For couples looking for a unique and intimate ceremony, tying the knot at sea is a one-of-a-kind experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Travel to your dream destination and say “I do” during a breathtaking sunset, or charter a boat in your home city and admire the skyline views while you dance the night away. Floating venues offer a romantic ambiance and unbeatable views, plus your wedding photos are guaranteed to be stunning.
Whether you’re looking for a luxurious feel or a more laid-back setting, we can make your dream wedding come to life. Read on for everything you need to know about planning a wedding on a boat!
Finding the Perfect Boat or Yacht
The first step when planning a wedding at sea is to decide what type of boat you want your ceremony on. You can determine the type of boat you need based on budget, guest list size, wedding ambiance, etc. At GetMyBoat, we have a wide variety of powerboats, yachts, and sailboats available to rent for your big day.
Yacht Wedding Venues
A dreamy yacht elopement makes for a romantic ceremony and can accommodate a more extensive wedding guest list. Once you get a headcount of guests, you can filter by group size to see boats that have the appropriate capacity to bring all your favorite people onboard. Many yachts have exterior and interior deck space, which provides you a break from the sun or some shelter from the rain in case the weather does not cooperate perfectly. Yachts also often have fully-equipped bathrooms and other amenities to make them fully-functional wedding venues on the water.
At GetMyBoat, we have some yachts that can fit more than 100 guests! Don't worry if you have a huge family and tons of friends - everyone can come aboard and celebrate your wedding on the water.
Sailboat and Catamaran Weddings
Sail into happily ever after on a traditional sailboat or a catamaran with GetMyBoat. If you’re a bride looking for a small and intimate wedding, this is the perfect option for you. Sailboats are suited for an elopement between just the bride and groom or a smaller guest list. The panoramic ceremony backdrop will be impeccable for your photos, and there’s something extra romantic about cruising around on a historic sailboat or by wind power to the sails. Sailing is also a unique experience for guests - while many people have been on a motorized boat at some point in their life, sailing is more unique. It will undoubtedly be an unforgettable venue for your wedding.
Planning a Wedding at Sea
Officiant Options for Boat Wedding Ceremonies
It’s important to ensure that your captain has the legal right to officiate your wedding or includes an officiant in their wedding package. If not, you will have to bring your own officiant onboard. Many boat captains have the proper licensing and are experienced in officiating weddings, but be sure to inquire about it before you book.
Another option is to have a civil ceremony at home, and then have a celebratory ceremony on a boat, in a destination you love! This is an excellent choice for people traveling far from home to elope. It can help eliminate a lot of the paperwork involved and potential headaches from getting married internationally if you’re planning a destination wedding on a boat in another country than your country of residence.
Boat Wedding Costs and Expenses
Weddings at sea can be a cost-effective way to tie the knot. There are often fewer hidden costs with boat weddings, and with planning everything all in one place, you can avoid a lot of the "decision fatigue" that comes with planning a traditional wedding in a venue on land.
Many GetMyBoat owners offer all-inclusive packages, which will ensure that you can stay within your budget and get the best value out of your booking.
Before you book, you can send the charter company or captain your budget, and they can work directly with that for all the little details of your wedding.
When submitting a booking inquiry, read the listing description carefully, and ask the captain/boat owner about all fees that need to be paid. Some captains will add a pricing breakdown to their listing description, including a breakdown of fuel and captain fees. However, other captains add these costs separately when sending over a customized offer.
It's also a good idea to plan to have extra cash for gratuity for bartenders, servers, and other staff on board who will be working hard to ensure your special day at sea is one you will never forget, or you can ask before you book if a service charge or gratuity is included in the final charge you will pay when reserving the boat as your venue.
Catering and Bar Options for Boat Weddings
There's no limit to culinary experiences you can provide to guests at your wedding when it comes to dining at sea. Depending on your budget and desired experience, you can choose anything from a casual buffet, a cocktail hour to a full-service multi-course plated meal.
