We were excited the day we received our confirmation for our Disney Weddings appointment. It has been something my Fiance and I always talked about but thought would never happen.
Arriving at Disney that day we drove to Franck’s Wedding Studio located next to the Wedding Pavilion. We reached the gate and were buzzed in after they confirmed our appointment. There was plenty of parking and we were happily greeted by the receptionist.
Since we were early, she allowed us to look around the Wedding Pavilion while we waited. The pavilion was absolutely incredible on the inside. There was bride and groom suites equipped with plenty of seating and places for final wedding preparations. Inside the decor was simple and elegant with detail everywhere. Perhaps the neatest thing was that the window behind the alter aligned perfectly with the castle at Magic Kingdom.
Shortly after looking around the Wedding Pavilion we received a call stating that our wedding coordinator had arrived. The first meeting for planning a Disney Wedding is always with a wedding coordinator. Their job is to lay out the information about the services Disney offers, the pricing, and to guide you through the venues to choose from.
Our wedding coordinator, Michelle, had a happy, upbeat attitude and was extremely excited for talking about our big day!
She reviewed the information we sent to her prior about the guest count and preferences and recommended that we go ahead with the Wishes package. This package is for larger weddings of 20 guests or more. She explained about the planning process and the pricing for the wedding. Disney does what I can best explain as a ‘A la carte’ pricing. You can spend as much as you want or as little as you want on what they refer to as ‘Enhancements’ as long as you meet their minimum price point. The enhancements include such things as decorations, character visits, and photography. This minimum price point varies depending upon the time of day, day of the week, and if the day is a holiday. For example, getting married on a Monday that is not a holiday is obviously the cheapest option while getting married on Christmas wouldn’t be. A separate minimum expenditure per person is also required for the food. Once again, this varies with breakfast being the cheapest and dinner being the most expensive.
With the pricing thoroughly explained, we picked a couple top venues that we were interested in visiting. Since we are doing our wedding offsite in a local Catholic Church, we focused on the reception. We felt like VIPs as we rode in the Disney company car to our first venue visit, ‘The Living Seas’ reception room. Most people never have the opportunity to see this gem, as it is nestled away in one of the back conference rooms. To get to it, we drove around the back perimeter road of Epcot until we reached the backstage area.
Walking inside, the room had a very distinct nautical theme with large glass windows looking into the tank. It had a cozy feel with still enough space for guests to easily get around. This space appealed to us because it had the ‘Themed Destination’ look we were going for. There were a few things that didn’t appeal to us, however. In order for guests to leave, they must be escorted on to a bus and taken to outside the gate. This would have required us to provide transportation during the entire reception, and would have caused a major headache for the guests. Also, the way the room was laid out didn’t allow for everyone to be located in one central location at one time.
The easier approach to the venue situation would be to choose a ballroom. But we felt a ballroom would be too ordinary, so for our next top pick we went with something extraordinary.
The Atlantic Dance hall is a building most people have passed, but never have looked into. I personally never considered the location until I had a chance to look at the inside of it. The space is open and airy and resembles a classic 50’s Dance Hall. Inside, it features elegant decorations already in place on the walls with a large stage and built in bars and DJ stations. This was important to us because it allows us to save money on decorations and not worry about blocking the room up with a bar setup and DJs.
The dance floor also features a intricate pre-installed lighting system that can completely change the mood of the room. One of the things we are looking into is projecting our monogram onto the floor.
Upstairs, a separate area allows for cocktail hour to be hosted prior to the guests being invited downstairs for dinner. Each floor has a private wrap around balcony only accessible to the wedding guests. This is one key selling point, as it allows for guests to get fresh air or quiet time when the party gets too loud.
In terms of transportation and location, the Atlantic Dance Hall also appealed to us. Located right on the Boardwalk, guests have easy access to the parks, resorts, and can spend time taking pictures on the Boardwalk.
After visiting the Atlantic Dance Hall we returned to the studio to look at final details. Since our time frame for our wedding was within one year, we were able to look at dates for the wedding. Since the Atlantic Dance Hall is only available for dinner on Mondays through Thursdays (Open for dancing on weekends) we looked into holidays. To our surprise, Martin Luther King day was available, so we chose the date.
Continuing on, she explained to us the next steps in the contract process as well as the room blocking procedures. Blocking rooms allows you to extend extra discounts to your guests on particular days. You can choose up to three resorts to block rooms at. Taking her advice, we chose a Deluxe Resort (Yacht Club), a Moderate Resort (Caribbean Beach), and a Value Resort (Pop Century). This allows our guests to not feel pressured into one price range while giving a variety of options. After choosing resorts, you select the number of rooms per each night to block out. The only requirement is that you must fill 80% of the rooms blocked. There are some things to do in order to help you achieve this. One option is that once you may drop up to 25 rooms if you see that you have too many rooms. Also, even if your guests stay in a resort that is not blocked, it counts toward your room block.
As a bonus, if you block at least 25 nights and fill them all, you get a complimentary night in a standard room at ANY Walt Disney World Resort. For our wedding night, we choose the Grand Floridian and upgraded it to a theme park view for only $100!
Now with all the basics taken care of, our contract is currently being written and will soon arrive for us to sign and put in our deposit! Then in August we begin working out exact details for the wedding.
Stay tuned for more updates!