Disney Vacation Club often advertises magical memories year after year. So what can be more magical than vacationing at Disney World? Getting married at Disney World! After getting engaged in Epcot in 2019, Timothy and I began looking into Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings. Having just become DVC members in 2019, we thought it would be nice to get married at our home resort, the BoardWalk. It’s a sentimentally meaningful place, and the location along Crescent Lake is simply beautiful. Although we knew of Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings and had seen the TV series, “Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings,” we didn’t really know how it all worked. Here are some of the lessons learned through planning our October 2020 wedding at our home resort:
There Are Several Wedding Venues Among the DVC Resorts at Disney World
While not every DVC resort has a wedding venue, there are many sites among the DVC resorts to choose from. Some venues can host ceremonies, some host receptions, and some can host both. Venues are often dependent on your estimated guest count. For example, The Attic (located right above Jelly Rolls at the BoardWalk) is a really cool venue that offers both indoor and outdoor spaces. However, our estimated guest count was 50, so we ruled out The Attic. I also realized that many of the venues are hiding in plain sight like Ariel’s (located right next to Martha’s Vineyard Lounge at the Beach Club) and Harbor Club Breezeway (located right underneath the porch off of the BoardWalk lobby). Others are favorite restaurants among the DVC resorts like California Grill at The Contemporary and Flying Fish at the BoardWalk.
Beach Club Ballrooms (reception)
Crescent Cove (ceremony/reception)
Shipwreck Beach (reception)
Atlantic Dance Hall (reception)
The Attic (reception)
BoardWalk Inn Ballrooms (reception)
Croquet Lawn (ceremony/reception)
Flying Fish (reception)
Harbor Club Breezeway (ceremony)
Poolside Green (ceremony/reception)
Sea Breeze Point (ceremony/reception)
California Grill (reception)
Contemporary Resort Ballrooms (reception)
Conch Key Marina (ceremony)
Disney’s Wedding Pavilion (ceremony)
Grand Floridian Resort Ballrooms (reception)
Picture Point (ceremony)
Sago Cay (ceremony/reception)
The Summerhouse (reception)
Luau Beach (ceremony/reception)
Luau Pointe (ceremony)
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (ceremony/reception)
During our September 2019 trip, we had a chance to meet with a Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings sales consultant at Franck’s Studio by the Grand Floridian and tour a few of the venues. Ultimately, we chose Sea Breeze Point at the BoardWalk for our ceremony and Ariel’s at the Beach Club for our reception. At 16-months out from our desired date, we were able to get penciled in for our preferred venues, and at 12-months out Disney confirmed that we were able to reserve Sea Breeze Point and Ariel’s.
Pricing Can Really Vary
Like everything else at Disney World, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings can be very expensive, but there are ways to keep them more budget-friendly. With the current pricing structure, the event minimums are based on the ceremony venue and day of the week. Weekdays have lower minimums while weekends and holidays have greater minimums. The event minimum can be met with the ceremony venue fee and any floral, decor, photography, entertainment, and transportation elements from Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings. The food and beverage minimum is based on time of day with a minimum of $140 per person for brunch, $165 per person for lunch, and $190 per person for dinner.
If trying to stay within a smaller budget, you could choose a venue like Conch Key Marina (Grand Floridian), Sago Cay (Grand Floridian), Luau Beach (Polynesian), or Luau Pointe (Polynesian). These venues have a ceremony venue fee of $2,500 that would go towards an event minimum of $5,000-$15,000, depending on the day of the week. For example, if you got married at Luau Beach at the Polynesian, your ceremony fee is $2,500. If you had your event on a Thursday, you would have to spend at least $2,500 in decor, photography, etc. to meet your $5,000 event minimum. On the other end of the spectrum, the fee for a Magic Kingdom ceremony starts at $15,000 with an event minimum of $20,000-$50,000.
Disney Always Makes Safety a Priority, Even for Weddings
We had the unfortunate luck of planning a wedding during a pandemic. There were moments when we weren’t sure if we would be able to move forward with the wedding, especially once we heard that our planner was furloughed and Disney cancelled all September 2020 weddings. It wasn’t until the end of August that we received word that we could keep our wedding date. However, as with the park reopenings, there were many new safety precautions in place for weddings.
As I’m writing this in October 2020, a few of the precautions include capping weddings at no more than 50 people, social distancing at the ceremony and reception, cast members serving food behind plexiglass at any buffets, and masks to be worn at all times except for when eating or drinking with some exemptions for the bride and groom and some socially distanced photos. (Note that these rules are subject to change as Disney continues to evaluate its protocols.) With an outdoor venue like Sea Breeze Point, which is right along the boardwalk and visible to other Disney guests, the bride and groom have to wear masks throughout the ceremony. Due to this restriction, Disney offered to move us indoors to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion at the Grand Floridian without an upcharge. There, we would be distanced from our guests and allowed to say our vows without masks, so we agreed to move. At the time, we had just closed on our Villas at the Grand Floridian contract, so we would still get married at our home resort–just not the one we had originally envisioned!
Disney Touches Can Be Incorporated Throughout Your Day
If you’re a DVC member, chances are you love most things Disney. With Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings, you can add all sorts of Disney elements to your big day, everything from Cinderella’s carriage to take you to and from your ceremony to the smallest of details like a hidden Mickey crystal in your bridal bouquet. You can even host your own dessert party in a park and take your guests to your favorite ride after the park closes. In our case, we embraced the Cinderella theme of the Wedding Pavilion and had the carriage represented in our centerpieces. Our cake was adorned with hidden Mickeys and topped with a white chocolate castle. We also had many of our favorite Disney dishes included for our brunch buffet. My favorite Disney touch was inviting Mickey and Minnie as our special guests. They came to our cake cutting as a surprise for our friends and family.
Disney Makes It Easy to Plan a Destination Wedding
Being from New York, I was a little concerned about planning a wedding all the way in Florida, but Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings is a well-oiled machine and makes everything very streamlined. Disney handled all of our floral, transportation, entertainment, and catering. Normally, you could have a planning session in person to discuss the flow of the day and some of the decor elements, but due to the pandemic we did that all by phone and email. We only got to sneak in a cake tasting by picking up samples from the Grand Floridian Bakery during our August 2020 trip. A lot of the planning happened only a couple of months before our wedding, and communication was rather sparse at the beginning of the planning process. In the end, it didn’t matter that we weren’t able to plan everything in person. It all went pretty smoothly, minus one hiccup: I got picked up late for the ceremony. Even then, it worked out just fine.
All in all, getting married at our home resort felt like a fairytale; I got to marry my best friend in our happy place. It was such a beautiful day. I wish I could relive it all over again, but I know that every time we stay at the Grand Floridian, I will be reminded of our special day.
Wedding Photos: © Disney Fine Art Photography: Stephanie Caldwell