Anyone who has known me for any significant amount of time knows that I have a love for Disney movies… and the old TV shows I used to watch as a kid. If you have read this blog for a period of time… you also know that I enjoy rewatching shows and evaluating my favorite kids shows to see if they still stand up or if my adult lens has changed the way I viewed it. Easier during my quarantine because I have had so much time on my hands… Good times. On the other hand, I have run into people that have such a violent reaction to adults watching anything animated… SMH. I had a coworker tell me that his son was watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and it looked great. So I made a suggestion about other things they may enjoy… you guys should have seen the way he turned his face up in a sneer and said… “I don’t watch cartoons.” Okay sir. I am used to that by now though…. (I am an anime fan so…) You ever see that post about the grandma that was mad that there were adults at Disney World keeping her 2 year old from having fun? Funny. With that being said, Disney movies remind me of a time when things were simpler in my life. Weekends were a good time because I could relax with one of my many VHS tapes. My siblings and I would watching together. (I wore them out.) For example: My mother was not happy to know that Disney came out with their own streaming service. Beauty and the Beast on deck.
Now with all my love for Disney World, my family was never able to afford to travel to Disney World. There were a lot of us… so that makes sense. In my somewhat adult life, I was hellbent of conquering all of the things that I didn’t get to do as a kid… (Kind of still am.) I have seen the Yankees play baseball…. and the Rangers play hockey… I am sure there is more of that to come in the future. But when it came to Disney, all of friends went as children and weren’t interested in returning. I remember coming back from summer break for 3 years, from the 3rd to the 6th grade, and listening to people oral presentation about what they did during the summer. You could guarantee that at least three people went and had pictures. It always looked like the place to be. But I had no one to go with and I don’t travel alone. (Leah will join me…. in a few years. She doesn’t know it but it will be fine. )
So as is my way… I have been passing the time during quarantine doing various things. This past weekend, I started scrolling through Pinterest again. Pinterest was a fun thing for me because I took up scrapbooking in my early teens… (My mom is not a fan of clutter.) So, having a digital board for ideas and things… made me very happy. It recommended to me some wedding ideas…and yes I have a wedding board. It made a suggestion that I look at a set of pins of Disney themed weddings. There were things I loved, things I thought were cute… things that I would never do. But then I started scrolling and spotted some people who actually had their wedding at one of the Disney Park, Resorts, or the Disney Cruise. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I have decided that I was going to take a look at all they had to offer and price points. I know, I know. I did a wedding post a few months ago… but this is going to be a bit more to my liking. So come and geek out with me.
I would like to start out by saying that it seemed that everyone but me knew they had weddings at Disney Resorts. I called everyone close to me… Sister, Leah, Leah’s sister (also my sister) and got the same response. With how much you love Disney, we thought you knew. I am ashamed of all of these nerds. But let’s first figure out where I would want to get married. They first want you to pick a resort or cruise and then a place on the resort or cruise. I am sure Disney Cruises are spectacular. People love them… and always have a great time. I am not of fan of getting married on a cruise ship. While that idea is not new to me, I don’t see myself doing it Disney or not. It just seems really chaotic. I think that these cruise lines have very competent people onboard but it is not for me. So that leaves me wit two choices. The Disney World Resort in Florida or the Disney Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawaii. (https://www.disneyaulani.com/)
If you remember my Wedding Wishes post, I want to do a destination wedding. I am all for getting married and already being at the honeymoon destination. Hawaii was at the top of my list so this checks a box for me. I could see my friends and family enjoying themselves out here too. There is a lot for family to do.
- Laniwai – A Disney Spa
- Kula Wai: Outdoor Hydrotherapy Garden
- Ka Maka Grotto
- KA WA‘A – A Lū‘au at Aulani
- Menehune Adventure Trail
- Mo‘olelo Fire Pit Storytelling
- Māka‘ika‘i, The Art of Aulani Resort
- Māka‘ika‘i, the Nature and Wildlife of Aulani Resort
- Rainbow Reef
- Waikolohe Pool
- Waikolohe Stream
- Whirlpool Spas
- ‘Imi Loa Nāa Hōkū (Explore the Stars)
Disney has 5 categories on their website that they want you to think about. I am 1000% sure that their wedding consultant will be talking to you about more than this but these may be the things that they want you to think about early on. If you have ever been to a wedding, these will make perfect sense to you.
