Traditional weddings have become less of a norm as destination weddings continue to gain in popularity amongst newly engaged couples. They’re different, exciting and allow more versatility than your typical traditional wedding. Destination weddings really give couples an opportunity to think outside of the box and explore their adventurous side.

Have you always dreamed of saying your nuptials on a beach, surrounded by palm trees, while waves crash to shore? Maybe you’ve dreamed of getting married on a ship in the middle of the ocean, true Titanic-style, with your closest friends and family there to support you. Whatever your dream is, it’s possible with a cruise ship wedding.

Cruise ship weddings are a great option you should consider when you’re in the decision-making process of selecting your venue and destination. Many cruise lines offer a variety of services to help you plan your special day, whether it’s shoreside or shipboard. With a cruise ship wedding, either is possible.

Cruise ships have great all-inclusive packages to choose from for your wedding, reception and honeymoon, but before you dive in, read on for eight things you should know when planning a cruise ship wedding.

Book Early

Since cruise wedding have become so popular, you want to book as early as possible to avoid a sold-out ship, especially if you’ve chosen a popular time like the holidays or peak months. As soon as you have your ship chosen, don’t hold off on making it official so you can also let you guests know well in advance.

Choose the Right Cruise Length

Explore different cruise itineraries so you can choose the right one for your wedding. Keep guests in mind when making your final decision because not everyone can afford a longer cruise. Choose something in the middle, like a four-to-seven-day cruise, that way more of your guests can afford to join you. You can even get group cruise rates for your guests.

Broadcast Your Ceremony Live

If you opt out of a port wedding, and decide to get married at sea or on the beach somewhere, find a cruise line that has state-of-the-art-technology so you can broadcast your ceremony live for friends and family who couldn’t make the commitment.

Do Your Research

Not all cruise lines offer onboard weddings, so make sure the one you choose does if that’s what you’re looking for. When you do find a cruise line that supports your nuptials, figure out the details first before booking. Maybe they offer package deals or customized amenities for those in your wedding party. Many larger cruise ship lines offer full-service weddings that include planning and everything else needed to have a wedding.

Find out what packages are available for your top two or three cruise lines, so you can understand all the details before you move forward. Celebrate your big day by pampering yourself over mimosas or taking an exclusive boat ride. Figure out which perks call out you and then compare the best option for you and your hubby.

Watch Out for Seasonal Surcharges

Cruise ship weddings are so popular that many cruise lines levy surcharges for certain times of year. Valentine’s Day, holidays and other preferred wedding months are usually much more expensive than more unpopular off-season times. So, if you’re on a budget, pick a less popular month like March, April or November. There are also destinations more prevalent to hurricanes, so taking that into considering is important as well.

Explore Private Island Weddings

Many cruise lines have private islands available for weddings or vow renewals, so you can have the best of both worlds. Say your vows on the beach, then re-board your ship for the reception.

You can also choose to have your wedding at a certain destination in the Caribbean, Bahamas or elsewhere so local wedding planners can take care of land arrangements and logistics. Then after the wedding, you can dive right into your honeymoon by re-boarding your cruise ship.

Consider a Pre-Sail away Ceremony

If you have guests who can’t go on the cruise, consider a ceremony and reception onboard while the ship is still docked, that way all guests can attend without embarking on an actual cruise. After the ceremony and reception, guests who plan to travel with you can stay onboard for the rest of your adventure.

This is a great way to keep everyone happy. If you choose this option, typically your ceremony and reception will need to begin around midday so you have enough time to celebrate before sail away in the late afternoon.

Make Sure It’s Legal

It can become quite complicated when you get married at sea. Plan well in advance because it can be tricky to legalize a wedding in a foreign port. You may need to do your legal paperwork beforehand and opt for a symbolic ceremony. Some cruise lines will have you take care of all your paperwork in the departure port before the trip begins.

It all depends on what cruise line you choose, so make sure you understand the legal aspects ahead of time. You don’t want to go through the entire ceremony and reception, only to find out it wasn’t legal.

Before you dive into planning your perfect cruise ship wedding, make sure you do the right research and planning, so you can get everything and more than your traditional wedding. The eight things above are especially important to know and consider as you start to make big decisions about your special day. So, don’t rush through anything without understanding every possibility and every aspect that comes with a cruise ship wedding.

While it may seem more complicated to have a wedding at sea because of all the moving parts, you may come to find a perfect all-inclusive option for you and your guests. There are so many details and options to explore, like the duration of your cruise, whether you have your wedding onboard the ship or at port, how to ensure it’s legal beforehand, different wedding packages and more – but with careful planning, you can find a great package that ensures you and your guests have the best time possible celebrating you and your hubby.

Content written by Kacey Mya