Nautical Nuptials: Everything You Need To Know About Boat Weddings

If you like big boats and you cannot lie, consider a wedding on the water!

Everything You Need To Know About Boat Weddings | Wedding aboard a Hornblower Cruise in San Francisco

City Cruises San Francisco | Majesta Patterson

For a wedding that’s nautical in every sense of the word, there’s no better venue than a boat. Here’s pretty much everything you need to consider before committing to a buoyant bash, including:


Planning a Yacht Wedding | Ceremony on the top deck

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6 Tips for Planning a Boat Wedding

  1. Inquire about wheelchair accessibility ahead of time.
    Some vessels have limited wheelchair accessibility, so if you want a wedding ceremony on the top deck you'll need to consider any elderly or disabled guests. Many boats also have quite narrow corridors, winding staircases, and doors with high thresholds, so keep any guests with mobility issues in mind when choosing your boat venue.
  1. Prepare for the possibility of seasickness.
    In most bay or harbor cruises, the water is calm enough that seasickness isn't an issue. Plus, guests always have a view of the land which tends to minimize the queasy factor. However, in case any of your guests are prone to getting seasick, you'll want to be prepared. Consider adding some information to your wedding website on ways to combat seasickness, and have some ginger tea, ginger ale, or ginger candies on board.
  1. Create a wedding website to highlight additional details about the day.
    Include a suggested dress code that can stand up to the wind and water (e.g. "nautical attire"), along with a note about the anticipated weather. Depending on the forecast, suggest bringing sunglasses or sunblock, and remind guests that they may need a sweater or coat. You should also give your women attendees a heads-up about the vessel itself (e.g. steep staircases) so they can opt for wedges or flats instead of stilettos!
  1. Have a bad-weather contingency plan.
    If you have your heart set on an open-air wedding, we know you don't want to entertain the idea of rain or too-strong winds on your wedding day. But with a wedding on the water, you must be ready for inclement weather! Talk with your coordinator about a "Plan B" interior space—just in case.
  1. Discuss photo ops with your photographer.
    Depending on the size of your boat venue, there may be limited space for formal photos. It might be a good idea to take "first look" or bridal party photos in a separate location before embarking on your wedding voyage.
  1. Consider hosting other wedding-related events on a boat.
    If you're not fully convinced that a wedding on the water's for you, consider hosting your engagement party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner on one! You'll get the nautical experience of a boat event without the full commitment of hosting your entire wedding on board.

Boat Wedding Ideas and Tips | Indoor wedding reception on a yacht

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23 Questions To Ask Your Boat Wedding Venue

Besides everything we've covered above, here are some questions to ask that are specific to boat or yacht venues (and here's the full list of Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue for reference):

  1. Are there changing areas for the bride, groom, and/or wedding party on board? Or should we arrive fully dressed and ready to go?
  2. Can we do a rehearsal on the boat before the wedding day?
  3. When can we set up for our event?
  4. How many hours are included in the boat rental fee?
  5. Will we have exclusive use of the boat during our party?
  6. Can my event last longer than the scheduled cruise time?
  7. Does the boat follow a particular cruise route or does it stay docked?
  8. What happens if there's inclement weather?
  9. Can we bring in our own décor? If so, are there any restrictions?
  10. What is the dress code/appropriate attire?
  11. Can we use our own caterer/cake maker/DJ?
  12. Are children permitted on board?
  13. What kind of food is served? Can you accommodate specific dietary needs?
  14. Are animals allowed on board? (In case you want your furbaby to be your ring bearer!)
  15. Are gifts allowed on board?
  16. What happens if a guest needs to leave early?
  17. Will my mobile phone work on the water?
  18. Is there heating and/or air conditioning on the boat?
  19. Are ample life preservers on board?
  20. Where will my guests park? Is it close to the departure site?
  21. Are there nearby accommodations for overnight guests?
  22. Is the gratuity included for the crew?
  23. Can we host our rehearsal dinner aboard the boat?

Disclaimer: We're referring to boat weddings in the U.S. in this article. If you're looking to wed on board a cruise ship in an exotic locale, be sure to check the country's legal requirements first!


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Some clients may have paid to be placed in our editorial and some of these links may be affiliate; however, we never include a venue, vendor, or product unless they have a proper place here. This is part of our Core Values. We create our website first and foremost to be good for the couples using it to plan their Big Day. We won't stray from that for a few advertising dollars. #scoutshonor