, thus increasing the cost of the wedding. The cost of fuel and tips for the crew will also come into play. He advises asking these questions ahead of time and reviewing the fuel budget about two weeks before your wedding in case of a recent increase in cost per gallon.

Due to the wide variety of options and vessel sizes available, it is difficult to answer the budget question without consulting the specific team or charter broker who is handling your event. Rates can range from $ 5,000 for a one-day micro-wedding on a 55-foot yacht to $ 490,000 for a one-week rental on a 205-foot motor yacht, plus expenses.

When and where to get married on a boat

“A wedding aboard a luxury yacht allows for an exceptional level of flexibility as there is always a beautiful destination with yachts no matter what time of year,” says St. Denis. “The world is your oyster. Even if you want to go out of season, there are probably options for you.” St. Denis shares that top destinations for a summer wedding at sea include the eastern and western Mediterranean or the eastern seaboard of the United States (from Maryland to New York to New England). For a winter wedding, look to the Caribbean, South Florida, Australia, and Southeast Asia, to name a few. You will continue to find several options in the spring all over the Mediterranean, she notes.

Types of vessels

Like any venue, finding the perfect match to kick off your wedding depends on your budget and the number of guests you plan to have on board. While a wedding on the water offers an incredible amount of variety, there are three main categories of vessels you can consider.

Waterfront resorts

“The seaside resorts, such as The Inn at Perry Cabin on the east coast of Maryland, often allow the best of all possible worlds, ”says Bauleke. “The wedding can be held on the lawn, but you can use the resort’s boats to sail with an intimate group at the start of the weekend and then have brunch inside.” This is a great option for couples. with a smaller guest list or guests with reduced mobility who need to stay on land for part of the festivities. Beach resorts will usually have catering events and teams, making the experience the whole experience In addition, guests will have the possibility of staying directly on the property.

Private yacht charter

Rule number one when considering a private yacht? Work with a broker. Similar to the world of real estate, yacht charter brokers work closely with clients to find precisely what they are looking for within their budget and desired location. After an initial consultation, the broker will offer a selection of yachts to choose from and explain the positive and negative aspects of each. “If a client wants to invite many guests to the wedding celebration, the broker suggests they choose a larger vessel for the special day / night, which will stay in a beautiful port,” says Tove Johnson, charter broker for Fraser Boats. “If they want to spend their honeymoon on a yacht, they suggest taking a smaller yacht, and once the party is over the couple can sail wherever they want.”

Cruise lines

One of the main benefits of getting married on a cruise ship is having your location and your honeymoon in the same location. Plus, with access to a spa, hair salon, barber, manicurist and more, these ships have everything you need on deck to ensure you look amazing throughout the event. Another plus, according to Maddalena Gente, event planner at MSC Cruisesis that you have a range of options for the location of your celebration. “If it’s winter and the weather is unpredictable, you can organize your wedding indoors with a glamorous backdrop such as the atrium and the iconic Swarovksi stairs,” says Gente. “In the meantime, if the weather is nice and bright, an open terrace can be an ideal setting.” In terms of destinations, the Caribbean is always a popular choice, she says, but another perk of a cruise ship wedding is that you’ll wake up to a new place every day!

Places to consider

Whether you’re looking for an intimate sunset sail with your loved ones or planning a full-scale deck party with all your friends, you’ll find inspiration for weddings on the water ahead of time.


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