Tag Archives: disney brides

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!

The wait is on…

What do you do when you are over a year and a half out from your wedding and you are just so excited to be doing something but there isn’t a lot you can do??

Spend hours a day on the internet learning everything you can about wedding planning, I guess. So this week not a lot has happened.

We have gone to 3 different Ben Bridge locations, a Tiffany’s retailer, Kay Jewelers, and Zales. I really never thought I would want to have a big central stone or a set. I was thinking a medium width white gold band with some inset diamonds. After a few trips to the jeweler I have surprised myself by falling in love with giant rings and rose gold. I may need to get a second job with a jeweler to pay for this new love for sparkly rings. The first time we went Amanda found a ring she liked right away, and she has been looking at the same ring every time we go to a different Ben Bridge. I found a rose gold band with morganite stones halo’d in diamonds that I really liked but the width of the stones is a little too wide for me and it rubs against the inside of my fingers… not the end of the world but maybe not the ring even though I thought it was really pretty. I tried on several bands while we were there and of course LOVED the $5000 radiant cut diamond 5 stone platinum band, but it is way out of our first ring budget. So I tried some other styles as well and learned that I do actually love all the sparkly big rings. Here are a few I have tried on so far…

And here are some Amanda has tried… This first is the one she likes very best!

We did go try on some more rings last week and I found one I really love. The jeweler was kinda putting some pressure on us- which is the first time this has happened… just warning that this ring might not be around if we try to wait until closer to the wedding to buy it and that rose gold and morganite is not a super common combination for wedding sets so we might not be able to find something I like as much if it sells out. One of the previous Ben Bridge jewelers we tried on rings with had told us that if we saw anything online that we liked we could let her know and she would get it in to the store for us to try on. We both really liked her so I emailed her and asked if she would be able to get that ring and one other for me to try. I feel like she would be more honest with me about the likelihood of this ring disappearing and I know if she is holding it in a store for me to try on it buys me a little more time at least.

I felt like with my dress I had to make a snap decision. I don’t regret buying it but it felt like a now or never kind of situation and I don’t want our rings to feel that way. I want to feel like we have time to really think about what we want and try on a lot of rings and styles. Amanda is still pretty sold on her ring right now but I think she still wants to browse a bit and I don’t think her ring is at risk of being discontinued. Hopefully we get a chance to go to a few more jewelers and try on more styles before I need to make a decision. One major plus is that if I get a set like this I can start wearing the engagement ring part as soon as we get it, instead of having to wait until after we get married like I would if I just get a band. I can’t wait to wear that pretty pink ring!

So that is ring shopping so far… Even if you are not engaged or in the market for a ring I would recommend going and trying on some rings for fun! You never know, you may realize that you love sparkly things too.

Also a final note on this- we have really liked the staff and experience with Ben Bridge so far- minus the one pushy sales person who may very well have been looking out for me… They haven’t turned up their noses at our smallish budget, instead they have been finding rings that work in our price range and offering options like lay-away and financing. They have a great upgrade program for diamond rings where you can bring your ring (you purchased from them) in and get the value you paid for it towards a ring of 2x the value or more when you are ready to upgrade. I don’t think I would part with my ring I was married with but it is a nice option for someone who isn’t as sentimental. They have also been very friendly and welcoming to two brides ❤

Update: I got the ring!! I decided on the rose gold with the pink morganite tear shaped stone. Best part is that I get to wear the engagement ring portion immediately. I am very pink and sparkly.

This week in wedding planning: 20 months and 2 weeks?

Since we don’t have an exact date for our wedding yet I am just going for a best guess… This week:

  • Started a Wedding Binder
  • Window shopped for rings
  • Decided on our wedding party
  • Made some priority lists
  • Created fun Bridesmaid proposal gifts

So I guess in this post I will cover how I went about creating a wedding binder. I know our wedding is a long way out but when I think of the HUGE amount of planning that needs to be done it’s hard to do nothing and wait for the “appropriate time” to start planning.

I am an over planner maybe? Or at least an enthusiastic planner, and I am excited so I need to be doing something. I thought it would be good to start a physical planner… Pinterest is great for pooling ideas but it isn’t as organized as an actual journal or book. I looked to pinterest and google for advice and found some ideas and free printables… not a ton that worked for me but I stole bits and pieces from a bunch of spots and then created my own when I couldn’t find anything I liked.

A great resource for planning a wedding at disneyland is This Fairy Tale Life. That site has some planning lists and “what you need to know”‘s specifically for a DL wedding. I grabbed the checklist from there and started making a list of the tabs I would need in my binder… Took a few revisions but I think I have the set-up the way I want it. Hopefully this is helpful for anyone making a wedding binder for a Disney wedding or any other wedding.

My categories are

General Information

  • Planning (schedules and calendars)
  • Vibes (colors, themes, atmosphere)
  • Misc

Serious Business

  • Budget
  • Vendors
  • Contracts

Guests

  • Guest List (contact info and rsvp)
  • Invitations (ideas and drafts)
  • Guest Experience (enhancement ideas, favors, etc)

Wedding

  • Venues (ideas and photos of possible venues for both ceremony and reception)
  • Ceremony (schedule, decor, rehearsal info, music)
  • Reception (decor, ideas, timeline, music)
  • Catering (food, cake, booze)

Attire

  • Clothes (for both of us)
  • Rings
  • Wedding Party Attire

 

I found that for our wedding this was the best way for me to break down and organize ideas and information in a format that was easy for my to find and utilize. Here are some photos as well…

 

She said YES!!!

