Whether the wedding was big or small, there’s one thing every couple agrees on after their wedding — there was so much planning they never expected. Behind the scenes of every wedding is someone hustling to make the wedding day unforgettable — the wedding planner. Some couples choose to step into this role themselves, while others hire a professional to ease their stress. No matter what choice you make, understanding what goes into planning a wedding will help you turn your vision into reality.

We interviewed two of our Hornblower Wedding Planners in our Marina Del Rey port to discuss everything that goes into planning a wedding. Read on to learn their tips, secrets, and favorite parts of their job!

Let’s start with getting an idea of how the two of you work together.

Elizabeth: Jane and I work really well as a team, though we may be involved in different aspects of the planning process, we both like to stay involved from start to finish to make sure our couples are happy with how their planning is going. Jane meets with the couple first getting an idea of their wedding day and what they are envisioning. Once she finds the perfect package for them, I step in and help fill in the smaller details like the cake, linens, florals, and timeline. We both share the ultimate goal of making sure our couples have an amazing wedding day — and that it fulfills or exceeds all of their expectations!

Jane: Elizabeth and I look at The Hornblower Wedding Experience together, always striving to perfect on the services we offer. This may be selecting new suppliers, menu tasting, keeping up with the latest trends, colors, ideas to share with our brides on all aspects of their big day. We love what we do and want this to shine through.

Tell us about your background in weddings and event planning.

E: I got my start in Event Planning five years ago working for a boutique wedding planning company where I was able to learn the ins and outs of weddings and events. I started my career with Hornblower in 2015, and have loved planning events on the water ever since!

J: I had been working on every aspect of weddings and events in England for 12 years — mostly at country house hotels ranging from an elegant afternoon tea wedding to a themed Lord of The Rings wedding! When I arrived in California two years ago I wanted to stay within events but work on something totally different, what could be more fun than event planning in California on the water!

What is your favorite part about your job?

E: I love watching the day come together! When I first meet with the couple they tell me all about their vision for their special day, and as we get closer and begin narrowing down details, we get to see their vision come to life! I love walking through their yacht on their wedding day and seeing how everything came together perfectly!

J: Making my couples dreams come true! Sounds cliche, I know, but we really do! Oh yeah and getting a hug at the end of it all!

When planning a couple’s big day with Hornblower, how does the process work?

E: When a couple begins the planning process, we start off with an initial details meeting to get an idea of what they are envisioning for their wedding day. We discuss all of the details that make up their wedding day: theme, color scheme, florals, food, music, timeline, etc. The couple also gets to schedule a tasting at a local bakery to pick out their cake, and meet with our florist to discuss what flowers they would like to incorporate. I stay in touch throughout the entire planning process, making sure that details are getting nailed down, and answering any questions that pop up. As we get closer to their date, we have one last meeting to finalize everything so that they are stress-free on their wedding day.

J: I start with an informal chat and showing them our yachts. Each yacht has her own character and style just like our couples — we need to find the best partnership. Selecting a package is the next big step. No need to overstretch themselves, my advice is to always keep within your budget. Then the date, come to your appointment with a few dates in mind. Once you have done those three steps it’s a huge weight off your shoulders. Once you’re booked, I introduce you to our Wedding Coordinator, Elizabeth, who will guide you through the whole planning process and keep you on track! From discussing your exact timeline, our menus, the different linens, chair sashes to providing you with advice on our vendors, we’re with you every step of the way! We like to think of our vendors as part of our Hornblower team, each has been carefully selected by us for their skills and helpfulness to our couples. Together, we guarantee our couples vision comes to life.

How can couples most effectively work with their wedding coordinator and planner?

E: Communication is key! I love to know what you are envisioning! The more details that you share with me, the better I can accommodate them. I want to make sure you have an amazing wedding day!

