Carnival Valor Wedding - Nassau, Orange Hill Beach - 11.11.2016

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United States
26 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
I intended on writing a well-organized review but time is passing and life is busy so I’m just typing down thoughts as they come. I am more than happy to answer specific questions. I’ll post part of the review now and finish it up later. I’ll try to include pics in this portion as they correspond to the review
We were engaged in January 2016 and immediately started making plans for the wedding. I have a very large family so planning a wedding was never something I imagined could be done without going bankrupt. Also, I don’t like to do anything with half effort so if I DID plan a traditional wedding, we just wouldn’t be able to afford my imagination, haha. My fiancé had never cruised before and I had just been on my first cruise the month before. We did some quick research and explored cruise weddings. We intended to cruise on Royal Caribbean but wanted a not-so expensive cruise trip for our guests. We found a RC 3 day cruise with decent rates but it was on one of their oldest and smallest ships. Carnival had a cruise with similar rates for a better ranked ship in their line. My fiancé was not warm to the idea of actually getting married on the ship so we agreed to get married on the beach in Nassau and just have the reception on the Carnival ship. We planned to have less than 20 guests so we set up a Facebook event page for our invited guests. That number grew and we ended up with 50 people as our wedding guests. About half of the guests booked early and paid their deposits. The cruise was November 10th of this same year and final balances were due in September. We chose a shorter cruise so our guests wouldn’t have to worry about taking too much extended time off of their jobs. It was also during the Labor Day weekend. I did make some Save the Date announcements and sent them as more of a formality. I think it was end of February before we made our payment to Carnival for the wedding. Carnival handled their reception and we worked with Royal Ocean Events for the wedding ceremony in Nassau. I know some reviews/blogs have mentioned that there are less costing alternatives to handle the wedding ceremony but we didn’t want any confusion or extra work. It was easiest for us to just use ROE as Carnival coordinated with them. We chose the Time to Celebrate…Big package with Carnival so we could have the 1.5 hour reception. We requested the DJ but didn’t pay for that enhancement until sometime in the summer. There is only one dance club on the Carnival Valor and one DJ per cruise so the DJ wasn’t actually confirmed for us until we made the payment. I read and reread and reread all the reviews and blogs that I could find on wedding cruises, specifically Carnival cruises. There was much more information for the weddings held on embarkment day but very few for those held on beaches during the actual cruise. I think I found two videos on youtube with wedding videos in Nassau on Orange Hill Beach and those were a great help! It can make you anxious to plan a wedding when you can’t visit the venue. Speaking of which, my husband would say that I am over the top when it comes to planning, haha! I do spreadsheets and lists and read all the reviews and blogs. I did the same for our wedding however there is so much of it that I couldn’t control and I was actually relieved. Because I do tend to go overboard with planning, I knew I would be a basket case trying to plan a traditional wedding with hundreds of guests. The cruise wedding was the perfect balance even though it was a bit more involved than I thought it would be. We didn’t have to make final music and cake decisions until September so I spent the spring and summer choosing my dress, bridal party outfits, decorations, etc. We have four children and they were to be the only members of our wedding party. (Our middle boy joined the army so he ended up not attending the wedding.)
Royal Ocean Events charges two arms and a leg for all of their beach ceremony enhancements. After looking at the two videos online, I realized that it was not worth paying $450 to rent the arch for a 20 minute ceremony. (Carnival only allows for one hour at the beach and that includes the 20 minute ceremony, mingling, and picture taking.) We chose to rent 50 covered chairs and we only put colored sashes on the chairs closest to the aisle. The beach in Nassau is absolutely gorgeous and that was enough decoration for us. (We also asked all of the guests to wear white and it looks so wonderful in all of our pictures!) We did rent the sand ceremony table though we chose a Unity Cross instead of sand jars. The beach was about half an hour away from the cruise port but it was worth the drive to get to a secluded area. I was getting worried about the beach wedding because I saw so many weddings online that had people banana boating and frolicking all around the wedding party. Orange Hill Beach area was definitely perfect for us without any other folks around. (Keep in mind there are no restroom facilities there so the one hour time limit was just enough to get people back to the boat.)


Wednesday Night-
Our ship left from Port Canaveral so most guests stayed in Cocoa Beach. We had our "rehearsal" dinner at Brano's Italian restaurant and I recommend them to anyone. They were personable and very patient with our large and somewhat loud party. They personalized the menu for our gathering and it was really sweet. We made the reservations less than two weeks out but I suggest you do it earlier because there was another wedding party there that night. It was about $17 a person, I think.

