Cruise ships are enormous, but when your entire family boards for a week of wedding fun, even a large ship can suddenly seem claustrophobic.
If you dream of hosting your marital celebration on a cruise but you’re afraid it will turn into the next episode of Family Feud, take a deep breath. With a little organization and balance, your first vacation as a married couple can go off without a hitch (except for yourselves, of course)!
Three’s a Crowd
Before you even board the ship, guarantee yourselves some privacy. Cruise ships have many different cabin options, from windows to balconies and even connected rooms. Putting a simple doorway between you and your parents or siblings may seem convenient at first, but after seven days together, you might begin to feel 12 again.
Ensure that you and your new spouse can feel truly alone together by choosing a single room, perhaps with a balcony or even on a different floor than your family. Nothing kills the mood on your wedding night quite like getting into bed and hearing your mother’s voice through the wall.
Take some time out each day to spend with your new spouse–alone. Spend 20 minutes walking along your favorite deck together or meet for cocktail hour every night at the romantic, low-key piano bar on the upper deck.
Whether both of your families are on board or not, it’s important to remember the reason you’re there. No matter how much love is pouring from your family members, it’s the love you have for each other that will keep your marriage strong. Dedicating some time to that love each day early in your union will set the standard for years to come.
Plan Your Time–and Everyone Else’s–Wisely
Sign your family members up for excursions, and make sure you’re not on the list for every single one. Put your amphibian-loving sister down to swim with the stingrays and direct your mom to the island’s main strip of stores so she can stock up on all her souvenirs.
If you make an effort to pair your family with activities they will truly enjoy, they’ll be so touched they won’t even mind that you’re spending the afternoon with your sweetie instead.
If you choose to sit out a few excursions, encourage your mother and new mother-in-law to catch a few rays together at the local beach one day. Sign both fathers up for a game of golf at the next island.
Welcome your brother and sister-in-law back to the ship with a few cold drinks and a table at the karaoke bar. Remember, you’re not the only one expanding your family. The key to one big happy family is making sure everyone feels included from the very beginning.
You Don’t Have to Be the Babysitter
To sanely enjoy such a high-pressure week, you might have to take a step onto your celebrity pedestal. Designate a middleman (or woman) for yourself–someone who is willing to deal with the sibling squabbles and minor conflicts guaranteed to arise when so many people are sequestered together for a few days.
Establishing someone else as your wingman will decrease the amount of non-issues your family must get your opinion on. Whether you wed right before the cruise or you’re tying the knot onboard, you’ve got enough to handle without worrying about the number of drinks your uncle has had or who used the last of the sunblock.
Leave the small things up to your maid of honor or another trustworthy family figure and kick off your married life without all that weight on your shoulders.
Balancing your precious time between your new spouse and your families in such an enclosed space isn’t going to be an easy task for anyone. Your guests are there for you, so it’s natural that they want to share their entire experience with you.
Make sure you let them know how much you appreciate their support. Use a routine part of the day, such as dinner, to acknowledge your gratitude. It doesn’t have to be an acceptance speech; you could simply toast a different person every night (or a few people per night, depending how many nights you’re working with).
Letting your family see you truly enjoying yourself will allow them to relax and enjoy themselves as well.
Piling your entire family onto a cruise ship to celebrate you and yours may seem like a daunting task, but with the right amount of preparation and patience, everyone can have a blast. Keep the schedule packed, the tropical drinks flowing and the hugs plentiful, and you just might find yourself in paradise.
James Gray has a life-long interest in politics, travel, the environment, and global affairs. He works in IT but his heart truly beats for the written word.