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Etiquette

Cruise Wedding: Etiquette Disaster or NBD?

Hi everyone!

I lurk a lot, and have found this board to be an amazing resource in helping me design a comfortable and gracious experience for my guests. Please help me decide if a cruise wedding is just a bad idea from an etiquette perspective. I am thinking of doing the ceremony onboard prior to the ship sailing, so we can have nonsailing guests attend as well as anyone who wants to come along for the cruise.

Here is the issue:

The sample timelines for an embarkation point wedding on the ship include everyone arriving at 10:30, including guests. We then wait inside and in the AC (thank god) to be allowed on the ship after it goes  through customs. Everyone gets aboard somewhere between 11:15 and 12:30. That time is variable because the boat can be late, customs can take longer than anticipated, etc.

Then, the ceremony starts at 1:00. Heavy hors d'oeuvres and open bar for 1.5 hours, then nonsailing guests depart the ship about 3.

At least 80% of our guest list lives within an hour of the port, but none of our VIPs. I very much doubt we will have anyone who chooses to come on the cruise.

So, it is possible that our guests leave their homes at 9:15ish, don't eat until 1:45, and then it is just apps.

I am obviously not thrilled with this setup from a host point of view.

Would it be acceptable if the guests could go directly to the reception area and start on the open bar and apps at that time? Should I just try and switch all this to a luncheon, possibly with apps in the reception area prior to the ceremony?

What do you guys think about the amount of time everyone has to wait to be allowed on the ship? I can't do anything about this part, so if that kills this idea I won't worry about fixing the food situation.

Thank you so much for your help, in advance. It is such a comfort to know there is a source of no bullshit, correct etiquette advice.
KnotRiley

Re: Cruise Wedding: Etiquette Disaster or NBD?

  • Hi everyone!

    I lurk a lot, and have found this board to be an amazing resource in helping me design a comfortable and gracious experience for my guests. Please help me decide if a cruise wedding is just a bad idea from an etiquette perspective. I am thinking of doing the ceremony onboard prior to the ship sailing, so we can have nonsailing guests attend as well as anyone who wants to come along for the cruise.

    Here is the issue:

    The sample timelines for an embarkation point wedding on the ship include everyone arriving at 10:30, including guests. We then wait inside and in the AC (thank god) to be allowed on the ship after it goes  through customs. Everyone gets aboard somewhere between 11:15 and 12:30. That time is variable because the boat can be late, customs can take longer than anticipated, etc.

    Then, the ceremony starts at 1:00. Heavy hors d'oeuvres and open bar for 1.5 hours, then nonsailing guests depart the ship about 3.

    At least 80% of our guest list lives within an hour of the port, but none of our VIPs. I very much doubt we will have anyone who chooses to come on the cruise.

    So, it is possible that our guests leave their homes at 9:15ish, don't eat until 1:45, and then it is just apps.

    I am obviously not thrilled with this setup from a host point of view.

    Would it be acceptable if the guests could go directly to the reception area and start on the open bar and apps at that time? Should I just try and switch all this to a luncheon, possibly with apps in the reception area prior to the ceremony?

    What do you guys think about the amount of time everyone has to wait to be allowed on the ship? I can't do anything about this part, so if that kills this idea I won't worry about fixing the food situation.

    Thank you so much for your help, in advance. It is such a comfort to know there is a source of no bullshit, correct etiquette advice.

    I think that's a very, very long time to make guests sit around and wait without food. If they don't get up early enough to eat breakfast before leaving (I know a lot of people who usually skip breakfast) that means they go the entire day without eating, till 1:45. That doesn't seem good. 
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  • sarahuflsarahufl New York member
    Tenth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I went to a wedding like this once. It was a total disaster (partially because of the couple, but that is a whole other story).

    It was A LOT of effort for what ended up being about 2 hours of actual "wedding" time. Can you find a place near the port instead?
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    Sioux1986poodledoodleoooAprilH81PrettyGirlLost
  • sarahufl said:

    I went to a wedding like this once. It was a total disaster (partially because of the couple, but that is a whole other story).

    It was A LOT of effort for what ended up being about 2 hours of actual "wedding" time. Can you find a place near the port instead?

    This seems like the best idea.
  • Based on the information you're giving, I would probably not go.   I think the better alternative is to get married before the cruise or plan a vacation to the area of the guests and get married there.

