When I was little, Walt Disney World in Florida was in its infancy. I went to the Magic Kingdom when that was the only park there. I loved it and came home singing “It’s a Small World” for months, or maybe years, helped by the fact that my mom bought the record (yes, record!?!) for me. It wasn’t until my first trip as a parent though, when my oldest daughter was 2 and I was pregnant with her sister, that I really saw the magic. Seeing everything through my daughter’s eyes made me enjoy Disney even more. Once I found that magic, Disney became my “happy place”. We have returned almost every year since then, with Disney becoming an even more special place after I became divorced. This was my “special place” with my girls that I continued to take them to, many times just the three of us.
Fast forward to now, quite a few years after getting divorced and now planning on remarrying. Originally I was planning a luau in my backyard so we can perform the ceremony and have a reception. But the more I thought about it, the more unsatisfying I found it. I wanted to plan a family trip to Disney next summer (2012) and decided that I wanted to also be married in my Happy Place. That was the starting point for my research on having a Disney Weddings.
Naturally I started with Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings website and emailing them for information. Disney offers 3 different packages — Couture Collection, Wishes Collection, and Escape Collection. The Couture Collection is “available at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, this collection lets you turn your childhood fantasies into reality with all the glamour of a celebrity wedding”. The Wishes collection is “available at Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, this collection lets you customize your Event to be anything your heart desires.” The Escape collection “is available at Walt Disney World Resort, and provides an intimate setting and ceremony for just the two of you, or up to 18 guests.” Currently, Disney is offering a fourth option, the Memories Collection, which is available through Spring 2012 (at this time). The Memories Collection “is available at Walt Disney World Resort, and provides an intimate ceremony for just the two of you, or up to 4 guests.” Disney included quite a bit of information on most of the collections in the email.
Couture weddings can be reserved starting 18 months before the wedding date. These weddings start at $65,000 with a number of minimums that need to be met, including an overall minimum expenditure, a decor minimum expenditure, and a food and beverage minimum expenditure of at least $175 per person. Definitely out of my budget.
Wishes weddings can but reserved starting 12 months before the wedding date and require a minimum of 20 guests. These wedding start at $12,000, depending on the day of the week and time of the wedding. There are minimum food expenditures that apply to the wedding price. This, too is out of my budget and I am not sure on a final headcount at this time.
Escape weddings can be reserved 8 months before the wedding date. These weddings start around $4,750, depending on the location and day and time, with a maximum guest count of 20 people, depending on the wedding venue. A 4 night reservation at a Disney resort is required. Disney includes a lot of items in this wedding, but it isn’t fully customizable. If you don’t want something that is included, you can’t remove it. Included in this wedding is a wedding consultant, fresh flowers for the bride and groom, wedding cake with 2 bottles of champagne, violinist/organist, 4 hours of limo service, 2 hours of photography, a personal wedding website, and 2 annual passes. This was getting more in my price range, but the locations I wanted (beach) would only allow 8 people, so I had to continue looking at options.
Memories weddings are currently available through March, 2012. These weddings can be booked 6 months before the wedding date and start at $1,991 for the couple and up to 4 additional guests. A 2 night onsite reservation is required. Included in this wedding is a wedding coordinator, fresh flowers for the bride, a violinist, wedding website, 1 hour of photography, and the choice of a 3 hour limo charter for transportation to and from your wedding ceremony or a romantic in room celebration. We definitely liked this option since is was simple, but we knew we would have more than 6 people total and we were planning a summer wedding so our kids wouldn’t miss school.
I wasn’t about to give up hope! I still wanted to find additional options for getting married so I turned to the internet for more options and found a lot of people get married at the Swan Resort, which is a Disney resort. I filled out the basic information and received a reply within an hour. The Swan’s base package starts at $1,595 and is fully customizable. The base package includes a wedding coordinator, site reservation with a backup location in case it rains, water station, and hospitality suite to use on your wedding day. From there you can add on with no limits or minimums. You could even have Disney character appearances if you wished. This was definitely the best option for me.
I have booked my wedding at the Swan Resort for June, 2012 and chose a beach location. As that time comes, I will write on the challenges of planning a wedding from 1,200 miles away.