#HappilyEverArvanitis – Planning

Let's get down to business!

... to defeat the Huns!

Totally joking. But you better get used to these Disney themes for a while. (And by a while, I mean forever.)

What I really wanted to talk about today is how we got started planning our Disney wedding. Wedding planning is already difficult enough as it is, but a Disney wedding with limited information on the website? Where do you go? Who do you ask? Who is that girl I see, staring straight back at me?

First, let's talk about resources:

  • I honestly don't know where I'd be without Carrie Hayward's book & Podcast. If you (the Bride) is Cinderella, this woman is your Fairy Godmother.
    • If you buy the digital version of the book, you'll be able to download the newest version whenever it updates. 
    • The Podcast is also great because not only does Carrie interview past brides, she interviews vendors and does a "First Steps for the Newly Engaged" every year (amongst many other things.) 
  • The DISboards are also a great resource. There's a board that's specifically for Disney Weddings & Honeymoons
  • And last, but certainly not least, there's the DisBrides group on Facebook. If you've been doing research for a Disney wedding, you've probably seen Carlye Wisel talk about Disbrides. Like Carlye has mentioned, it's definitely more of a sisterhood than it is just a Facebook group. You can vent your frustrations, ask questions, share things that you can't share with other people. There's even recommended vendors!

Walt Disney World and Disneyland are slightly different in a lot of ways so I won't be of much help if you're looking into a California wedding. So remember that when you're researching information. The Disney Weddings website isn't going to give you everything you need but take a peek at it for where to start regarding basic costs, size of your wedding, etc.

risa xu harry winston cushion cut engagement ring

Next, we talked about how big of a wedding we really want. Are we talking 10? 15? 50? 100? Being that Nicholas and I both come from families where there's people literally all over the world, we had a realistic idea of how many people could really travel to be with us. We then took a look at our estimated guest list and there was no way we could do Memories or Escape. So Wishes it was. 

The Disney Weddings website does have a way for you to estimate how much your total cost will be – using your estimated guest count, the venues you want, etc. so you can start to gather an idea. Memories and Escape are pretty straight forward – they're more like a "package" versus how Wishes is really much more like a-la-carte, build your own wedding. The thing with Wishes is depending on how many guests you have, which venues you choose & what day of the week your wedding falls on, there is a "minimum expenditure." If you've ever been to a nightclub or event that had a minimum spend to have a table, it's sort of the same concept. There's a minimum amount of money that you must reach (you can, of course, go above that) and you can meet this requirement through floral, cake, decorations, transportation, etc.

Now here's the really hard part – picking a date. This is important because depending on which type of wedding you choose, you can only start contacting Disney Fairy Tale Weddings from a certain date.  For Wishes, it's a year out for date confirmation. We got engaged in March 2015 and we decided we wanted a November 2017 wedding, which meant we could only really start our process in November 2016. That was a ridiculously painful wait for me – I love planning things out in advance and was double, triple checking the website to see what month/year they were up to. 

But once the process started, everything has gone so incredibly smooth and I can't sing enough praises about the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings team. 

Our timeline (so far) has looked like this:

  • July 2016 – Initial Call:
    • For Wishes weddings, you can start the beginning stages of the wedding planning process up to 16 months in advance. This is where you'll make your initial call, they'll take down some basic information. We were able to schedule our site visit on this initial call!
  • September 2016 – Site Visit: 
    • Like I said, we scheduled our site visit during our initial call. We already had an idea of what we wanted & where we wanted so this was actually a breeze. We were able to see the Wedding Pavilion (it'll be going under construction soon!) and the Grand Floridian ballrooms. Our Wedding Consultant that day would be the same person that would confirm our date and venues for us, as well as help with any additional initial planning. 
  • November 2016 – Date & Venue Confirmation:
    • The time between our Site Visit & confirmation were SO painfully long. Our date also falls on Thanksgiving week so I wasn't sure if we'd be receiving our confirmation on the day of the 22nd or the Monday following the holiday. Our Wedding Consultant is seriously a gem! She confirmed our date at 8pm that night via email!
  • December 2016 – Paperwork & Early Planning Stages
    • We had to send back our contact information and our room block requests by the next Friday. The hardest part so far of our planning process had to be the room block – how were we supposed to guess where people wanted to stay? Or if they were even coming at all! Thank goodness for Carrie Hayward's podcast and these two episodes (one | two) because I felt pretty confident in our decisions. (Also helps when you have a supportive & helpful fiancé)
    • After submitting this first round of paperwork, our Letter of Agreement (AKA contract) was drawn up and we had to have it signed and returned to them with our deposit within the next week.
    • We also had an initial phone call with our Wedding Planner where we discussed what we can do now (gathering ideas, inspiration, colors, etc.) and what we should be looking to do to prepare for our planning session next June. 
      • Wedding Consultant? Wedding Planner? When you plan with Disney Fairy Tale Weddings, you have a Wedding Consultant who takes you on your site visits, draws up your contracts, answers initial questions, etc. who then passes you off to a Wedding Planner after the contract is signed) 
    • We've also booked our Officiant & our Videographer!
      • Disney Weddings does have a list of recommended vendors for almost everything! We found our Officiant on that list and he's also part of the DisBrides Facebook group, so it was a pretty easy decision for us!
      • Now, the videographer, not so much. Disney no longer has videography services but they do have a list of recommended vendors. Nicholas and I watched hours and hours of different videos and really didn't feel like anyone spoke to us and our style as a couple.
        Luckily, I found Dana on Style Me Pretty. Not only is her website beautifully put together (that's always a + for me!) but her personality really came through her emails and just the overall messaging of her brand. We are beyond excited to be working with her! On our first phone call with her, I felt like I was chatting to a friend and not my videographer. She made us feel completely comfortable and made us even more excited about our wedding! Plus, she's a Disney fan – that never hurts right? Check her out: website | vimeo | instagram
        PS: She's going to be flying out to our wedding during Thanksgiving week, so she's basically a saint.

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If you've made it this far, I applaud you. I really didn't plan on having this post be so long but I wanted to pack as much as information in as possible. I felt incredibly lost at the beginning stages and I want to make sure no one ever feels that way! I don't want anyone to be discouraged while trying to plan their dream wedding (especially with Disney) due to lack of information or fear of costs. Disney really can make any size wedding happen!

Nicholas & I both have nothing but amazing things to say about the Disney Weddings team so far – we've had nothing but an AMAZING experience from the initial contact, to our site visit and meeting with our Wedding Consultant, to how quickly all the paperwork was drawn up and taken care of, and finally to (e)meeting our Wedding Planner and getting the initial stages of planning going.

We are SO excited for planning the rest of our Happily Ever After and I hope you'll follow along (of course, there's some things I won't be able to share until after the wedding!) Less than a year to go!

A photo posted by RISAXU.COM (@risaxu) on