Like many Disney wedding couples, Disney holds a special place in my fiance, Pat and my hearts. I grew up as a Disney fan and Pat quickly began to love our trips to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and aboard the Disney Cruise Line (even before we met he loved theme parks, so it was pretty easy to get him to love Disney!).
When we got engaged, I knew that I wanted to have my wedding through Disney Fairytale Weddings. I am by no means the girl who always dreamt of a big wedding with this Cinderella dress, but I did always know I would like it to incorporate Disney. Plus, I work in event planning and was very aware of the high cost of events, especially weddings, in our home state of New Jersey, so when we determined that we could host a wedding aboard a Disney Cruise ship for far less than the $58,000 average cost of a NJ wedding we were sold!
Throughout our wedding planning journey I will be sharing any tips and tricks we pick up as a Disney Cruise Line Bride and Groom to be. While there is a ton of information out there about Disney weddings at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, I have yet to find a resource that has a lot of insight on Disney Cruise Line weddings. Hopefully, I can help fill that gap for those of you who are in the same boat as us (pun intended!).
Part 1 – Disney Cruise Line Wedding Planning
If you are looking into holding your wedding through Disney Fairytale Weddings, your first stop will most likely be disneyweddings.com. Here you’ll find information about the many different options Disney offers when it comes to weddings, both on land and at sea. I won’t go too much into Walt Disney World or Disneyland weddings, but I will say that if you’re considering a wedding in either location, grab Carrie Hayward’s Disney Wedding Guide. It has a ton of information and up to date pricing that is not available on the website and will help you better determine if a WDW or DLR wedding will fit in your budget. But, on to Disney Cruise Line weddings…
The Cost of a Disney Cruise Line Wedding
A Disney Cruise Line wedding costs $3,500 to $4,500 depending on the location that you select on or off the ship.
Disney Cruise Line and Disney Fairytale Weddings makes it super easy for couples and includes a ton in the price for the wedding. The base price is for 16 guests, plus the couple. You will be charged $20 per additional guests.
- On-site Ceremony Coordinator
- Ceremony Location (Check out disneyweddings.com for an overview of the venues available on each ship/sailing)
- Officiant (Senior Officer of the ship)
- Pianist for both Ceremony and Reception
- Floral for the couple
- Reception Location
- Champagne and Sparkling Cider
- Dinner for the couple at Palo
- Steaming for the couple’s ceremony attire
- $100 onboard stateroom credit for the couple
- Ability to book a wedding photoshoot at the parks (additional charge)
- Round trip transportation between the ship and the ceremony location the couple and their guests*
The cost of the wedding does not include your or your guests travel aboard the cruise. I would suggest taking a look at similar itineraries to estimate the cost per person when budgeting. Your Disney Cruise Line Wedding package also does not include the following:
- Sit down meal – Of course, as part of your cruise booking, food is included. So you can celebrate your day in one of the main dining rooms, but it will not be a private reception.
- Photography/Videography – Disney Cruise Line does offer photography through Shutters for an additional cost. However, many DCL couples opt to bring their own photographer and videographer aboard to ensure they are capturing all moments throughout the celebration. Shutters photographers will not be present to take photos while the couple is getting ready. (NOTE: All vendors you bring on board will be included in your guest count)
- Hair & Makeup – Hair can be done onboard at the Senses Spa for an additional cost. Makeup also is available on some sailings, but you will be asked to bring your own makeup, as this is not a service that is offered to general guests.
- Floral for Wedding Party – Floral may be added for an additional cost.
- Tax and gratuity
If you read the list above of the items not included and freaked out a little, don’t! While these aren’t included in the package price, there are opportunities and ways for you to add services and experiences for an additional cost.
Disney Cruise Line weddings can be as personalized as you’d like them to be. Working with your planner, you can upgrade your cake, floral, and even host a full private reception as well as welcome parties, and other celebrations throughout the cruise. Of course, this will cost you extra and reception/party space is based on availability.
What Should I Budget?
You budget will depend on how much you plan to personalize/upgrade, what stateroom category you select, and the number of guests to you have. I would suggest taking a look at a cruise that is similar to the one you are interested in (if your sailing is not already posted) and selecting a stateroom category. From there, determine what cruise ship you’d like to sail on (if you have the option for different ships) and get an idea of the venue location you’d like, plus the number of guests you plan to invite (and how many you expect to be able to attend). This will give you a pretty good idea of your base budget.