- Food and Beverage
FOOD & BEVERAGE
In Hawaii, the pricing depends on if you want your food served as well as how many people you will want at your wedding. I was never looking to invite that many people… although my family is large… however, this makes you want to rethink your numbers. If you are looking for a lunchtime spread… it is going to be $125 per person. If you are looking for later… it is $175 per person. Keep in mind though, a Food & Beverage Service fee of 22% (taxable) applies. In my younger life, I don’t know that I understood the importance of responding to invitations… (Thanks Mom. She is terrible at this.) If I am doing a head count and you do not respond… do not think you are going to get food… Or even a seat. Not at almost $200 a head. The only thing that perturbs me about Hawaii is that there are several people in my family that have a shellfish allergy. I want those guests to feel free to eat and not be worried that shellfish has mixed in with their food. I would imagine Hawaii has a great deal of fish on the menu. So that would be the first item to discuss with my wedding consultant.
I do see that they give you the option of a plated menu or a buffet or food station menu. For the plated menu option, it typically includes a first course, entrée and dessert. Select one entrée or have 2 entrée options for you and your wedding guests. (This seems like a lot for me.) I may sound strange when I say… I don’t know that I want a rigid menu for my guests. That is a lot of serving going on… and I have a soft spot for servers. I prefer for people to be able to pick what they want. Gives people a chance to mix and mingle. For a buffet or food station, it looks like they offer carving stations where the Chef is in attendance. There you could choose to have tempura served in addition to whole suckling pig and prime rib. Choose to have Sushi and Hawaiian fish taco stations set up for made-to-order service. I think I am leaning towards the less formal style and Hawaiian fish tacos. Can’t go wrong with tacos.
Now.. for beverages… I don’t drink. I go back and forth on having a dry wedding. Although, I am sure that will be met with some derision from people. I may go for it if the person making the drinks gets paid well for their time. (I shall look into this.) More than likely though, will be a pay bar. At Aulani, you can choose from a hosted bar package, hosted bar (based on consumption) or cash bar. Your guests can enjoy unlimited drinks for a pre-specified number of hours for a flat fee per guest. I am sure the fee is pretty reasonable but I think that people should be paying for their own drinks. But the drinks look pretty.
That brings me to cakes… which I am not a huge fan of. I am not now and never was a cake eater. (Mighty Ducks fans will get it.) I could get into cupcakes… but that is just here in the last few years. Cookie cake is the best. But I digress. Can you have a wedding without a cake? I don’t think so. There are some rules that I should follow. So cake it is. I enjoy the fact that Disney offer themed cakes. They have an array of cake design options from custom Mad Hatter cakes to elegant works of art inspired by the season. If I had to choose a themed cake… I would probably have to do something beachy because… Hawaii… (Does that sound cliché? Sure… but I am not trying to impress anyone.) The other thing Disney Hawaii offers island inspired flavors. Something a bit different than I am sure I would be used to. Looks like I would have a choice in ambrosial and island-appropriate cake flavors like lilikoi and coconut and delectable fillings such as mango mousseline or macadamia crunch. (Sounds like people would love it. Even me.)