    I feel like this just has logistical nightmare written all over it.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I agree with PP.  I would have your ceremony and reception the day before your cruise is set to leave.  That way you are able to host your guests correctly and your guests won't be standing around for hours for quick ceremony and a few apps and a drink.

    I find cruise weddings to be logistical nightmares unless all of the wedding guests are also passengers on the cruise, then not so much.

  • I have never been to a wedding like this but if I were to get an invite with the information you provided I would not attend. Well, maybe but there are less than 6 people in my life I would do this for.

    It is just too much waiting around. I have to get up early, probably drive an hour or so, park, wait to get on a boat, get on a boat, wait, see you get married, eat a few apps, then get off a boat, get in the car, drive an hour. Gross. That just killed me entire Saturday for like 2 hours of actual stuff.

    I agree with PP that suggested having a wedding near the port then just you and the new hubby jumping on the boat for your honeymoon.
    [Deleted User]PrettyGirlLost
  • blabla89blabla89 Atlanta member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Name Dropper
    My FSIL got married last year and most of her guests (10 or so) went on a cruise with them immediately afterward. They had a ceremony on a pier at the beach, and then a little reception at a nearby hotel where they were staying. Afterward everyone went up to their rooms, changed clothes and checked out, and made it to the boat by 3:00. Logistically, it worked out really well. I recommend looking into something like this.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker



  • sarahuflsarahufl New York member
    Tenth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    IMO, unless ALL of your guests are joining you on the cruise, I would not have the wedding on the boat.
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  • novella1186novella1186 member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    edited April 2015

    Thank you so much for the feedback. I agree with all of you that the way these are set up is very rude to guests. While I might be able to solve the food issue, I definitely can't solve the "reverse gap" and it is possible my people couldn't even get to food until after 1. Totally unacceptable.

    Thanks for helping me figure out I need to cross this option off the list. We don't have a big budget so it would have been a disastrous mistake.

    If you don't have a big budget, I think it would be awesome to do a brunch wedding (just my opinion). Find a venue in the port city, as PP suggested, and host your guests properly with delicious brunch. It's usually less expensive than other meals, especially since I doubt people would expect alcohol. Just coffee, juice, water, stuff like that (eta and food, obviously). Or you could throw in bloody marys and mimosas. Delicious! THAT is a wedding I would be very excited to attend. 
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    [Deleted User]SP29momofbride530PrettyGirlLost
  • I have been trying to figure out how to do that. Should have that remedied today.

    And thank you!
    levioosanovella1186
  • HeatherKatHeatherKat the Frozen Tundra member
    Ninth Anniversary 500 Love Its 100 Comments Name Dropper

    I have been trying to figure out how to do that. Should have that remedied today.

    And thank you!

    PM @KnotRiley with a couple of options and she can change it for you.

    Welcome!
    Amor vincet omnia.... par liones.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker

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  • Brunch is definitely one of the options we are considering because Yay Brunch and Bottomless Mimosas! We also have a plethora of special diets to accommodate and taking everyone to an upscale brunch buffet would be delicious, zero stress, and everyone could find many things to eat that work for them. If we can keep the guest list under or about 50 then this is definitely one of my favorite options.

    The only issue with that is whether my partner is set on a church wedding. He goes back and forth on that, which makes me think we probably should so he doesn't regret not doing that. His church is in a location where there are very few venues around for brunch, or anything really. If that is what he feels he wants, then we will probably do a cake/punch/beer and wine and champagne/heavy hors d'oeuvres reception in their community room. It's requires a lot more effort in the form of getting the room ready and hiring help the day of, but it would be lovely too.

    We are kind of at the stage of figuring out our guest list and finalizing budget numbers, so while everything is a possibility right now I do want to throw out the stuff that is just a bad idea. You guys have been super helpful with that. I am sure I will be back to run more things by you as we zero in on a concept.

    It's such a relief to have somewhere to ask these things that will give a correct and truthful answer. I don't need smoke blowing about something as important as my wedding day.

    was he on board (pun not intended) with the cruise ship ceremony idea or was it just an idea you were exploring? Or did the boat have a chapel and that made it ok for him with regard to getting married in a church? 
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I'm glad you are rethinking this. The thought of going through customs and security to just see a ceremony makes my head spin. I hate going through it when I am going on holiday. Also, do all your guests own passports? I would never think to bring my passport to a wedding, but they may be required to go through customs in this case. 

