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We did it! - Carnival Paradise/Tampa Port wedding


AshleyW
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Hi ladies!! Well, I've been back about 3 months now, and a very kind person sent me a PM reminding me to post about my wedding, so I figured it's better late than never. wink.gif   I know there's not a lot (barely any!) of information out there about cruise weddings, so I'll try to include as much as I remember. If I leave anything out or you have questions, PLEASE ASK! I'm definitely not shy about wedding stuff so I'll answer just about anything.

 

First things first: Zac & I got married on May 5th on the Carnival Paradise while in port in Tampa. It was a 5 day cruise sailing from Tampa to Grand Cayman to Cozumel, and finally back to Tampa. We decided on a cruise wedding because at this point, we've been together about 10.5 years (high school sweethearts), own a house together, and were basically already married - just not officially. So we wanted something non-traditional but affordable, and something where we knew it would just be close family and friends that attended. We just aren't a real showy/outgoing couple, so we wanted it to be fairly intimate. So, some quick reviews:

 

The Wedding Experience (overall): Really, I had a great experience with TWE. I've heard some bad things about lack of communication and information, but honestly, I always got all my questions answered and they always went out of their way to do things how I wanted.  I dealt primarily with Raven, as well as Denise for my marriage license. The only real issue we had was that we had to pay a $50 correction fee on our marriage license - but that was completely our fault for not reading the instructions! FYI: Make sure you print and use black ink. If you use blue ink - no, you can't just make a black/white photocopy and submit that back to them. Trust me. embarrest.gif

 

Flowers: My flowers turned out AMAZING. I went with a custom bouquet through The Wedding Experience, partially because I don't like the standard bouquet (I really don't like roses) and their tropical bouquets are expensive - plus I was nervous about picking that option without seeing it in advance. It would have been $275 for my bouquet, plus $35 for an orchid boutonierre for Zac - and honestly, we're too cheap to pay that much for flowers, haha. So I submitted a quote for a bouquet of: birds of paradise, stargazer lilies, orange lilies, and white and pink orchids.  They quoted me only $175 for my bouquet, $18 for a matching boutonierre, and $60 for a matching orchid/lily cake topper. Here's some pictures of how they turned out:

 

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Food: Oh my gosh, the FOOD! So delicious. We opted for the hot & cold appetizers instead of a full meal - we figured between the wedding and the buffet on the lido deck, no one would go hungry. The table was huge and had a really nice selection - mini sandwiches, tons of fresh fruit, cut up veggies, spring rolls, stuffed mushrooms, a bunch of different canapes, california rolls, empanadas...  definitely something for everyone. We also had a 2 tiered cake (as seen above) and opted for the mixed vanilla & chocolate tiers, both with chocolate filling. It was honestly some of the best cake I've had. Very moist and the chocolate filling was amazing. All of our guests commented on how great the cake was.  Here's some pictures my mom got of all the goodies:

 

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Music/DJ: Overall, the music and DJ were fine. They had pre-picked songs to choose from for the ceremony, and they were all pretty standard. We didn't have any music issues during the ceremony. The only bummer moment I had was during the reception. We originally wanted to use Jack Johnson's "Do You Remember" as our first dance because it fits us perfectly, but decided against it because it's only about 2 minutes long and the songs we had picked out for our daughter/father and son/mother dances were longer - around 4 minutes, so we didn't want it to be strange to have us dance with our parents longer than we danced with each other. Well, our reception was only an hour long, so our coordinator told us during the reception that they were going to cut all our dance songs down to 2 minutes each so we'd have plenty of time for eating, cutting the cake, dancing with our guests, etc. So we would have been perfectly fine with our original song. Kind of disappointing, but not terribly upsetting.  But overall, the DJ was $105, and totally worth it. He played some top 40 songs as well as some reception "classics" like the Cupid Shuffle, and definitely kept everyone moving.

 

Videographer: We went with the $495 basic video package. The videographer we had for our trip was Vlad, and he was super awesome! He did a great job capturing all the important stuff during the ceremony & reception. The only awkward thing was the interviews - basically they asked us questions (separately) before the wedding and then more questions (together) after the wedding. It was a little weird answering some of the questions, but they fit in really well with the video that Vlad put together. On our first sailing day, he also shot some footage of the ship and us walking around the ship, which was pretty fun.  He put it all together into a really nice video with music and it came in a leather case. We also got to watch it before the cruise was over to make sure there weren't any mistakes or changes to be made, which I thought was nice. He also threw in a couple DVD's of the "highlight" video they make of the entire cruise, which I thought was nice.

 

Photography: I'll try not to make this section too long, because I could go on forever about how amazing our photographer was. We had Rommel, and he was the head of the photography dept on the Paradise, so I feel like we got pretty lucky. He got some amazing shots and gave us a really great deal. He started off before the wedding taking some shots of Zac and his best man in the ceremony location, and then came to our suite to get some pictures of me, my mom, and maid of honor. He was really great about asking what shots we wanted, and positioning us in flattering poses, and was pretty creative with what he did. He got a ton of great shots during the ceremony & reception, and then afterwards, he did a session with Zac & I in our ceremony & reception locations, and then out on the top deck of the ship. He spent a TON of time with us (like 2 hours after the reception was over) and honestly, he would have spent more with us but we were exhausted and really couldn't stand to do pictures any longer.  When it came time to buy the pictures, there was definitely no pressure whatsoever and he gave us a good deal. He met with us in one of the lounges, and brought along a CD of pictures, slideshow, coffee table book, plus prints of all our pictures. All the "staged" pictures were 8x10 and the candid pictures were 5x7.  He left us alone to look at everything, and honestly, we loved all of them! When he came back, we told him we decided on the Deluxe ($999) package that included 35 8x10's, 25 5x7's, 1 CD, 1 Canvas, and 1 DVD slideshow. We also wanted to purchase the coffee table book, which was quite a bit extra, but it was done SO beautifully. He started to help us pick out what pictures were wanted for our prints, and finally he told us that he wanted to upgrade our package for us at no cost so that we would get all the prints he had. We wound up with the Pinnacle package ($1999) which included 80 8x10's, 45 5x7's, 2 canvases, 2 CD's, and 2 DVD's - but for the Deluxe price.  Anyway, without further ado, here are some of my favorite shots:

