The first step for us and most considering a Disney wedding is ultimately choosing to go ahead with it. Like any wedding, the cost of the ceremony and reception can be expensive. Depending on your location, adding travel expenses can make a Disney wedding tough to accommodate. For us however, Disney has been a very big part in our life as a couple. We have traveled to the Walt Disney World Resort every year we have been together, and got engaged with the cliché Cinderella’s castle backdrop.
Deciding to have a fairy tale wedding was a no brainer, but deciding the type of wedding was a little more difficult. Disney has three basic wedding packages: the Memories Package, the Escape Package, and the Wishes Package. The Memories package is the cheapest of the three, starting at just under $2500. This package allows for up to four guests in addition to the bride and groom. The Escape Package starts at just over $5,000 and allows for up to 18 people, not including the bride and groom. Finally, the Wishes package starts at $12,000 and requires a minimum of 18 people attend the wedding in addition to the bride and groom. Each package has specific enhancement minimums that must be met and paid for prior to the ceremony. When my wife and I initially started planning our wedding, we planned to do the Escape package, having just immediate family attend the ceremony. Just as we started to move forward with planning, we received word that the Escape package would no longer be offered on weekends, which threw a huge wrench in our plans. In order to resolve this conflict, we had to upgrade to the Wishes package. Though it is considerably more money, the additional seats allowed us to invite our extended family and hold the ceremony on a Sunday, which helped limit the vacation time our friends and family needed to request off from work.
Once we figured out our wedding type, we needed to decide on a location. Walt Disney World offers 35 different locations that a couple can have their wedding and reception at, so narrowing down the options was not easy. Ceremony locations vary between being in the parks, such as at Epcot’s World Showcase or in the Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios, or bring at one of the resorts in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot areas. We eventually decided on Sea Breeze Point at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn to host our ceremony, with our reception being held just across the way at the Attic. The reason behind our decision was that we wanted the feeling of being in Disney, without the large crowds found in the parks.
With the wedding package in hand, the excitement can begin. As early as six months from the day of the wedding you can book a planning session with your wedding planner to iron out all the details of that day, as well as the rehearsal the day before. Aside from making the final deposit for the wedding, this is the last major piece of planning for the fairy tale wedding. Since we changed our package type last minute, our planning session happened about four months in advance. The planning session began at Franck’s Bridal Studio located near the Grand Floridian. This portion of the planning session revolved around the logistics of the ceremony, the reception, and any other events we had planned. Our planner ran through a play by play essentially of what was to happen, who would be picked up where at what time, who would be doing what at the ceremony, and the floral arrangements for the wedding, reception, and dessert party.
At this time, we also planned a small ceremony rehearsal for the day before our wedding to make sure everyone involved knew what to do on the day of the wedding. We had a cake tasting and chose the type of cake we would be cutting at our reception. Finally, we organized a dessert party we had planned as a nightcap to our wedding in the Italy pavilion just before the Illuminations firework show. Beyond the logistical aspect of the planning session, this was also the time where we finalized the enhancements we were adding to our package. Whether it be a confetti cannon, themed entertainment, or character appearances, Disney offers a wide array of enhancements for their wedding packages. After visiting Franck’s Bridal Studio, we were off to the Boardwalk convention center to taste food and decide what to serve at our reception. Here we were offered a wide array of choices that all tasted amazing. Since our wedding was being held in the morning, we had more of a brunch reception with a mix of lunch and breakfast foods. The chef and waiter at the tasting were extremely helpful in accommodating allergies and answering any questions we had about the food that we chose.
The planning session itself takes up about half the day, but is absolutely worth it. We left the session feeling confident in the decisions we had made up to that point. More importantly however, we left excited about the fast arriving wedding day, knowing it will be amazing in the hands of the talented fairy tale wedding staff. We could not wait to share in what was sure to be an unforgettable experience with our family and friends.Tweet
We had none of the restrictions about number of guests or days on which we could get married, unless we wanted our wedding held at the Wedding Pavilion. However, the pre-planning left a lot to be desired. We basically filled out a checklist, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best!
Let's just say the day did not go off without a few problems courtesy of our planner's lack of organization and communication. However, it was a special experience we will never forget.
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