Have you ever dreamed of getting married at Disney World? Combining your love for each other at Disney sounds amazing. Please welcome my guest Blogger and newlywed, Amanda, as she shares her Disney World fairytale wedding with us!
“You’re getting married at Disney World?!?”
This was the first reaction I got from every single person who asked me where I was getting married. Almost like it was an unfathomable thing that people thought you needed to be rich to do. More than half of the people I talked to did not even know you could get married at Disney World. Surprise! Yes, you can get married at Disney World, and no, you don’t have to be rich.
The second most frequent question I was asked was, “Why do you want to get married at Disney?” Well first of all, why wouldn’t you want to get married at Disney?! It’s the most magical place on earth, duh. Second of all, Disney is a huge part of our relationship. My husband, Eddie, and I discovered our mutual love for Disney World early on in our relationship, and one of our first dates was at the Magic Kingdom. Once we finally moved in together and were still living in Orlando, we became annual passholders and went to Disney all the time. After a long day at work, we’d decide to go relax at the Grand Floridian pool or have dinner at Epcot, just because. Then on February 7, 2015, we got engaged at Disney! (at the Kona Café at the Polynesian Resort to be specific). So really, there was no other place I wanted to get married. Plus, you’re going to spend the money on a wedding anyway, so why not spend it on a once-in-a-lifetime experience? I’ve actually known people who have spent way, way more than we did, and their wedding was in a random ballroom somewhere with a no name catering company and florist. We had Mickey waffles at our reception, tiny Mickey ear designs on our cake, and my bouquet had a hidden crystal Mickey in it; you can’t beat that.
“Are Mickey and Minnie coming to your wedding?” No. Number one, we didn’t want them to steal the show from us, because it was our day and we wanted to keep it that way. Number two, we didn’t want to be over the top or super tacky with our reception and décor, just a few Disney touches throughout. Plus, it was extra money we didn’t feel was necessary to spend. But can Mickey come to your wedding? Absolutely! Our wedding planner told us she had one couple who had to reduce their guest count because they wanted so many characters at their reception and someone had to get cut from the budget. To each their own!
Disney Fairy Tale Weddings has 4 destinations you can choose from to get married: Florida, California, Hawaii and on a Disney Cruise. For Florida weddings, Disney offers 3 wedding packages that you’ll find on their website: Memories, Escape, and Wishes. Memories is the smallest where it’s just for the couple and four other guests, and Escape is a tad larger for the couple and 18 other guests. Both packages start at reasonable prices and you can choose from just a few venues, but you can add on extras for a price. The Wishes wedding is basically any guest count above 18, and basically a “you choose whatever you want and we’ll give you a price” wedding. We chose Wishes because we wanted to invite more of our family and close friends, and ended up with about 70 guests. When I initially called Disney to inquire about the wedding, we were only 6 months out and I was concerned it would be too rushed. However, the coordinator assured me that it was plenty of time and we were right on track. He told me that some couples call to begin booking as little as 1-2 months in advance!
After you work on the tentative details of where you want your ceremony and reception to be and sign your contract, Disney Weddings assigns you a wedding planner who is with your throughout the entire process. Disney also offers couples to come down for a planning session at Franck’s Studio at the Grand Floridian, where you have a menu and cake tasting and work out all the details of your ceremony and reception with your planner, chef and florist. We also went through Disney for our photography, floral, and entertainment (DJ), because it was much easier than having to coordinate it ourselves from out of town, but you are allowed to coordinate your own from elsewhere, they just have to be approved by Disney. However, you are responsible for your own hair and makeup, invitations, officiant, dresses, tuxes, etc., but they offer suggestions for companies they frequently work with.
