Weddings at Sea

Say "I do' to cheaper weddings

The $799 "exclusive" package includes an intimate ceremony run by an on-board officiant, recorded music, a marriage certificate, photos, champagne and a 10" cake. Prices for on-board weddings start at $1,100, $1,450 for a land wedding. Flowers, music, transportation and reception cost extra.

Of course, the total amount couples spend depends on how long they sail. Cruises in Nov-Feb range from $499 to $1,000 per person for a weeklong Caribbean cruise, so the most marrying twosomes pay is $4,399 with the most expensive package-a fifth of what a cheaper-end church wedding would cost. For more info go to ncl.com or call 800/392-3472.

Princess Cruises

In the middle of the pack price-wise, Princess's claim to fame is that it's the one cruise line that can actually marry people while it's sailing on international waters (passengers on all other cruiselines have to wed while docked or on an island). Why is this? According to atlastravelweb.com, "The marriages conducted on board will be performed AT SEA by the Captain of the vessel under authority of Liberian Maritime Law and are recognized under the Law of Liberia as valid marriages." Princess is uniquely registered with the Liberian government and the U.S. recognizes legal Liberian marriages (I think I get it).

Any hoo, because of its newer ships and consequently heftier price tags, Princess' weddings are more appropriate for couples going solo or those renewing their vows. For $2,998/couple, we found a complete (meaning cruise included) 10-day wedding/honeymoon cruise for two with a Mexican Riviera Itinerary. It includes a a candle-lit ceremony at the Hearts and Minds on-board chapel (while sailing), floral arrangements, a wedding coordinator, roses, a boutonniere, a photographer to fill a complimentary photo album, live piano music, champagne, flutes to keep, a sculpted cake for two, and a certificate. Multiple that price by five to get anything close to that at a regular wedding. Check out theweddingexperience.com, to book, or call 877/580-3556.

Divorce rates are over 50 percent so married-folk still working at it should be rewarded. Princess' "Renewal of vows" lets couples do it all over again. For $205 per duo, couples get a ceremony (usually in a group of other couples), an orchid bouquet, a certificate of renewal, a portrait of the ceremony, and champagne with flutes. Packages including robes and facials cost more.

Add it to a weeklong cruise averaging from $399 to $599/person between Dec. and Feb. for a cost of about $1,700 total. Visit princess.com for more info.

Land ahoy!

Maybe seasickness and wedding cake aren't a good combination. Or maybe the idea of getting married on a docked boat sounds just plain boring. Couples aren't limited to getting married on the ship: many cruise lines offer onshore ceremonies as well. However, there are strict time limits on these ceremonies (based on the ship's itinerary) and they tend to be much more expensive.

Holland America

Holland, an upscale line that attracts a slightly older clientele, has the highest prices, although rates for these "destination packages" include transportation, flowers, wedding cake, photos and champagne. Please note that the prices below are in addition to cruise fares (we'll add up everything at the end):

Jamaica: $1,695 to get married at Ocho Rios' Paradise Cove or pay $1,995 at the Sunset Beach Resort.

St. Thomas: For $1,650, choose to exchange vows overlooking the British Virgin Isles or the gardens at the Marriott Hotel Frenchman's Reef resort.

Grand Cayman: Couples can get married at a mansion built nearly a century ago. Choose a beach or gazebo ceremony for prices between $1,595-$2,300.

Half Moon Cay: Couples can get married at Holland America's private island, either on the beach or in the island chapel for $1,950.

Alaska: For $1,450, couples can get married in the Rainforest Glacier Gardens in Vancouver, or go for a pricier option: $2,595 to be married atop the Herbert Glacier in Juneau, via helicopter.

Many islands have residency requirements, blood tests, fees and other headaches couples may want to deal with ahead of time (e.g. the Cayman's requires a $200 fee for a marriage license while Jamaica has a 24-hour residency wait and charges $54 in fees). Contact Royal Ocean Events at 888/47-5511 or royalwed.com for more information.Celebrity Cruises

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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