Now I have never been into flowers all that much… but even I know that wedding can be enhanced with them… I also know that they are the other expensive thing at the wedding. It really can make or break the ambience. Disney boasts about their experienced florists (which I am sure they have.) These florist will work with you to come up with a bouquet that you like and that fits your personality. Since it is Hawaii, they offer leis with their Escape package for the bride and groom. I don’t see how you could have a wedding in Hawaii and not have leis. However, wedding floral and decor is completely customizable, with almost endless options and numerous factors determining the costs, Disney can’t possibly list every single option. Traditionally, couples provide Disney with photos of the overall or specific look they want, and Disney comes back with available options and pricing. Floral prices depend on the type of flowers and the time of year. I did find that Disney does not create mockups of centerpieces and other floral arrangements for your approval. You can make your vow exchange even more symbolic and memorable by adding the upgrades of a wonderfully island-appropriate sand ceremony or lei exchange. You can included additional floral wishes for your ceremony and reception, including leis, bridesmaids’ bouquets, and arrangements for the flower girl and ring bearer.
At Disney’s Hawaii resort, you have your choice of music. You can choose traditional island ukulele music, the soothing sounds of a guitar or an ethereal harp to guide you down the aisle. For the location, these selections make sense. You can also choose a DJ that plays during the reception. The DJ will have a mix of today’s top hits and timeless party favorites as well as personal selections, including the song accompanying your momentous first dance as a newlywed couple.
Does it cost to have Disney Characters at your wedding. Of course it does. Does that mean that I won’t do have them there… ABSOLUTELY NOT. LOL. Mickey and Minnie will at least be making an appearance for photos. Disney has a disclaimer that tells you… Disney Characters are subject to availability. Specific Characters may not be available. In Hawaii, the characters that are available are:
- Mickey Mouse
- Minnie Mouse
- Donald Duck
- Daisy Duck
- Duffy the Disney Bear
- Shellie May
I can just imagine having an awesome time with this. I know that I will try and get as many characters as I can to participate in my special day. All I can say is my future husband better be prepared. In the words of my sister… We are going to get everything we can pay for… Just look at how happy these people are.
In Hawaii, Disney offers options for after ceremony entertainment which I am sure is FANTASTIC. There are a few that interest me. Disney offers a live Hawaiian band or a Polynesian revue, a 60-minute performance with traditional male and female dancers, fire-knife dancers and musicians. They also offer Hula dancers. Sounds like a great time… I don’t see a downside.
So here is where the big money is spent. Let’s start talking about venues. I have four that I really like. I haven’t seen a venue that costs more than $17k. But that is a bit on the high end for me. All of the venues are picturesque and have great views. It makes the idea of getting photos taken more bearable for me. (I hate taking pictures.) Anyways…. Lets get to it…
- `AMA`AMA Patio – It is an outdoor, open-air space which I absolutely adore. When I started thinking about getting married, I would have loved to get outside and possibly on a beach. (But then I thought… SAND… ) But this seems doable especially since I don’t see myself having an hour ceremony. The `AMA`AMA Patio offers up to 60 chairs to be set up on this concrete patio for your guests with standing room for about 20 more guests. (It seems tight. I know my family will show up in droves.) You can hold your ceremony at 10:00 AM or 5:00 PM only. To me this is fine… I don’t plan on being dressed up for too long. Receptions are available 7 days a week from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. An outdoor venue fee applies for receptions.
- Halawai Lawn – For couples with a larger guest list, this sprawling locale can seat up to 300 guests to witness your “I do” moment in paradise. IDK…300 seems like a LOT of damn people… Do I even know that many? One of the things that stood out to me was that this venue is located on the far side of Waikolohe Valley. This venue is also the most private Wishes wedding venue on the property. Enjoy your special day in the golden island sunshine with friends and family and without the distraction of Guests passing by. For the comfort of Resort Guests, events held on the Halawai Lawn have a mandatory 10:00 PM end time, as with all of our outdoor venues.
- Aulani Beach – While this one seems great… I am not sure how I feel about being directly on the beach. If I were to choose this venue… It would definitely be a dressed-down affair. You can dine right out on the beach… and I am also not sure how I feel about that. I can just see it being a mess. That idea bothers me to no end. You can listen to the sounds of the ocean and breathe in the fresh air. This venue location is perfect for sunset dinners. Downside… The beach is still open to all other Resort Guests, but you are able to secure a private section for your event, which will only be available to you and your wedding party. Another downside: Disney Characters cannot make appearances at this location. That may take this off the table for me.
