All posts by Sara Russert

Featured Blog: How to Create Your Own Personalized Wedding Planning Binder (with Disney Touches!)

Featured Blog from This Fairy Tale Life

One of the major perks about having a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding is that a wedding coordinator is included in your package, and if you chose you can let Disneyland source all of your vendors except photography and personal beauty. It can take a lot of stress out of the planning if you aren’t a couple where either person loves having to stay focused on details. There are many of us who end up being more “hands-on” in the planning process either because you love to plan, you are sourcing a lot of outside vendors, or because you do a lot of DIY projects. If you are that person you will most likely want a way to stay organized.

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Featured Blog: Yes, it’s possible to have an amazing vegan menu at your Disneyland wedding!

Featured Blog on This Fairy Tale Life

When Amanda and I started dreaming of our Disney wedding we were a little nervous about the food. I had read internet posts from other couples about the food at their wedding, how amazing their dinner was, and how their guests couldn’t stop talking about it.

We were worried they might not be able to do the same justice to a vegan menu. I am a long time vegan and Amanda eats vegan at home with me but is not vegetarian. It was important to me to have a vegan dinner at our wedding that would wow our guests and show them vegan food can be just as delicious as a traditional wedding plate. Amanda was completely on board, as long as the food would be good!
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Featured Blog: 7 Tips for Setting a Wedding Budget When You’re Paying For Everything

In American tradition the bride’s parents are responsible for the majority of the costs associated with a wedding, but in modern marriages many couples are footing the bill for their own celebration. What happens with a two groom or two bride wedding? What about a second wedding? And with the rising costs surrounding the big day, many parents who set money aside find it’s not enough. So how should a couple determine a wedding budget and know what type of celebration they can afford when they are left with the bill? Read More


How to invite in the digital age…

It is very tempting to dump a bunch of money into beautiful, super intricate, wedding invitations. You imagine this will be one of the first impressions people will get about your wedding and you want to make sure you really wow them, but when you start adding up the cost of creating and sending out multiple mailings of heavy stationary it begins to get very expensive.

We decided to skip printed invitations and send out only Save the Dates. We are printing them on 2 sided postcards and sending them out in envelopes so they will be in good shape when they arrive. I know most people don’t hold on to invitations or save the dates but I figured if people wanted to put them on the fridge or somewhere they would be seen for a few months I wanted them to arrive in good shape. Plus I don’t really feel comfortable sending our personal information out on a postcard.

I designed the save the dates myself so that was free. The total cost with envelopes and stamps will be less than a dollar per piece. We should spend less than $40 total to mail them out!

We are requesting early RSVP’s from our guests so that we are able to gather a first impression of how many guests will be able to attend and collect digital contact information. From that point on all details will be sent out via email or available on the website. Hopefully this will all work out well for us and all of our guests. It definitely saves us a little money that we can put into something else for our wedding.

Can we really afford this?

Today was a breakthrough day for us in wedding planning. We made two big decisions today that made me feel instant relief in the HUGE amount of anxiety I have had about our wedding for the last 2 months.

When we called our wedding sales consultant to chose our date she asked us if we would be open to applying to be cast on the upcoming season of the DFTW TV show. It would require us to move up our date (to accommodate their filming schedule) and reduce the size of our guest count (because of our budget) so we were a little reluctant to do it, but Sue has a winning way and she convinced us to give it a shot. She sent me a link to apply and said that 2 of the 3 casting people had met us at the showcase and really liked us so she really wanted us to give it a go and just see if they want to work with us and what they could do to help us plan a dream wedding.

I sent in the application that night and heard back the following morning. We scheduled a video interview with the third casting agent for the next day to have a relaxed chat about us and our wedding plans.

We were told to look presentable because they would be using the video to present us to the producers if they liked us. We talked to the CA and she asked us about how we met, the proposal, any wedding preparations we had already made, and what we would want for our dream wedding.

Our main hesitation was that since we are paying for our wedding on our own we needed the 18 months of preparation to come up with the money to fund our 50-60 person wedding. We told them that in 5 months there was no way we could have the money to pay for the wedding we are currently planning… we would have to do Disney’s smaller wedding package that allows only 18 guests. The casting agent told us to just be very transparent in our video about our budget and the fact that we would only change our plans if they could help us create something truly magical for our guests with the money we have.

