I haven’t personally been to a Cruise Wedding in port before Full Embarkation / Sailing, but I have cruised so maybe I can shed some light on the situation
Most American Cruise Ship Companies (the ever familiar names like Carnival) have gone into the Wedding Business because it is so profitable (uber-expensive to get married onboard) and there is a high demand…
It is indeed awesome to marry, and then use the Cruise as one’s Honeymoon
(Mr TTR & I skipped the Cruise Ship Wedding… as we got married ashore… but we did the Cruise Honeymoon and it was INCREDIBLE)
As most Cruise Ships / Captains cannot marry Passengers at sea, they have to do it in Port, and with a registered Officiant from the State where the ship is docked
To manage that, they allow Wedding Guests to enjoy early boarding… and the ship until a specific time in which they’ll track you down, and get you off the ship before sail away
Regular Passengers on a Cruise that would depart late Afternoon, begin boarding typically around Noon.
VIPs and Priority Passengers (like people in Suites) often get early boarding like you are offered.
Once onboard, as someone else said, the Bars will be open… and the pool. If you are so inclined you can pack your bathing suit along and take a dip
Starting around Noon when the regular Pax start to board, the Buffet will open (sometimes another restaurant or two)
When I come aboard as a Regular Pax, we typically head to the Buffet and grab some lunch (food is usually quite good on a Cruise Ship… especially so that first day aboard in the Buffet)
So you’ll want to check in with the Bride & Groom to make a gentle inquiry if there will be any eats served after their Ceremony… (again uber-costly)… so most couples just opt for Cake & Champagne
Which makes eating Lunch before hand, and then having Cake & Champagne “for dessert” make a lot of sense
Other than that I can tell you the 4 Hours will go relatively quickly. As no doubt you’ll find yourself doing what most of us Regular Pax do after boarding (see we have to wait around too… as our Cabins aren’t ready, and our luggage has to be brought aboard and put in them…. usually happens sometime between 1 and 5 PM)… and that is either sitting out somewhere’s on deck admiring the view (maybe having a drink) and enjoying the Entertainment… always a band etc playing somewheres
OR… just touring the ship.
Cruise Ships are HUGE… and there is a ton to see on each and every deck… from the Embarkation Point (usually down on the 2nd or 3rd Floor) right up to the top… some ships now having 15, 16, or 18 Decks !!
So if you are smart, you’ll pack along a decent sized bag, or Hubby can bring a knapsack, and carry in it all the essentials you’ll need for a great afternoon… Bathing Suit – Suntan Lotion – Bottled Water – a Hat – and use it as a place to stow your sexy strappy Wedding Heels if you plan to explore the ship… you’ll appreciate having flip flops, sandals, runners or good walking shoes for all the walking.
Hope this helps,
PS… Find out specifically when you can go aboard… as YES you’ll probably want to spend every minute you can … it really can be that great an experience. The Cruise Terminal where you’ll check in opens early… lol, very early. And at that time of day, you’ll probably breeze thru the process curbside to shipside… maybe 20 to 30 minutes. So if they say you can get aboard at 10:30 AM… be at the terminal by 10 AM… then you can maximize your time aboard.