The first time I visited Walt Disney World and saw the Wedding Pavilion I said that’s where I was going to get married. Never in a million years did I dream it would one day be a reality. But it happened. I got married at Disney’s Fairytale Wedding Pavilion, and it was a true fairytale wedding and dream come true!
The day after my boyfriend proposed to me at Sunset Pointe at the Polynesian Resort I dragged him off to Franck’s, the wedding studio next door to Disney’s Fairytale Wedding Pavilion. One of the ladies there told us about Disney weddings and the timelines they work to. We wouldn’t be able to book our date until 12 months before, and couldn’t sign the contract until 8 months out. But in the meantime we were assigned a Sales Manager, Heidi, who helped answer any questions we had and booked us in for the Wedding Pavilion on our preferred date. We couldn’t do anymore planning or get any costs until we’d signed the Letter of Agreement, at which point we said goodbye to Heidi and were assigned an Wedding Planner, Diane. The planning could now begin in ernest!
Diane emailed us sample menus, details of costs, and helped plan the wedding right down to the last detail. We were lucky enough to be able to visit Disney World for a planning session 6 months before the wedding. There we got a chance to meet Diane in person and discuss our big day in detail. We also had a cake tasting session (highly recommended!) and a menu tasting. For the menu tasting we were taken to the kitchens at the Grand Floridian, where we had the attention of our own personal waiter and chef. We fully expected just small samples of food from the menu items we’d chosen, but instead we were served up the full meal, from appetizer right through to dessert! Disney take care of every last detail, right down to the type of napkin fold you want at the reception!
The months soon passed by in a flurry of invitation sending and placecard making, and before we knew it it was our wedding day.
After a night spent alone in the amazing room 4021 (more on that in a later post!) at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort I awoke early to find a beautiful perfect, sunny day. Breakfast was courtesy of room service before Carolyn arrived to steam my dress. She was quickly done and I had a while to wait before anyone else was due to arrive, so I popped down to the concierge lounge where I found my new friends, two wonderful CMs who seemed as excited as I was about the wedding even though I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the first bride to grace their lounge!
Soon Lisa the hair and make-up lady arrived to work their magic on my chief bridesmaid and myself. From there on in it was a whirlwind! My other bridesmaids and flower girl arrived, along with the photographer Randy Chapman, videographer Stan of STVS, and last but not least the flowers. We’d met Laura Kidd, the Floral Event Manager, at our planning session and had many a discussion by email, exchanging photos of bouquet arrangements and ideas of what I wanted. I’d chosen colours that co-ordinated with my husband’s kilt (he’s Scottish), with ivory roses, purple lisianthus, magenta pink freesia, and light blue hydrangea. When I saw the bouquet I was delighted, it was much better than I’d expected. And who could have a Disney wedding bouquet without a hidden Mickey?!
Once I was made-up and dressed I made my way out of the room to find the sweetest little old man waiting to help me – Richard. I’d heard about Richard when researching Disney weddings online. He was the Grand Floridian’s footman who was on hand to help the brides there. I never expected him to turn up at my wedding, but there he was, smiling away, ready to lead the way or hold my dress while I walked. And a fantastic job he did too!
The team at Disney weddings are like the secret service, each equipped with headsets, knowing where everyone is and where they are supposed to be at any given time. It’s all planned with military precision so that the groom and guests don’t see the bride before she enters the ceremony, and everything runs on time. Although I have to say nothing felt rushed, and everything was seemless. It’s only when I look back on the day that I realise just how many different people there were at every stage, making sure it all went to plan.
My husband-to-be had his photos taken downstairs at the Grand Floridian and had been whisked away to the Pavilion in the limousine before I made my way down for my photo session. After a few photos, my bridesmaids were driven off in the limo to the Pavilion and it was just me, my Mum & Dad. Whilst taking a photo, Randy told me to turn around and look. That was the first time I cried that day. There, behind me, trundling along quietly was Cinderella’s Coach, complete with footmen and six white horses. It suddenly hit me…my dream had come true. We climbed aboard and began the short journey to the Wedding Pavilion, people waving to us as we passed by.
It was well worth the hefty price tag for that all-too-short journey!
Once at the Wedding Pavilion we were ushered into the Bride’s Vestibule where my bridesmaids were already waiting. Time for a few last minute make-up touch-ups and adjustments before the ceremony began. The music from the Pavilion is piped into the Vestibule, so you know exactly where proceedings are up to. Diane was also on hand to let us know when it was time for each of us to leave. Before long it was just my Dad and me left in the room. No time for any last minute nerves as we were told it was time to go. 2pm on the dot and the chimes rang out. Diane and one of her team were on each side of the white doors. They asked if I was ready to go and pulled open the doors to reveal a room full of our family and friends. Bill the organist, accompanied by the violinist began to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D and we walked slowly up the aisle to where my groom was waiting for me at the altar.