After a week of not sleeping well, having no appetite, and probably making Amanda think I was crazy because I was being so sensitive it was FINALLY Sunday morning. I am a horrible secret keeper and I just like to tell her everything and it was really hard to omit something so exciting and big from our interaction.

We got a little bit of a late start down to the parade which was probably good because I was so anxious waiting to propose. We had two good friends from portland in town with us as well as my two co-conspiritors (her mom and one of my best friends, Shea- whose proposal at Disneyland we were present for). When she went to use the bathroom one of our friends went after her to keep her distracted (brilliant work Christina!) while I went to talk to the announcers at the stage. I got them on board with my plan, they were excited too, and they said they would call us up to the stage right before the parade started.

The announcers began warming up the crowd and said that pride was all about love and that they had some friends who wanted to give us a real life demonstration of love and could Sara and Amanda come up to the stage. I pulled her up there- she definitely knew what was going on at that point.

I had about 5 different variations of my proposal planned out but I told myself not to overthink it and just go with the flow once it was happening. I told a little story of how we first came together, only stumbling over my words a little bit and taking her wrong hand, then asked her if she would marry me. I had more to say but I was afraid I would start rambling and I didn’t want to keep her up there forever. My beautiful princess said yes, and I felt so relieved that I had pulled it off and had given her a proposal that I thought was worthy of her love.

We got to walk back to our friends and her mom (my future mom too!!) and get hugs and pictures. Her mom had gotten us “bride to be” sashes to wear for the day and she put them on us. I asked if we could have a quick little walk so I could have a minute to decompress with her. I let her try on the second ring I had brought with me that day but it seemed like the size 6 fit best. I got to hug her and cry for a few minutes and apologize for being difficult that week. She said she had no idea I measured her finger (not that I recommend that as an accurate technique).

We got to spend the rest of the day with our people and lots of little moments hugging and kissing and being excited together. It was a pretty great day ❤

Thank you to our dear friends Shea, Adrian, Trish, and Christina, and of course MOM for helping make this day so memorable and special. We love you.

 

Disney Wedding Obsession

*note* at the time of this blog post I am not yet engaged. Amanda and I have talked about the dream of getting married as an idea since the early months of our relationship. After two years together when her friends asked which of us would propose first she said “Probably Sara, but only because she will be able to afford the ring first.” I make light of the fact that we are not engaged in this post but I don’t want you to get the idea that I am planning our wedding without Amanda having any clue what is going on. She knows guys, I tell her gushingly everything I spent hours researching about Disney Weddings each day. She loves me anyway. Also I am not sharing this super secret blog until we are engaged at which point I will let her read my backdated posts and she can laugh at me.

You may or may not know I have been obsessed with Disneyland since my mid 20’s. Before that time I loved Disneyland, and was excited for any opportunity to visit but my love had not overflowed into what one could technically deem an obsession. As far as I can guess that corner turned about a decade ago. Since then I have gradually increased the amount of time, energy, and money (let’s not kid ourselves) I put into all things Disney.

Just over a year ago our very good friends got engaged after the Disneyland fireworks show while we were there together on a trip. What a magical and perfect moment for a proposal!

13245271_10206357059425675_1657714447588083134_n
Here is the future bride with her beautiful ring the next morning… and as you can see I am wearing my “happily ever after” pin… no I didn’t get it to celebrate, I have had it for years, lol.

We visited Disneyland for a second time that year to take my niece Madison on her very first trip. My dad grew up in Pasadena and went to the park as a 5 year old kid the first year it opened, and many times following. My sister and I went on our first trip when I was around 6, from what I remember right at this moment. Our Dad took us on a second trip a few years later. Disneyland was an important part of my childhood (and my Dads) and I wanted it to be a special memory for my niece and nephew as well. Unfortunately Brody was not able to come due to his school schedule but Amanda and I had a great trip with my Dad and Maddie.

14573046_1767852683453236_6711362745962487342_n
On the Jungle Cruise, one of my favorite rides!

On that trip I was very dedicated to keeping the magic going 24 hours a day so I ponied up for a few nights at Paradise Pier so we could stay in the Land of Disney throughout the whole trip. One day while walking through the Grand Californian lobby to get to Downtown Disney we saw a wedding being set up in the courtyard and a bride in her dress being moved from one room to another. A lightbulb went on in my head- it wasn’t as if I didn’t know you could get married at Disneyland, but I was just reminded that real people do this. My first thought was most likely that there was a REAL PRINCESS right in front of me, my second was that it was probably very expensive to get married at DL. Not too long after I saw the Free Form special “Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons” on TV and immediately looked up the website to see just how much a Disney wedding would cost and what options were available.

I found out that yes(!) there are Disney weddings available for most all budgets, I started searching for more information and thus began my DISNEY WEDDING OBSESSION. Since then I have logged over 43 hours of Disney Wedding Podcasts, joined 3 (maybe 4) Disney wedding Facebook groups, spent hours reading every disney bride or wedding blog I could find, followed every Disney wedding photographer-make up artist- hair stylist- etc I could find on instagram, and now have had phone calls with the Disneyland Fairy Tale Wedding Team. Sue and I talked for 45 minutes yesterday. First name basis.

Am I engaged? No, but you will hear all about it soon… shhhhh