Tag Archives: disneyland

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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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.

 

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!

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!

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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.

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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