Hosting your wedding ceremony or reception on a boat, whether a family member’s prized sailboat or a chartered yacht, is a unique and memorable way to exchange your vows. There are many reasons to choose a boat wedding. Beautiful city skyline or coastline views, an all-in-one venue and all-inclusive wedding packages offered by many charter companies make planning a boat wedding simpler than a traditional celebration in many ways.

To make the most of your nautical nuptials, consider these tips:

  1. Limit your guest list. Even boats with large capacities could mean that your guests are split between floors for dinner or the dance floor isn’t located near seating. Packing a boat to its capacity also leaves little room for mingling and décor.
  2. Ask about any extra fees your charter company or vendors charge before planning. While a boat wedding can mean big savings, docking, fueling and permitting fees can add up. Be sure to know what the costs are for extending your sailing time, not only from your captain and crew, but your caterer, photographer and music, who are now also stuck on the water.
  3. Research how to make your boat wedding legal. Often, ceremonies performed on open water are symbolic and require a courthouse wedding beforehand. A wedding while docked at port, rather than while moving, is often, but not always, a solution to this problem.
  4. Choose apparel that can stand up to wind and water. This may mean your bridal party wears pants rather than short dresses or sweaters rather than shawls.
  5. Consider how you’ll take photos of your families and wedding party. There may not be enough room for this to take place on the boat. Group photos beforehand could be a good alternative, as long as your family is able to arrive early.
  6. Think about how to accommodate all your guests in your unusual venue. Make sure there is an entrance accessible for anyone with mobility difficulties. Dock after dinner to let guests who don’t want to stay late into the night disembark. Create a small area where guests experiencing seasickness can find items like Dramamine, ginger ale and saltine crackers. If possible, create a small space for them to lie down as well.
  7. Plan for bad weather with a covered area big enough for all of your guests or by renting a nearby pavilion.
  8. Skip large items you may be able to fit in a traditional wedding venue, such as a detailed dessert table or photo booth.