Having your wedding and reception on board a luxury chartered yacht offers a unique experience for you and your guests. Many companies like Charter One Yachts offer everything needed to create your wedding, including fine dining, top shelf drinks and entertainment. Couples can choose a day or evening cruise with a breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner menu, or they can tailor their own custom-seated or buffet wedding menu, or keep it relaxed with a cocktail-style reception. The possibilities are endless.
Just like any other wedding venue, be it a hotel, country club or reception hall, there are questions to ask before you book your wedding location. Knowing what to ask and what to expect will ensure your big day is exactly what you envisioned.
Where to begin? First, ask yourself if the venue matches your style. Your venue sets the mood and tone for the reception. So if you’re hoping for a romantic, yet laid-back evening, a luxury chartered cruise on the Intracoastal waterways may be the answer.
Next, consider the decor opportunities. Walk through the venue and take note of what’s already there, from the wall color to the flooring to the lighting. Make sure to ask about what’s movable and what has to stay. As you walk through the ship think about the space. Is there enough space to accommodate for your guest list? Charter One Yacht’s has two ships in its fleet, The Floridian Princess and The Summer Wind. The Floridian Princess allows for up to 375 guests with seating for 350+ guests between two decks. The Summer Wind accommodates up to 60 guests.
Picture the major events of the evening from start to finish. Is there enough space for a cocktail reception after the ceremony? Does the dining area offer enough room for seating so that guests aren’t feeling they are on top of each other? Can you clearly see a dance floor area big enough to accommodate your guests?
Another important question to ask is if the venue offers wedding planners or a day-of coordinator. Yacht charters generally have experienced event planners assisting couples in the planning. It’s also important to find out what you are responsible for arranging or bringing in. Most yacht companies leave the details – floral arrangements, centerpieces, décor and entertainment – to the bridal couple. However, the event planners work with local vendors, making it easier for couples to plan if they don’t have their own vendors.
Other questions to ask before you book your wedding location include:
What’s the rain plan? Every venue should have a rain plan, especially if you’re planning the cocktail hour or a sit-down dinner on the top deck.
Does the venue include table and chair rentals? Often, a standard rental (round tables and folding white chairs) might be included in the price of your reception. But if you want to switch that up – by having a banquet-style table, high tops or Chiavari chairs, for instance – your venue may charge extra. Also, ask about the table linens and chair covers. Most offer standard white or black and charge for specialty colors and/or fabric. There may be an additional charge for chair covers.
Who caters the food? Can we bring in our own wine/champagne? If so, is there a corkage fee? Is there an in-house catering department or do you need to hire outside vendors? What about liquor? Most venues will charge a corkage fee if you are able to bring in your own wine and champagne.
How early can my vendors get in to set up? Generally, many venues give outside vendors ample time to come in and set up the space. Remember, vendors will be working around the venue schedule – at times they are setting up as the room is being set up or cleaned.
How late can we party? Weddings typically last five hours. Most luxury yacht charters cruise for four or five hours. If you want your reception to go later than that, you need to ask about additional costs – most venues will charge by the hour if you want to stay longer.
What about live entertainment? Make sure to ask about any noise ordinance if you’re planning on having a live band or DJ.
Who will be there day-of to set up and break down? Sometimes the person you’ve been working with in planning the wedding will not be there the day of your wedding to oversee the set-up and tear down. Be sure to get the names of the managers and supervisors on duty the day of your event.
Is there a site fee? If so, what does that include? Some venues will charge you for use of the space, while others will include tables, chairs and linens. Be clear about what’s included in the fee and what’s not.
Is there a space for the bridal party to get ready? Many venues have dedicated rooms for the bridal party to get ready. Charter One Yachts offers staterooms for the bridal party.
Are there any areas we won’t have access to? On board there may be areas or decks you won’t have access to. Be sure you are aware of what those restrictions are and if you are OK with them.
Is the venue handicap accessible? You’ll want to make sure the venue has ramps or elevators for those who can’t use the stairs.
Will your guests have to pay to park? If so, make arrangements with the venue to offer a reduced rate. Many couples will pick up the tab for any parking. Guests can leave a tip upon leaving.
Can we choose our own vendors? Some venues prefer that you work with their preferred vendor list. If that is the case, be sure to do your homework on the vendor.
Are there any consequences for not fulfilling the food and beverage minimum? Is there a service charge on top of the bill? If so, how much? Typically, there’s always a service charge for food and beverage. The average is usually 20 percent of the food and beverage bill. Ask your venue about tipping on top of the service charge. Typically, if the bar is hosted, the bartenders won’t accept tips.
Are there any additional costs like cleaning fees, insurance-fee waivers, etc.? Get every detail in writing so there are no surprises at the end of your affair.