- Lanikuhonua – This seems like the most expensive venue… but it looks this looks worth every dollar. It can accommodate 10 to 300 people which is nice. This is a privately owned location adjacent to Aulani and is not affiliated with Aulani. We get the option to choose where to stage the wedding and reception from a variety of options, such as a choice of spectacular views and the ability to set up seating under shade trees or beside palm trees. Transportation to Lanikuhonua is provided from Aulani for the wedding couple.
Walt Disney World Florida
If I had to pick a Disney….. It would be this one. (But to be fair I want to visit all the locations around the world.) There is some family that lives in FL. It would be much easier to have family fly in than it would be to Hawaii…. (at least for me.) But Florida is a nice place with great beaches so no downside at least in my mind. This is also a place that I can see myself honeymooning in. The kid in me is excited as I write this. So let’s jump into it. Florida’s Disney has 6 categories to consider for your wedding.
- Food & Beverage
Food & Beverage
In Florida, it is the same as Hawaii. The price of food & beverage depends on when you want to have your ceremony/reception and how many people will be in attendance. Brunch is $140 per person, Lunch is $165 per person and Dinner is the most expensive at $190 per person. Food & Beverage Services can comprise any combination of pre-reception, reception, cake, and bar service. But keep in mind that an additional 6.5% sales tax and 25% labor and gratuity service charge are added. Tax and gratuity are not counted as part of the services or the event minimum total. For the plated option, you normally get an appetizer, salad, intermezzo, entrée, and dessert. Select one entrée or an Enchanted Duet with 2 entrées side by side on one plate. For an example of the plated menu see here. (https://secure.parksandresorts.wdpromedia.com/media/dftwh/florida/2020_Plated_Sample_Menu.pdf) You can also choose the Buffet and Food station option. My friend Leah had a buffet at her wedding and it was fantastic. Take a look at the example menu. (https://secure.parksandresorts.wdpromedia.com/media/dftwh/florida/2020_Buffet_Sample_Menus.pdf) Now… the beverage service package is relatively the same as the one in Hawaii. They offer call, premium, and signature-brand spirits, premium champagnes, beer, and wine. I am still leaning towards people paying for their own alcohol.
This Disney hosts a dessert party offering menus inspired by the magic of their surroundings. This sounds like fun for me since I am not a huge fan of cake. You can treat your guests to Disney classics like churros and DOLE WHIP® or you can come up with a custom dessert. It intrigues me. Whatever it is, I am sure it is going to be great. As for cakes, they have many themed cakes, or they can design something just for you. If you already have something in mind, share your inspiration with our cake artists. They’ll help you find the right confectionery choice that speaks to your personality as a couple and complements your wedding theme. Disney features an astounding selection of cake and filling flavors from yellow cake with Bavarian cream and fresh strawberries to red velvet with cream cheese. They say they are happy to recommend flavor combinations based on your preferences.
Floral and Décor
It looks as though Disney has a lot to offer when it comes to bouquets. They look like they try to get a feel for the event and you as the bride before suggesting bouquets. I think, from looking at their website, I like the fact that it isn’t kind of one size fits all or you choosing from a bunch and picking something that you like. I did see a bit that I liked… for inspiration, of course. But when it comes my time… I hope we come up with something great enough to be up on the website.
As for the wedding party, we need boutonnieres, corsages and bouquets for bridesmaids that complement the wedding theme. I can see all my people being real debonair. Again, Disney has a lot to offer. I like for things to match and most likely will want to boutonnieres to match their ties. Looks like Disney likes my thinking too.
In looking at these photos, I am sure I (and my people) will be in good hands. So that means we can focus on the floral enhancements for the wedding. It is my understanding that once you meet with your Disney Wedding Planner, they’ll arrange an appointment with one of the designers to discuss your floral wishes for your ceremony and reception. There is something about these pictures that show that the right floral arrangement will enhance the space. (I sound like a property brother. Shoutout to Drew and Jonathan.)