On larger vessels equipped with a captain and crew members, a plated dinner is the most formal and elegant choice for a wedding on a boat. A plated meal typically costs less per person, but you might have to pay more in service costs since it requires more crew members to plate and serve the meal. Many yachts and boats that are used for weddings often come with a full-service bar too, so you’ll have bartenders onboard to serving your guests drinks throughout the night, before and after the meal service.
If you’re looking for something more casual, consider a buffet-style dinner. Buffets can be great to offer various food options to your guests, rather than the more limited selection of a plated meal. A buffet can often be cheaper and more manageable on a smaller boat since it requires fewer staff members and less space for setup and execution.
Many GetMyBoat owners offer all-inclusive wedding packages which will have catering options included in the price. Be sure to run through the catering option details with the boat owner to ensure you get precisely what you are looking for.
We can't think of a more memorable cocktail hour than one out at sea. Enjoy your favorite beverage and appetizers while you cruise the open waters. If you don’t want your wedding party at sea, consider booking a marina as a venue and offering a sunset cocktail sailing tour for a brief ride with your guests.
Entertainment Options Onboard
Want to party the night away on the water? Just because you’re on a boat doesn’t mean you’re limited in the types of entertainment you can enjoy during your reception. Some larger yachts designed for events have full dance floors with capabilities to host a live DJ or band, you can set up a photo booth, game tables, or even karaoke! There are many great ways to take your celebration on the water up a notch, and many large vessels can accommodate these types of entertainment for your wedding guests.
For smaller boat weddings (sometimes called micro-weddings) with just a few of your closest friends and family members on board, ask the captain about the best options to provide some entertainment for your guests. A single musician can offer a simple, live acoustic set, or you can go on a sightseeing adventure after the ceremony. Your boat captain will likely know interesting information about the area you’re cruising in and can offer a mini-tour, or you can cruise to a spot where it’s common to spot dolphins, whales, or other wildlife.
Preparations for a Boat Wedding
Because of the nature of being on the water, there are a few extra considerations you will need to make in preparing for your wedding. No surprises will spoil your special day at sea if you plan ahead.
- Have a bad weather plan. Many large boats used for weddings on the water have multiple decks and sometimes fully-enclosed cabins, where rain would not be an issue. If there are rough seas on your wedding day, ask your captain about keeping the boat in the dock for the event. You can still enjoy the nautical atmosphere while being docked in a calmer area.
- Bring seasickness remedies for guests. If your boat wedding is on a river or a lake, seasickness is typically uncommon, but it’s not unusual for guests to feel a little woozy on a boat wedding on the open ocean. Plan ahead and bring supplies, and everything will be just fine!
- Bring sun protection and other necessities that would accommodate any outdoor wedding. This is especially important on boats that do not have enclosed cabin spaces, where you’ll be exposed to the sunshine for the duration of your ceremony. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and even hats can be customized to be a cute party favor.
Questions to Ask When Planning a Boat Wedding
How many people can the boat accommodate?
This will help you plan your guest list and select the size and style of boat for your wedding.
Are there entertainment options onboard?
See what is available, and inquire about bringing your own. We put some ideas above on common options for a boat wedding.
How long is the elopement or wedding ceremony at sea?
This can depend entirely on your desired experience. Discuss with your officiant and partner about how long you want to be on the water and the duration of the ceremony itself. Usually, short and sweet is best for being on a boat, but it’s your day and it’s up to you!
Where are the best places to cruise to for photos?
Your captain will have some great ideas in mind. Often there can be places like an island, a special stretch of shoreline, or a coveted sunset viewing point that they can bring you to on the boat.
What happens in the event of bad weather?
Some boat captains will offer contingency plans or have good ideas on what you can do in the case of weather that would make boating undesirable. It’s also a good idea to look into boat options that have interior cabins in addition to outdoor deck space.
