Shortnsweetâ€™s Cruise Wedding Review (Very Long w/ Lots of Pics)
Posted 23 May 2010 - 05:20 PM
I guess I should start by saying that we had an onboard wedding on the Carnival Glory cruise ship out of the Port of Miami on Sunday, 4/25/10. The Wedding Ceremony and Reception were held on the ship before it set sail on a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise. This was a good option for us because we were able to invite guests that would not be able to cruise with us (non-sailing guests). We got RSVPs for 13 sailing guests and 40 non-sailing guests; we ended up having 13 sailing guests and 34 non-sailing guests actually attend the wedding.
We left Atlanta, GA on Thursday evening before the wedding and drove to Orlando, FL (halfway point between Atlanta & Miami) and stayed overnight at an Orlando airport hotel, then headed to Miami on Friday morning (11 hour drive total). My husband & I and most of our wedding guests stayed at the Residence Inn in Coconut Grove, Florida prior to the cruise. Friday evening, we had our bachelor and bachelorette parties. The ladies & I went to the Hard Rock-Seminole to hang out; we went to the dueling pianos at the Hard Rock and had a really good time. The guys hung out on South Beach; who knows what the guys did on South Beach.
Saturday afternoon, the ladies and I went to the Exhale Spa in Miami for pedicures (I had already gotten my fingernails done before leaving Atlanta). Then we headed back to the Residence Inn to prepare for our Welcome Dinner/Meet-n-Greet that was scheduled for that evening at the hotel. The Residence Inn management was nice enough to allow us to use their breakfast area for our meet-n-greet at no extra charge and we were even allowed to bring in our own food and music (no alcohol allowed, of course). We decided to host a meet-n-greet the evening before the wedding so that we could spend more time with our wedding guests; cruise ship wedding/receptions are only 1 to 1.5 hours, so there is not much time to mingle with the guests. We also handed out the wedding favors (all guests) and OOT bags (sailing guests only) at the meet-n-greet. At the end, we had a semi-rehearsal with the wedding party just so they could practice walking to the music that we had chosen for the ceremony. My uncle takes photos as a hobby, so he took a lot of photos throughout the weekend. The photos throughout my review are a combo of his, mine, and the ship photographerâ€™s.
Gathered at the Meet-n-Greet
Hubby passing out wedding favor bags
My sister excited about her OOT bag
My dad and I practicing our walk
My hubby and I stayed in separate rooms the evening before the wedding. I shared a 2-bedroom suite with my parents and my husband and brother shared a 2-bedroom suite. I did not get to bed until around 2:30am. I woke up around 5:00 am on Sunday morning, after a couple hours of sleep. The makeup artist/hair stylist (Beauty by Noel) arrived at my hotel room around 6 am to do my hair and airbrush makeup. He also did hair and airbrush makeup for my maid of honor and bridesmaid. He finished up around 9:30 am.
Getting makeup & hair done
We had arranged for a charter bus to pick us and our guests up at the hotel at 9:30am to take us to the Port. We had to be at the Port of Miami by 10:30am to meet with the wedding coordinators. The charter bus arrived at the hotel right on time.
Getting on the charter bus at the hotel
More to comeâ€¦
Posted 23 May 2010 - 05:22 PM
I was very organized up to this point, but I wish I had made a better plan for the morning of the wedding. Due to extremely slow elevators at the hotel,(which we were trying to use right around the end of breakfast time in the lobby) we didnâ€™t get all of our luggage and wedding items loaded onto the charter bus until around 10:20 am. We finally arrived at the Port of Miami around 10:45am!! It took about another 20 minutes for the luggage handlers at the port to unload and arrange all of the luggage from the charter bus. We had some guests who were going to be dropped off at the Miami airport by the charter bus after the wedding, so their luggage was mixed in with the sailing guestsâ€™ luggage. So the luggage handlers decided to unload everything off the bus and sort the luggage before they let all of our guests get off of the charter bus. We had a bunch of wedding items to carry-on in addition to our carry-on luggage (silk flowers, wedding signature frame, dresses, tuxes, etc.), but there were no luggage carts for us to use at the port and too much for us to carry ourselves. So, we had to ask one of the luggage handlers if we could use his luggage cart after he was done with it. Around that time (11:15am), my husband got a call from one of the wedding coordinators on his cell phone telling him that they needed us upstairs RIGHT NOW.
