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Destination Weddings

Disney cruise wedding?

So! After a lot of postponing and shuffling and messing around with dates and what-ifs and stuff, we've decided that what we really want is an intimate wedding at sea with just us, our parents, and our two closest friends and their spouses which basically means we're having an 8-person total headcount. So we wanted to do something special and have our wedding on a Disney cruise. I've taken their cruises before and their service is unparalleled, so I assumed their wedding planning services would be the same. And so far they have! Except there's one tiny problem.

Apparently if you have a Disney cruise wedding, they won't marry you at sea. Well, they WILL, but they insist on doing two ceremonies: the legal ceremony while docked on embarkation day, and then the "real" ceremony at sea. I'm obviously not thrilled about this. Right now we haven't booked anything yet and I haven't had the date confirmed, but it's possible the way Disney sets up times and dates for ceremonies that our legal ceremony would happen in port, and then the full-blown wedding would happen up to a week later. Our other option is to do a courthouse ceremony before leaving, but that just FURTHER separates the dates and I don't want to do that.

Now I looked around on the site a little but so far it seems everyone here has done Princess/Celebrity/Carnival etc. and they've all done the ones where you're in port and then leave for the cruise after the ceremony. Has anyone here done a Disney cruise wedding? Did you have any luck getting them to do the legal and personal ceremonies on the same day (i.e. were you able to have your actual wedding be on embarkation day)? If not, how did you deal with having separate ceremonies? Help please! I want my Disney cruise wedding but I'm having such a hard time reconciling my wedding-at-sea dream with the idea of having separate legal and personal ceremonies!!!
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Re: Disney cruise wedding?

  • ooh sorry lemme clarify...I know you can't technically get married on "international waters" which was why I asked if anyone had any luck getting them to do the actual ceremony on embarkation day (aka the day you have to have your legal ceremony anyway because you're still at port). 
  • And no Disney does not let you just get married at the dock and then let your guests leave like Princess does, you can't get through their security without a ticket to the cruise so we'd have to have them actually cruise with us to witness the ceremony. but we've got that all worked out with our VIPs so that's also not an issue...I just wanted to know if anyone's had any luck getting them to hold the symbolic/personal/whatever you wanna call it ceremony on embarkation day along with the legal ceremony.
  • so I just talked to a Disney rep for like forever and it comes down to this: I can request a certain day/time for my ceremony but in the end it'll be scheduled in accordance with other onboard activities...which, given that they're gonna be out in the ocean and can't just pull extra staff from somewhere, makes perfect sense. She also said that in most cases it's literally impossible to have the "big" ceremony on embarkation day because it's such a busy time. which...again, fair enough.

    So what it comes down to is this: 1) I will have 2 ceremonies if I do the Disney cruise, and 2) 99.9999% chance they'll be at least one or two days apart. No getting around that. *sigh*

    I did consider just doing the whole thing in a courthouse at home and then just going on the cruise for a honeymoon but that idea wasn't half as popular with fiance/mom/everyone else, and honestly I still love my idea of a cruise wedding...I'm just going to have to be flexible about the date and time, I guess. lucky for me too, Disney rep also said that since our party is so small, all of our witnesses can be at both ceremonies so that's something.
  • so I just talked to a Disney rep for like forever and it comes down to this: I can request a certain day/time for my ceremony but in the end it'll be scheduled in accordance with other onboard activities...which, given that they're gonna be out in the ocean and can't just pull extra staff from somewhere, makes perfect sense. She also said that in most cases it's literally impossible to have the "big" ceremony on embarkation day because it's such a busy time. which...again, fair enough.

    So what it comes down to is this: 1) I will have 2 ceremonies if I do the Disney cruise, and 2) 99.9999% chance they'll be at least one or two days apart. No getting around that. *sigh*

    I did consider just doing the whole thing in a courthouse at home and then just going on the cruise for a honeymoon but that idea wasn't half as popular with fiance/mom/everyone else, and honestly I still love my idea of a cruise wedding...I'm just going to have to be flexible about the date and time, I guess. lucky for me too, Disney rep also said that since our party is so small, all of our witnesses can be at both ceremonies so that's something.
    But wouldn't the second ceremony feel phony and ridiculous to you? Why would you even have a second ceremony if you're already legally married? 

