Disneymooners: Tell us a little about yourselves!
Debbie: John and I met at work and dated for 3 years before getting engaged. In fact, we also work with my Dad and he interviewed John before he was hired. If only he knew he was interviewing his future son-in-law! After 3 years of dating, John proposed to me in our backyard by carving “Will you marry me?” into the trunk of our tree. I’ve always been a total Disney fan. John was somewhat indifferent to it but over time he’s “caught the fever” and now he’s a total Disney fan too. We’re now both longtime Disneyland annual passholders and love living about 20 minutes away so we can make quick trips whenever the mood strikes us.
Disneymooners: What made you decide to have a Disney wedding and why?
Debbie: I was totally stumped when it came time to decide on wedding and reception locations. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted or where to even start looking. It was stressful. Then a friend of mine told me she’d looked up Disney weddings online since she knows I’m such a big fan. She was surprised at how affordable it seemed and told me check it out. Knowing we would probably have about 215 guests I highly doubted it would be anything close to affordable so I didn’t really jump on calling. My mom eventually set up an appointment with DFTW for me, John, and my parents. The sales consultant was showing us the possibilities and I could barely sit still in my seat. Everything she was telling us sounded perfect! Then my Dad asked how much it would all cost …. I was a nervous wreck as she was number crunching. She gave us an estimate and my Dad said “sounds good to me”. I seriously just about passed out. Getting married at Disneyland was one of those “wildest dream” kind of ideas and there we were talking about making it happen. John hadn’t been converted to a total Disney fan yet but he was into it because (1) he knew how much I wanted to do it, (2) everything we saw seemed really nice, and (3) it was something totally different. We both ended up loving everything about it!
Disneymooners: How did your friends and family respond when they found out you were having a Disney wedding?
Debbie: They were all really excited about it! When I told my family we were getting married at Disneyland they said “of course you are”. They know me pretty well. Since the majority of our family and friends all live in Southern California our wedding wasn’t a destination wedding. We didn’t get the comments about the expense of traveling like many Disney brides seem to. However, since everyone lives here we also had a ginormous guest list!!
Disneymooners: Was there any particular reason why you chose your venue locations?
Debbie: We were a bit limited in our location choices due to our large number of guests. (It actually made the decision process a little easier.) I had always been adamant that I wasn’t going to get married outside because I didn’t want to worry about the weather. Well wouldn’t you know it, DL has a beautiful garden and gazebo that we knew was perfect as soon as we saw it. Seeing how our wedding was in November, we were a little worried about rain but I knew we’d figure it out. I have always loved the Grand Californian Hotel. It’s just so beautiful and I love the atmosphere. Not knowing how the pricing worked, I assumed it would cost more to have our reception there than at one of the other hotels. When I found out it was the same price no matter which hotel we chose, I was ecstatic! (That sales meeting with DFTW left me on a serious high!!!) At first we thought about using one of the ballrooms at the DL hotel since the Rose Garden was there, but once we walked into the GC I literally got chills. I knew it was the right choice for us. For the both the ceremony and reception we knew our locations as soon as we stepped foot in them. They just made sense.
Side note – We chose not to have a Disneyland castle wedding because my Dad just about had a heart attack when we were told the starting price.
Disneymooners: Planning a wedding, especially long distance, can be stressful for a couple. They wonder how it will all look in the end. How did it feel for you when you saw it all come together on your wedding day?
Debbie: I remember being so relieved that it all looked just as I’d envisioned. All the hours and hours of research and work were totally worth it. The comments from our guests just put me over the moon – it wasn’t just that John and I liked how it turned out, all the people we loved thought it was wonderful too. Talk about a big payoff! I do remember thinking that the ballroom kinda looked like a big box and I wished we’d paid the ridiculous fee to have lighted trees around the walls to soften it up, but that’s the only thing that I remember being a little disappointed about. Overall, seeing it all come together felt great!!
Disneymooners: Was there anything that surprised you? Maybe something that you didn’t expect to have such a huge impact on the day?
Debbie: I can’t really think of anything other than how calm I was and how smoothly things seemed to go. There were a few little hiccups here and there but none of our guests knew any different and I just didn’t care that much. I feared I’d be a nervous wreck about everything but I was able to pass all the coordination off to very capable people and they took care of it. I was totally in the moment and having a blast.
Disneymooners: Part of the excitement for a lot of couples is to see their guests react to the magic of a Disney wedding. What aspect of your wedding do you think your guests loved the most?