Part 2 – Disney Cruise Line Wedding
Booking Your Disney Cruise Line Wedding
Plan early! Several people questioned why we were planning for a wedding that was 14 months away at the time we got engaged, but a destination wedding is very different than a wedding in your home town. We were happy that we started planning as soon as we did because we aren’t sure we would have gotten the cruise we wanted if we didn’t.
We got engaged in July 2020 and knew that we would like to be married in fall 2021. We picked the fall of 2021 for several reasons 1. We love the fall, 2. It’s not a peak time for destination weddings, 3. Disney Cruise Line offers sailings from New York City.
Number three was the biggest reason because the majority of our guests would be coming from Central New Jersey. We could easily rent a bus to drive the 45 minutes into the city and back, making it less expensive and easier for everyone than having to fly to Florida.
Before you even call Disney Fairytale Weddings, I would suggest having a general idea of what timeframe you are looking at. If you are hoping to have your wedding aboard a sailing that is already open for bookings, I would suggest calling Disney Fairytale Weddings once you’ve determined your timeframe (where you will be rerouted to Disney Cruise Line specialists who handle wedding bookings) and inquiring if that sailing is available.
NOTE: Disney Cruise Line only hosts two weddings per sailing and the most popular are 3-day cruises from Port Canaveral.
I called Disney Fairytale Weddings a week before the cruises we were considering were even announced. I spoke with Rachel at Disney Cruise Line. Rachel is a Travel Planner and she talked me through the general information about hosting a Disney Cruise Line Wedding. She told me that we would not be able to reserve a wedding aboard the ship until the sailing we selected was made available.
Because we had cruised with Disney previously, we did have the opportunity to book a day earlier than the general public. Rachel handled all of the booking for us and our guests on the day that we were able to book. All we had to provide was our general information and where we would like the ceremony to be (i.e. Atrium, Castaway Cay, etc.). This was a huge help, as we heard that people were waiting hours on the phone that day to book their cruise and it was an added benefit to our guests who have not used Disney’s booking system before.
NOTE: If you have previously cruised with Disney, be sure to have your Castaway Cay Club number. This will allow you to book sailings earlier than the general public.
One item to note is that only the couple needs to book their cruise in order to secure the wedding. Many of our guests decided to book at the same time because they wanted to select certain staterooms, but it is not a requirement that guests book right away.
Be sure to check your email after you have heard back from your Disney Cruise Line Travel Planner, as you will receive an email with your booking information and a due date for your deposit and final payment.
NOTE: If you would like a particular dinner seating be sure to let your Travel Planner know. I did not know to ask and we were all seated in the early dinner seating. I was able to make the change on the Disney Cruise Line website and asked my guests to do the same, but it would have been easier to just tell the Travel Planner on the front end.
Part 3 – Disney Cruise Line Wedding
The Planning Process
Once you have booked your cruise wedding through Disney Cruise Line, you will be assigned a wedding coordinator. This individual will send you an email (we got ours within a week of booking) introducing themselves and letting you know the next steps in your planning process. Unlike a Walt Disney World or Disneyland wedding, you won’t have a face-to-face meeting with your wedding planner. All planning will be done over the phone or email.
Attached to the email will be the following planning documents:
Disney Cruise Line Wedding Planning Guide
This is really more of a worksheet that you must complete and return 60 days prior to your sail date. It includes
- Couple Contact Information – Names, address, telephone numbers, and email addresses
- Sailing Information – Date, reservation number, stateroom number, and ship
- Guest List – Name and reservation number for each guest. The ceremony package includes up to 16 guests. Additional guests are $20 per person and if you bring your own officiant, photographer, or videographer they will be included in your final guest count. Children under the age of 3 are included in the guest count for capacity, but will not be charged for the additional guest fee.
- Wedding Party – If applicable, include names of wedding party
- Meet & Greet – On embarkation day all couples will have a scheduled 30 minute meet & greet with their onboard wedding coordinator to discuss ceremony details. If you have not been legally married prior to the sailing, the civil ceremony will be performed at this time.
- Information about steaming the couple’s wedding attire
- Welcome Gifts – If you would like welcome gifts that you provide left in your guests’ staterooms, you can have DCL handle for $2 per stateroom. From what past DCL Brides and Grooms have said, these gifts can take several hours to make it to guest’s staterooms and may not be there until the first evening.
- Edible Wedding Favors – You can add edible wedding favors to your package for an additional cost ($2.50 – $12 per unit). These are only available if you are departing from a Florida port.
