Did you know that Disney World is a top destination for weddings? Hundreds of couples tie the knot in Disney World every year in weddings that range from simple, intimate affairs to elaborate celebrations. If you’ve ever taken the monorail or ferry to the Magic Kingdom, you’ve gone past the Grand Floridian and probably seen the Wedding Pavilion, a beautiful white building on the far end of the resort property. Maybe you’ve seen a happy couple riding in Cinderella’s glass coach or walked by an outdoor wedding at Sea Breeze point, a charming outdoor location on Disney’s Boardwalk. Catching a glimpse of a newly married couple walking around Disney World in their wedding day finery is a treat; their happiness and optimism is contagious. I had the opportunity to talk with Carly from The Disney Wedding Blog about misconceptions, benefits, and joys of having a Disney wedding.
For Carly, who met her husband while participating in the Walt Disney College Program in 2002, having a Disney wedding meant they could incorporate something that played a big part in their lives into one of the biggest days of their lives. It also meant they could share that connection with others. To them, there was no better place to celebrate their marriage than at Disney World.
Still, planning a wedding long-distance had its disadvantages. Notes Carly, most brides will travel to Disney for one, possibly two planning sessions that involve visiting multiple locations and making major decisions. Oh, and cake testings. She only had a few hours to meet face to face with her wedding coordinator, so this meant relying a lot on emails and phone contacts. It also helped to be a very organized bride. Rather than just sending out “save the date” cards, Carly sent out newsletters and information packets detailing everything her guests would need to do. “If we had been closer, it would have been much easier to take care of a lot of the little things and I think our event would have been better for it. I’m just glad that Disney’s FairyTale Weddings has such a wonderful staff, because I never could have done it without them!”
Think Disney weddings are all Mickey and Minnie? This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, some weddings have no Disney references at all. Says Carly, the biggest misconception of Disney weddings is that people think they are
“all juvenile, cookie-cutter events that look a lot like children’s birthday parties. I think people have an image of what a day int he park is like and they just stick a bride and groom into all of that chaos. In reality, most Disney weddings are increidbly elegant and stylish and many don’t have any Disney elements at all, other than the location. The weddings that do incorporate the characters or other Disney touches, do so in a way that fits the feel of the wedding, so guest never feel that the couple isn’t taking the event seriously or that the couple is focusing more on Disney than they are on their own wedding. Disney weddings are handled in such a professional way, it really is a picture-perfect wedding celebration every time.”
supplies much of the vendors a couple will use, athoughsome outside vendors are allowed. For example, a bride can use her own photographers in most Disney locations, although you must use Disney photographers in the parks. You need not worry about variety available from Disney vendors; they generally can make anything you want happen. Call it Disney magic, if you will, but the creative minds behind DFTW can turn out lovely weddings, even on a budget. Couples can choose from various ceremony locations, from white sand beaches to the more formal Wedding Pavilion at the Grand Floridian. Nearly all Disney restaurants are available for receptions, depending on the size of the party, but couples can also choose certain locations in the parks as well as formal resort ballrooms. Many couples choose to hold extra events on property, like a rehearsal dinner or a dessert party at Epcot during Illuminations. All of these events count towards a couple’s minimum costs.
Disney weddings and vow renewals start at around $5000 for an Escape wedding, a smaller event (under 20 people) that takes place at several outdoor sites around Disney World. Wishes weddings start at around $15,000 and offer brides more elaborate venues, food, floral and photo choices. Prices vary depending on the day of the week and time of the year. Disney couture weddings are “the sky’s the limit” type of affairs designed by famed wedding designer David Tutera. While $15,000 may seem like a great deal of money to spend on a wedding, it’s actually on the lower end of what the average U.S. couple spends and for that you get an elegant, unforgettable setting in what many of us think is the happiest place on earth. Whatever wedding a couple chooses, they’ll have the opportunity, as noted by Carly, to “share the excitement of getting married at Disney with each other” and “with all of (your) guests as well!”
Planning a Disney wedding? Check out the The Disney Wedding Blog for gorgeous photographs and tips. You might also like the wedding boards at Disboards where you’ll find advice and planning journals from Disney brides. Passporter also has a forum for Disney weddings as well as an E-Book on planning a Disney wedding. For a surprising reception location, check out this post on The Disney Food Blog about a vow renewal that took place in The Great Movie Ride. For a very funny take on Disney weddings, visit Sambycat’s (of Those Darn Cats podcast fame) blog, My Life on the WDW D-List. She also discusses her wedding planning adventures on the podcast, which you can listen to on iTunes.
Thanks to the always gracious Carly for sharing her wedding photos.