    That would be like setting up a stage and hiring an actor (or asking a friend) to hand you a fake diploma because you didn't attend your high school graduation. 
    I see it as the same way, it is just bizarre to me. I also admittedly don't understand cruise weddings, even if all the guests are being paid for (which I hope is the case for OP, Disney cruises are some of the most expensive cruises and it's asking a lot of your guests). I always wonder "why not just get married at home and take a cruise honeymoon". It's playing pretend and personally it sounds so awkward to participate it or watch, it's 100% fake and for show, so why do it at all? I hope all the guests will know they're going to have to sit through a reenactment  even after witnessing the original actual wedding. Really, why not just not do the second "ceremony" and only have a party, if you insist on going through with this at all? 
    ernursejahoyweddingstewykins43
  • MRDCleMRDCle
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    Why have two if everyone will be at both? If scheduling is the issue for the cruise line it seems like paring this down to one ceremony would make things easier on everyone. 
    ahoywedding
  • So! First off, sorry if this comes off as snippy but...it really is no one's business who's paying for my wedding, but rest assured no one is going to be improperly hosted. (I'm with y'all on that...making my best friend pay $3k to be my bridesmaid is not something I'd be comfortable with. at all.) I did, like I said, consider doing it all at home and just going on the cruise for a honeymoon but fiance said (and family agreed) that was a "lame compromise" and we should all do the cruise together. And I agreed.

    And I see a lot of "but can't you get them to just do the one?" so lemme reiterate if I COULD just have the one ceremony and still have my cruise wedding, I would. But the rep I talked to made it very clear, there's just too much going on during embarkation day to have both ceremonies in port. If I want a cruise wedding, I have to deal with that, so deal with that I shall. Not my favorite aspect of it for sure, but I've come to terms with it...both ceremonies are equally important and will be "real" to us, so that's all that really matters.

    So it's not ideal to have separate civil and formal ceremonies, but it's not the worst thing in the world. Everyone's on board with it, fiance thinks it'll be fun, family is excited (my dad is REALLY excited about "getting to walk me down the aisle twice"...I didn't really have the heart to tell him it probably won't be much of an aisle at the civil ceremony lol) and I don't see anything super "wrongwrongwrong" about it, just a little offbeat. so...I think this is about where we're at. Sorry to bother everyone, I'd hoped there'd be at least one person here who had "been there done that" and done a DCL wedding but thanks anyway :)
  • So! First off, sorry if this comes off as snippy but...it really is no one's business who's paying for my wedding, but rest assured no one is going to be improperly hosted. (I'm with y'all on that...making my best friend pay $3k to be my bridesmaid is not something I'd be comfortable with. at all.) I did, like I said, consider doing it all at home and just going on the cruise for a honeymoon but fiance said (and family agreed) that was a "lame compromise" and we should all do the cruise together. And I agreed.

    And I see a lot of "but can't you get them to just do the one?" so lemme reiterate if I COULD just have the one ceremony and still have my cruise wedding, I would. But the rep I talked to made it very clear, there's just too much going on during embarkation day to have both ceremonies in port. If I want a cruise wedding, I have to deal with that, so deal with that I shall. Not my favorite aspect of it for sure, but I've come to terms with it...both ceremonies are equally important and will be "real" to us, so that's all that really matters.

    So it's not ideal to have separate civil and formal ceremonies, but it's not the worst thing in the world. Everyone's on board with it, fiance thinks it'll be fun, family is excited (my dad is REALLY excited about "getting to walk me down the aisle twice"...I didn't really have the heart to tell him it probably won't be much of an aisle at the civil ceremony lol) and I don't see anything super "wrongwrongwrong" about it, just a little offbeat. so...I think this is about where we're at. Sorry to bother everyone, I'd hoped there'd be at least one person here who had "been there done that" and done a DCL wedding but thanks anyway :)
    To the bolded though - that's not really true.  You're entering into a legally binding arrangement.   Both ceremonies can't be real unless you're talking legal vs. religious binding that you can see happening in European countries.   

    So what *is* the formal ceremony?  Is it a religious ceremony?   It can't be legal so what's the actual difference?  

    If the second is more of a the theatrical part then you're not having two wedding ceremonies.  You're having one wedding and another that's.....wedding adjacent.  If everyone is on board and understands that you're being totally honest with what's happening then that's fantastic.   But the second ceremony isn't your wedding. 
    justsieMyNameIsNotahoyweddingshort+sassy
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Just to be clear, EVERYONE invited on this cruise will be invited to, and aware of, your legal marriage prior to the cruise?