I am looking forward to be being entertained. Let’s start with the music. There is a lot to be offered in Florida for both the wedding ceremony and for the reception. As far as music is concerned, they have a plethora of things to offer. You can choose from a wide variety of classical musicians, lively bands and happening DJs to bring the perfect flair to your event. Check this out:
Ceremony Soloists and Duos
- Guitar and Flute Duo (I really wonder how this sounds.)
- Harp and Flute Duo
- Harp and Guitar Duo
And for receptions
- String Quartet – 2 violinists, one violist and a cellist.
- Live Band
- Big-Band Orchestra -6-piece orchestra with a jazzy bounce and upswing.
- Contemporary Dance Band
- Country and Western Band
- Mariachi Cobre Band – 11-piece mariachi band
- Key West-Style Guitarist
Themed Entertainment – Now this is why you have a wedding at Disney. Well I do, at least. Disney offers some fun things.
- Private Fireworks – I shouldn’t have been surprised but reading this did surprise me. But I am down for a firework on my special dat. Select locations only.
- Confetti Cannons – Celebrate your union with the colorful bursts of confetti cannons. Yep I could totally see it. But it would suck to have to clean up confetti. Select locations only.
You can have the Disney Characters help out at your wedding. And I am not disappointed.
- Major Domo – A Renaissance-costumed Major Domo from Disney’s Cinderella will act as your ring bearer and carry your rings down the aisle in a glass slipper. I am not sure how I feel about this one. I don’t know that I have been a fan of Cinderella in that way but for people that are… this is cool for them.
- English Butler – A distinguished English butler, clad in a proper hat and tails, will present your rings on a silver platter.
- Herald Trumpeter – Add much-deserved fanfare to your wedding with the regal sounds of a herald trumpeter.
- Herald Trumpeter Duo – Announce your arrival in grand royal style with 2 herald trumpeters in medieval garb. I am not sure that medieval would fit into my vision for my wedding… I do feel this is cute though.
- Tacky Tourists – These wacky, fun-loving Disney fanatics know everything about Disney and will entertain your guests and liven up your reception. I don’t think this is for me.
- Uninvited Wedding Guests – You left them off your guest list for a reason, but they showed up anyway! This humorous, polyester-clad husband and wife will mingle with your guests, performing side-splitting improvisational comedy. Maybe it is me, but I don’t see this as fun or funny.
Disney Characters – Since they show up in 30 minute increments… I would limit them for photos. Because those are awesome. In Florida, up to two characters make an appearance at receptions. And I plan for there to be excellent pictures.
Now as far as transportation, if you read my first post about wedding wishes… I thought about having an old school car escort me to the ceremony. Ford Shelby… some muscle… but when I look at what Disney has to offer I am impressed. They offer Cinderella’s coach. The coach is pulled by stately ponies, your magical coach will be skillfully guided by a driver and 2 footmen in full regalia. I have been watching the show Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings and every bride that arrived in the Cinderella’s Coach gushed about how they feel like a proper princess. Who doesn’t want to feel like a princess on their special day?
You can also arrive in a horse drawn coach. This beautiful white coach is drawn by a single elegant quarter horse with a driver dressed in an authentic morning coat. It is still regal and elegant. But I will just point out here that… I can see myself face planting trying to get out of each of these.
They also have where you can be brought into your ceremony. Choose between a limousine, a vintage Ford Model A or a vintage Rolls-Royce to add a touch of glamour and elegance to your day.
So I imagine my family will stay at the resort before and possibly after the wedding. So the fact that Disney offers to pick up your guest from their hotels and get them to the ceremony. (And of course getting them back to their hotel.) Just knowing this takes stress off…. The logistics of getting everyone where they need to be…. but this takes the edge off.