Arriving at the port of Miami
Our ceremony was scheduled for 1:00 pm, with the reception following at 1:30pm (or so we thought). So, we told our guests to go on into the terminal (out of the heat) and wait for us while we waited for a luggage cart to use. If I had been thinking clearly or had a plan, I would have had some of our guests grab a wedding item and carry it into the terminal and through security. By the time my husband and I, my brother, and my parents made it into the terminal, we realized that the wedding coordinators had already had all of our guestsâ€™ process through security (similar to airport security).
So, here we are, with this cart of stuff, with no one to help. My brother is standing there holding my wedding dress, my sisterâ€™s bridesmaids dress, and my mom & grandmotherâ€™s dresses (in garment bags) up in the air trying to keep them from getting wrinkled. My dad and husband were carrying the tuxes and my poor mom was trying her best to help. This is when we first met one of our wedding coordinators, Marta. Her first words to me were, â€œIs that all of your carry-onâ€; she just had this disgusted look on her face. She offered us no help, just told us to get in the security line and that we needed to be upstairs NOW. We managed to get all of our stuff through the ONE X-ray machine and there Marta was on the other side rushing us and telling us we need to get upstairs NOW. She still offered no help with carrying our stuff. So, we dragged all of our stuff up the escalator to our next stop, the cruise check-in to get our room keys; this is where we met the second coordinator (I canâ€™t remember her name).
The second coordinator was much calmer than the first coordinator, Marta. But, I did overhear the two of them mumbling something to each other in Spanish. Iâ€™m sure whatever they said was not good. I was already feeling HORRIBLE for being late, I was like, enough already I get it! When we finally got checked in, Marta said again, we need to go NOW. I stood there and just said â€œwe are tryingâ€ and I really felt like crying and almost broke down right there, but I held it together.
After checking in, we walked with Marta to our suite, it was then that she told us that our ceremony was scheduled to start at 12:45pm, not 1pm as we had originally been told. We finally made it to our rooms on the ship shortly after 12pm to start getting ready; the ladies got ready in my suite and the guys got ready in my parentsâ€™ room. As soon as we walked into the suite, the phone was ringing; it was the photographer (Emmanuel), who wanted to come up to the suite to get some â€œgetting readyâ€ photos. Poor Emmanuel stood outside of our suite for about 15 minutes, until we were dressed enough for him to come into the room to start getting shots. Our wedding videographer (Cassie) also called the room during this time wanting to come to our rooms to record our pre-wedding interviews. I sent her up to the guysâ€™ room to get my husbandâ€™s interview. I didnâ€™t get time to do my pre-wedding interview until the end of the reception.
Before I started getting dressed, I talked with Marta for about 5 minutes about details of the ceremony and gave her CDâ€™s of our ceremony music and â€œmust-playâ€ reception music. Marta had started to calm down some by this point. I understand her reason for rushing us, but she could have been a little less harsh about it to us and not subjected our guests to the harshness. Marta left us to get ready and said she would be back to get us to take us down to the ceremony. Luckily, between my Mom, Maid of Honor, & Bridesmaid, they were able to get my dress laced pretty quickly. I looked in the mirror and realized that all of the curls that I had in my hair that morning were completely gone (I hate the Florida humidity) and I did not have time to curl it. In hindsight, I should have had the hair stylist put rollers in my hair, which I could have taken out right before the ceremony. After my maid of honor and bridesmaid were dressed, they headed down to the ceremony location to practice with the wedding coordinator and officiant.
Getting ready on the ship
I had just enough time after getting my dress on to slap on a little lipstick and powder to freshen-up my makeup and put my necklace & earrings on. While I was doing this, Marta returned to take us down to the ceremony site. I almost forgot to put on my veil in the rush. I had my â€œsomething borrowedâ€, my maid of honorâ€™s diamond tennis bracelet, in my purse but forgot to put it on in the rush. It was a looong walk from our suite to the ceremony location, my poor grandmother was exhausted by the time we got there.
