The fine occasion of a traditional church wedding is always an attractive proposition, but tying the knot on the ocean waves is becoming an evermore popular way for Australian couples to take their vows. The spectacle of a deep-red setting sun over the sea's horizon is a romantic backdrop unlike any other, and what's more, a cruise ship wedding can cost considerably less than a ceremony on dry land. But what exactly is involved in a wedding at sea?
The love boat
All Australian sea weddings have to take place while the ship is berthed, according to legal requirements. Hence the celebrant comes onboard and performs the ceremony, and leaves after it is finished. Once you and your loved one have completed the formalities of the wedding, the ship is free to pull out of port and take to the open seas.
P&O Cruises are Australia's biggest provider of seafaring weddings, offering up to five different routes, so a good choice is given when it comes to deciding where you want to go. Three-day cruises tend to be the most popular, with all the family and friends of the wedding party sailing with the happy couple. Taking your guest with you on your honeymoon may seem a little unconventional, but it's a wonderful way of sharing your special day with those closest to you.
Ship, ship hooray
Once you've chosen your cruise, get in touch with the company and find out exactly what is included in the price. There will usually be a whole host of options to choose from, such as specific wedding packages, catering, entertainment and suchlike. They'll likely be able to tailor everything towards your needs, so that you don't have to worry about a thing on the day itself – the cruise line will take care of most things for you.
As short cruises typically last from three to five days and will cost more for your guests than the usual train fare or car journey to the church, it's important for you to make sure that those you want at your wedding most can take the necessary time off work and can afford the sojourn itself. Additionally, if your wedding party is large enough, you may be eligible for discounted fares.
Plan the cruise, you can't lose
Your wedding planner is still an instrumental part in ensuring that your nautical nuptials run swimmingly. Though your cruise company's wedding package (with P&O Cruises, it's entitled 'Ceremonies at Sea') will look after the more obvious aspects of the occasion, such as catering and entertainment, your wedding planner will look after things that never crossed your mind, such as flower arrangement, reception type and the flow of the ceremony. Keep your wedding planner on speed dial throughout the lead up to the big day, as it is he or she that can iron out the smallest details and ensure that everything goes precisely as you want it.
Deck the halls
Many cruise ships have dedicated chapels for you to take your vows, but most will be open to the idea of you saying 'I do' at other designated places around the vessel, such as plush drawing rooms, or even out on the deck. Though going 'up top' may seem a romantic notion, bear in mind that even in warm weather, it can get rather bracing – prevailing nor'easters can wreak havoc with your carefully created, meticulously styled hair!
'I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love…'
The rising popularity of cruise weddings is down in no small part to the fact that they are simply fair more affordable than their land-based counterparts. According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the average cost of a wedding is $36,200. This is simply beyond the reach of many ordinary people, so with an average cost of just $5,000 to $7,500 all inclusive for a cruise ship shindig, it's easy to see why it's an attractive option.
Wherever you choose to get married, remember that, on land or sea, you'll come out the other side with the one you love on your arm, and that's all that matters.