Getting Married on a Boat: Everything You Need to Know

By Anna

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If you think that getting married on a boat is one of the most romantic ways to make things official with your loved one, then you’re not wrong. The dramatic sunset, the sparkling waters, the beautiful boat rental, and all the positive associations we have with travel all pair perfectly with this life milestone. And while the logistics of getting married on a boat might be more complicated in practice, you can make your wedding at sea a reality with just a little research.

wedding on a boat

So let’s get down to business. If you’re seriously considering getting married on a boat, you have options. You can either get married on-land and have an informal ceremony on board, or be carried out at sea.

Get your legally binding marriage license at home

You can have a civil ceremony at home in order to obtain your legally binding marriage license, then have your celebratory ceremony in your boat rental and destination of choice. In this scenario, you’re not relying on the wedding to legally seal the deal. It’s mostly as a way to have friends and family witness your union and informally share in the festivities with them. Though it IS possible to obtain a legally binding wedding certificate at your travel destination, it’s probably not ideal since you’ll still need to have it recognized by your local government. This is the ideal option for most people, as it ensures the most important part of your union is taken care of at home.

We can suggest several boat options to cater to this scenario. Specifically, on almost anyone our boat rentals (from the more affordable options to the luxurious yachts), you have the option of adding on a hotel pick-up so you can really focus on the important details of the day, fully stocking your boat with champagne, and/or coordinating a dinner (though option only applicable on select boats) to have on board. Ask your sales agent about what options are available for your budget, destination, and dates.

wedding on a boat

Find a captain and a boat that is legally allowed to officiate your onboard wedding:

Look, if you’re really set on getting married by a captain, make sure that he has the legal right to officiate your wedding. It’s a widely believed myth that all captains or skippers have the magical ability to legally wed you, but let it be known that this is simply false. Generally, a ship’s captain does not have this right. He has to be a judge, a minister, or an officially recognized officiant. And even so, in some municipalities, this is not legal.

In the U.S., for example, the 1913 Code of Regulations even states, The commanding officer shall not perform a marriage ceremony on board his ship or aircraft. He shall not permit a marriage ceremony to be performed on board when the ship or aircraft is outside the territory of the United States. The exceptions are, In accordance with local laws and the laws of the state, territory, or district in which the parties are domiciled, and, In the presence of a diplomatic or consular official of the United States, who has consented to issue the certificates and make the returns required by the consular regulations.

All to say that the local laws, AND the laws of the country where the ship or boat or cruise is registered, have the final say on whether a marriage at sea is recognized. Check your local laws to make sure that a wedding on a boat will be legally recognized when you’re on dry land.

…Or just go on a cruise

One way to avoid dealing with all the legalities of getting wed on board your own boat rental of choice is by booking a cruise ship wedding. For example, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Carnival Cruise line all offer various types of packages to people who want to tie the knot at sea, and have it be legal, as well.

The law is similar in Europe: Certain cruise lines are staffed with captains who are authorized to conduct marriages out at sea. After the cruise, the marriages are recognized under EU law. Cruise ships might be less intimate than booking a boat all to yourself, but theyll definitely cut out most of the organizing stress.

So, what are the advantages of getting married on a boat, whether to legally tie the knot or just to celebrate the union?

It might not be obvious, but getting married on a boat is a huge cost-saving option. That’s because you’re paying for the venue, the wedding, AND the honeymoon (or at least part of it) all with one boat booking. Plus, a wedding on a boat probably means you’re also cutting your guest list down to the most essential dozen people.

The novelty of the whole set-up is also a huge advantage. How many people can say they’ve gotten married while on a boat? It’s enough to have you associate boats and the ocean with true love and romance for the rest of your life.

And if weddings stress you out, then you’re in the perfect place to relax. Just grab a spot on the deck, lay down a towel, and you’re ready to wind down.

rent a boat

And what are the cons?

One thing is for sure: If you wish to be wed out in the ocean, you need to plan ahead. While it might sound romantic to spontaneously decide to wed your partner on a romantic trip out in Croatia (happens to all of us), you might find it impossible to have everything you need including someone to officiate the wedding, a ring, food, and beverage, decor, etc. to properly mark the occasion.

There’s also the fact that even if you do prepare properly, a lot of invitees, including close family and friends, might not be keen on the idea of going on a boat trip where they’re essentially obligated to stay for the duration of the entire event.


In conclusion

If you’re adamant about getting married on a boat rental, you can either go the easy route of getting the civil union officially down in paper before the boat trip and simply celebrating with an unofficial ceremony out at sea. OR: You can check your local laws and the chartered boat laws to make sure you can get wed on a boat and have the marriage be legally recognized when you’re back home.

Either way, were here to help. If you have questions about what boats might be able to accommodate your special day, and what add-ons might help make it even more special, just get in touch with one of our sales agents by filling out a request form. Well, make sure that the planning process isn’t a stressful part of your matrimony!