    It definitely seems anti-climactic, to say the least, but as long as EVERYONE is aware and willing to go along with it, then .......  I have to wonder, however, whether the guests were aware of this “arrangement” prior to committing to the cruise.
    InLoveInQueensernursejahoyweddingstewykins43
  • I’m planning a destination wedding as well. This is a long post, but it’s intended for the original poster and future destination wedding brides/grooms who I felt perhaps need this.

    I found it super helpful to join the resort’s bridal Facebook page set up by another bride. The other brides had so many tips about how to get married. I’m sure they can help you with specifics. If you don’t have a Facebook, make one for this reason. I’m not in your shoes about the wedding legalities, but what if you did the symbolic ceremony at sea and then just waited to come home and have a justice of the peace marry you after? It would depend on if your area would require witnesses or not, but it would strictly be for legal purposes so anyone could be a witness. That way you wouldn’t have to have 2 ceremonies. Another option would be to have a small ceremony and dinner at home, provided that everyone lived in the same city, and then just do a Disney cruise vacation together. Your vows are not make believe or pretend. Please don’t feel hurt by people saying this. It’s their views and in their area it’s the norm so they are trying to give you info based on how the majority would feel. 

    I had a friend who was married before it was legal for gay people to be and they encountered people telling them their vows were pretend if it’s not legal. Several Vietnamese people I know who went to the courthouse for their legal wedding and then did their traditional wedding were told by Caucasian co-workers invited to their reception “the dead can’t marry you” and it’s all “pretend” completely ignoring the fact that asking family and ancestor permission is older than their countries laws. Harsh and hateful words like “pretty princess dress party” were used about their Ao Dai. Simply because their culture/religion did not fit into the the laws of the land. And key word, they felt ENTITLED to have been invited to a ceremony reserved for family. A former roommate’s parents didn’t have a legal wedding for years where they lived in South Africa because they weren’t the same race and in the early 80’s it wasn’t allowed. So they had their ceremony and then had a legal wedding later at the courthouse. People have different religions and to some their religion is state law. I know your issue isn’t a case of culture, religion or persecution, but one of whether or not your vows mean something. And I’m sure they do. The people commenting are sharing western views of state law being 1st. Before anything else. They are commenting about what the majority would feel is most important, which is that the legal ceremony IS the ceremony. Nothing else trumps that. Do you, your groom, your parents, and your guests feel that way? Or are your vows and commitment to each other enough? I think if all of you are in agreement then the laws of the land can wait until you’re actually on land. 

    Side note: Having a family/friends vacation was so appreciated by everyone. My guest list almost doubled because people wanted to go so much! Especially since we all vacation together anyways and our families live all over the world. Plus it’s way easier/cheaper to get people into Mexico right now than the US. Visitor visas are super cheap in Mexico. I’ve had several comments of how great it’s going to be to spend days getting to know each other instead of a few hours. I think if you’re looking for an intimate wedding you are going to have an amazing one with the cruise idea. 

    Also, when it comes to payment don’t worry. Lots of people vacation in small groups and they don’t expect the person who invited them to pay. No one forces people to go on vacation with them. Just like no one forces people to go to weddings. You go if you want to and have the means to. The only people we paid for their stay was parents and siblings. Everyone else wanted to vacation with us. And some even invited themselves because they were so excited. We were thrilled to have so many people want to join. What most people don’t know about destination weddings is that you still pay for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception (just like they do). Plus, you pay more on favors because we do gift bags. I think some people assume it’s free. Also, I’ve asked 15 brides from my area who have had home weddings and invited people from out of town if they paid for their hotel rooms and all 15 said they did not pay for out of town guests. I also read a blog where the groom’s family was from New York and the bride’s family was from California and none of the California guests had their hotels paid for by the bride and groom. They simply blocked rooms for them at a discounted rate. So there’s no reason that rule of paying for accommodations should change for a destination wedding. If you don’t pay for hotel rooms here, then you don’t pay for hotel rooms someplace else. One destination bride in my Facebook group said that her parents and cousins hated traveling to weddings that were 5hrs long and it was such a waste to pay for a flight and hotel. So that’s why her family decided to do a destination wedding. She didn’t even want it, but her family thought it was rude not to. To each their own. 

    The opinions of the people attending your wedding is more important than strangers online. Keep in mind that some people may have the means to pay for everyone to go on vacation together or maybe they don’t travel with family/friends. So their views may be stemming from that. Destination weddings put a bad taste in some people’s mouths so realize it’s coming from their experiences. In the end whoever pays gets to decide and no one has to go if they don’t want to or don’t feel comfortable. Remember that it is your guests who matter. These are the people who will be in your lives forever and it is their feelings you don’t want alienated.

