Today was the big day: Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings’ Bridal Showcase! I’d been wanting to interview my favorite makeup artist, Patricia LeJeune, for an episode of the Disney Wedding Podcast, so I’d hit on the idea of hiring her to do my hair and makeup that morning so we could chat in person. As it turned out, Patricia squeezed me in before working the same wedding the Roots had come to Orlando to shoot!
She showed up with an assistant, which made it easy for us to conduct the interview while I was being primped. I don’t have any photos of this part, though, because Patrick had graciously volunteered to head over to Hollywood Studios for rope drop and get me those photos of the Captain Jack Sparrow experience (or whatever it’s called) before the crowds showed up.
He’s so adorably thoughtful—check out the first few photos he took for me…
Back when it was Prince Caspian, Uh, the Legend of Prince Caspian, or whatever, and before that, when it was a snowy scene from Narnia, this spot was a little-known event venue. Since I am convinced that Disney will still happily take your money to do a small party here, I wanted some nice shots that really show off the space—not an easy task in a place that dark. Here’s what Patrick got…
Sigh… what a romantic place for a wedding….. tee hee!
It was so nice having Patrick accompany me to the bridal showcase this time—and not just because I could leave all the picture-taking to him. He helped keep me on an even keel (there was a lot of sugar, after all), and he found us seats for the PACKED David Tutera presentation, and he was a charming conversationalist with all the brides and grooms we met. I’ve been his date to a lot of work-related parties and events over the years, but now that I think about it, this was the first time he’d accompanied me to one of my wedding things, and it made the whole experience so much more fun!
Fellow Disney bride and Biergarten fan Fran snapped this photo of me and Patrick having so much more fun…
What follows is a revised version of the post I did on the bridal showcase when I first got back, but with more photos of us, personal opinions, and possibly a cameo thrown in…
This time around, there were fewer components than at 2011’s showcase—no dresses to try on, no fashion show, no panel of experts, no luncheon with David Tutera—but the main event was bigger and more focused. They also improved the “talk to a planner” option, moving from brief meet-and-greets with the promise of an email to blocks of one-on-one time for asking questions and getting real answers.
The 2013 showcase was held at the Contemporary resort instead of the Grand Floridian. The extra space and the addition of a dedicated room for appointments with planners was great. The bland main ballroom would have benefited from more draping and uplighting, though, which would have doubled as a showcase of the types of decor available.
My favorite part is always the display cakes—and minicakes! The folks on the DIS Boards’ Cake Chatter thread are always looking for cake inspiration, and this year’s might be the best yet.
I was interested to see this R2D2 mini cake, which appeared to be a direct response to the dreadful R2D2 groom’s cake the Grand Floridian made for a DISer a few years ago that ended up on CakeWrecks… Interestingly, everyone who’s called them up since the showcase to request this mini cake has been told they can’t actually make it due to licensing issues…
Cinderella’s Glass Coach was on hand for photos…
As was… Headless Cinderella?!!
There was a check-in table for appointments with wedding planners, and then a separate room set up for the meetings.
It was a nice example of some of the types of furniture you can bring in for an event, including (inexplicably but awesomely) FIRE!
Registration for the event included a bag full of brochures, plus bride and groom pens.
Alfred Angelo had a table, more sample gowns, and a drawing for a gift bag.
The Walt Disney World Florist had four table mockups scattered around the room. These ended up acting as overflow seating for David Tutera’s appearance.
The new, Disney-owned Senses Spa at the Grand Floridian had a table with photos and a signup sheet for more information.
Sephora was there doing mini makeovers and manicures using products from Disney’s new Jasmine collection of cosmetics.
This first photo was taken at the end of the event, so you’ll have to just imagine the HORDES of people lined up for my favorite area of the room, the cake tables.
Pastry chefs from the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary were on hand to pass out cake samples and do live demos. At first I thought the huge line was for the the cake samples, but when I got to the front, it turned out to be for free sugar flowers that the chefs were decorating and handing out.
It turns out Chef Richard here created our amazing first anniversary cake, which was inspired by our wedding cake but came with a completely original fondant topper he dreamed up. So of course I had to get a picture with Chef Richard!
At the next table, a pastry chef was hand-painting some of the various white chocolate Disney characters you can get on or around a cake.
They had small samples of various cake and filling combinations, all weird and fruity except some chocolate ruined by hazelnut or mint. There were also cake pops (ruined by raspberry) and truffley thingies (more fruit). About all I could eat were the red velvet half-spheres with goat cheese cream cheese frosting. They were OK.
They couldn’t keep these white- and dark-chocolate strawberry pops in stock!
Down at the Contemporary pastry team’s table, we finally got to meet Chef Brian in person. Not only did he create our wedding cake, he did Nate & Jensey’s adorable Christmas anniversary cake and the gorgeous 5th anniversary cake we had delivered to our room the night before. So of course I wanted to get a photo with him too!