Thursday – Embarkation Day
Carnival had a letter from our wedding coordinator waiting for us in our stateroom. She introduced herself and left a contact number.
7:30PM – When we signed in for dinner, our wedding coordinator received notification and she met us in the dining room to go over the details.
Friday – Wedding Day
11 – Photographer came to stateroom to take pics of bride (we weren’t quite ready so he went to the groom’s area and took pics there)
12:30 – Groom and guests met in lobby to be escorted by the coordinator off the boat. (We paid an extra fee for the bride to arrive 15 minutes after in a separate vehicle.)
12:45 – Photographer escorted me and two attendants off the ship where there was a vehicle waiting for us. (I’m fairly shy so it was almost overwhelming walking through the cruise ship and the port in a wedding dress!)
1:30 – 2:30 - Wedding Ceremony on the beach
4 – 5:30 - Wedding Reception in the One Small Step nightclub
We met with the photographer at 3 in the library on Saturday to go over the packages. We picked up the photos Saturday night about 11.
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg karis chair.jpg (12.4 KB, 84 views)
United States
26 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
We had 1.5 hours for the reception and it was just enough time. We didn’t need extended time to mingle because all of our 50 guests were cruising guests so we saw them at dinner each night. The reception was the perfect place to dance and unwind! The DJ was very good. My hubby and I aren’t into the current music but we chose “Top 40 Hits” because we thought it would get our guests up and moving. Well, the DJ read the crowd well and saw that genre wasn’t going over well and he mixed our favorite 90’s hip hop and R&B and even a few soul classics. We all stayed on the dance floor! We emailed Carnival the songs that we wanted for our first dance and groom/mom dance and the DJ played those as well. He followed our lineup and we stayed on schedule. The guests enjoyed the food but like most brides, I only managed to nibble. The layout in the club was nice and just happened to complement our wedding colors. For the 52 of us, the venue did not seem too large at all. The cake was delicious! We chose separate flavors for the three layers and the vanilla with strawberry cream was the best! We did not want our guests to be served the leftover cake at dinner so we brought it to our stateroom. I provided the ribbon and cake topper to our wedding coordinator and she made sure the cake was decorated.

Our photographer did a great job! We opted not to order a video but he “surprised” us with one anyway and we negotiated it into our package. I brought along the photo package list from Carnival but we created our own package with the photographer. Many of our guests took great candid shots so we really didn’t want to pay Carnival for those. However, choosing just 40 shots from the 150 that he took was difficult. We ended up with about 75 shots from Carnival photographer, thank you cards, the video, and the digital files for the shots what we chose. I refused to buy their $1,100 dollar photo book. That is way overpriced, especially because it only includes 40 shots. I compiled all the pictures from our guests with the Carnival shots and made a WONDERFUL book on Snapfish. I personalized it the way I wanted and included almost 700 pictures. It’s bound like a deluxe yearbook, has over 80 pages, and it was only $80 on cyber Monday.

I have left out so many of the planning details but I can provide those if anyone is interested. I know planning a wedding can be stressful so it’s great to be able to plan a Carnival cruise wedding with the personal experience from other brides. I did bring along wedding favors for the beach ceremony as well as the guestbook table at the reception. I’ll try to upload pics of those items as well as some from the reception so you can get a feel for the layout.
United States
26 Posts
Joined Feb 2016

This was taken by the Carnival Photographer. I asked him beforehand to not airbrush the pictures, but as you can see his did anyway. Makes it a little to wax statue looking for my tastes so I'm glad we have plenty of cell phone images.

Sent from my iPhone using Forums
152 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Your wedding looks beautiful, and your colors did match perfectly! Wish the colors on the ship were getting married on were better, but that's ok. I'm more looking forward to having everyone on board partying the night (and weekend) away with us than the actual reception. We're looking at the whole cruise as an extended reception so we'll be eating cake every night!
United States
26 Posts
Joined Feb 2016
Thanks Mindy!

Our other flavors were carrot cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate with vanilla buttercream. All were good but the strawberry was best. Be sure to specify which flavor you want on each layer because we accidentally had carrot cake as the biggest layer and strawberry as the smallest.

A destination wedding definitely allows time for the guests to hang out each night. Many of our family and friends met for the first time on the cruise and they all blended like they had known each other for years. It was awesome!

Sent from my iPhone using Forums
152 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Finally someone who had the carrot cake!! That's a flavor we are leaning towards, but I haven't heard from anyone that they chose it and I feel like carrot cake can be really bad sometimes. Glad to hear it was good!
New Jersey
64 Posts
Joined Jun 2016
Awesome review! I'm doing a shoreside wedding in August on Grand Cayman. I was wondering how the coordination with the beach ceremony went. Is it the same photographer as the one on the boat? Could you choose to get off the boat earlier if you anted to? What options did they give you when they contacted you? Did they call or email with the plans?
649 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Beautiful wedding and thank you for taking the time to give us a review.
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