Making it Magical: Can a Little Pixie Dust take your Wedding to New Heights?by Scott Trauger, contributing writer
By Scott Trauger, contributing writer
As a native Floridian, I fondly remember traveling countless times to the Walt Disney World Resort every year. If there was a birthday in the family, we went to Disney World. If we wanted to see a holiday display, we went to Disney World. In fact, if you talk to any of my friends, they would tell you that Disney is a very big part of my life. So much so, in fact, that I proposed to the future Mrs. Trauger in front of Cinderella Castle. The special moment was planned down to the minute, so that she said yes, then—boom!—the fireworks began.
You might think I longed to get married at Disney World, but the thought had never even crossed into my mind. It was at my wife’s suggestion that we ventured into the realm of the “fairy tale wedding." From the day I first learned of Disney performing weddings on their property, I figured it was just for the rich or famous. I consider my family to be blessed in many ways, but we are by no means wealthy. So the first thought that popped into my head was, “There is no way we will be able to afford this.” I was shocked to find out that with the proper restraint, a Disney wedding can be quite affordable.
On your initial visit to Franck’s Bridal Studio just outside the Wedding Pavilion, you get to meet with specialists who go over the most commonly asked questions, including information on pricing and possibilities. As you can imagine, there is no fairy tale too big for Disney to dream up—but that also comes with a price tag. Instead, the packages start with a basic format that you can then add onto. After you receive this information and speak with the Wedding Assistant, you have to decide whether Disney is the route you want to take.
Should you decide to go ahead with your planning, it is here that you must put a down payment to secure your date. Keep in mind that the date itself can impact your bottom line. Just as most venues tier their pricing for days of the week, Disney follows suit. Saturdays are the most expensive dates, followed by Sundays and Fridays. In addition, Disney performs up to five weddings in a day, so each wedding is slotted a time through a lottery system.
Once you are 12 months out from your big day, you finally get to meet your actual wedding planner—or as my wife would say, your fairy godmother. We found the year's wait to be a reasonable amount of time to make all our wedding dreams come true. In your first meeting, your fairy godmother will talk to you about the different packages and what they entail. For example, where will your actual ceremony and reception take place? Will there be a cocktail hour? Would you want Mickey to be there? Do you want fireworks? An intimate wedding may cost less, but you may be limited in the number of guests you can bring, or the location you can choose for your ceremony. On the other hand, the more guests you plan to invite, the more access you have to special areas, as well. With a guest list of over 100, you might be able to have the wedding inside a Disney park, in a special area roped off and inaccessible to regular parkgoers.
There are so many options that going over them is like perusing a shopping catalog. For instance, on one end is an affordable base price to use the Wedding Pavilion for the ceremony, while the other end offers a base price for the extravagance of a wedding inside Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. The cocktail reception, if you choose to have one, is also at a base price based on location, as is the reception locale. As you would imagine, other add-ons, such as drinks for your cocktail hour, linens, and food will all have different prices based on what you would like.
Some couples may opt to have Disney take care of every facet of their ceremony and reception, but we discovered that one of the biggest ways to save money was to hire outside contractors. For example, we hired outside contractors to handle our flowers and photography, and this was considerably cheaper than what Disney was offering. The biggest drawback to using outside contractors is the additional work you need to do to make various arrangements. It's also not as convenient as just having Disney do everything.
You could conceivably plan your entire wedding in a few visits. To allow us time to think and make sound decisions, we set up multiple meetings with our wedding planner. At subsequent meetings, we went over different choices for cakes and food. For us, the food options were the main reason we chose to go with Disney for our wedding. I have a dairy allergy, and I trusted the magic of Disney to provide us with an array of dishes that I could enjoy without worry (you can read more about dining at Disney with a food allergy in my previous article). This was the biggest plus for me in choosing Disney.
For us, the wedding went on without a single problem—I would expect nothing less from Disney. Our wedding planner, Marion, was indeed like a fairy godmother; she made sure we would never have anything to worry about. We were happily married on January 20, 2008 at Disney’s wedding pavilion, had our own private firework viewing and cocktail reception at Italy Isola at Epcot, and had an unforgettable reception in the rotunda of the American Adventure.
One more added bonus: For "no additional cost," Disney allows you to stay on-property for your wedding night (we didn't pay extra for our hotel stay, although I'm sure it's just calculated into the base price of our package). Since they let us choose the resort, we stayed in the Grand Floridian Hotel overlooking the castle for the very first time.
This type of wedding might not be for all, but if you ever wondered what it was like to be in your very own fairy tale, you can always count on Disney to deliver you your very own happily ever after.