Wedding cruises typically refer to an event where the bride, groom, wedding party, and wedding guests will all take a cruise together to witness the wedding and go on vacation together. It is often a type of combined wedding and honeymoon, particularly for people who want to have a destination wedding, but want to make it easier or more affordable for more of their guests to make the trip. Some couples choose to actually get married at sea, on the cruise ship, while others will choose to cruise to a specific destination and then get married there.
It is necessary to do a great deal of planning ahead of time when attempting to plan wedding cruises. Not all cruise lines allow weddings at sea, or are capable of hosting a wedding and reception, so this is the first consideration; many offer weddings in port. Some of the larger cruise lines will offer package deals for wedding cruises, and will also offer a group rate for guests of the couple who will be cruising. It is still a fairly expensive endeavor, however; it is usually comparable to a traditional wedding and reception at a venue, at least, if not more because the honeymoon is also included.
Of course, wedding cruises need not be a large affair with lots of guests. Some brides and grooms, who were planning to elope or have a small wedding anyway, will use the wedding cruise as a way to have a private ceremony and honeymoon. The ceremony will generally be performed by the ship's captain. Some might then choose to have a reception when they return to celebrate with friends and family, and this way they can enjoy their honeymoon privately without feeling that they need to keep their guests happy and entertained. There is no lack of entertainment on cruise ships, however, so most couples find that it offers a good balance for a destination wedding.
Wedding cruises are also ideal for many people because the cruise line takes care of a lot of the preparation. The catering and cake are all in one place, for example, and unless the couple provides decor, this is also usually provided with the cruise package. Keep in mind that it will still be necessary to obtain a marriage license in order to be married on a cruise. Also keep in mind that if the wedding is taking place in port, some guests who are not coming on the cruise may be allowed on the ship for the wedding, but other cruise lines might not allow any guests on board who won't be cruising.