#HappilyEverArvanitis: Recap

Well, it's officially been a little over two months since we got married. I still can't get over how amazing and absolutely full of love and joy the day was. There were so many parts to putting this day together and I wanted to cover as much as I could for any future Disney Brides out there!

disney wedding pnina tornai kleinfeld bride risa xu

If you're planning your own Disney Wedding, here are some of my past posts that include resources, vendor reviews, etc:

  • Kleinfeld Bride - This post recaps my experience at Kleinfeld's!

  • Planning Post - I talk about preliminary planning, including any resources that may be helpful to Disney Brides-to-be out there, our timeline, and what we considered when planning our Disney Wedding.

  • 6 Months Out - At six months out from our big day, I shine a little light onto our engagement pictures, Save the Dates, invitations, and lastly hair & skincare.

  • Wedding Planning Session - We made a trip down to Walt Disney World in June 2017 for our planning session (and to visit Pandora.) This post speaks to the planning session itself with our Wedding Planner, Kristie.

  • Wedding Skin Prep - As you'll see in the first line, I've had bad skin FOREVER and one of my priorities was to clear it up in time for the wedding. My routine leading up to the wedding (both daily and monthly) are included here!

  • Vendor Reviews - One of the most important parts of our big day was our vendors; there's no way anything would have come together the way it did without them! So naturally, one of the first things I did after we received some preview pics and I had a moment to breathe, I put together this post reviewing our vendors.

  • Our Wedding Highlight Film - No explanation necessary :)

If you've gotten this far, LOVELY! Now we can talk about the packing, prepping, and the actual week of the wedding.


Nicholas and I pride ourselves on being efficient flyers so when it came time to figure out our plan at JFK for this trip, we thought carefully about what we wanted to do. We ended up with a solution of one Away bag, one Wally bag for the wedding dress, and one garment bag for the suit. The Away carry-on would fit all of our belongings including jewelry, shoes, toiletries and clothes for the non-wedding related days and would act as Nicholas' "carry-on" bag and his garment bag would be his one personal item. My wedding dress in the Wally bag would be my "carry-on" bag. When I explained this plan to anyone that would listen, most people were incredibly skeptical. We foresaw no issues and even bought the Even More Space/Speed seats on our JetBlue flight to ensure we could board first (after Mosaic and anyone with small children of course.)

The one thing we couldn't plan for? Other people. We arrived to JFK on time and would have been through the gate with enough time for breakfast! However... four people in front of us needed their bags opened and examined by TSA - including one woman who decided to keep her water bottle in her purse!

We should have been one of the first groups to board and ended up being one of the last 5 or so people to board - which, on a full flight, means dun dun dun gate check. There was NO way I was going to gate check my wedding dress, heirloom jewelry, and all of our clothes and accessories for a week! Thankfully, Esmeralda on our JetBlue flight was AMAZING and resourceful - she calmed me down, stopped my crying, and calmly found space for all of our belongings. [insert prayer hands here]


The first night, we held a "Welcome Party" at Dockside Margaritas in Disney Springs. There weren't any planned events or things - we wanted to take the time to hang out with everyone who was already there. The staff at Dockside was SO amazing and incredibly accommodating. Our waiter kept grabbing more chairs for us as he saw the group grow - I know, shame on me for not having a reservation but there was simply no way for us to know how many people would show up.

It was an amazing night and it was so amazing to see high school friends meeting college friends... family from all over the world meeting each other for the first time.... laughing and sharing stories.


Tuesday was rehearsal day! At noon, we met with our wedding planner and our Officiant, Reverend Kevin Knox, for a quick run through of the ceremony.

We also moved from Pop Century to the Grand Floridian this day! To our surprise at check-in, we found out we were upgraded to the Victorian Suite! We were over the moon about this magical moment ✨ Nicholas and I spent the rest of the day relaxing in our room while our guests and wedding party went exploring in Disney Springs and drank around the world in Epcot.


