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…
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
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