The ceremony went exactly to plan and before long we were Mr & Mrs!
We had a few photos taken at Picture Point before our “staged exit.” This is where all of our guests lined the pathway leading to/from the Pavilion and showered us with confetti as we walked by. Our guests were taken back to the Summerhouse at the Grand Floridian for the pre-reception / cocktail hour on the motor coach we’d hired, while we returned to the Pavilion for more photos. Once they were finished my husband got to ride in the coach with me on our trip back to the Grand Floridian.
There we had a short time to sample the fresh fruit buffet, have a much-needed drink, a few morew photos, and chat to our guests at the beautiful beach-side location. We sneaked away before everyone else so that we could see the room set up in the Grand’s St Augustine ballrooms, which are located in the Resort’s Convention Centre. The room and table set-ups were more than we could have ever hoped for, and the cake just blew me away. We’d only planned to have the plain cake with white chocolate castle topper, but at the last minute saw a photo online and requested fresh floral on the cake, which turned out to be a great decision. Our cake flavors were – chocolate cake with milk chocolate mousse for the top layer, marble cake with white chocolate mousse for the middle layer, and yellow cake with raspberry mousse and fresh raspberries on the bottom layer.
We didn’t have a huge amount of room decor, just the castle and coach light gobos on the wall and floor, chair covers, and floral arrangements on the tables. Our altar arrangement from the chapel had been brought over by the Disney team and placed on our sweetheart table. Our theme for the wedding was Cinderella, as if you hadn’t guessed already, and our table names included “Pumpkin Coach table,” “Prince Charming table,” and “Happily Ever After table.”
Before our guests arrived we were taken into an adjoining room so we could make our grand entrance as the new Mr & Mrs once everyone was seated.
After the rather boring sounding “Fresh bibb lettuce tossed with mixed greens, fresh berries, roma tomatoes & euro cucumbers, with raspberry or champagne vinaigrette,” came our first surprise of the day for our guests. The music stopped and “Be our Guest” began to play as waiters paraded in carrying trays of ice slippers, lit from underneath with blue lights, and filled with raspberry/champagne sorbet.
Onto the main course, which was a choice of “filet of beef or grilled chicken breast” with “cabernet demi sauce, mashed potatoes, julienne carrots and asparagus.” There had been an overwhelming choice of menu items offered to us by Disney, but we opted for something simple to suit all tastes.
Next was another surprise which we’d managed to keep a secret from our guests. The Cinderella slipper dessert. “A white chocolate slipper filled with fresh cream and raspberries on a Castle silk screen plate, accompanied by dark chocolate mousse.”
Once dinner was over it was time to party! I’d read fantastic things about a DJ called Scooter, and had contacted him months in advance to make sure he was available. He didn’t disappoint! I’d never before or since been to a wedding where every guest was up on their feet, but Scooter achieved this!
“Hey Mickey!” began to play as we led two very special guests into the room – Mickey & Minnie! We’d only booked them for the 30 minute time slot, but I’m sure they must have been there longer than that. They danced with us and our guests, posed for pictures with us and our parents, helped us cut the cake and had a group photo with all of our guests.
One last surprise during the last dance. At exactly the right moment during the song a confetti canon went off, showering all our guests on the dance floor with pale blue, silver and white confetti.
The four hour reception was over with too soon, but the night didn’t end there! Everyone piled onto the motor coach, and after a rendition of “The wheels on the bus” we were soon pulling into Epcot backstage. And yes, even wedding parties, brides and grooms have to undergo a security check when they enter the park backstage! We came out into the public area somewhere between the UK & Canada pavilions, and on the short walk to the UK lower terrace, next to the Rose & Crown, we were congratulated and applauded by the park guests as we walked by which felt very strange!
Disney had done a great job with the dessert party set-up, and there was just time to sample the delicious array of desserts before IllumiNations began. It was a perfect ending to a truly perfect day.
Months of planning, worry & stress had led up to the day, but in the end it was all worth it, and everything went like clockwork. We couldn’t thank Diane and her team at Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings enough for everything they did and for making our day so special.
So, if you stare longingly at the Wedding Pavilion as you ride past on the monorail, remember, you never know, one day your dream might just come true!