If you've seen the Disney Wedding specials on TV — or on social media, for that matter — you may think these magical marriages are only reserved for couples with an unlimited budget and equally rich family members. However, you can have a Disney Wedding of any size, which is why my husband and I planned an intimate ceremony at the Grand Floridian Wedding Pavilion last year.
Our guest list was strictly immediate family members: parents, siblings, and grandparents, plus significant others. Fifteen guests joined us for the wedding at the chapel, followed by a Champagne toast and cake cutting ceremony, then a celebratory dinner, which we opted for instead of a reception.
With a limited budget and even less patience for planning, having a small Disney Wedding was the perfect option for my husband and I. What's more, Walt Disney World holds a special place in our hearts, since we've enjoyed several family vacations there and made some wonderful memories.
But I have to admit, a Disney Wedding isn't for everyone. Below, check out the 7 biggest pros and cons from our experience getting hitched at "The Happiest Place on Earth."
1. It was surprisingly affordable.
If you plan on having an intimate ceremony, like me — and you're not one to care about extra bells and whistles — getting married in Disney may be more affordable than you think. When considering what we wanted in a wedding (and money was one of the biggest factors), my husband and I decided on a small vacation-style affair rather than a one-night blowout at home. That way, we would get more bang for our buck, plus it'd be spent on the people who mattered the most. What's more, the guest list was clear; we didn't have to send obligatory invites to people we didn't want to.
We were also willing to keep it simple, opting out of add-ons like the Cinderella carriage ride, private park photo shoots, and decoration upgrades. And, since our guests were on "vacation" with us anyway, we were able to have the ceremony in the middle of the week, which meant less crowds and lower prices.
2. Planning was relatively simple.
Just the thought of planning a wedding from scratch was overwhelming, so the "multiple choice"-style decision making was perfect for me. Each wedding package comes with a set of options you can choose from, which could be a con if you like making detailed decisions, but it was huge pro for me. Flower bouquet? Pick one of these. Wedding cake? Choose a style and flavor. How about a photo album upgrade? Naw, just give me the basic version and a memory stick.
3. The package included a lot of wonderful features.
I loved that our wedding package included so many wedding day essentials: a photographer and photo album, 4-hour limo service, a Champagne and cake cutting ceremony complete with two bottles of bubbly, the wedding cake (of course), bouquets, boutonnieres, and a solo musician. This is especially helpful if you don't live in the area and don't want to research local vendors.
4. It was absolutely gorgeous.
From the chapel, to the cake, to the pathway leading up to the Wedding Pavilion, there's no doubt that everything was gorgeous. One of the windows behind the altar frames the Magic Kingdom in the background, as does the white lattice archway out back, making for perfect photo opportunities. I also have to add that our photographer was fantastic, and he captured some beautiful memories on film.
1. It wasn't as organized as I had hoped.
I'd be remiss if I didn't admit I was disappointed in the lack of organization on my wedding day. Despite assurances from both Disney insiders and outsiders — "They've got this down like clockwork" — there were a few moments of complete confusion.
There was very little guidance when it came to ushering guests from the ceremony to the Champagne toast, then to the offsite restaurant where we had dinner. Weeks prior, my wedding planner and I had come up with a plan so everyone could be transported by limo, but she gave no direction, so the whole thing was bust. My guests were left asking each other, and asking me, what was going on, where we were headed, and how everyone was getting there. Consequently, my husband and I only used about 10 minutes of the 4-hour limo service we were allotted.
2. A few important guests couldn't make it.
When you plan a destination wedding, there's a higher likelihood that some of your guests won't be able to attend. Getting a plane ticket, a hotel room, and committing to spending at least two or three days away from home is a lot to ask. Nevertheless, I was surprised and disheartened when a few family members couldn't make it, since my guest list was so intimate; that's the risk you take when you head out of state.
3. The Champagne and cake cutting ceremony wer B-O-R-I-N-G.
I have to be frank, here. While good in theory, the Champagne and cake cutting ceremony, which took place in a convention room, fell miserably flat. Our guests were the first to be taken to the location while my husband and I were off getting our photos taken, and the general consensus was that it was B-O-R-I-N-G.
I think part of this was because our wedding party was so small, but another problem was that the ceremony didn't include hors d'oeuvres, nor would they allow us to purchase small plates when asked. What's more, no beverages (alcoholic or otherwise) were served until my husband and I arrived.
In short, our 15 guests were left to their own devices in a heavily curtained room for 45 minutes with no food, drinks, or entertainment (save for the solo musician) while they waited for us to show up.
With all things considered, our Disney Wedding was the right choice for us in terms of planning, finances, and of course, our love of Disney! We enjoyed a fantastic honeymoon touring the parks and eating at top-notch restaurants, and as our one-year anniversary approaches, we're heading back to relive the memories once more.