- Hair & Make-up Appointment Requests – Hair and makeup appointments may be pre-reserved for up to 4 people if you are having an onboard ceremony and up to 2 if you are getting married on Castaway Cay. You are asked to include what 2 people you would like scheduled at the same time. The Bride will be taken first and appointments are scheduled to ensure they are completed at least 90 minutes prior to the ceremony start. (Note: Nail appointments may be pre-reserved through your Disney Cruise Line online account)
- Ceremony Floral – Included in your package is a bouquet and boutonniere for the bride and groom. In this section, you will select which kind of floral you would like (Base – Garden, Tropical, Oceanfront Elegance, Solid French Rose; Up charge – Calla Lily $75, Orchid & Rose $50), plus if you would like to add any enhancements (Bouquet -Rhinestones $12, Crystal Mickey $9, Crystal Starfish $22; Boutonniere – Magnet $6). You may also select if you would like to add other floral for your wedding party and as decor at the ceremony/cake and champagne toast.
- Music Selections – Several options are available for you to select for the Pianist to play. You may also bring your own music on an iPhone, iPad, or mp3 player.
- Cake Selections – Classic cake styles include Classic Rose, Classic Stephanotis, and Classic Lily. Each is a white two-tier cake with the flowers cascading down. Cake flavors available include chocolate, vanilla, and marble. Cake fillings available include lemon cream cheese mousse, strawberry and cream mousse, french vanilla mousse, espresso chocolate ganache, raspberry chocolate ganache, dark chocolate with crisp pearls ganache, citrus lemon butter cream, vanilla bean butter cream, and peanut butter butter cream. If these don’t seem to be what you’re looking for, you may pay an additional $150 for the Premium Cake collection. This includes different cake styles (Hidden Mickeys, Natural Elegance, Nautical), premium cake flavors (red velvet, orange almond, chocolate fudge), and premium cake fillings (dark chocolate truffle mousse, white chocolate truffle mousse, amaretto mousse, hazelnut chocolate crunch ganache, orange-scented white chocolate ganache, salted caramel milk chocolate ganache, pistachio nut butter cream, cookies and cream butter cream, and double dark chocolate butter cream. If you’d like to use one of these flavors or fillings in a standard cake design, it would be $50, rather than $150 for the upgraded cake design.
- Cake Topper – Select if you plan to provide your own cake topper (Note: Toppers must be 1 lb or less and be no more than 6 inches in diameter. It cannot be inserted in the cake for safety reasons.). If you do plan to provide your own, you will need to send a photo for approval prior to embarkation.
- Palo Reservation – Your wedding package includes dinner for the couple at Palo. This cannot be transferred to another guest sailing. You will be asked to select when you would like to book your Palo dinner.
Elements and Enhancements
The elements and enhancement guide includes additional touches and services you can book. This includes floral for your wedding party and decor, photography through Shutters and hair and makeup.
Shutters Photography Packages
Celebration Package – $349.95
- 20 – 5×7 wedding photos
- 5 – 8×10 wedding photos
Wishes Package – $549.95
- 30 – 5×7 wedding photos
- 15 – 8×10 wedding photos
Magic Package – $999.95
- 30 – 5×7 wedding photos
- 15 – 8×10 wedding photos
- 25 wedding announcements
- 1 jump drive of all wedding images
- Jump drive of all wedding images – $399.95 (not available for individual purchase)
- 25 wedding announcements – $24.95
- Additional hour of photography – $85
There is an additional fee of $85 for ceremonies on Castaway Cay.
Hair & Makeup Cost
- Wash and blow dry – $50+
- Wash, cut, and style – $60+ (up-do is an additional $50)
- Makeup application – $75 per house
Group & Event Package Offerings
Included in your package is a cake and champagne reception. If you would like to add food and beverages to the reception, a pricing guide is provided that includes package bars, coffee and tea packages, hor d’oeuvers offerings, desserts, and platters.
Once you’ve completed the planning guide and returned it to your Disney Cruise Line Wedding Planner, you can focus on other wedding to-do’s including transportation, schedule of other events, attire, and save the dates/invitations. During the months leading up to your wedding you can absolutely send emails to your wedding planner if you have ideas that you’d like to make possible.
Some things you might want to talk to your planner about that aren’t included in the planning guide include:
- Meet & Greet with characters – Many brides and grooms will pay an additional rate to have characters come to their reception. If you’d like to do that as well, reach out to your planner and discuss your options.
- Extended reception – If you’re looking to have a more traditional reception, speak with your planner far in advance to price out your options.
- Reception location – Be sure to ask your planner about reserving a specific location for your reception if that is important to you. You can see the different reception locations on disneyweddings.com.
- Other events on board – If you’d like to host a welcome party, bachelorette/bachelor party, or whatever else, reach out to your planner to see what they can make happen for you!