Debbie: Two things come to mind – the food and Mickey & Minnie. The food at our reception was absolutely delicious. Our main course was lemon chicken – not that exciting – but dangit if that wasn’t the best darn piece of chicken I’ve ever had. We have several profession chefs in our family and they all raved about it. It didn’t taste like typical “wedding food”, it was a gourmet meal. The big thing that people still talk about was when Mickey and Minnie made an appearance at the reception. It was so fun to watch a roomful of adults turn into screaming 6 year olds. The cameras were snapping pictures like CRAZY! At one point we talked about not having them because we were afraid our guests would think it was kinda hokey …. not an issue! I loved being able to look around the room and see so many people that we care about wrapped up in the Disney magic.
Disneymooners: What was the #1 splurge you had that you couldn’t imagine not having on your wedding day?
Debbie: Oddly enough, besides Mickey and Minnie, I would say our photographer. She was pricey (and is even pricier now) but our pictures are just as wonderful as we’d hoped. She was able to capture so much of our day in such a beautiful way. She was great to work with, really knew her stuff, and kept us on schedule. She even posted about 20 sneak peaks to her blog early the next morning!! We got to see pics from the wedding before we hopped on the plan for our WDW Disneymoon. Definitely worth every penny.
Disneymooners: Tell our members about the top 3 things that you’re glad you did for your wedding.
Debbie: In addition to Mickey and Minnie and our photographer:
We hired Brian Bosch to handle all our decor. He worked in the Disney floral/decor department but was part of the huge layoff that occurred just as I started planning. He was wonderful!! He handled all the floral, linens, etc. He set up all the decor and even handled our “dancing on the clouds” effect during our first dance. We bought or made a lot of items ourselves and he put them all out for us and truly made my vision come alive. We probably paid a little more for floral than I could have found elsewhere but his expertise and help was totally worth it. Plus, he was friends with the whole DFTW team and knew how Disney weddings worked so it was like have an insider working for us without the Disney markup.
I asked to have a mock up of my bouquet made about a week or so before the wedding. I was having a hard time picturing it in my mind and got worried about the colors. I was kind of freaking out about it so I asked how much it would cost. Seeing that bouquet got me so excited for the wedding and put my mind at ease that the floral would be beautiful.
Allowed my father-in-law to pay for chair covers at the last minute. I cut them in a cost savings move but a few days before the wedding he told me he really wanted to make a contribution so I called and had them added. They added so much to the decor. It really helped it all come together.
I’m adding a 4th because I just thought of a big one – I’m glad we hired a videographer!!! This was one of those things that some of my family thought was unnecessary but it’s one of the best decisions we made. The day is so filled with emotion and goes by so quickly. Without our videos I wouldn’t remember half of it! I honestly only had minimal recollection of the ceremony before we got the video back. Even if your videographer is just your cousin sitting in the second row, get a video!!!!
Disneymooners: Was there anything that you wish you had done? Or wish you had done differently?
Debbie: I wish I had scraped together enough money to have those lighted trees around the ballroom walls. I wish I’d thought to ask if we could do an in-park photo shoot. (I saw another Disneyland bride had negotiated one a few months after our wedding. I was kicking myself for not even thinking to ask!) I wish we’d stayed at the Grand Californian one more night before rushing off on our Disneymoon – we were exhausted the next morning. Really, that stuff is kind of minor though … our wedding was so wonderful! Disney and our amazing vendors helped us pull off the wedding we were dreaming of. We have such great memories of it all.
Disneymooners: Photography is very important to all brides. Was there a particular shot that you knew you absolutely had to have to document your day?
Debbie: You would think there would be, but I can’t think of one at the moment. I just wanted pictures of it all! Pictures with our families were important so we made a must-have list.
Disneymooners: Do you have any words of wisdom to our future brides?
Debbie: Get started early with planning and doing any DIY projects. It gets crazy stressful in the end and you don’t want to turn into Bridezilla. Be patient with your planner (especially if you’re a far way off from your date) but at the same time don’t hesitate to speak up if you don’t feel you’re getting an appropriate amount of attention from them. You are paying them after all. Have faith that it will all come together in the end and be wonderful. It may not seem like it sometimes, but it really will. Oh, and be sure to visit the Disneymooners regularly for inspiration, advice, and support! I don’t know what I would have done without this site.
You can read Debbie’s Planning Journal here and enjoy her Wedding Recaps here
Debbie, on behalf of Disneymooners, thank you for taking the time to share a little about your wedding planning and day. You are a great member of our community and we look forward to following along in your Happily Ever After! All the best ~ the Disneymooners