Weddings Afloat

By Sharon Naylor

February 1, 2016 4 min read

Yachts have quickly become a top trend in wedding locations, offering guests a unique setting, spectacular views and the thrill of VIP treatment aboard a multimillion-dollar vessel. Every element of a glamorous ballroom wedding -- including top-tier catering and service, entertainment and dancing -- can occur inside a yacht or on its top deck for an open-air ceremony and celebration.

"They are ideal for people who desire a venue that's different from the four-wall ballroom overlooking the parking lot venue that all of their friends have had their weddings and events in," says Camille Cerria, nautical event planner for Smooth Sailing Celebrations. "So many yachts are upscale and glamorous, and many sail through breathtaking scenery including historic sites viewed so differently from the water."

Top yacht event companies offer fleets of boats, accommodating a range of guest-list sizes and budgets. They may be booked to sail or to remain docked, cutting down on the need for sea legs or experiencing on-the-water discomfort.

Yachts obviously host just one wedding at a time, which affords you privacy and the full focus of the yacht staff. Yacht companies are well-connected to their trusted wedding vendors, who can provide any rentals, decor, lighting and other elements to make your wedding design wishes come true. And outside caterers know exactly what is needed for the yacht's galley for the food preparation, if it is not prepared on the boat itself.

Adding to the popularity of yacht weddings is the boat's design, offering indoor and outdoor areas, gathering spaces, existing bars and other design elements that create excellent opportunities for guests to mingle or to steal some private time. And if spending the night on your yacht isn't feasible, usually luxury hotels are situated by the boat's marina for easy guest accommodation.

Cerria suggests the following tips for yacht weddings:

Choose a budget-friendly buffet reception: "With so much to do on a yacht, guests hate to be tied to their dining room chairs. Buffet service goes more quickly than plated service does. Allow you and your guests enough time to enjoy the yacht experience of mingling, dancing and sightseeing under the stars."

Have your vendors set up beforehand: "Ask your vendors to take advantage of the two-hour early boarding time that's allotted to all vendors. In this way, the boat will be festive and all decked out with music playing for your guests' boarding."

Say "Cheese!" early: Use the early boarding time to take staged photos. "This will allow you to enjoy your wedding without being dragged away from the festivities for pictures, while letting your photographer take impromptu images of you and your guests having a wonderful time," says Cerria. Also, think about the timing of sunset and the beautiful colors of the sky over the water; an earlier photo session might capture that gorgeous scenery.

Find a spot for a group shot: "Many boats have an outdoor level where the photographer can take a group photo of guests on a lower outdoor level. It's a special memento to have one picture where every single one of your guests is present in the same image."

Considering that celebrities and professional sports teams host parties and celebrations aboard yachts, you can add a distinct VIP, good-life feel to your special day when you plan a yacht wedding. Plus, you are literally "sailing off into the sunset" with your beloved.

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