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Guest Stories

Cunard Weddings at Sea – Steve and Catharine’s story

October 25, 2013


Posted in: Guest Stories

Getting married is an exciting time, one that every couple wants to be perfect. For newlyweds Steve and Catharine, getting married at sea on board Queen Mary 2, was truly special and everything they had hoped for.

We met up with Steve and Catharine during their time on board to ask them all about their extra-special Big Day.

Why they chose Queen Mary 2

Up until the day they boarded Queen Mary 2 to get married at sea, Steve and Catharine had never cruised together before. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t a reason behind the decision to get married on board a Cunard Queen.

“When I was a little girl my family moved to America for a year,” says Catharine. “We sailed over on the original Queen Elizabeth, lived over there for a year and then sailed back on QE2. I remember sitting in port holes watching the sea as a little girl – my mum has got photos of me staring out at the sea. Down on deck 2 of Queen Mary 2, near the theatre, I sat in a window on the day we got married and stared out to sea. It was lovely – it brought back all those memories.”

“We also wanted to do something different,” Catharine continues. “A beach was far too naff, loads of people get married on a beach; we looked at getting married in Redwoods in California; we looked at a catamaran in Greece – we looked at lots of different options and we said we knew we wanted to do something different, but we didn’t know what it was. The way our minds operated, we were both quite comfortable saying that when the right thing comes along, we’ll know.”

Steve adds: “We’ve been married before and we didn’t want to do anything like the same thing again, but we wanted something special and romantic, and I must have done a quick Google search and weddings and cruises came up.  I called Catherine and said ‘Catherine, how would you feel about getting married on a Cunard ship?’”

Catharine adds: “I remember I was sitting at work, and I was having a particularly difficult day, and I immediately got tears in my eyes and said to Steve: ‘that’s the one to do!’ There was an emotional connection for both of us with getting married on a ship. We don’t exactly know why but I think it harks back to the by-gone era, romance and glamour. Transatlantic Crossings are such a special thing, so it feels like it’s a modern way to get married but at the same time it’s really traditional.”

“When you tell people they say ‘you can do that? What a fabulous idea!’” says Steve. “It’s so safe, secure, you know it’s going to work; it’s easy, it’s romantic – the simplicity makes it more romantic and all these insecurities leading up to you getting married – the complex arrangements, who you can upset and so on – you don’t have to worry. You just get these really reassuring emails ‘everything’s under control. Is there anything else we can do? Is there anything you need?’, and as the date gets closer you’re reassured that it is going to be great. The only things we had to sort were our outfits and how we were going to get to Southampton. Everything else had been organised. Friends dropped us off at the terminal, and immediately a Cunard porter took our bags. As part of the wedding package we had priority embarkation, so we said goodbye to friends, went to the front of the queue and got on board.”

“As soon as we got into our stateroom there were flowers, champagne, messages, which made us feel really special” adds Catharine.

The dress

We ask Catharine about the inspiration behind the red dress she wore.

“Getting married on a ship influenced my outfit on the day. It’s a fully formal environment, there’s going to be people who are really pushing the boat out, and it gave me permission to pull out all the stops. Looking back I can see where the inspiration came from for my dress. I absolutely love and adore Dita Von Teese – if you Google ‘Dita Von Teese red dress’ there are photos of her on a catwalk in LA at a fashion show in this red satin dress, which is knockout, and I very nearly had a reproduction of it made. Also, we both like the film Moulin Rouge – when we get to New York, we’re having a private screening of it in the cinema at the hotel we’re staying in. Nicole Kidman wears a red dress in my favourite part of Moulin Rouge, so subconsciously, I think it’s those 2 iconic images that inspired me – that and the fact I wanted the hourglass shape. And I had sparkly red shoes to go with it!”

The ceremony

So what about the day itself? Steve and Catharine’s big day was very intimate, with just Captain Oprey and Queen Mary 2’s Weddings Coordinators, Christel Hansen, and Tanya Svyrydova present. But did they stick with tradition and arrive separately to the venue, or did they do things differently?

“We wanted our wedding to be about us, we love each other, we want to be together, we want to make it official, which is why we decided to do everything together, including turning up at the venue together,” says Catharine. “I expected to be really nervous to the point of not being able to eat or do anything, but I was completely fine! I went and had my hair and makeup done – Maureen, who did my hair, and Angela who did my makeup – they were amazing. I walked out with a sculpture of hair. I’d walked in with photos of Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield and said that was the kind of thing I wanted, the waved Hollywood look, thinking if I get somewhere near that I’ll be happy because it’s a big ask, and I came out with this structure on my head that was just fantastic. I recommend anyone having their hair and makeup done to go the day before to have a trial – they gave me exactly what I wanted.”

“Cunard had planned everything out for us, and because of that at midday when I was expecting Catharine to be very anxious, she wasn’t,” says Steve. “After Catharine had her hair and makeup done we had an hour or two to spare, so we had a relaxed lunch. After we put our wedding clothes on, I popped down to the Boardroom to drop off the rings, and then the bell boy came to pick us up from our stateroom – Cunard tradition I believe! Normally he would pick up just the bride and I would’ve stayed down in the Boardroom, but we wanted to arrive together. The Boardroom was beautifully decorated with lovely flowers.”

Catharine goes on to talk about dinner that night: “Christel recommended Todd English, and we thought let’s do that – it was a great experience. The food was divine. It was in a really intimate setting. It really was beautiful in there.”

“We didn’t realise that there would be any other dining venues on board,” adds Steve. “It was so classy and we were walked to our table – the perfect end to the perfect day.”

Dinner with Captain Kevin Oprey

To top off their unique experience, they were invited to dine with Captain Oprey on the final formal night of the crossing.

“The captain invited us as we were drinking champagne after the ceremony,” says Catharine. “That was the sprinkles on top of the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake! We didn’t expect that at all, and it was a lovely experience. It was our first invitation as a married couple!”

Catharine goes on to reflect on the amazing experience they have had, and what she’ll take away from their special day. “There’s so many little touches and souvenirs that we now have to take home. We’ve got a certificate that tells us the longitude and latitude points that we were married at, and we have some beautiful photographs from our big day. For me, I’d also like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who’s been involved – it was beyond perfect, it couldn’t have been better.”

Thank you to Steve and Catharine for sharing their wedding story with us on board Queen Mary 2. If you are thinking about getting married at sea, then visit the weddings at sea page on our website to find out more, or call our dedicated Wedding Planners on 0843 373 0305.

  1. Ann Wilkinson says:

    Steve and Catherine have a lovely life together we have just celebrated our 42nd year! Queen Mary is gorgeous and to get married on board must have been fantastic.

  2. What a wonderful day you must have had. I had a supreme experience on board Queen Victoria when my husband and I renewed our wedding vows in November 2010. Queen Victoria was docked off Santorini, so the back drop was unbeatable, and Commander Rynd performed the vows for us and shared a wonderful celebratory champagne and was in many of our gorgeous photos.
    I highly recommend undertaking such a wonderfully romantic ceremony at sea, on any of the Cunard Queens.


  3. judith says:

    Congratulations Steve and Catherine, we renewed our vows on Queen Mary 2 , on our 40th. Very special.

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