Our wedding ceremony was held in the Green Room on the Carnival Glory ship. I was hoping my ceremony would not be in this room because I had seen pictures of it prior to the wedding and it looked very outdated, but this room holds the larger wedding groups. I finally met the wedding officiant for the first time before I walked down the aisle (canâ€™t remember her name), she was very nice. As soon as the ceremony music started, I was finally able to breathe. Marta seemed like a completely different person by the time the ceremony started, she was actually being cordial to me. The ceremony itself was wonderful, they were able to play all of our song selections. The sound system in the room was pretty good, which was a nice surprise since I was expecting them to play the music on a small CD player. The officiant went through all of our poems and readings as requested. The ceremony lasted less than 15 minutes, then it was off to the reception.
Pictures from the ceremony
More to comeâ€¦
Posted 23 May 2010 - 05:25 PM
Our one-hour reception was held in the White Heat Disco. Our names were displayed on the TV screens in the Disco. The DJ announced us during our entrance and played most of the songs we requested (we gave him a list and a CD of a few â€œmust-playâ€ songs). After our entrance, we went right into our first dance, the cake cutting followed, then we had a few toasts. The DJ played a few songs, then we did the bouquet toss and garter toss. I think the DJ played a couple of songs after that. It was so funny, I caught Marta bopping to the music a couple of times (we even have it on our wedding video).
The wedding crewâ€¦ DJ & Photographer on the right, Wedding coordinators on the left (Marta 2nd from the left), & videographer holding camera in the background
More reception pictures
More to comeâ€¦
Posted 23 May 2010 - 05:27 PM
I did not have a watch on during the ceremony or reception, but one of my friends told me later that we were actually 15 minutes ahead of schedule by the end of it allâ€¦ Go figure!!!
Between talking to guests and posing for pictures, I did not get a chance to taste any of the food until the waiters were about to pack it up. The food that I did taste was very good. I had one drink from the bar and a few bites of my wedding cake, which I must say is the best wedding cake I ever tasted and several of our guests agreed. The videographer pulled me aside for a few minutes to do my pre-wedding interview (in my wedding dress) right before the reception ended. When the reception was over, we had a little time with our non-sailing guests to talk and take photos before they had to leave the ship around 3:15pm. After we said goodbye to our non-sailing guests, my hubby & I went all around the ship with the photographer taking photos. He took photos right through the muster drill (the shipâ€™s safety demonstration before the ship sails) and even after; we didnâ€™t finish up with the photographer until around 4:30 pm (I think).
Pictures around the ship
More to comeâ€¦
Posted 23 May 2010 - 05:31 PM
After photos, my husband and I headed up to our suite to rest for a little while before dinner, which was to start at 6pm. We decided to wear our wedding clothes to dinner. We changed after dinner into some casual clothes. There was a bottle of Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries waiting for us in our room when we returned for the evening (this was included as part of the wedding package).
We had thirteen of our friends and family cruise with us on the week-long eastern Caribbean cruise, including my 79 year-old grandmother who had never been on a cruise before. We had a really good time on the cruise (we stopped in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Turks & Caicos). My hubby and I splurged on a suite, which we really enjoyed; it had much more space than the standard size rooms and had a nice-sized balcony.
Views from our balcony
At the beach in St. Thomas
We met with Emmanuel, the photographer, on the ship that Tuesday after the wedding. We were very impressed with his work. We ended up buying all of the photos, a coffee table photo book, two canvas prints (he threw in a third one at no extra charge), 2 CDâ€™s of our photo slideshow, and a CD of all of the images. We had everything in our hands by that Friday evening.
The videographer, Cassie, not only filmed the wedding, she filmed pre and post wedding interviews with me and my hubby and even met with us a couple of times during the cruise to get video of us having dinner, drinks at the bar, and walking around the ship. We were also very impressed with the wedding video. The video even included a short slide show of photos that our photographer had taken. We were allowed to watch the video footage before it was finalized. We were given two copies of the finished video (on DVD) the last evening of the cruise.
After the cruise, my hubby and I headed to Orlando and spent a week at our timeshare resort, just the two of us. We didnâ€™t do a whole lot in Orlando, mainly relaxed. We didnâ€™t take many photos in Orlando.
Overall, the cruise wedding was a good experience and I would do it again. I just would have been more prepared for the morning of the wedding. These are things I would have done differently:
(1)I would have packed well ahead of time instead of waiting until the week before the wedding to start packing; this resulted in me over-packing. I didnâ€™t need about 30% of the stuff I packed. I should have spent a little less time on pre-wedding newsletters and the wedding website (since most people didnâ€™t really read anything that was in them anyway) and more time on packing.
