Today, we sit down with John Barrall, Hornblower’s resident wedding planner and a member of our traditional charter sales team, to discuss Hornblower New York’s wedding services as we near wedding season.
John Barrall has been in the wedding service industry since 2005 and has worked at country clubs, AAA Four Diamond Award-winning and Preferred Hotels-member establishments and luxury yacht venues. He is a member of the original team which established service at the St. Julien Hotel and Spa in Boulder, CO and has since made a career at providing unique wedding experiences in NYC, specifically by the introduction of multiple new vessels in the harbor and by creating dynamic and easy-to-plan wedding packages.
Me: In your opinion, what’s the most important thing for prospective couples to know about Hornblower Cruises & Events when considering our services in New York for their upcoming wedding ceremony and/or reception?
John: The most important thing to know about an event at Hornblower is that we are dedicated to tailoring each event to each specific couple. While we have vast experience and valuable recommendations, flexibility is the name of the game at Hornblower, and we love to help couples personalize each event on board so that the vessel is truly theirs.
Me: What sets wedding ceremonies and receptions aboard a Hornblower vessel apart from other local yacht companies and land-based venues?
John: I think one of the most unique features of Hornblower is the company’s commitment to supporting the local community. Much of our food comes from farms and purveyors in the New York Metro and Northeast region, meaning it is always fresh. This is also important because if there is something the couple wishes to enhance to their menu, there are few restrictions to finding unique items. I also love the environmental concerns Hornblower focuses on. There are no other dining vessel companies in NYC that have such an interest on having a low impact on the local ecology. Hornblower has even teamed up with The Harbor School to further integrate our operation with goings-on and preservation efforts in the area. Ultimately, I want couples to realize that Hornblower has heart…and that can be felt in each and every cruise.
Me: What’s your favorite aspect of planning a wedding ceremony and/or reception for a prospective couple?
John: I love the creativity couples bring to the table. I would have to say, however, that my favorite aspect of the planning process is the “aha moment.” Planning an event on a vessel is sometimes an abstract concept that people can’t quite imagine. This is why I always recommend meeting face-to-face and walking through the event spaces. I find that from simple conversation to paint the canvas and an hour to just be on board, the event all of a sudden clicks…and that is usually accompanied by a big smile and lots of excitement!
Me: Discuss a time when you were faced with an event coordination challenge for a ceremony or reception that you were able to successfully overcome.
John: The goal is to be 100% successful, but everyone knows things happen. Some events have many moving parts and I would say that would be my most common problem area. NYC is a wonderfully hectic place, but with mass transit, traffic and a myriad of other obstacles, I remember one wedding where the bakery could not get the cake to the vessel in time for the event. Once I heard of this, our team set in motion and went to the local upscale bakery and went through their inventory. Eventually we decided on a beautiful 9″ cake in their original color and flavor scheme and cupcakes for the guests, on a beautiful silver tower. Just as we got back to the vessel and guests we preparing to board, the delivery truck called saying it took a different route and was 20 minutes away. The cake was on board before we set sail and we had a lovely display of delicious cupcakes. The couple was thrilled with how intently we tried to save their special day and even more so at their special sweets.
Me: How do you ensure that every onboard experience is memorable for the couple and guests in attendance?
John: I like to spend time getting to know the couple and their likes and dislikes. This helps make sure the event is what they want, but it is more than just about their special day. Where are they going on their honeymoon? Where do they live? When did they meet? What are their hobbies? What is their favorite local bar and what are their weekend plans? Getting to know them as people helps me identify areas where I can enhance their special day with personal touches and also help make suggestions I think might appeal to them.
Me: Lastly, what can you tell prospective couples about Hornblower’s services that you think would most surprise them?
John: I am worried about my own karma! I am not here to take advantage of anyone and I truly want each and every event to be a success. I will be honest and always try my best to point the couple in the right direction.
To plan your upcoming wedding ceremony and/or reception with John, contact him directly via [email protected] or 646-576-8410.
More About Hornblower New York Weddings
The New York wedding you’ve dreamt of is now within reach. Step aboard Hornblower’s two beautiful vessels – the Infinity and the Hybrid – and be effortlessly transported across New York’s vast harbor as you and your loved one exchange vows and begin your lives together. Hornblower’s yachts offer an experience like no other. Complimentary event planning consultation and endless venue customizations combine to create wedding ceremonies and receptions of unparalleled beauty.
Learn more at hornblowernewyork.com/events/weddings.