Can we bring our own wedding decor?
It may surprise you that there are certain restrictions and regulations that may make it difficult to bring particular decor onboard for your wedding.
Does the boat have a cabin or interior area where the bride and groom can change?
Larger vessels often have full-size bathrooms for changing, but there might also be a special storage area where you can keep necessities like different outfits, wedding favor bags, extra decorations, or any other wedding needs.
Is the boat wheelchair or handicap accessible?
This is important if you have guests who may need extra assistance getting on and off the boat, as well as important for safety while on the water. Many boats and yachts have special features that make them fully handicap accessible, so everyone can be included onboard.
What is the route that we will go on?
This can be a good way to get an idea of what you’ll see while cruising and enjoying your wedding celebration. You can also provide some input and potentially choose a route if there are options your captain provides.
What is the setup process before the event?
You might need to coordinate a time to get access to your boat before guests arrive for set up. Some boat charters for weddings handle all of the set-up beforehand, making it a super low-stress process for the bride and groom.
Is there a parking lot at the docks? Where can guests park?
Make sure to include this information on your wedding website so that your guests know where to go when they arrive at the docks. Some marinas have valet service, while many have private lots, but parking space could be limited.
Are accommodation options available nearby?
This is helpful for out-of-town guests or if you plan to continue the party near the marina after you disembark. Some marinas even have accommodation facilities built-in that you can reserve for your guests at a special rate.
Popular Destinations for Boat Weddings & Elopements
Hawaii Boat Weddings
Hawaii is arguably one of the most romantic destinations in the world, so what better place to spend the most important day of your life? Say “ I do” in a tropical oasis with your closest family and friends. For the brides looking for a private and intimate experience, an elopement on a wooden yacht charter in Honolulu is the perfect option for you. They offer an all-inclusive ceremony that lasts for 2 hours and includes an officiant, cutting utensils, a champagne toast, a photographer, and an online gallery. The bride and groom will enjoy cruising along the Waikiki coastline and cherish a Hawaiian sunset from the water. An elopement at sea for just the couple is $4,995.
Boat Weddings in Cabo San Lucas
Enjoy your wedding in style on a boat in Cabo San Lucas with scenic backdrops and iconic sunsets. Capture stunning wedding photos in front of the famous Arch and admire the ocean views. A boat reception in Cabo makes for a dreamy venue with little to no preparation since the destination speaks for itself. Sail into the sunset with your closest family and friends and celebrate your love on board a beautifully crafted yacht. This private luxury yacht is available for an intimate elopement or wedding in Cabo and can hold up to 40 passengers.
Boat Weddings in Florida
Thinking about tying the knot in the sunshine state? Warm weather, sparkling water, and palm tree-filled coastlines are more than enough reasons to choose Florida for your wedding destination. GetMyBoat renters have loved exchanging vows in places Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Key West. Search now to see what boat rentals we have available for your wedding day!
Boat Weddings in California
The golden coast has a variety of beautiful destinations where you can say “ I do.” Rent a sailboat in Sausalito and exchange vows with the most incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge. For the couples who would prefer lake life, rent a boat and cruise around Lake Tahoe and admire the pine-tree-filled coastline and mountains in the distance. Looking for more of a coastal beach vibe? Orange County is home to seaside cities like Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, Long Beach, and Huntington Beach, which are prime locations on the water.
Renter Reviews from the Bride & Groom
Still not convinced that a wedding at sea is for you? Check out what some of our renters had to say about their experience getting married with the help of GetMyBoat!
Starting Planning Your Wedding/ Elopement Today
Let GetMyBoat help seamlessly plan your dream wedding at sea this year!
Want to experience the water for a component of your wedding but aren’t ready to commit to the big day at sea? Charter a boat for the rehearsal dinner, your bachelor or bachelorette party, an engagement party, or a photoshoot instead. You’ll still get to have the nautical experience as a part of your special day.