(2)I wouldâ€™ve had a plan as to who was going to carry what into the cruise terminal. I had the impression that only the â€œsailingâ€ guests were allowed to carry in items through the x-ray machines. But, this was not the case at the Miami port; the non-sailing guests could have helped carry in wedding items through security.
(3)I would have arranged for the wedding party to arrive at the cruise port in a separate vehicle and assigned another person to be in charge of the guests on the charter bus. My hubby and I were trying to handle the logistics of everything ourselves.
(4)I should have carried a compact and lipstick in my purse to touch up my makeup before & during the reception. My face was very oily-looking in some of the pictures and my lipstick had completely worn off halfway through the reception.
(5)I definitely would have gotten more sleep the night before the wedding. I know, that is hard for most brides to do.
After all the headache, I think it was less stressful overall (and less expensive) than planning an at-home wedding. We probably would have had about 4 times the number of guests if we had gone that route.
Residence Inn â€“ Coconut Grove (B-)
This is an older hotel with outside entrances into the rooms and the furniture is outdated. However, the hotel is clean, the rooms are large, the beds are comfortable, and the rooms are reasonably priced compared to other hotels in the area. The hotel is also within walking distance of CocoWalk, so our guests did not really need a car to get to restaurants and entertainment. We were given a good group rate for our wedding group and the hotel management allowed us to use their breakfast area for our meet-n-greet at no extra charge. They also allowed us to park our vehicles in their parking garage for the duration of the cruise at a rate of $11.50 per day (which was cheaper than the $20 per day rate at the port). The hotel is only about 8 miles from the cruise port, but the drive could take up to 30 minutes depending on traffic. The elevators at this hotel are very slow. I can honestly say that I have never encountered elevators that slow.
Beauty by Noel (A-)
He did a great job on our hair and makeup, but I was very disappointed that my curls had fallen before the wedding ceremony even though the style still looked good. I would have expected a professional to at least suggest that I consider putting rollers in my hair and keep them in until right before the ceremony. Itâ€™s not something that even crossed my mind until after the fact. He was very good at styling African-American hair; the stylist is Latino. He was able to put my maid of honorâ€™s hair (which is in dreadlocks) into a gorgeous updo. I had human hair extensions in my hair and he had no problem styling it. My sister (bridesmaid) wore a human hair wig and he was also able to style that. The makeup lasted better on my maid of honor and bridesmaid than it did on me because I tend to sweat a lot. The best thing is that he comes to where you are. As I stated earlier in my story, he came to our hotel room at 6am on a Sunday morning.
Carnival Wedding Department (A+)
The person I dealt with over the phone and by email before the wedding was Sasha. She was very sweet and always quick to reply to my emails and phone calls.
The Wedding Experience ©
I did not have much interaction with them at all during the whole process, most of my interaction was with the Carnival Wedding Department. When I did call them, I always talked with someone different and they werenâ€™t very quick to return a phone call.
Wedding Coordinators (between a B- and C+)
Iâ€™m still not completely sure if the Wedding Coordinators work for Carnival or The Wedding Experience. In any case, I canâ€™t get over the persistent attitude that our first coordinator, Marta, had when we arrived at the port. Her attitude completely disappeared by the time the ceremony started. I hate that this is what some of our guests remember about that day. I understand her being upset with us for being late, but the persistence of the attitude is what bothered me. The second wedding coordinator was pretty nice to us from the little interaction I had with her. Iâ€™m not sure which coordinator it was, but they had our wedding party line-up wrong. Usually the women are on the left and the men are on the right, but you can see in my photos that they had us line-up the opposite way. I was too stressed to even notice until my mom mentioned it to me later. The second coordinator did a pretty good job of setting up our items at the reception and getting the corsages and boutonnieres on the right people. Everything at the reception flowed smoothly.
Wedding Officiant (A+)
I think the officiant is provided by The Wedding Experience. Our officiant (canâ€™t remember her name) was very sweet and cordial. She did a really nice job with our readings, candle lighting ceremony, and just the wedding ceremony overall.
Ceremony Location (C-)
The Green Room on the Carnival Glory is the most outdated looking room on the whole ship. This the room where most onboard weddings are held. They need to redecorate this room with more updated d©cor like the rest of the ship. The green 1970â€™s color has got to go. The ship went through a refurbishment earlier this year and I am surprised that this room was not included in the refurb.
