Walt Disney World Wedding Review
Jodi & Victor’s Walt Disney World Wedding
Minimum Stress, Great Value
We (Jodi Bucknam and Victor Nazarian) got married at Walt Disney World on Sunday 18 April 2010 at the Gazebo in the Rose Garden at Disney's Yacht Club resort and had our reception at the Atlantic Dance Hall.
If you've seen Molly Ringwald in "Sixteen Candles" or Steve Martin in "Father of the Bride" you may understand my state of mind in early 2009. I was worried and I wasn't sure we knew what we were doing. Marrying Jodi was a rock solid sure thing. I couldn't have been more positive of anything in my whole life. HOW do we get married?
HC SVNT DRACONES... (Here Be Dragons)
I asked Jodi to marry me on the Royal (pipe organ) stage at the Maryland Renaissance Festival on the last day of the Fall 2008 season. I was just back from an airborne Coast Guard Auxiliary patrol, still in my uniform flight suit. We'd been dating since the previous February and had known each other from swing dancing for about a year before that. She said yes, my friend Gary played Ode to Joy on the pipe organ and I was walking on clouds. Now we had to start walking those clouds in the direction of a wedding, somewhere.
We spent months, buying magazines, doing Internet research and talking to friends. We must have put in 200 hours on our MacBooks looking up details and reading reviews and comments on weddings and we probably put over 5,000 miles on Jodi's Honda Civic Hybrid traveling to interesting wedding spots. We wanted to stay out of debt and pay for it mostly on our own. It had to be fun, include dancing and have as many of our friends and family as possible. We knew we could save some money by doing our own invitations and ceremony programs and providing a few of our own special touches. We even got our friend Slash (Eric Dunn) to draw up some special graphics we could use in our invitations. We knew we’d probably spend quite a bit if we wanted a memorable event and we wanted to do it RIGHT, get a good value and have lots of fun for our money.
We had lots of ideas for themes including Victorian formal, steam punk, zoot suits, island/tropical and Jazz Fest in New Orleans, etc. I even suggested getting married by a ship's captain in period garb - a pirate wedding.
Jodi wasn't into the pirate wedding theme but getting married on a ship (in non-pirate clothes) stayed on the list. We considered several cities close to the water and also maybe staying close to home.
Even though Washington D.C. is beautiful in the Spring the sprawling nature and inflated costs of the D.C. metro area would have made staying close to home expensive and complicated.
We visited, Baltimore, Portland (Maine), Tampa, Orlando, New Orleans, Charleston and several other cities. One of the pilots in my Coast Guard Auxiliary aviation flotilla, even flew us out to Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Then we talked it all over, did the math and searched our hearts. All in all it came down to what would make the maximum happy with the minimum stress at a reasonable cost? Walt Disney World came up on top. It was more than just choosing a location, it was more like choosing a project management team with romantic show business experience.
I had just one tiny concern...
"I don't think I want a Mickey Mouse wedding."
Looking back that might seem silly. We had just about the best time anyone can have getting married. Before-hand however I had some real concerns. I didn't want to spend the price of a small, used airplane on something that might feel plastic and be regarded as cheesy. I love Disney and Pixar and I'm fond of the Sorcerer's Apprentice. We own every Pixar film and we both love The Muppets. Even so, I wanted to make sure our wedding would be a Jodi and Victor focused affair, special in its own right.
I was also worried I would talk Jodi into something she wouldn't love. I can be a real bulldozer when it comes to decisions. When the little voice in my heart expressed concerns about "Mickey Mouse wedding" I listened to it. I made sure to say something to both Jodi and the Disney folks. I also made a point of listening to everyone. I'm not always the best listener but for this, I tried to listen extra hard.
Here's where the Disney folks really impressed me, Telepathy. Yup, Kristi Davis one of Disney's wedding sales representatives over at Franck's can read minds! She showed us the wedding chapel and the beach near the Grand Floridian and then, perhaps reading my body language or looking inside my skull suggested we go over to the Yacht Club and look at the rose garden and gazebo.
Long before I met Jodi my best WDW trip ever was back in the early 2000's when I stayed for several days at the Yacht Club. It's cool, retro and wonderful and it's right by the water. Also, it's walking distance to both Epcot and MGM (now Disney's Hollywood Studios). Somehow Kristi must have known I love all of that. I love mind readers!
We were still not sign-on-the-dotted-line just yet. We made sure to finish up visiting the other sites we had planned and we double checked our hearts. We looked at numbers and talked with friends. We asked family members what they thought and then we did the smart thing. We talked with Jodi's mom.
Jodi's mother Anita is a saint. Really! She's a super smart, ultra cool professor over at Ohio State (Go Buckeyes) and not only was she happy to let us do the wedding any way we wanted but she also said she'd help us if we needed it. She agreed with us that WDW was a good idea and was very supportive. Likewise Jodi's father was very supportive as well and also offered to help if needed. Although we wanted to do this ourselves as much as possible we were relieved to know that help would be there if we needed it. We did "tap the rents" a little for money for photography, etcetera and my own mother even put up some money for the rehearsal dinner. They were all comfortable with Disney and helped keep our stress down a lot.
The due diligence and teamwork really brought Jodi and me closer together and made us more confident in our decisions. Some people have buyer's remorse about their wedding (the place, hopefully not the partner). I didn't want to ever have any feelings whatsoever that we could have done it better. By personally visiting lots of locations together and talking to lots of people face-to-face we bonded and we assured ourselves we were doing the right things. Then we chose Walt Disney World and Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings. Smart move, they were able to make it all happen with lots of happiness and without stress. They have, or can arrange for, almost everything you might need.
Walt Disney's company is much more than cute media icons and cultural fluff. He and his brother Roy established a creative business culture that revolves around family, friendship and taking good care of people. Disney has what it takes to make a wedding into a celebration:
1. Professionals who are capable and motivated to make things happen.
2. Customer service - feeling pampered should be part of any wedding.
3. Happiness, fun and smiles, for everyone - key to a good wedding.
4. Low stress!!!
5. Resources that are all close at hand.
Lots more, eMail is you want to hear the whole 18 page review