Many years ago, I passed the time sharing my love for Walt Disney World on the DisBoards – an online community where one can share and learn about Disney vacations. Somewhere along the way, I found Rachel Mears. We read each others trip reports and eventually became friends on Facebook. I was THRILLED when she got engaged AT Walt Disney World. It came as no surprise to me when Rachel announced that she would be having her wedding at the Walt Disney World Resort. I asked Rachel to share with us her experience planning a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding (DFTW)!
How quickly did you decide on a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding?
We got engaged January 9, initiated contact with Disney Fairy Tale Weddings by January 20, and on March 16 we signed our letter of agreement to have our wedding celebration at Walt Disney World!
What were some of the first decisions you had to make for the wedding?
Originally, we were booked for what Disney Fairy Tale Weddings calls an “Escape Wedding.” An Escape Wedding is for the bride and groom and up to 18 guests, included Disney’s photography, and did not include a reception. Escape Wedding starts at $5,000. However, we wanted more than 18 guests, we didn’t like the style of Disney’s Fine Art Photography, and we wanted a traditional reception.
This meant we had to upgrade to a Disney Wishes Wedding. The Wishes Wedding is the top level of Disney weddings and is completely customizable. They say that the Wishes Wedding starts at $12K but you have to really try to stay at that amount.
DIStracted Tip: There are 3 Wedding Collections that are offered at Walt Disney World. Check out the details here on the Memories, Escape and Wishes Collections.
How did you go about making these decisions? There are SO many options!
When you first initiate contact with DFTW you are assigned a Wedding Consultant, who is in charge of booking all of your venues at the time, handling the down payment, initiating your room block, and giving you a lot of information upfront. Through my wedding consultant, I was able to book our ceremony location at Seabreeze Point, our reception at St. James Place at the Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Convention Center, and our dessert party at Rue de Paris in Epcot. Because we booked less than a year out, we didn’t have to wait for the lottery. You have to go through the lottery if someone has the same requests as you. Thankfully, all of the times and locations that we wanted were available. However, we ended up changing the times, so keep in mind that it isn’t final even when you send in your letter of agreement.
We also had to decide on our room block. With a room block, you guarantee that you will fill at least 25 nights at a Disney resort. We figured that would be easy because most of our family was vacationing there before/after. You also get a discounted rate – which was a fabulous discount! We chose Disney’s Beach Club, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, and Disney’s Pop Century.
DIStracted Tip: Room blocks require a total of 25 nights booked and can be split across all of the Guests of your wedding. If 4 different families each booked a week long vacation, that would fulfill the “25 nights” minimum.
What about the COST?
With any Disney Wedding there is always a Ceremony Fee ($3,500 at Seabreeze Point), enhancement minimum ($5,000 for a Monday wedding), and a Food and Beverage Minimum ($150 per adult for lunch). We decided to get married on a Monday because the enhancement minimum is so low. On Saturdays the minimum is $10,000. So you can see why we chose Monday!
DIStracted Tip: Enhancement minimum costs depend on the day of the week. Enhancements may include but are not limited to floral, photography, videography, transportation, venue fees and entertainment. Please check out current pricing at Disney Fairy Tale Weddings. All Pricing subject to change.
So, now share the details of your planning!
Once we sent in our letter of agreement, we got assigned a Wedding Planner! Our Wedding Planner was fabulous and definitely embodied the Disney customer service that we are used to seeing at Disney Parks. The first thing I did with the Wedding Planner was schedule our planning session! The planning session should be done around 6 months out from the wedding. We had a food tasting session at 9:30 in the morning, which was a little weird to be having heavy food at 9:30 am. This was done at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn at the St. James Hall & Patio, which was where our reception would be. After our food tasting session, we headed back to Franck’s at the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. This is where the DFTW offices are, although there are separate offices also. We ended the day with a four hour planning session, where we decided on the linen color, worked with the floral specialist on our floral, planned our wedding day timeline, and really planned everything for the day. The best part was the cake tasting!!!
Once the planning session was over, it was pretty much a waiting game. Our next big payment was 90 days before the wedding and then one month before was the final payment with the final guest count. We ended up only having 24 guests at our wedding and we invited a total of 36. After the final payment is due you can still change things around – in fact, we changed our floral, linens, rehearsal dinner, within 30 days. It is very flexible working with Disney Fairy Tale Weddings.
Before we knew it, it was time to drive to Walt Disney World for our wedding weekend! Luckily, we ended up being able to drive because we had tons of stuff to transport, our wedding outfits, welcome bags, wedding decorations, so we were very thankful we were able to drive. After spending a couple of days at Disney with friends it was time for the wedding festivities to begin.
Yay! Now we are at the best part! Tell us all about your wedding!
We had our rehearsal dinner the night before at The Attic at the BoardWalk Inn. I mentioned before, but Disney ended up catering our meal. It was such a great decision to do this because we didn’t have to mess with any ADRs for a group of 24.
The wedding day started at 7am with hair and makeup. Then, Corey and I had our first look in the back of the Disney’s Beach Club Resort around 1pm. We took Bridal Party photos in the courtyard.
All photos are courtesy of Ashley Jane Photography.
The wedding was at Seabreeze Point on the BoardWalk at 2:30pm. The reception was at The Boardwalk Ballrooms and lasted until 7:45. Through our enhancement minimum we had Mickey Mouse come and we had a caricature artist doing caricatures.
After the reception we had our dessert party at Rue de Paris in Epcot. It was so wonderful to walk into Epcot with my wedding gown! I felt like a celebrity. The great thing about this event is that we were able to customize our menu. We had jalapeno cheese pretzels that you can find all over the park, almond crusted cheesecake from Narcoossee’s, Oreo Bon Bons inspired by the old Cape May Café offering, and mini cronuts that you can find at Epcot.
Once the dessert party was over, we headed to Soarin’ with our event guide. She took us back stage so it was really easy and quick to get there. This was one of my favorite events! When we entered the ride all of the Cast Members were lined up and cheering for us. Truly magical!
It sounds (and LOOKS!) like a dream wedding for sure! So, what are your suggestions and tips for a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding?
If you are interested in more information about Disney Fairy Tale Wedding Planning here are some resources I used through the process:
- DisBrides Facebook group
- Disney Weddings Passporter EBook
And advice I have for making your Disney Wedding the most perfect event it can be:
- Do what you want the first time. You can never go back and change it after the event. Case in point, I went back and forth with having my photographer there for a longer time. I went with an hour less and regret it.
- Research other Disney Weddings! I learned about so many offerings through other Disney weddings. That is how I found about the ride mix in, which turned out to be one of my favorite events.
- Don’t be afraid to look at outside vendors. We used Orlando Party Rentals for our chiavari chairs and uplighting. Using a third party was significantly cheaper than Disney. I also used outside photography and floral, which was similar in price, but also allowed me to retain control.
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