    I hope you have a beautiful wedding and everything works out perfectly. Good luck finding the Facebook page! 


  • Thanks again to everyone who replied! :)

    To MobKaz - yes everyone is aware of the 2-ceremony setup. Believe me it was discussed at length, best friend and mom in particular have borne the brunt of my "but is it a REAL wedding if we have to do it twice?" angsting. EVERYONE knows what'll go down on the cruise.

    To banana468 - they're both our wedding, there's just a part-1, part-2 aspect to it. totally understand it's not everyone's cup of tea (like I said before I had a certain amount of do-we-really-want-to-bother with the whole thing) but we've gotten to a point where we're okay with that.

    to megs_tx - yes! I found the disboards and. dude. SO HELPFUL. you know what though? I found the posts of another friend of mine who had her wedding at Epcot. she wanted to be married in France but didn't want to do the two-ceremonies thing and DEFINITELY didn't want to live in France for 40 days prior to the wedding, so the France pavilion was her compromise. So...I didn't know this before...but even with cruise fare for 10 AND the wedding package? my wedding is STILL going to cost less than hers. Disney DOES NOT mess around when it comes to prices, lemme tell you...buuut off-topic.

    I know it doesn't really "matter" in the long run what strangers on the 'net think of my wedding plans but I'd still like to thank everyone for their input again anyway. Wedding planning can be a pain in the rear and it always helps to hear from people who have been in my shoes. so I totally appreciate everyone taking time from their busy day to answer my questions :)
    MobKaz[Deleted User]ernursej
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Well, honestly, you still are never going to have a cruise wedding at sea, are you? Your wedding is going to be on the embarkation dock no matter what reinactment is done later.

    Have you thought of doing your ceremony/ reception on one of those harbour cruises? That way you can still be legally married on the water. Then you can go on your cruise honeymoon. 
    MyNameIsNotInLoveInQueensshort+sassy
  • Disney cruise weddings are beautiful. Pretty sure all cruise weddings are done in a port for legal reasons. I would trust Disney they seem to have theirs stuff together. It will still turn out!
  • So I might be confused but why have two ceremonies at all? Will they not incorporate the religious/spiritual/whatever elements in the dock wedding? Can you have the reception on embarkation day? I get why they won’t do two ceremonies but why not just have one? (My apologies if I’m reading this all wrong). 
    MyNameIsNotahoyweddingeileenrobInLoveInQueens
  • MRDCleMRDCle
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    So I might be confused but why have two ceremonies at all? Will they not incorporate the religious/spiritual/whatever elements in the dock wedding? Can you have the reception on embarkation day? I get why they won’t do two ceremonies but why not just have one? (My apologies if I’m reading this all wrong). 
    This is where I'm at.  If everyone is going to be at the first, legal one, I don't understand why there would be a second?
    ahoyweddingcharlotte989875InLoveInQueensjustsie
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    MRDCle said:
    So I might be confused but why have two ceremonies at all? Will they not incorporate the religious/spiritual/whatever elements in the dock wedding? Can you have the reception on embarkation day? I get why they won’t do two ceremonies but why not just have one? (My apologies if I’m reading this all wrong). 
    This is where I'm at.  If everyone is going to be at the first, legal one, I don't understand why there would be a second?
    Ditto this. Given the circumstances, I could see why they might decide to dress up for the "reception" and photos a few days later at sea, but with the real ceremony on the dock, a second "ceremony" is completely pointless and silly. I would feel so ridiculous pretending to get married again 3 days after I got married. (Or 3 hours or 3 years or whatever.) Once it's done, it's done. You're married, so go celebrate. Marriage is binary. You don't need multiple ceremonies for it to take.

    Considering everyone will be at the real ceremony and knows what's going on, it's not a lie or etiquette issue. It's just silly to have a pretend ceremony for what? Photos?
    ShesSoColdInLoveInQueens
  • MRDCle said:
    So I might be confused but why have two ceremonies at all? Will they not incorporate the religious/spiritual/whatever elements in the dock wedding? Can you have the reception on embarkation day? I get why they won’t do two ceremonies but why not just have one? (My apologies if I’m reading this all wrong). 
    This is where I'm at.  If everyone is going to be at the first, legal one, I don't understand why there would be a second?
    I'm going to guess for pictures. 

