Venue viewing- our latest greatest dilemma

When one decides on a Disney wedding one of the first things they look at are ceremony and reception locations. I think a lot of people decide to get married at Disneyland BECAUSE of a specific location…

When I convinced miss Amanda that there was no other place for us to get married I showed her a bunch of venue locations on the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings website. Of course the ones we really loved the most were far out of our budget… like the Animation Building, Stage 17, or the Castle forecourt…

Animation BuildingStage17SleepingBeautyCastle

Really if you have enough money they will let you get married anywhere… so if anyone has an extra 100-200k they want to toss towards our wedding- let me know! I have seen photos of a beautiful ceremony at Aladdin’s Oasis and they recently opened up the Train Station on Main Street for in park weddings. Unfortunately our budget puts us in a hotel, not in the park… but we still have some great options that come along with the magic and exceptional customer service of Disney.

When we looked at photos together we immediately gravitated to images from the Grand Californian Hotel. Not only do I love the vintage california woodsy feel of that hotel but it’s also a place Amanda and I have always wanted to stay someday on a splurge. I loved the option of the Brisa Courtyard, a red brick recessed circular courtyard surrounded by the hotel and woodsy foliage; where the monorail passes overhead every 18 minutes and can bring some disney magic to your ceremony. Some of the other sites looked really nice as well but that is the one I fell in love with. The indoor reception locations are not my favorite at either hotel as I don’t love the look of a conference room, but as you will see below a lot can be done to dress up a boring room.

You can have an outdoor reception but it does limit your ability to bring in DIY decor and you also can’t have characters outdoors because it causes uninvited guests at your wedding. Mickey and Minnie won’t turn away random hotel guests that want to get in line to take photos, even if you didn’t let them into your party. So I am pretty much forced to do an indoor reception… although an outdoor cocktail hour may be an option!

We didn’t even really look at the Disneyland Hotel venues as serious options because in the photos we weren’t wowed… but when we took our trip to the park for the wedding showcase a few weeks ago I told Amanda I wanted to walk over to the DLH to look at their options in person. When we saw the wedding garden we were stunned. In person it is so beautiful and romantic. The photos do not do it justice! The space is secluded and tucked away in the grounds of the Disneyland Hotel, random passersby would have to really look in to see your event- vs the brisa courtyard where everyone could look out their window or walk by on the way into Downtown Disney. That experience really put a wrench in the works… now we are very uncertain about where we should hold our ceremony. To add to the confusion we spent some time walking around the Disneyland Hotel grounds and it is truly an embodiment of Disney. I hadn’t been there since I was very young and it feels like it’s own separate land within the park- hotel land. The park has elements of vintage disney with the old disneyland sign in the pool area and a tiki bar in the central courtyard. You feel like you are wrapped in Disney magic! We wanted to try to get up to the reception venue- the Sleeping Beauty Pavilion but it took us another day to find a time when it was unoccupied. When we got in there it was hard to envision it in wedding regalia but I described to amanda how people set it up and showed her some photos. We both loved how it was circular with full windows looking out into the pool area. We thought it would not be ideal if we did a daytime wedding because too much light comes in and it would look just like a hotel ballroom.

The last (but key) consideration is the catering. We have been told that currently the banquet staff at the Grand Californian is better at tackling special dietary needs- but that could possibly change over the next few years as they do sometimes move their chefs around between the hotels. We met the Head Banquet Chef for the Grand at the Wedding Showcase and he made me feel mostly okay about what they could do for us in terms of vegan catering… I would feel uneasy if we didn’t end up working with him.

Here are some photos of locations at both hotels along with an example or two of what they look like decorated for weddings.

GRAND CALIFORNIAN HOTEL

 

DISNEYLAND HOTEL

What do you think? It is a really hard and important decision… I should add that if we choose to do our ceremony in one location we can still have our reception at a different hotel… it’s just a bit of a walk for our guests.

*I stole my wedding examples from White Rabbit Photo Boutique and DPark Photography

Disney Fairytale Weddings Showcase

This Monday we were lucky enough to attend the Disneyland Wedding Showcase at the Grand Californian Hotel. When I found out this event was coming up I asked my contact with the Disneyland wedding team if we would be able to come and she was very happy to provide us with an invitation. We planned the trip frugally, meaning I was able to trade a client for frequent flyer miles, and get one free park ticket from another friend. We stayed two nights at a good neighbor hotel and rented a car to get around… All in all I think we spent about $500 for the trip not including a moderately priced meal in downtown disney and a few small souvenirs. Not inexpensive but I think we had an amazing, but short trip. We gained a lot of insight into venues and we enjoyed meeting vendors and planners.

While we were in Disneyland we had a magic moment with a photo pass photographer who noticed our “I’m celebrating – We’re Engaged!” buttons and offered to take some photos for us. He did 2 different photo sets and we got a few really cute pictures.

We spent the day very efficiently traveling between the two parks utilizing the max pass and waiting no more than 30 minutes in line. We got to go on the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and also another new one for both of us Grizzly River Run- which I have never done because I generally never go to the park during the summer. We didn’t get to do everything, but we got to do enough on our list that we were happy. One day is not nearly enough at Disneyland Resort.

We spent a little time on sunday visiting our venue options at both Disneyland Hotel and at the Grand Californian. Prior to this trip we had been pretty decided on our ceremony venue… now not as sure. More on that in a future post!

So Monday evening we arrived at the Grand Californian and found our way to the Sequoia Room which is the largest convention/ball room in the GCH. We checked in and got cute name tags color coded for which planner we were associated with. Currently we are just working with the sales coordinator so we had pink for the lovely Sue R. They also gave us a nice tote embroidered with the Disney Fairytale Honeymoons logo which contained info on dj’s and some new venue choices including the train station in Disneyland Park! Unfortunately an in-park wedding is not really in the budget for us but it was still cool to see. We were welcomed into the venue and several vendors had tables set up so we could see what services they provided and get to know them. There were a few photographers I had already been checking out online there and it was really nice to get to meet them in person. We also spoke with some dj’s and officiants. It was a great opportunity to see who we would click with and get contact info.

They had some lovely floral and table displays set up and it seemed like the theme of the event was Tangled. Lots of pink, purple, lanterns, and sunbursts. It was very pretty. They had four custom cakes on display and some adorable mickey mouse macaroons available at the cake table – not vegan of course… Amanda had to take one for the team and sample all the food and cake offerings. She loved the Churo cake but was less excited about the dole whip cake (which I would have loved) since she isn’t a huge pineapple person. They had some food action stations set up and were passing appetizers. One happened to be vegan, a cucumber strip rolled up with hummus, sprouts and carrots in it… Since I don’t like hummus it was kinda bland and not that great, but at least I got to try something!!

We were able to meet Sue in person and a few really nice guys who work with Disney Events but not specifically in Weddings. We also met some of the planners and really loved Michiel who came right up to us to say hi and helped us find our way to Sue. We really hope that when we are assigned a planner we get her!

Here are some of the photos from the planning session

Overall we had a great trip and I am really glad we spent the time and money to attend the planning session. Viewing the venue options in person was really the most helpful part but I think face time with the planners and vendors was also very valuable!