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Embarkation/Wedding coordinator: Since we had a port wedding, we (and all our guests) got priority embarkation, which was really nice. We had to be there by 10 am, and our whole group went through security and the check-in lines before anyone else. We then got seated in a different section than all the other cruisers. Our wedding coordinator from The Wedding Experience (I can't remember her name & feel terrible - but she was so great!) made sure everyone stayed together and no "extra" people slipped into our group. After we boarded the ship, she showed our guests how to get to the lido deck, and brought the wedding party (minus me, my mom & aunt) to the ceremony location to do a quick walk-through of the wedding. As they were doing the walk-through, I got to go to my suite (along with my mom and aunt) to get ready and dressed. We had just about enough time to get me into my wedding dress, clip my hair pin into place, and freshen up my makeup before Rommel showed up to do some pictures. We did pictures for about 20-25 minutes in my room, and then the coordinator came back to fetch us for the wedding!  During the reception, she made sure everyone had enough food and drinks, and she passed out our wedding favors (personalized M&M's) for us, and made sure that everyone had signed the guestbook. She was so wonderful, and did a million little things that I'm sure no one else would have thought of for us - she even had guest services send a vase to our suite so I could stick my bouquet in there for the duration of the cruise before it got thrown out on the last day.

 

Overall, we had such a great experience with our cruise wedding, and I'd do it all over again if I had the chance. I was so stressed beforehand about stupid things - condition of the ship, how the food would be, if people would have fun, etc. and I wish I would have just let go. Honestly, everything was pretty much taken care of, and if we needed something, there was always someone willing to help us out. 

 

I think that's everything, although I'm sure I forgot plenty, so please feel free to ask away with any questions or concerns you have!

 

-Ashley

 

 

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Ashley-

 

Thank you so much for posting! As you mention, any cruise review is so wonderful and fun to read. I really appreciate you taking the time to post the review.

 

From the pictures, it looks like you had an amazing wedding and it sounds like you totally scored with your photographer. I wonder if I could ever get so lucky with getting such a discounted photo package!

 

Question - did you bring any personalized things for your ceremony/reception? Also, did you plan any events with all of your guests on board to get to know each other?

 

Congratulations on a beautiful wedding! 

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Originally Posted by Arch713 View Post

Ashley-

 

Thank you so much for posting! As you mention, any cruise review is so wonderful and fun to read. I really appreciate you taking the time to post the review.

 

From the pictures, it looks like you had an amazing wedding and it sounds like you totally scored with your photographer. I wonder if I could ever get so lucky with getting such a discounted photo package!

 

Question - did you bring any personalized things for your ceremony/reception? Also, did you plan any events with all of your guests on board to get to know each other?

 

Congratulations on a beautiful wedding! 

 

Thanks for all the kind words!

 

As far as personalized things - not very much. We brought a personalized cake topper (just an "F" initial from Michael's), a guestbook, some "in memory" charms for my bouquet, and then our favors - the personalized M&M's. Honestly, with all the luggage I was bringing, I didn't want to try and lug a bunch of crap onto the ship with me that would just get thrown away or I'd have no use for after the wedding. My fiance and I are not religious at all, so we didn't feel the need to bring anything related to that for the ceremony.  The only thing I'll add is that if you bring anything personalized that you want to keep, make sure you keep an eye on it! I had these really great "in memory" charms made by someone on Etsy for me - two little 1"x1" tiles that had a picture of me and each of my grandpa's that passed away on it, and they had ribbon attached that tied onto my bouquet. Somewhere between the reception and pictures, I set my bouquet down and it apparently got thrown away with the rest of the stuff from the reception. I didn't realize it until later that evening, so I was pretty much out of luck.    Anyway, the second reason we didn't bring much personalized stuff is because you don't know the location of your ceremony & reception until about two weeks before the wedding. So we didn't want to bring a lot of color-specific things and have them clash with the room we were given.   Carnival did a wonderful job as far as decorating, so there really wasn't much of a need to bring anything in the long run.

 

As far as guests getting to know each other - we had 30 people sailing with us, and it was mostly family, so our guests (luckily) sort of knew each other already, or at least knew of each other. The night before the cruise, we hosted a "meet & greet" dinner at a local Columbian restaurant in Tampa, so everyone got to visit and socialize there.  While on the cruise, we didn't really plan anything, but we were pleasantly surprised at how much everyone interacted on their own. A lot of people wound up eating dinner together, or going to comedy shows together, things like that. Surprisingly everyone got along, and there was no drama. :)

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Hi Ashley!  Beautiful Wedding! I am so debating on having a cruise wedding. What was the location of your reception?
Thank you! Our ceremony was in the Leonardo Lounge, and the reception was in the Rex Nightclub. Both locations were really nice and spacious, I was pleasantly surprised.
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