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Tons of Questions


Aislingnoir

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hello, my name is Rachel. My family has recently reached the decision to go on the Explorer of the Seas on 11/13/2005, which is perfect, because my fiance and I have been looking for a place to get married. It is extremely convienent that most of my family was already planning on attending the cruise and now we will be getting married on St. John.

My first question is regarding invitations. While most of my family will already be in attendence, and we will be making a general announcement, I still feel that we should send out some invitations to them. Is that the proper thing to do? Also, what of his family and the rest of mine whom we wish to invite? We know that the majority of them will not be able to attend due to finacial reasons ( we feel horrible about this), but we would still like them to feel invited and included. Is it proper to send invites to all, even if we know they cannot attend? I would not wish for anyone to be offended, as though we were throwing this in thier face. Also we will be having a reception for all upon our return from the trip so that everyone will be able to celebrate with us.

 

Another question: All I am looking for in a wedding is a small ceremony, no reception while on the cruise, maybe a toast once we are back on board ( can that be arranged as well?). Some flowers would be nice as well. Is all of this possible or am I going to have to go with the fancy ceremonies the cruise line offers?

 

Also, we are trying to budget this asap and we were wondering what others had spent on thier weddings while in St. John, on top of the cruise itself.

 

through a travel agent can we book a specific cabin or are they just randomly handed out based on the type you requested? I was really interested in an aft cabin due to the larger balconies and wanted to get things settled right away as I am sure they are booked quite early. And how early do people usually book a cruise? I was 15 the last time I went on one, and, as you can imagine, handled none of the details.

 

sorry for such a long post, just trying to get some opinions and answers and noticed how informed this board was.

 

thank you for you responses

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OK,

 

Deep breath. I and plenty of other ladies have been married while on a cruise.

 

Here was my experience.

We got married Oct, 5, 2004. Yes 1 month ago and we have terrible " cruise withdrawals!".

I first contacted a travel agent to book my cruise. I then sent out " save the dates" w/ all the cruise info on them, dates, room rates, who to call and when the wedding would take place. We went on a Celebrity Cruise which is owned by Royal Caribbean.

Secondly I didn't like the non response I got from the company the all of the cruises use so I found my own thanks to this board. I was going to get married in St. Thomas but changed it 3 months before and luckily my wedding planner in St. Thomas got me in contact w/ the lovely lady who married us on St. John.

I then tried to get my travel agent to coordinate my wedding cocktail hour, but she told me that it couldn't be done, so my now husband called Celebrity to set it up. They couldn't have been more accomidating.

While embarking on the ship I met w/ the hair salon ladies and the wedding coordinator for the ship. I set up my appointment at the salon ( Brooke offered to do my hair not only at 6:45am so that I could disembark at 7:45am, but she came in on her day off!

Maria Century's wedidng coordinator met us in the forward card room all 36 of us and got us off the ship and set us up w/ cabs! my husband and I went off to the Territorial Court to get our marriage license- which you have to do that morning unless you are lucky enough to fly down another time to get it. You will see Mandy who got married last March had the opportunity to do this. I couldn't and it wasn't a problem. Our cabbie drove us to the courthouse , walked us in, waited and then took us to meet our party at the ferry dock. We met w/ my wedding planner Mary of Island Style Weddings - http://www.islandstyleweddings.com who took my FI and I in a separate car while the others took a open air bus to the wedding site- Hawksnest Beach.

We got married and were done by 10am!

My husband and I had lunch on the island, took the ferry back, took a nap and went to meet our guests at our 5pm cocktial hour.

Maria was there again to oversee the party. We managed to get out TA to pay for this party. No food, just booze for an hour. We ordered a cake directly thru Celebrity although it wasn't the flavor I ordered, it was wonderful! ( there were 3 other brides that day and I might have gotten one of their cakes Opps)! After an hour we went down to dinner....

And that was pretty much it!

Everyone told me to chill out that it would all work out and it did.

Book your cruise and then send out the save the dates.

We only sent invites to the people who were already booked. Maria sent our guest on the cruise invites and instructions for the wedding day since some people were confused. LOL

When we got home, we went out annoucments to the people who couldn't make the cruise.

We had more people than we thought becuase the rates were so wonderful!

 

Good luck and I'll try to check in when I get a chance.

Also check out Mandygirl's posts. She is a Plethera of knowledge! She's going on a cruise next week back to St. John w/ her hubby to see Hawksnest again! Lucky girl!!!!

 

good luck

Kathy :)

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Welcome to CruiseCritic, Rachel!! :) Let me tell ya - I have learned so much from these boards the past four years... really helped maximize time in port and minimize money spent. :D (And thanks for the kind words, Kathy!)

