Secrets to Getting Married on a Sailboat
I get asked, “Are their secrets to getting married on a sailboat?” Let’s go sail the York River, where couples enjoy a serene three hours.
Getting married in a unique setting is all the rage, whether on top of a mountain or in a canyon. These “venue weddings” are big in Williamsburg, where you drop thousands at the Williamsburg Inn or an upscale timeshare. One of the secrets to getting married on a sailboat is that afterward it is no secret. Forever after, when people asked where you were, you can tell them cheerfully. Let’s Go Sail has hosted three weddings on the boat, and each was special. If you have any apprehension, start slowly with an engagement or rehearsal dinner onboard. I’ve done numerous bachelorette parties, to great success.
Women enjoy sailing today more than ever, and particularly a romantic cruise. Couples get to enjoy a romantic getaway as they sit up on the bow for privacy, and Let’s Go Sail provides professional photos for free. First-time or skilled mariners are welcome to sail a modern-32-foot sailboat in a unique setting of wildlife and Fall foliage or Spring bloom. It makes for an extraordinary anniversary idea as well as a wedding. Take one of 6 sailing adventures near the Chesapeake Bay for your best vacation excursion: Adventure, Event, Appreciation, History, Lessons, Boat Buying. Sit in the catbird seat or up on the bow.
Here are eight secrets to getting married on a sailboat.
Good weather matters, for this is the ultimate outdoor venue. June is the safest month on land or sea. Warm, sunny days bring warm breezes. Typically we sail around for a while to get everyone comfortable with the joy of sailing before holding the ceremony. Then we sail for several hours. One wedding was on a blustery fall day that led to shifting things to the shelter of Sarah Creek. Then we went out and sailed a honeymoon cruise. Weather is the most important secret to getting married on a sailboat. Let’s Go Sail offers 48- and 24-hour forecasts for special occasions like these, and we reschedule quickly when necessary. No markup in price for the wedding, either. As a contingency if the date is fixed in stone, we can move the ceremony to a nearby boathouse.
Among the secrets to getting married on a sailboat is that it’s a lot less expensive. Let’s Go Sail holds six people plus the captain, per USCG license limtis. That works for some couples because it precludes a huge wedding and a list of 100 guests. The bride and groom have the perfect no-guilt excuse: “Captain limited the invitation list, sorry.” A smaller wedding is also a lot easier to plan and execute because there are fewer moving parts. The wedding tends to be more informal and relaxed, which is important for the already-stressed couple. Let me know of any ADA issues, since the boat can easily move to a wheelchair-accessible dock. Check the guests to make sure they don’t typically get seasick on a boat. It’s unlikely anyway with Let’s Go Sail, but some people get sick looking at a ferry. Ask.
Let’s Go on a Romantic Sail. Sit up on the bow for privacy. First-timers or skilled mariners can learn to sail fast on a cruise Near Williamsburg VA. They get to sail a modern 32-foot sailboat in a unique setting of wildlife and Spring foliage. Professional photos for free.
It helps if the performing minister would otherwise be a guest. In my first wedding on the boat, the groom’s brother was a circuit judge in Virginia who was empowered to tie the knot. People ask if I as skipper can do it, but I’m not ordained a minister. I keep two local boater/sailor ministers on retainer, and they can show up on short notice. The myth of the sea captain marrying couples came from the 1970s sit-com “Love Boat.”
Similarly, it helps to have an invited guest who’s also a photographer. Otherwise, Let’s Go Sail steps in. I shoot hundreds of photos every week on the boat, and it’s easy because the boat is already stopped in the water for the ceremony. People are looking their best at a wedding, which makes photos that much easier. I email the edited shots overnight, unlike professionals who wait for weeks. What’s with that, anyway?
Keep the celebration small by limiting the food and drinks. People like to lay out the spread in the salon below deck and bring the fare out after the ceremony. Keep it simple in case anything spills on the deck. Back on shore at a wedding dinner, you can lay on a bigger fare.
The skipper is trained at opening the champagne bottle. Again, we keep things simple by providing plastic cups that won’t tip over. For wine, let’s go with white instead of red since red stains the fiberglass. For more extensive drinking, wait till we get back to shore.
One of the cleverest secrets to getting married on a sailboat has to do with an engagement. I came up with this when too many would-be grooms were taking their fiancés up to the bow to propose. They were so nervous about dropping the ring that I went out and bought a fake one that looks terrific. It also doubles as a wedding ring. By the way, all three women said yes. Whew.
The lovely couple pictured at the top of this blog flew from the Arizona desert for their marriage on the water. Without warning and just before the ceremony, around 20 dolphins showed up around the boat and started frolicking about. They swam under the hull and dove up from the water and waved their flukes. The minister opened the proceedings, “We gather here in the presence of friends, relatives and Flipper.”
From the website Here Comes The Guide, consider 23 questions to ask the boat captain as you plan the wedding. My answers are in italics.
Changing areas for the bride, groom and/or wedding party on board or at the marina? Yes, at York River Yacht Haven.
Can we do a rehearsal on the boat before the wedding day? Yes.
When can we set up for our event? Within the hour.
How many hours included in the boat rental fee? Three.
Will we have exclusive use of the boat during our party? Yes.
Can my event last longer than the scheduled cruise time? Yes.
Does the boat follow a particular cruise route or does it stay docked? We go with the wind, romantically so.
What happens if there’s inclement weather? Reschedule or shift to a covered boathouse.
Can we bring in our own décor? Are there any restrictions? Yes, but no lighted candles, for safety reasons.
What is the dress code/appropriate attire? Whatever you like. High heels are a problem, though.
Can we use our own caterer, cake maker, DJ? Yes.
Children permitted on board? Yes, but each one counts against the six maximum.
Can you accommodate specific dietary needs? Yes, if you want me to cater the wedding.
Do you allow pets on board? Yes, as long as they’re leashed so they don’t fall or jump off.
Do you allow gifts on board? Yes.
What happens if a guest needs to leave early? Depends if they can walk on water.
Will my mobile phone work on the water? Yes, anywhere on the York River.
Any heating and/or air conditioning on the boat? No.
Ample life preservers on board? Yes, official USCG certified PFDs.
Where will my guests park? In the parking lot at the marina.
Are there nearby accommodations for overnight guests? Yes, motels and B&Bs at Yorktown.
A gratuity included for the crew? If you so desire.
Can we host our rehearsal dinner aboard the boat? Yes.
Let’s Go Sail for a Marriage
Scroll down Rates and pick a day for a sailboat charter. Scroll down Reviews on Trip Advisor. Go back to the Home Page of Williamsburg Charter Sails. Find happiness and health outdoors near Williamsburg with exciting fun on an anniversary or birthday. Great memories! Learn navigation to become a sailor. See birds, dolphins, maybe a Navy submarine. Bring your dog.
Let’s Go on a Romantic Sail. Sit up on the bow for privacy. First-timers or skilled mariners can learn to sail fast on a cruise Near Williamsburg VA. They get to sail a modern 32-foot sailboat in a unique setting of wildlife and Spring foliage. Professional photos for free. Enjoy a romantic getaway. Sail the warm breezes of Spring and Summer. A unique and intriguing event, as well as an extraordinary anniversary idea.
Secrets to Getting Married on a Sailboat
Secrets to Getting Married on a Sailboat lists eight factors to consider.
Capt Bill ODonovan
Williamsburg Charter Sails/Let's Go Sail