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.

A private fireworks viewing at Epcot's Italy Isola makes an amazing finale to a magical day. Photo courtesy of Scott Trauger.

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.

A dessert plate fit for a king or queen—even the silk-screened castle on the plate was edible. Photo courtesy of Scott Trauger.

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.

Starting our own adventure by dancing in the rotunda of The American Adventure. Photo courtesy of Scott Trauger.

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.

Your wedding at Disney's Wedding Pavilion can be whatever you wish for it to be. Photo courtesy of Scott Trauger.

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.



  1. By mkelm44

    While my wife and I didn't get married, we did get engaged at Disney World, and I have to admit that the amount of planning and help they put forth made it extra magical. When I told them I wanted to get engaged at Narcossee after the fireworks, they made sure that we not only had a seat with a great view of the castle for dinner (we watched the fireworks and got engaged on the porch), but that dinner service was a little slow to ensure that we were still there for the fireworks (I had this dread fear that we would get done too early with dinner and my then girlfriend now wife would want to wander off somewhere else). Also, since this was happening on the last night of our trip, I didn't want to be carrying the ring around for several days, but nor could I just pull it out when we checked in to Port Orleans. I brought up my problem with the staff before we arrived, and they arranged for a phone call shortly after we arrived explaining that I needed to come back to correct a paperwork mistake, which gave me the opportunity to go back to the desk and put my ring in the safe there. I was thoroughly impressed at the thoughtfulness and the willingness to help all throughout the process as the staff at Narcossee, Port Orleans and the reservation service all worked together to make sure that everything went off without a hitch.

  2. By TaraM

    First, I wanted to say that I enjoyed your article!

    Second, it is a very small world, because we were married in WDW the day before you! January 19, 2008. We were married in the Pavilon, had our reception at Ariel's and were supposed to have a fireworks viewing party in France! We had the bad luck to have a massive storm come through that really messed that whole thing up. That plus some problems with transportation (like our paid for buses not showing up for the entire time we paid for and one bus getting lost on the way to Epcot). However, Disney truly took care of us! I am jealous, because your wedding was my dream wedding at Disney. I loved the Italy Island and American Showcase...but we booked too late for that to work for us!!

    Third, you mentioned that you used an outside photographer for your wedding. Shortly after our mutual wedding dates, Disney changed its policy to not allow outside photographers to photograph in-park events. I am not sure if this is still the policy, but wanted to mention just in case!

    Again, thanks for the great article. It brought back memories.

  3. By MilklessMouser

    I guess it really is a small world. I definately remember that nasty storm because it started to pour just as we were leaving the rehearsal dinner to go to the Boardwalk for our rehearsal. I am terribly sorry that the storm had to alter your wedding plans(that was our biggest fear, as well).

    As for the photographers, I hadn't read into their current policies, but I know it was told to us that in order to use an outside photographer in the park, we had to treat them as a guest(this meant paying for them for a full dinner and allowing them to ride with us to EPCOT in the limo from the Wedding Pavilion(both of which were reasonable to get what we wished). One thing we did splurge on was the oppurtunity to have a private Cinderella Castle session, which was unforgettable...We were the only ones in the park(minus a worker here or there) and had the park to ourselves to take pictures by the castle, Main Street backgrounds, and even some shots on the Carasel! When else would that ever happen?

    Thanks for the wonderful comments and I wish you the best!

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