    Glad to hear you are exploring other options!
  • @kvruns: It was something I was exploring if he decided a church wedding was not necessary. Some ships have chapels, some don't, but none would work for him. If it turns out a church wedding is one of his must haves then it will be a reception at the church. I am fine with his church, my church, or no church, as long as our people are taken care of and we end up married.

    @LondonLisa: one of the nice things is that nonsailing guests don't go through all that, they just give their photo ID (no passport required) to the crew member in charge of priority boarding and get a pass. When they get off before the ship sails they get their ID back. The hitch is really that I can't guarantee when they can board, so that's a debacle.

    @HeatherKat: Thank you so much! You just saved me a lot of time. Much appreciated.
  • sarahufl said:

    IMO, unless ALL of your guests are joining you on the cruise, I would not have the wedding on the boat.

    I was about to reply that I think it should be at least 80% of the invited guests joining you on the cruise, to make it worthwhile to get married on the ship. 

    Getting on and off a cruise ship is a logistical nightmare, as you've encountered. It's worth it when you get to spend a week (or at least a few days) on vacation, but not worth is just for a wedding. 
  • @MandyMost: that certainly seems to work better from a logistical standpoint. Having the ceremony the second day with everyone onboard is much more hospitable way to do it. Unfortunately, my family wouldn't come on the cruise, and if they did it would be highly uncomfortable (probably), so I think I will just have to put "cruise wedding" on the "if a secular ceremony is OK, and we elope" list. There are other ways I would rather elope, so it's pretty far down the list.
    [Deleted User]
  • princessleia22princessleia22 Oceanfront Property in Arizona member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer

    I did a cruise wedding last year.  We had about 25 guests attend the wedding, 14 of which decided to join for the cruise and 11 just attended the wedding and left.  Port was out of state for everyone.

    The timeline isn't quite as bad as you stated.  Guests arrived at port at 10:30am, immediately after which they got checked in for boarding.  We boarded the ship right around 11am, so there wasn't too much just waiting around.  And with the reception being shorter timeframe, it was actually nice to sit and chat with the guests for the few minutes we were waiting. After boarding everyone went to the buffet for lunch.  So, they didn't have to wait all day to eat. This also filled their time between boarding and ceremony, which was at 1pm.  They also were free to explore the ship during this time, which many enjoyed (although it made the non-sailing guests wish they had booked for the cruise).  DH and I joined them in buffet quickly (because we didn't want to wait all day to eat either), then went to get dressed. Ceremony was from 1-1:15pm, we did about 15 minutes of photos with guests, then went to reception.  The reception had heavy apps, which were really good.  But, we hadn't informed our guests that there would be heavy apps at the reception, so many wished they hadn't eaten so much at the buffet. Reception ended at 3pm and non-sailing guests left ship. After that, sailing guests went to their rooms or wander while DH and I did posed photos with photographer.  Then we joined back up with sailing guests for dinner that night.

    The people we talked to said that they were surprised about how smoothly the day went and that they never felt bored or like they were waiting for long. They all seemed to really enjoy the wedding and I've had many people come back, even months later to compliment me on how well it went. We did host a pre-wedding pizza party the night before the wedding because we felt bad about everyone traveling there and only having 1.5 hours at reception to spend with them.

     

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  • RezIpsaRezIpsa member
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Name Dropper
    edited April 2015
    @princessleia22: that is exactly the kind of experience that got me interested in the possibility. If I could 100% guarantee (or at least 99%) that the day would proceed as yours did I would be so much more interested.

    However, for every experience like yours I am finding online summaries of folks who couldn't get on the boat until quite late, which meant their guests waited around for quite some time and then couldn't eat before the ceremony. I know people tend to take the Internet to warn others, or just vent about disappointments, but I just don't want to risk ending up in that situation.

    Your day sounds fantastic, and it's nice to hear these can go so well.
  • sophhabobophasophhabobopha The Midwestern tundra member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    I enjoy your rersponce to advice.
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    [Deleted User]sarahufl
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I agree that if the majority of your guests are not sailing, then it is more likely to be a logistical mess.

    I would either get married somewhere near the port, or elsewhere.

