Disney Swan Wedding, The Planning Continues

I’m not quite sure how three months have passed since I last wrote about planning a wedding in Walt Disney World, but somehow I think the next 150 days will fly by just as quickly.  I am still planning a wedding on the beach at the Swan Resort.  With the initial contract, I added an officiant for the ceremony and a bamboo structure with fabric and floral for the beach location.  I knew that the contract could be revised as we went along, so that was a good beginning for me.

As with any wedding, some of the arrangements I need to decide on are photographers, videographers, cake, reception, music, flowers and decor, guest lists, invitations, and so much more.  The rest of this article will review the plans I have made so far from 1200 miles away, some I am still working through. 🙂  My goal throughout this planning process is to be able to have the “Disney” wedding I want at a price I can be happy with.

The one good thing about getting married at the Swan Resort is the availability of a personal wedding coordinator, which was included with the price.  My planner has been great, very helpful and prompt, providing me all of the requested information.  However, I have realized that as easy as it would be to work only through her, it is cheaper to research on my own and book some things on my own as well.  Researching from afar can be a challenge, but with the help of a good Disney wedding message board, I have been able to get recommendations on reputable vendors in the Orlando area.

Photography and Videography
In researching a photographer, I looked at a few vendor sites and read reviews from previous Disney brides and decided on a specific vendor.  I was originally looking at a 2 hour package through my planner.  I found that by arranging directly with the same photographer on my own, I was able to save $125.  Total price for three hours and all pictures on a DVD will be $450.

I decided not to hire a videographer.  Since this is my second marriage, I know I watched the video from my first marriage only  a handful of times.  I couldn’t justify spending that amount of money.  I have a decent video camera so I hope to either bring a tripod and have a friend set it up or ask a guest to tape it for me.

There are so many fabulous places to eat at Disney, trying to select one place for a reception dinner was very difficult.  I originally researched the various restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin, but the menus were not quite to my liking or it would have been more than I wanted to pay.  One of Disney’s rules is wedding dresses are not allowed in any of the Disney parks, which eliminated all of those restaurants because I didn’t want to change out of my dress.  Plus I didn’t know if all of my guests would want to use park tickets to enter the park or if they would even have park tickets.  My next option was resort restaurants.  One of our favorite restaurants is Ohana’s at the Disney’s Polynesian Resort.  Ohana’s is a family style buffet restaurant with a Polynesian theme, which is in line with the beach location and the luau we are having back home.  Knowing that securing an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) is critical to planning a dinner for a large number of people, I was scared waiting 180 days would not work for me.  I called the Ohana restaurant and talked to a very helpful manager who took my desired date and time, a rough number of guests, and a credit card and made my ADR at the 180 day mark (which happened to be Christmas Day).  Hopefully Wishes (Magic Kingdom’s fireworks display) will be after our dinner and we can watch it from the Polynesian beach.

Cake – Yum!  We definitely need a wedding cake.  This does add a bit of a challenge because any Disney restaurant only allows cakes baked by a Disney bakery.  That would work, but Disney bakery prices are a bit high.  So like with the many other decisions, I decided to research other options.  The Swan also has a bakery and a few standard cakes were available to choose from.  I also researched some local bakeries that were recommended and found a beach-themed cake I really liked.  I could go with the local bakery, but the Swan charges a $5 per person cutting fee if you bring in an outside cake.  I asked my planner to see if the Swan bakery could do something similar to see which option would be the  better price.  My planner advised me to go with the local bakery because even with the cutting fee, the local bakery would be cheaper.  In the end, a 2 layer cake, one 5-inch and one 8-inch, will feed 24 people and will cost $77.  The total cost is after we receive back a deposit for the decorative cake stand.  With a cutting fee of roughly $100, I think that is a great deal.  Now I just need to figure out the flavors.

Save the Date
With the some of the basics decided, we needed to communicate all of our information to our family and friends.  Knowing that not too many people will attend our wedding in Disney, which is the reason we are having a luau afterwards, we decided to send information to everyone and let the cards fall where they may in regards to the number of guests.  The best way I could think to get the information out there and provide as many details as possible to our guests was through a website and newsletter.  There are a number of free wedding websites available, so I picked what I thought was the easiest to set up and that had the most flexibility to cover two different locations.

I have created two newsletters so far.  The first was a “Save the Date” which included information on the Disney date and location, Luau date and location, the wedding website, and travel agent information.  I sent that out in August via email.  The second newsletter included information on planning a trip to Disney, how to get there, Disney accommodations, benefits of staying onsite, ticket prices and dining information.  With this second one, I hoped to give everyone enough information to decide if they can afford to join us for our wedding.

At this point, I still have a lot to do and research.  Next up on my list is to decide on music (musician or iPod/CD), flowers for my girls and me, and for the groom, invitations, favors, and other still to be determined tasks.  I love do it yourself projects so I will be doing a number of those to also keep costs down.  Hopefully time will slow down a bit so I can get everything done.  I will update on some of my DIY projects soon.

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