Let’s talk about my favorite subject, food. During our planning session, we met with one of the chef’s at the Grand Floridian who prepared several things that we chose ahead of time that we might be interested in having at the reception. Disney gives a ton of brochures and sample menus with options for food, whether you want to have plated or buffet; however, you can pretty much ask for whatever you want and they’ll make it happen. Those who know me know my addiction to pizza, so it wouldn’t have been my wedding without it, and Disney made it happen! My husband is obsessed with a chicken and waffles dish they have at the Sleepy Hollow stand at the Magic Kingdom, so we asked for that as well. The chef found the recipe and made it even better, and then put the chicken on Mickey waffles, and we didn’t even have to ask for that Disney touch. And I can’t say enough good things about the rest of our food, especially the variety of cheese for the hors d’oeuvres and the meatball and polenta appetizer we chose. Needless to say, the food was awesome and everyone enjoyed it.
One of the biggest things I was worried about for the reception was the rain, since our reception was originally scheduled for the SummerHouse Patio right on the beach at the Grand Floridian, and if you know Florida’s unpredictable weather, you know it rains almost every day for at least 15 minutes. Our wedding planner, Sara, set up a backup location in one of the ballrooms, but up until the weeks before the wedding, I assumed it wouldn’t even be an issue. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did it rain the day of the wedding, but the rain started right before our ceremony start time and ended about an hour after our reception ended. Thanks Mother Nature.
The morning of the wedding, the forecast wasn’t looking good and I naturally started freaking out. I was one, “Rain on your wedding day is good luck!” comment away from a bridezilla outburst. We had discussed the weather the day before at the rehearsal with Sara, and looked at the backup ballroom location later that night, and I absolutely hated it. Sara texted me the morning of asking what I wanted to do, because ultimately she said it was up to me if I wanted to move it inside or have it out in the rain. I wasn’t about to do that to my guests so I knew I had to move it inside. Luckily the night before when I was looking through the convention center, I saw a smaller room called the Whitehall, the only room I saw with windows and an attached patio area that wasn’t as dark and gloomy and didn’t have ugly wallpaper like the ballroom did. It was even right next to the monorail zooming by every few minutes, how’s that for a Disney Wedding backdrop! After asking Sara to check the availability, rushing over to the room to coordinate with several staff members, and moving some guests around to eliminate a table, we made it work and it turned out exactly how I wanted it. Disney is totally equipped to handle last minute changes and bridezilla moments, and this was a true testament to that.
Our photographer Jacob and his assistant Lisa were wonderful as well. As awkward as posing for pictures can be, Jacob’s humor and laid back attitude made everyone relaxed and have fun during portrait shots before and after the wedding. Jacob was open to listening to different shots we wanted and at the same time took charge and directed us to make our photos look perfect. We also scheduled an in-park portrait session at the Magic Kingdom for the Monday after our wedding. Portrait sessions are available for any of the parks, but we had to choose Magic Kingdom because of our love for the Haunted Mansion ride. You can choose one of three “tracks” for your portrait session through the park: Fantasyland, New Fantasyland, and Tangled/Haunted Mansion/Pirates area. We clearly chose the last track and ended up skipping the other two sections and focusing on castle pictures and Haunted mansion pictures.
Our photographer Jacob picked us up at our hotel at the crack of dawn and drove us right into the park through parade exit near Frontierland. Being in the park as the sun is rising when no one else around was the most magical thing I’ve ever experienced. We made our way through Liberty Square to the side of the castle and took pictures around and behind the castle area. We then made our way over to the Haunted Mansion and took some ghostly and gloomy shots. We had to be out of the park promptly at 8:30am before we turned into pumpkins, but we showed up 30 minutes early to the park, so we ended up having an hour and a half of time and a once in a lifetime experience.
I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have changed a thing, even with moving the reception indoors, I ended up liking it better due to it’s privacy from random tourists and awesome view of the monorail. As mad as I was about the rain, it actually made for some very cool photography shots. Our planner Sara coordinated everything and prepared for every situation, even when I needed a bandaid for a blister on my foot before the ceremony, she was there. I didn’t have anything to worry about during the ceremony or reception except having a great time. We had several staff members working behind the scenes that I’d never even met, and having them do everything for me was worth every penny.