Things went kind of sideways on the ship on our wedding day. We had been assured that Holland America went "all out" for weddings- evidently not so much for us. The GREAT news is that after 20 years together I have a husband!
Here's our wedding story- straight people no longer "own" the market for wedding disasters :-)
Our wedding day on Holland America MS Oosterdam at Pier 91 Seattle:
*We were originally set to have a small wedding in the Captains Corner on the Observation Deck but we were moved to the Crows Nest Lounge a couple of months ago as we had climbed to 23 people and the Wedding Planner felt that the Captains Corner would be too small and cramped.*
After boarding the Coordinator took us to our suite then up to the Crows Nest for a “mini rehearsal”. We were shocked to see that the wedding had been setup in the Captains Corner with about 11 chairs. When I asked where the rest would sit I was told “after you walk down the aisle we will have the sitting folks move their chairs to the middle into the aisle and the rest can fill in on the “couches” along the sides or you could give up the aisle and you could just walk in the back door”. Needless to say neither was either acceptable or what we had agreed to with the Wedding Planner.
We had been told by our Wedding Planner that Holland America goes “all out” for weddings- that the flowers would be "over the top" and the room would be setup beautifully. There we two small vases with flowers that appeared to have come from Main Dining Room tables- that was it for flowers.* The “decorations” were a cocktail table on each side of the front with another cocktail table upside down on top of it and a tablecloth over them both* (evidently trying to look like pillars but looked like tarps over the furniture for painting).
*The Coordinator didn't seem to be concerned that basically nothing was correct, and appeared surprised that we were not happy. There was no one that appeared to be in a management role (from Holland America) in the area to ask for assistance. We were just over an hour from our wedding and basically nothing was how it had been agreed weeks and months before.
Luckily one of our wedding guests (my fiance's BFF) that boarded early with us is an event planner and wasn't shy about jumping in to help us. She took over, got management and crew up to the Crows Nest and sent us back to our suite to socialize with our guests. She got the wedding setup in the Crows Nest as was originally planned.
*We had ordered several trays of appetizers for our suite to be delivered by 11 am and planned on a get together with our guests before the wedding- then send them off to “sight-see” on the ship while we dressed for the wedding.* Well, no food showed up- luckily we had brought champagne on board with us so they at least had something to drink.
*The Coordinator appeared in our suite as we were getting ready for the ceremony to tell us that the ship was unable to find all of our wedding flowers (corsages, etc).* Nothing we could do- we would do the ceremony without them.
*We headed to the Crows Nest for the ceremony- our friend had done the best she could with what she had- she took the flowers that people had sent to our suite up to the Crows Nest and tried to make the cocktail tables setup at the front of the room look good. Ceremony held- and we were married.* Just after we finished the ceremony a crew member appeared with a handful of boutonnieres. Sadly the wrong flowers and only part of what we ordered. They pinned a boutonniere on each of us, our best man and one on mom.
*The highlight of the day was our reception lunch in the Pinnacle Grill. Due to all of the confusion in the Crows Nest we got to the restaurant about 40 minutes late. The staff was concerned that we wouldn't have enough time for all four courses and did not want us to feel rushed- so we told them if necessary skip the dessert and go straight to cake.* Somehow they made up the time (with no one feeling rushed) and we got thru all four courses and cake. The Pinnacle Manager and his staff were amazing. The cake sadly was not what we ordered- looked like it had been pulled from the Main Dining Room or Lido Buffet at the last minute.* Was decorated with red gum paste red roses. Tasted OK but definitely not dark chocolate and looked very “supermarket”.
It really felt as if the ship only realized that morning that they had a wedding scheduled (we booked and paid for our wedding months before) and rushed to pull what they could together at the last minute.
One of our main concerns was that our guests would not be "corralled" in the terminal until all had arrived. We had guests that had been dealing with health issues and couldn't stand for long periods. We were assured (in writing) that an extra coordinator had been assigned and that guests would be brought on board to our suite as they arrived. Well all of this was ignored- they all had to stand in a penned area until the last guest arrived. None were even offered a chair. This resulted in one of our guests standing too long and and was in bad shape all day.
We did get refunded for the missing food in our suite and the cake on board. the ship offered us a couples massage to make up for the wedding snafus.
We got an email last week that we were getting a refund for the missing flowers. At least they aren't making us pay for stuff we didn't get.
One of our guests commented that is was nice wedding for a "bar wedding". He said he thought that Holland America would have tried to make it look less like a bar.
So, there's our story. We briefly thought about cancelling but several had traveled long distances to be there with us. We decided to move ahead, and "roll with the punches".