Your Guide to Planning a Cruise Ship Wedding

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Getting married on a cruise can be as easy as making a phone call to the cruise line and speaking with one of their onboard event managers who can help you put everything together. It's sort of like dealing with an all-inclusive resort in that regard.

But before you start cruising the Internet looking for the ship of your dreams, make sure the cruise line you've chosen actually offers at-sea weddings, if that's something important to you. Only a few companies encourage getting married by the captain on open water, most prefer to help you get married in a port of your choice.

Why? Cruise lines are all registered in different countries, and the country and the port of call, as well as the legalities surrounding the marriage license paperwork, are what complicate matters. Some cruise lines have you take care of all the paperwork in your departure port (sometimes right there at the cruise ship terminal) before you start your trip, and then do the ceremonial wedding on the high seas.

A few only offer wedding ceremonies on board, officiated by the captain, before the ship embarks. That kicks off a heck of a honeymoon cruise with all of your friends and loved ones tagging along. If the departure port is within a reasonable distance of your hometown, you may be able to include some guests who won't be able to join you on the honeymoon but would like to be a part of the ceremony.

Celebrity, Princess, and Cunard are among the most popular for saying "I do" at sea with the captain as your officiant. If getting married while the ship is underway is not an option, consider the cruise lines that offer wedding ceremonies on their private islands during a day-long stop. Disney offers both options and gives you a Disney wedding experience without the cost and obligation of getting married in the Orlando or Anaheim resorts.

Many cruise lines offer specific wedding packages for you and your guests, although the pricing may fluctuate based on the time of year. You'll be able to choose your décor, cake, and flowers from options A, B, or C.

The boutique luxury cruise line, Seabourn, has a reputation for planning extraordinary, personalized cruise ship weddings, for those who don't want a "cookie-cutter" package, but they're also one of the most expensive.

If you have a travel agent you've worked with before, this might be the time to bring in an outside professional to help get everything organized for your trip. An experienced travel professional will know which cruise lines offer what and will know how to get you and your guests the most benefits and perks in the package. But if you don't want to deal with all that personally, the cruise lines are happy to play travel coordinator for your guests, and almost all of them offer travel deals to/from the port where the ship departs.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.

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