Reception Location (A+)
The Disco is the only place on the ship where you can request the DJ for the reception. My family and friends had lots of space to move around and mingle. Most importantly, they had plenty of room on the dance floor to dance. I liked the little added touch of displaying our names on the TV screens too.
Reception Food & Drinks (A+)
They had a nice selection of hot and cold hors dâ€™oeuvres (4 of each) and an open bar. What I tasted of the food was really good and my guests had no complaints. I had one drink from the bar that was very good. The cake was excellent; the best wedding cake Iâ€™ve ever had. We selected the chocolate and vanilla mixed tiers with vanilla cream filling. All of this was included in the wedding package that we selected.
Carnival DJ (A)
He played the songs that we requested for the entrance, first dance, cake cutting, and bouquet toss. He made a mistake and played the song for the garter toss early, but he selected a good song to replace it. The rest of the music he played blended in well with our music tastes. I had no complaints.
Carnival Wedding Videographer (A+)
Cassie (Cassandra), our videographer was fantastic. I was very happy with our wedding video. Like I said previously, we met with her a couple of times during the cruise to film video of us having dinner, drinks at the bar, and walking around the ship. She filmed pre and post wedding interviews with me and my hubby and the video even included a short slide show of photos that our photographer had taken. No complaints.
Carnival Wedding Photographer (A++++)
Emmanuel, our photographer, more than made up for what we had to deal with from the wedding coordinator, Marta. His photos far exceeded our expectations, although we spent waaay more than we anticipated on photos. He also works in the photo gallery on the ship when heâ€™s not taking wedding photos. So, every time he would see us around the ship, he would happily greet us by name with a smile and shake our hands or give us a hug. He even remembered my sister when he saw her around the ship. He had such a great attitude and personality. Iâ€™m so happy we ended up with him as our photographer.
Carnival Glory Ship (A+)
Loved itâ€¦ This is the second Carnival cruise that I have been on, but this is the first time Iâ€™ve had a suite or even a balcony. It was so nice to be able to sit out on the balcony and listen to & watch the water. The ship had so many activities going on that we didnâ€™t even get to go to all of the activities. The hubby and I splurged on a coupleâ€™s massage in the spa, which was great. This ship has a comedy club with nightly comedy shows, which is a nice addition to the regular shows. I really have no major complaints about the ship or staff.
Other vendors we used that are worth mentioning:
Chick-fil-a Catering â€“ Dadeland Mall in Miami : I ordered food from them for our meet-n-greet. They have great prices, good food, and a good selection and even deliver.
American Coach Lines of Miami (1866GetaBus.com): This is the charter service we used to transport our guests to/from the Port of Miami. Their prices are very reasonable compared to other services in the Miami area. They arrived right on time, both for the pick-up at the hotel and the pick-up at the port of Miami. I have no complaints about their service.
Special Needs at Sea (www.specialneedsatsea.com): My grandmother has a hard time walking long distances, so I looked into renting a wheelchair for her during the cruise. Carnival has wheelchairs to assist people on/off the ship and around the ship, but not for daily personal use. There are a few outside companies that rent wheelchairs to cruisers. I selected Special Needs at Sea. We were able to rent a folding wheel-chair from them for $75 for the whole week. They deliver the wheelchair to the cabin on the day of departure and pick it up from the cabin on the return date.
Menâ€™s Wearhouse â€“ Coral Gables, Florida: Most locations charge extra if you need a weekly rental. They were nice enough to let my father and husband keep their tuxes for a week and return them after we got back from the cruise at no extra charge.
Well, thatâ€™s allâ€¦ Sorry this was so long, but I wanted to provide as much information as possible, especially for future cruise brides. Let me know if you have any questions.
Posted 23 May 2010 - 06:15 PM
Posted 25 May 2010 - 07:15 PM
| Originally Posted by Cindy* |
Beautiful photos, everything looks fantastic. Thanks for the detailed review and congrats on your marriage!!
Posted 01 June 2010 - 09:36 PM
| Originally Posted by Mrs.B |
Wow! What a great detailed review. I was waiting for this review. I appreciate the lessons learned. I think I might upgrade to a suite now. I was thinking it wasn't worth it. Your pictures are lovely!
Posted 01 June 2010 - 10:10 PM
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