Make the most of the sparkling jewel that is Australia's Whitsundays with a unique wedding on boat! Amazing views, a unique venue and impeccable service? Weddings Whitsundays tell us how...
The beautiful Whitsundays are known for their 74 islands that dot the Coral Sea like emeralds in a silver necklace... where better to set sail with your true love on your lifetime adventure?
The Whitsundays has an abundance of vessels to carry you away into a watery wonderland where you can marry on board, with the gentle splash of water on the bow and lazy creaking of the boat, or on a deserted beach with just you, your loved ones and the soft swaying of the she-oaks. This is how you can get the boat wedding of your dreams...
O N E
Choosing your celebrant is always a big decision but when marrying on board a boat, it is important to choose a boat-happy celebrant! Make sure that he or she is comfortable around boats and is happy to join you on your adventure.
There are many sailing-savvy celebrants in the Whitsundays because it is such a central pastime, so make sure you ask the question when you are doing your research.
Once your celebrant is ‘on board’, he or she will be a wealth of knowledge with regards to your options for different vessels, and can point you in the right direction.
T W O
The kind of vessel you marry on is obviously key to the wedding day and there are literally dozens of choices to suit your vision for the Big Day.
If you want a whimsical, romantic feel, you might want to consider an old timber Tall Ship, while a sleek, modern powerboat might be more your style if you are going for a more minimalist wedding.
There is no end to the options available so make sure you do your research online and perhaps narrow it down to one or two vessels to look at. Also check the number of crew your boat provides.
Check out our quick guide at the end of this article for some of the many options on offer!
T H R E E
This is obviously important with all weddings – the guests are your nearest and dearest after all – but boats are a special kind of venue that require a little pre-thinking up front.
How many passengers are there and would the vessel you have in mind be suitable (check the number of people the vessel is surveyed to carry)? And while a brisk sail might suit the younger wedding party members, it probably won’t suit your poor old gran who suffers from vertigo and would prefer a more stable option.
Also, consider any family members or friends with mobility issues and ask for ramps if required. And make sure you provide adequate shade - consider a later or earlier wedding and avoid the middle of the day - and provide cold water for guests before and after the ceremony.
F O U R
Once your boat is booked, the next thing to consider is the styling for your wedding. Just like weddings on dry land, weddings on board boats should follow an overall theme (and your theme will also affect your choice of vessel).
Are you going for the “wind-in-your-hair and no shoes” feel, or the super-chic and sophisticated look with white roses and crisp linen table cloths and napkins?
Talk to one of the excellent local wedding decorators and stylists available in the Whitsundays to bring your day to life and create your floating fantasy, while making the most of the stunning backdrop of the Whitsunday Islands and Coral Sea.
F I V E
Choose your menu
Food is an element you will need to think carefully about and you have the option to cater your wedding on board, or at a venue on the mainland or one of the islands following the ceremony.
If on board, there are several reputable catering companies in the Whitsundays that are well practised at catering for functions afloat, so check with your wedding coordinator or celebrant.
At minimum, you would want finger food for guests while you are coming back into port after the service, so talk to your venue about some pre-prepared hors d’oeuvres or canapes (cold of course!).
Keep it simple – fresh local-caught seafood is in abundance in the Whitsundays and cold seafood platters are popular for weddings on the water, perhaps with some lush tropical fruits as well.
S I X
Wedding coordinators and planners in the Whitsundays have done this many times before and can save you valuable time by coming up with ideas, suggestions and solutions for your dream wedding on water.
They can also organise the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) permits for you, if required, and any other details - giving you peace of mind and the freedom to relax and enjoy your special day on board your dream vessel.
Following is a snapshot of some boats to consider for your wonderful watery Whitsunday wedding...
Whitsunday On-Water Boat Wedding Options
Choose from a wide range of up-to-the minute luxury yachts, catamarans and motor cruisers from one of the region’s pre-eminent providers to start your new life together with the romantic adventure of a lifetime. Leave only footprints and take away lasting memories as you explore the 74 island wonders together. Your competent crew will whisk you to your dream location and you can say “I do” on board, or on any of the beautiful beaches fringing the islands and mainland. Extend your hire period and enjoy an exquisite honeymoon overnighting in secluded bays and inlets and enjoying fantastic snorkeling, diving and fishing spots by day.
Providence V is a 62-ft gaff-rigged Tall Ship, built from the last of the Tully rainforest timber. Providence V is a perfect choice for brides who want a smaller wedding as it caters for private charters for up to 24 people. So why not tie the knot on a deserted beach and arrive by boat? Catch the breeze in the sails and head for a sandy cay for snorkeling, or what about a sunset wedding? Catering packages are available, from nibbles to special menus, for example, seafood, mixed meat platters and salads. Fully licensed – BYO alcohol is available for private charters.
Explore the Whitsundays in style on board a fully-crewed 65-foot ‘Precision’ cruiser. From the Great Barrier Reef to world famous Whitehaven Beach, Mabuhay will put together a package especially for you. Go where the mood takes you, explore the Whitsundays at your leisure…all in comfortable, stylish surroundings. The experienced crew and hostess will take control, leaving you and your guests free to enjoy your Big Day as you cruise comfortably through the Coral Sea. Choose from a sunset cruise in Pioneer Bay overlooking the coastal township of Airlie Beach as the sun goes down. Or Mabuhay can whisk you away to any one of dozens of secluded beaches for a romantic beachside wedding complete with gourmet catering.
A cruise on Sundowner’s purpose-built catamaran is certainly something unique for your guests to enjoy the Whitsunday ambience. With a spacious open-plan entertaining area that can accommodate 48 passengers comfortably, there is plenty of room for you, your family and friends. Sundowner is the perfect venue for wedding ceremonies and receptions. Catering packages are available. Sundowner is also the perfect venue for pre-wedding family and friends get-togethers, post-wedding brunches and hens and bucks parties.
Experience a wedding venue like no other and have your wedding on the Great Barrier Reef! Cruise on board a comfortable and modern vessel to Hardy Reef – home to world famous Heart Reef – and say ‘I Do’ with the backdrop of the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. This is a unique opportunity to create an incredible dream wedding day. Event design specialists prepare the exclusive-use reef pontoon areas to complement the natural beauty of the surrounds with tasteful and classic décor. An elegant wedding arch on the upper deck is the location for the vows, and the lower deck overlooking the surrounding coral is set for formal sit-down or cocktail style receptions. After drinks, speeches and dancing, guests enjoy a sunset cruise back through the Whitsunday Islands while the newlyweds have a romantic evening in the private King Suite at Reef Sleep. The perfect end to a perfect day.
“So throw off the bow lines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.” Mark Twain.
Photography for images 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 by Brooke Miles Photography.