    Reception in the church space would require more work on your part, but can also be very budget friendly. 
  • sophhabobopha: Thank you! You guys are doing me the favor of providing guidance when you certainly have no obligation to do so, so the least I can do is listen and do my best to respond graciously. I'm also in my forties, and I have learned that honesty is really rare and really valuable.
  • princessleia22princessleia22 Oceanfront Property in Arizona member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer

    @princessleia22: that is exactly the kind of experience that got me interested in the possibility. If I could 100% guarantee (or at least 99%) that the day would proceed as yours did I would be so much more interested.

    However, for every experience like yours I am finding online summaries of folks who couldn't get on the boat until quite late, which meant their guests waited around for quite some time and then couldn't eat before the ceremony. I know people tend to take the Internet to warn others, or just vent about disappointments, but I just don't want to risk ending up in that situation.

    Your day sounds fantastic, and it's nice to hear these can go so well.



    Yeah, I've seen some bad reviews and boarding delays also.  MOST of the time is seems to go well and as planned, but there are definitely not any guarantees and it's totally out of your control, so there is some risk. The cruise wedding is definitely in a class of it's own because it is an unusual scenario and you have so little control over many things with it. It does require a lot of trust in the system. The big disaster happens if the ship gets delayed boarding by customs, because that throws everything off schedule. Luckily, my day went smoothly and on schedule, our wedding coordinator was absolutely awesome (she is a big part of why our day went so well and as soon as I met her I felt relaxed about the whole day), we liked our officiant, and our photographer was great.  Our DJ sucked, but we didn't let it ruin our day. But, there is a lot out of your control with cruise wedding and things can go wrong. 

    We did plan ahead a bit for contingency.  We did have gift bags that included some snacks, thinking that at least people would have something to munch on if boarding got delayed.  But, I still would have hated to have my guests sitting there for an hour at lunch time and munching on pretzels or cookies.  Luckily they weren't needed and became great snacks on shore days. 

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  • I've been a check-in agent for an international cruise,and I think if organized well and have all the papers required,the embarkation process can be very smooth. And most cruises offer muffins and beverage so your guests won't  starve.



    Muffins and a beverage over the course of the OP's timeline is not sufficient hosting.
    *********************************************************************************

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    PrettyGirlLost
  • dolewhipperdolewhipper [wh]orlando member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    OP, it sounds like you're kicking this idea to the curb, which is great.

    For lurkers who may be interested, I can say that I had a friend who did this. I was not invited, but a few of my friends were, and I can say that without a doubt, although it was easy to get on and off the ship, the wedding itself was not what the bride and groom wanted at the end of the day. It was completely rushed, they cut off many of the spotlight dances within 30 seconds, and was a logistics nightmare for the WP. They knew the whole wedding would be only about 2 hours, but when the day came and went they wished they had more time with their guests.

    I also was part of the WP for a cruise wedding where we were at sea when they held the wedding. A lot of the WP dropped out at the last minute because they couldn't afford the cruise. The bride was bummed, but the wedding itself was really fun. Their photographer wasn't that great though (I had to tell him to keep taking pictures; he would randomly stop at important times like cake cutting and spotlight dances), and you have no control over that.


    imageimage



  • I think I am taking this idea off the table. Thank you to everyone who responded.

    Although I have heard many positive experiences with getting guests on the boat within a half hour of arrival, then guests have lunch, then ceremony, then reception with hors d'oeuvres, there are are also so many tales of guests waiting for two hours due to customs issues, then rushing to the ceremony, then an hors d'oeuvres only reception.

    I personally am not willing to take the risk of being in the second category, no matter how small a risk that may be. My guests would have to leave their homes about 9:00 AM, and then wouldn't eat hors d'oeuvres until 1:30 and without lunch that just isn't acceptable to me. The cruise lines I was investigating do not provide any kind of snack while waiting, and the logistics of trying to cater something on the pier just in case there is a wait makes my head and my wallet hurt. I am aware that things can and do go wrong on the best planned wedding day, but that seems infrequent if you have made adequate contingency plans for things like weather. I am just seeing too many stories of weddings that fall into the above second category for my personal comfort.

    I am cool with not knowing who will photograph the wedding, or the co-originator, until the day of. I personally would be ecstatic to skip having a photographer at all, but I can't see anyone but me being happy about that. Most people seem to consider the photos to be a high priority, so if you are one of those folks, be aware that you may want to investigate bringing your own photographer (sometimes you have to take them on the cruise with you to do this).
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