The cake he’s best known for on the DIS is an elaborate Haunted Mansion-themed anniversary cake that people have been asking him to re-create for years now. At the showcase, he and his team debuted a new Haunted Mansion wedding cake design that was a hit with my Twitter pals!
They’d also assembled mockups of all but one of the Escape Collection wedding cakes you can choose from, including the one I like to call “Everything But the Kitchen Sink”…
On the opposite side of the room were booths for sampling food, plus a table full of appetizers.
My favorite was the Coffee & Porcini Dusted Pork Tenderloin with Dark Rum Demi over Creamy Herb Polenta, because you couldn’t actually taste the coffee or the rum!
The scallops in spoons looked like they’d be fantastic but turned out to be kinda rubbery and bland. But they sure looked cool in a sorta steampunk/Dalek way…
There was also a Poached Pear & Smoked Gouda Salad that tasted like one of Hot Dog On A Stick’s fried cheese sticks.
Last was the vegetarian option, which they called Pan-Seared Bean “Cake,” Swiss Chard with Spicy Charred Tomato Sauce (the scare quotes were so that Lurkyloo wouldn’t gobble them all up thinking they were real cake). Patrick, who will eat and enjoy just about anything, said this was pretty dreadful, so I stayed away.
There were also two signature cocktails, one real and one mock, called “Something Blue” and “Something Almost Blue.”
Next to that was a table for Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, which also hosts weddings and seems to function independently of Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings.
They were handing out cute little bags of graham cracker sand with chocolate turtles and slightly creepy fondant turtle eggs (I dunno why I had no qualms about biting off a turtle’s head, yet eating the poor thing’s eggs just sketched me out!).
Disney Event Photography had dozens of sample albums and photo books on display, plus portraits.
I was surprised that Bruno White, the vendor that does Disney’s videography, didn’t have big screens showing their videos at their booth, just a laptop.
Oh yes, and this DVD case.
Disney had a setup where you could have a portrait taken by Disney Event photographer.
Not sure what the connection was for Disney Golf… things for the groom to do with his buddies before the big day? At any rate, their booth gave Patrick a chance to ham it up with the freaky Mickey golf cart—that thing’s scarier than the clown at BoardWalk Inn’s Luna Park pool!
When we later had trouble finding seats for David Tutera’s presentation, I wanted to watch from the golf cart, but Patrick wouldn’t let me…
Kingdom Magic Travel got to be the only one of the dozens of Disney-focused travel agencies that had a booth at the showcase.
There was also a booth for Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings’ other stationer, the one that’s not Impressions. I think she probably got really tired of people coming up and asking her where Shelly from Impressions was…
I don’t even remember the music at the last bridal showcase, but I thought it was a great idea to have a DJ spinning party tunes this time. It made the event feel much more energetic (although it also gave Patrick an opportunity to bust out a very bad approximation of Gangnam Style).
And then we spotted this girl’s AMAZING Snow White shoes!
Somehow, Patrick managed to find us two seats for the David Tutera show at the last minute. All of the empty ones you see here were being saved.
The mother-of-the-bride character from the last bridal showcase turned up as the warmup act for Tutera. She was up to her usual tricks—namely, embarrassing grooms-to-be.
And then… David Tutera happened! He may actually have been lowered in from the ceiling on a trapeze, or perhaps he spontaneously materialized onstage. I don’t know because all I could see was this:
Tutera spent 15 or 20 minutes promoting his brands and then turned things over to the audience for Q&A. It was interesting to hear the kinds of questions brides and grooms had. Lots of family stuff, and a few situations so similar that answering them was like Magic 8-Ball.
Just like on reality TV, there was one question that had Tutera looking deep into a weepy bride’s eyes and dramatically offering support, plus a confrontation with and public shaming of some poor mom who wasn’t familiar with the practice of daytime wedding ceremonies. Oh, and plenty of hugs for everyone!
I was particularly interested in his answer to a question about brides and grooms seeing each other before the ceremony for a private “first look” to facilitate photography. According to Tutera, 80% of grooms aren’t even looking when the bride starts down the aisle, so nothing is missed by doing a first look—and something is gained!
At the end, he helped the mother-in-law draw the name of the contest winner, who scored a 5-night Walt Disney World honeymoon.
Tutera was whisked offstage before the Hug Brigade could corner him, and most of the audience took that as their cue to leave. The last hour of the event was much mellower and a great time for snapping people-free pics. I got to meet several members of the DIS brides Facebook group, and it was fun to hear their wedding plans and impressions of the event.
The Verdict: Some of the brides who hadn’t been to Disney’s 2011 showcase felt this one didn’t have enough to do, while those of us who’d been before thought this one was an improvement over the first one. I’d say that if you live within driving distance or happen to be at Disney during one of these, it would be fun to go. But if you’re seriously considering a Disney wedding, you’d probably be better off saving your pennies for a site visit and/or planning session than making an extra trip for the showcase. And if you’d like to hear a 30-minute version of this paragraph with opinions from 3 brides and me, check out the podcast I did on the event!