She said all of the casting people loved us so she would be preparing our video for the producers… but here’s the stressful part: IF the producers liked us they would get back to us to do a background check but she had no idea when that would be. IF they didn’t like us we wouldn’t hear from them again… So we basically had to go on as though none of that happened and just wait to see if they would call, if not at least it was a kinda fun experience and an honor to be considered.

Waiting on this has caused me a ridiculous amount of anxiety- can’t really explain it because I know it sounds unreasonable. I basically felt like I couldn’t move forward with anything because there was too much up in the air. We made the decision today that even if they called us we will say no. For several reasons we felt like it was time to make our own decision on that and mentally shut the door so we could move forward. So we did! I instantly felt better…

The other thing we did was decide to take all the money we have saved for the wedding and dump it into my credit card debt. I should have all my non store debt (besides my car) paid off by January. When I was working my last job my income was super unreliable and I got into more debt than I care to admit just paying bills on lean months… plus a big trip expense that wouldn’t have been an issue except that I spent about a year making less a month than I needed to live… Paying off three cards today alone feels amazing! It was hard to take the money we saved and use it, but we are saving what could amount to over a thousand dollars on interest. Plus with no credit card payments I will be able to recover that money in a short period of time. We want to have all of our wedding paid for in cash, but one of my major worries is that something catastrophic could come up and we wouldn’t be able to make our goal. Now I know that if the worst does happen we have a bigger safety net and that feels really good. I made several mock budgets with a range of guest totals and other possible expenditures. We spent about an hour going over them and I think we are getting closer to figuring out where we will be able to trim the fat and where we feel like we have to splurge. It now feels like it won’t be impossible to have this wedding, yay for spreadsheets!

Feeling really thankful this weekend for Amanda being an amazing partner and caring so much about me.


We got our contract!

It’s a super exciting and monumental week in wedding planning! We got our contract from Disney this Monday which means we get to submit our deposit, start working directly with our planner, and lock in our pricing. I don’t know what I am more excited for- getting to start planning, or getting to stop worrying that the pricing will increase!

Once we are under contract we will get some documents from Disney called “planning pages”. I don’t know exactly what they are, lol, but planning is in the title so I am sure I will love them. I am guessing it is a catalog of options available to us and pricing.

I wasn’t sure exactly what we would get in our contract but it states the minimum cost of our wedding, the pricing for our catering per head, and the pricing for our venue. It also gives us the reduced rate for our guests staying at a Disneyland resort hotel, which is awesome because it will make us better able to prepare our guests for budgeting.

So great to be finally able to take some official steps forward!

Setting our date!

We FINALLY got to make the big call to Disney to set our wedding date. We are now officially within the 18 month window where we can begin the contracting process with DFTW at Disneyland and select our date and venue!
We spoke to Sue at DFTW and went over a lot of stuff but nailed down a tentative date and location for our wedding. Sue is really great and it is easy to see why she has been a cast member for over 15 years and is the Sales Manager for DFTW in Disneyland. You can tell the entire team is very enthusiastic about all of the couples they work with and really make you feel that it is their honor to help plan your wedding.
We are waiting on approval for our chosen locations and date and if given Sue will draw up our contract. We requested to work with Michiel, a wedding planner we met at the DFTW showcase and really liked. If you don’t request a specific planner (which I think most people don’t) I think they assign you one once your contract is completed.
We decided on a late afternoon/evening ceremony in the Brisa Courtyard with our reception to follow in the Wisteria room. Some of the largest factors in determining our selection were: available ceremony start times and minimum guest count for reception venues.
We wanted our reception to end at a specific time which meant we needed a flexible ceremony start time. The Rose Court Garden had specific times ceremonies could be preformed and they didn’t work with our timeline so that helped us to determine our ceremony location… I would have been happy with either but I really do love the monorail going overhead!
Our reception choice was based more on guest count. Sleeping Beauty Pavilion requires an 80 person minimum and it was high on our list but we were not willing to increase our budget to accommodate the minimum expenditure for that space. The Trillium room which was the second pick has a 60 person minimum and that is more inline with our guest count but we really prefer the look of the Wisteria room. It limits us to 48 guests but the architecture of the room and the size make it easy to decorate in a way that will look awesome and be more affordable.
Now we just need to wait to see if we are approved!