When I was a kid I hated taking pictures, that has changed but only slightly. There is a need to capture the events in life and I am glad that Disney makes arrangements for this. There are several packages that include a skilled photographer who will capture the special moments of your day. Some packages will also offer a second photographer. They give you a list of videographers that you can see here. (http://as1.wdpromedia.com/media/disneyweddings/pdfs/WDWVideographyVendors1.pdf)
SPECIALTY PORTRAIT SESSIONS – Pose for a portrait session in bridal attire at a Disney theme park or scenic Disney Resort hotel for a one-of-a-kind experience offered exclusively by Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings. They have 3 categories for Specialty Protraits… and I can’t seem to decide.
- Magic Kingdom Portrait Session – This truly once-in-a-lifetime experience makes your dreams of becoming a princess come true. You and your loved one can showcase your love against the backdrops of Cinderella Castle and the Beast’s Castle.
- Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park Portrait Session – For a photo session with character, travel to distinctive world destinations at Epcot, picture yourself in the pictures at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or embark on an exotic adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
- Walt Disney World Resort Portrait Session – Allow the Victorian elegance of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to serve as a spectacular photo backdrop, followed perhaps by the lush tropical gardens of Disney’s Polynesian Resort. Pose in a range of picturesque places at several Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
And now… we are looking at my favorite thing… Venues… Disney World Florida doesn’t disappoint. I have scrolled through (and it is on the kind of the expensive side.)But I like them nonetheless. I very much can see myself at any of these places.
- East Plaza Garden – You can say “I do” in front of majestic Cinderella Castle. Your guests will delight in magic and wonder as they are surrounded by the sights and sounds of Main Street, U.S.A. in a charming garden setting at the heart of Magic Kingdom Park. This location can accommodate 10 to 175 guests, in addition to the couple. Ceremonies take place during Theme Park operating hours. Your ceremony is estimated to begin at 9:00 AM. Please note that there is a $25,000+ ceremony fee, including: use of the location, upgraded chairs, sound system, greenery package, string trio and Main Street Vehicles for your wedding party. Disney chartered transportation is required for this venue.
- GM Lounge – Begin your new life together in an elegant space overlooking a world that celebrates the promise of a bright tomorrow. As you dine in this beautiful lounge, located inside Test Track Presented by Chevrolet, enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Future World and Spaceship Earth. This location can accommodate 10 to 120 guests, including the couple. A buffet menu featuring savory appetizers, carved meats and more is available at this location.
- Tree of Life – Celebrate your “I DO’s” in front of the iconic centerpiece of Disney’s Animal Kingdom for a truly unique and immersive ceremony. This experience is available in the evening, after the closing of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. The outdoor setting allows Couples to host an evening ceremony under the stars and surrounded by the sounds of nature. Events in outdoor locations may be moved indoors due to inclement weather. A decision will be made a maximum of 5 hours prior to the start time of your event. (While I really this one… the seating worries me for our older guests… as well as having it at night.) It also doesn’t look like there is room enough for a lot of guests… which I am fine with but I have a lot of family and I am sure my husband to be will have it as well.
- Canada Terrace – The elegant Hotel du Canada, modeled after Ottawa’s Château Laurier hotel, and the breathtaking botanical splendor and color of the Victoria Gardens, inspired by the Butchart Gardens of British Columbia—the perfect backdrop for wedding photos. This venue is available for 9:00 AM ceremonies only. It can accommodate up to 60 guests, including the couple. A buffet menu featuring savory appetizers, carved meats and more is available at this location.
- Pandora – World of Avatar – Gather your family and friends to celebrate in a stunning land inspired by the power and the majesty of nature. Take in striking surroundings in the Valley of Mo’ara, where breathtaking floating mountains provide an epic backdrop for your ceremony. Whisk your guests away to nearby reception locations in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park or choose venues across other Parks and Resorts.
Honorable Mentions – Japan Courtyard, Great Hall of China, China Courtyard.
In the end, I could see a wedding at Disney being a dream come true. I do see where it is substantially more expensive than a wedding anywhere else. Prices seem reasonable. My family and future husband better be prepared.