Let me just start of by saying that I love the USVI. You cannot have made a better choice for a wedding! We've been lucky enough to vacation on St Croix (2001) and St John (2002) and I cannot speak highly enough about those islands. I had so much fun planning our wedding - and in college/high school I played flute in many weddings (as a job) so I kinda had an idea of what I did and didn't want. But our beach wedding was the first beach wedding either of us had ever been to.

Here is a review I wrote upon return from our March 2003 wedding. It links you to ***** (an incredible resource of info) and Islander is most helpful (he's also on the CC St Thomas boards too). That review does not have character limitations like the CC boards here have now. Islander had asked me to write a review after the wedding and I am really glad I did - helps chronicle events in writing. The review has websites of vendors, prices, and our basic thought processes of why we did (or did not do) different things. I know I was recently criticized on these boards for "getting carried away with her experience" - but I don't know of any bride who doesn't get carried away with her own wedding experience. :confused: I'm just one of those people who thinks the USVI are one of the most awesome places in the world and try to share my positive experiences there from a tourist perspective even if others disagree. You have choices in vendors, but like in any city, there is a limit on the number of choices (there aren't thousands of ministers to choose from...) Anyway, there are some pics linked in my signature. I'm just a plain ol' Texas girl, and most in our families had never left the US - so this was an experience for all. It was also a first-cruise for most.

I am totally not the proper etiquette person, so what we did may or not be "right". We sent out a save the date email with webpage (free from Geocities.com if you have a Yahoo email account). We did send out invitations with a picture of Cinnamon Bay in the background that we took on vacation on St John. No reception back home - too broke $$$. We did feel bad that some did not go - either fear of seasickness (get a patch!) or time off from work. However, we enjoyed watching the video with everyone we went to visit afterwards.

As far as booking the cruise: Here is something I might suggest... some cruiselines will work with you AFTER final payment after prices drop while most won't at all. Holland America does. Many TAs will say that's the "wheelchair" cruiseline but we enjoyed them last year and booked them again for this year. The Zuiderdam has an itinerary for eastern Caribbean out of Fort Lauderdale that stays in port late for St Thomas. (Carnival owns HAL, Princess, and others). A long port makes for a non-rushed wedding day especially if taking the ferry to St John... or even a sunset wedding. Most cruiselines leave St Thomas by 6 PM. So I would suggest considering the Zuiderdam. Holds 1800 passengers, is two years old, has aft balconies, leaves St Thomas late, and does have a "Club HAL" program for kids. Each cruiseline is unique, and each person has different opinions (even two people sailing on the same ship may have two totally different opinions of the cruise). But for a non-rushed day in port, I'd look into HAL Zuiderdam. You can use various online agencies versus a travel agent. I always get online quotes, go to a local TA, and end up booking through the online places due to price. When prices differ by $100+ per person, that's a no-brainer for me. Also, HAL will refund your difference if the cruise fare drops more than 10% after final payment. Been successful both years with that policy. Not so with Celebrity and NCL on our cruises - even after 9/11 when prices dropped - Celebrity did not drop our fare a single dime since we had booked that previous January.

There is a thread called St John Coordinators which links to three different wedding coordinators who live on St John. You aren't marrying in prime hurricane season (although I believe it ends Nov 30) so that should be okay. There are a lot of pros and cons for using a cruiseline coordinator, but we took the risk and booked with a local independent coordinator instead of the cruiseline. Different strokes for different folks. If a ship is diverted, if the island you are diverted to has specific laws, it may not matter who coordinates your wedding - the laws of the land still stand unless they have a waiver. (Read the hurricane thread for more discussion on that) I just kept in mind the "what ifs" that can happen because according to the fine print of the cruise contract, a ship can change ports at any time for any reason. I don't mean to scare you, but just make you aware of the small risks associated with a cruise wedding.

My biggest advice: If you read something online, see if there is a website to back it up. Sometimes advice may be given on a message board and while it might be true 99% of the time, definitely get to the source of info yourself. When you read my review and see what the cruiseline coordinator company told me versus what is truly legal, you'll see. When it is your wedding, you want to make sure you are dealing with the actual facts.

Again - from the beauty of the USVI, ease of marrying there (legalities), and variety of cruise options to get there - you are making a wonderful choice of marrying there!!!

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ooops - I just re-read your post and see you have already picked out the cruise! :eek: Please disregard my paragraph about the Zuiderdam and late port time! For some reason I was thinking you had not picked the cruise yet. But... St Thomas is still a beautiful place to exchange vows!! :)

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