OK, maybe this part won’t be too interesting to most of you because, hey, who wouldn’t choose a Disney wedding? But we really agonized over it, so it might be helpful for anyone on the fence…
We knew we wanted to be married sooner rather than later, and we thought February would be great for getting off-season prices no matter where we were married. Of course, I had been thinking about a Disney wedding since I discovered the DIS’ Weddings & Honeymoons board, but I didn’t want to force it if there were a more suitable option.
So we investigated possibilities in Los Angeles and in my tiny hometown in Northern California. At first we were really leaning toward using the Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood, where Patrick teaches puppetering classes. They are located in Charlie Chaplin’s old studios, a neat Tudor-style collection of buildings.
But I started to become overwhelmed by all the stuff we’d need to bring in: tables, chairs, dishes, heat lamps, waitstaff, catering – everything! Plus, for even a modest gathering of 50 people with paper plates and box lunches plus cupcakes, we were looking at more than $15,000. The site fee alone would have paid for an entire Escape wedding at Walt Disney World!
I started stressing out. Patrick asked me what I really wanted. I said I wanted to get married in the Court d’ Anges at Disneyland, but when I’d called a year ago to ask, I was told Disneyland weddings cost $60,000. He told me to call again. This time when the snarky receptionist at Disneyland’s weddings department said, “You do know that a Disneyland wedding costs $60,000, right?” I said, “Yes – please connect me with a wedding planner.”
I explained to the planner that I didn’t want a 150-person spectacle in the shadow of Sleeping Beauty Castle, I just wanted a simple ceremony in the Court D’ Anges before the park opened and a reception at the Blue Bayou. She said, “Well, they won’t let us use the Blue Bayou, but we are developing a range of lower-priced in-park weddings, and you could have your reception on a balcony at the Grand Californian.”
I was ecstatic. She said I had to wait a few weeks because they were only starting to figure this all out. Well, when I finally heard back from her, it turned out these “lower-priced” weddings were going to have a $25,000 minimum for just the ceremony portion, and they’d top out at 25 guests! At least in Florida you can have 50 guests at a Magic Kingdom wedding for that price! I was devastated – it was so far out of our price range. I called Patrick from work sobbing about how now some other bride was going to get to be married in Court d’ Anges when I was the one who’d thought it up, etc., etc.
So we went back to the drawing board, and I tentatively began pitching the idea of a Disney World wedding. He liked the idea that we could get so much service and so many cool options for a third of the price of a Los Angeles wedding. He didn’t like the fact that it was so far away – many of my relatives live in the Midwest and Back East, but almost all of his are in Northern California.
But the more we looked at the alternatives – and their attendant hassles – the more we both began to think that a Disney World wedding might actually work. We knew we didn’t want the usual cookie-cutter hotel wedding, but we didn’t want to elope. (Well, he didn’t want to elope.)
We started looking at Disney’s Escape wedding package. I wanted to be married at Sunrise Terrace at Wilderness Lodge, but there’s a 10-person limit (including bride and groom), and Patrick’s immediate family is 7 people, so that was out. Then we ran into all the hassles of fitting a meal into the rigid and inconvenient Escape wedding timeslots. 5:30pm and 9pm are the only times you can make large-group reservations at nearly all Disney restaurants, and neither works great with the ceremony times. Plus, we wanted to have a dessert party. On top of all that, Patrick really felt strongly that if we were going all the way out to Florida to be married, we should at least be getting married in one of the parks.
We really liked the idea of Epcot – reasonable minimums (on weekdays… in winter…) and a wide variety of ceremony locations. Our favorites were Japan and Morocco, but neither of us had been to Disney World in 15 years, so we needed to go back out there to decide.