    I'm glad everyone is on the same page in this situation, but I'm going to say it's still odd and lurkers, don't use this situation as justification for your own PPD.
    InLoveInQueensMyNameIsNotjustsiestewykins43
  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya
    Moderator 5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its
    mod
    MobKaz said:
    @brideofskellingtonsaid, "To MobKaz - yes everyone is aware of the 2-ceremony setup. Believe me it was discussed at length, best friend and mom in particular have borne the brunt of my "but is it a REAL wedding if we have to do it twice?" angsting. EVERYONE knows what'll go down on the cruise."


    While it may not be my personal cup of tea, if your guest list is completely aware of all components, then who am I to judge.  Thanks for your willingness to listen, debate, clarify, and respond.
    I agree with this. I obviously think a separate "symbolic" (seriously how is a legal wedding NOT symbolic?!) is ridiculous, but who in the hell am I? Everyone involved knows what's going on with the wedding and is agreeing to pay for this cruise, etc., so you've got it figured out. 

    I also agree with Kaz and want to thank you, OP for your openness and not getting defensive. That's unfortunately rare and refreshing here. Good luck to you.
    Image result for someecard betting someone half your shit youll love them forever
    InLoveInQueensMobKazahoyweddingshort+sassy
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    I find it funny that the vision of an intimate wedding is being carried out on a ship holding thousands of strangers.


    justsieahoywedding
  • MRDCleMRDCle
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    Heyyyy so I'm not sure if anyone's still reading this thread but I just wanted to give y'all an update just in case...

    So I tried, guys. I tried really hard--I'm sure it came across in my posts how hard I was trying--to be okay with and justify the two ceremonies thing, but in the end I just never quite reconciled it. I know that in plenty of countries it's a THING to do a legal ceremony and then have a fun/symbolic/formal/whatever you wanna call it ceremony the next day but, well, we're American and that's not really done here. I said a couple of posts ago that "both would feel equally real to us"--the more I thought about it, the more I felt like in the end, NEITHER would feel real. The real ceremony wouldn't feel official because it wouldn't have everything we wanted; the reenactment ceremony wouldn't feel real because it wouldn't be legal. I really wanted my Disney wedding and I tried very hard to get them to do the ceremony on the same day as the reception, and then I tried harder to justify having multiple ceremonies...but in the end it's just not worth it to me.

    So we've changed plans AGAIN (if y'all only knew...this is like the fourth time we've gotten 3/4 of the way through planning a thing and then discarded it "because reasons") and we're going to instead have our ceremony at my church, then treat our parents and best friends to lunch, drinks, and a game at our favorite baseball stadium...then we'll save the cruise for our honeymoon. Still quirky, still fun, still very much "us," but this way we only have to get married once. Fiance and dad are SLIGHTLY disappointed about the loss of a ship captain-officiated wedding (fiance thought it was romantic; Dad thought it was "just really f'ing cool!") but they can't argue that this is definitely more cost-effective and WAY more chill.

    Sorry for the rollercoaster ride! :P But thanks again for any and all advice even though in the end I didn't go through with the original plan. Still very much appreciated :)
    As long as you’re treating everyone at the ceremony to the lunch and drinks, I think this is a great compromise. 
    STARMOON44
  • I love your new plan! There was a poster on here a while ago who did a similar thing and it sounded like it went really well. I'm kind of jelly! Congrats :) 
    short+sassy
  • MobKaz said:
    To lurkers attempting to plan a PPD, please note.  If you have to try "really hard" when planning more than your actual wedding ceremony, realize it is NOT worth it.  You fool no one, including yourself.

    Your wedding sounds awesome!  Congratulations!
    This x100. We were tying ourselves up in knots trying to decide what was most important, whether it was the legal ceremony or the "fun" ceremony, and trying to figure out what we could do to make both ceremonies special...in the end it was just too much money, time, and effort spent on something that in the end wasn't going to work out the way we wanted...as noted a few times Disney weddings are HELLA EXPENSIVE, if you're going to spend that much it needs to be worth it, you know? Again I'm not knocking the separation of the legal/formal ceremonies, I know that can be a cultural thing and I don't want to be insensitive, it's just that for us it didn't feel right and I am all about ditching the parts of a wedding that aren't right for you, or don't feel "worth it" to you.
    redwoodoriginaljustsieNBSquared2017
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Congrats! I think your wedding plans sound great.

    And now you can relax on your cruise and not worry about planning the ceremony. I hope you have a fab time.
    STARMOON44
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