J: Share your vision with us, no detail is too small! Check the planner we send you with every detail of your big day listed. Use this as your main template to work from. Set your to-do dates. I highly recommend the cake tasting!! Never be worried about asking questions — we are here to help and make the process stress-free.

How should a couple expect their wedding day to unfold aboard a Hornblower yacht?

E: We want to enjoy every minute onboard! As we leave the dock we begin your ceremony — you say “I Do” while cruising on the water with the Marina as your backdrop. After your ceremony, you’ll enjoy a stunning reception accompanied by great dinner, drinks, and your selection of music. We finish the night with your guests enjoying your customized wedding while enjoying the sights cruising the marina.

J: The big day is here, which means your work is done! It’s time for you to celebrate, while we make sure everything goes exactly as planned. From the moment you step foot on the red carpet you will be greeted by your onboard Event Manager and Captain, who will perform your ceremony and help you enjoy your special day.

What are some benefits of having both the ceremony and reception on a yacht?

E: It’s great to be able to have your ceremony and reception all in one space. This way your guests do not have to worry about traveling to different locations and your day can run seamlessly.

Plus, it’s a fun way to keep your guests all together so everyone can have a great time celebrating the both of you!

J: There’s no stress for your guests running from venue to venue, fighting traffic, and getting lost! Simply arrive be greeted with a glass of champagne as we set sail in the beautiful California sunshine! Our Captains are all registered to perform marriage ceremonies — they look rather dapper in their uniforms! If you do want to provide an officiant, Rabbi, family, or friend you certainly can. One of my favorite ceremony locations is on our open-top decks, where you’re greeted by the sky and ocean!

What are your top 5 tips for couples planning their dream wedding?

E: Communication, it’s important to not only communicate with your partner about what you envision about your wedding day but also your coordinator and any vendors that will be a part of your big day! The more you communicate what you are looking for, the better your vendors will be able to bring that vision to life!

Organization. With so many different moving pieces, it’s important to try to stay as organized as possible. This way you know what details you have finalized, and what is still left on your list to cross off. This can help keep you low stress during the planning process.

Lastly, enjoy your wedding day! You have worked hard planning this special day. Make sure you take it all in and enjoy all of the hard work that you put into it! Remember, you are celebrating your marriage to your best friend!

J: Before you start looking at venues, work out your guest list — create a minimum number and a maximum so you are prepared for both scenarios.

Find a budget planning tool online (usually free) and work out your budget, keep within your budget to avoid any unnecessary stress.

Set up an online wedding website, from here you can add a gift registry and put directions to your wedding venue. Make it a one-stop portal for all your wedding day info — just don’t forget anyone who might prefer everything in a letter. There’s always someone who doesn’t use the internet!

Make sure the venue you select gets you excited! It is your day and your venue should reflect you.

Think about your music for every part of the day. From background music as we set sail, the song you walk down the aisle to, and your ceremony music, make sure it reflects you. And remember, you aren’t required to play The Hokey Pokey.

What is one of your favorite stories from a wedding you’ve worked on in the past?

E: We had a couple get married recently who got engaged on one of our dining cruises. They loved the idea of getting married where their engagement happened! It was great to have a couple return to us to celebrate another special day, we are now a part of two of the most important days to them and that’s really exciting!

J: You would think having worked with 100’s of brides that all the weddings seem the same, but the most amazing thing is each and every one is very different and so very special! Yes, I loved the wedding where the bride arrived on a beautiful grey stallion but I also loved an elderly couple getting married for the second time — they were childhood sweethearts reunited and an intimate yacht wedding for 20. I’m a bit of a romantic at heart!

A Hornblower wedding is truly a departure from the ordinary. We would love to chat with you about your unique wedding. Browse our wedding packages at any of our ports: San Francisco, Berkeley, San Diego, New York, Marina del Rey, Long Beach or Newport Beach. Or fill out the form below and a Hornblower wedding coordinator will help you get started.

Request a Custom Quote for your Wedding

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