The big day! Ahhhh! We woke up to a dense fog covering the property and I was terrified. It was already worrisome enough that our pictures after the ceremony were after sunset but fog?! Luckily, it cleared up by 11AM.

Our Glam Squad (a.k.a. the lovely hair & makeup team) showed up at 9:30AM and got started immediately. Room service was ordered and we all hung out while others had hair and makeup done. My bouquet and the girls' rose wands were delivered and before you knew it, it was lunch time and we were ordering our second round of room service.

I also booked Carolyn Allen to come steam my dress and veil because as much as I thought I had been through with that plane ride, that poor Pnina Tornai had been through much more. This was completely worth it and I whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone that is getting married in the Orlando area. They also offer steaming services for tuxedos and any additional dresses (bridesmaids, Mother of the Bride/Groom.)

disney wedding risa xu getting ready
disney wedding risa xu pnina tornai veil

Meanwhile, while all this was happening, Nicholas was getting a shave over at Art of Shaving in Disney Springs. The boys all got dressed together and hung out in one of my bridesmaids' rooms with her boyfriend (S/O to David for hosting them!)

disney weddings happily ever arvanitis michael andrews bespoke
disney wedding risa xu groomsmen happily ever arvanitis

Nicholas and I had our First Look underneath the staircases fo the Grand Floridian and from there the pictures just kept going - bridal portraits, family portraits, ahhh. Maybe one of the coolest experiences was walking around the Grand Floridian in a wedding gown. As you can imagine, lots of "ooh"ing and "aah"ing. One part I didn't love was the experience of shooting on the staircases. not sure if this was due to it being close to Thanksgiving or if the Grand Flo is always just insanely busy, however we had to stop multiple times between shots because people weren't listening to our photographer, who was politely asking them to either stay on the second floor for the duration of the shot or just come down the side of the staircases. At some point, two women even stepped on my veil and said "Oh, didn't see that there!" 

risa xu disney wedding first look happily ever arvanitis
risa xu disney wedding first look happily ever arvanitis
risa xu disney wedding first look happily ever arvanitis

But besides not being able to control other people (which obviously isn't something anyone could have fixed,) there was not a single thing wrong with our magical day! In general, everything ran SO incredibly smooth and our wedding planner was simply fantastic. 

From here, everything really just became a blur. As you saw in our highlight film, I rode in the glass pumpkin coach with my dad to the Wedding Pavilion for our ceremony. Nicholas and I did choose to stick to our plan of an unplugged ceremony so receiving our pictures from Disney Fine Art Photography and seeing our ceremony for the first time was pretty magical. We also chose to skip cocktail hour and do portraits on our own to allow our wedding party and parents the time to hang out for a while with our guests. 

disney wedding pavilion risa xu

And now onto the part most people wait for: the pictures! I won't blab any more because I'm 99.9% sure no one cares to hear about me not remembering all the details. Some "fast facts" about the reception before I turn it over to our pictures:

  • Total of five speeches: Mother of the Groom, Father of the Bride, Nicholas' god-daughter, one bridesmaid, and Maid of Honor

  • Six tables in total and no floral centerpieces - only candles in water

  • Sweetheart table elevated on a riser

  • We did Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances

  • Cake was red velvet!

  • Mickey and Minnie came to party with us for a little while (and cut the cake!)

  • The Zorba was danced - a nod to Nicholas' Greek heritage

  • We had a custom Snapchat filter!

And without further ado...

disney wedding grand floridian pnina tornai risa xu
disney wedding risa xu
disney wedding risa xu
disney wedding risa xu wedding pavilion pnina tornai sunset
disney wedding risa xu wedding pavilion christian louboutin
risa xu disney wedding speeches
disney weddings risa xu happily ever arvanitis grand floridian mickey and minnie
disney wedding risa xu mickey minnie dance floor
disney wedding risa xu zorba
disney wedding risa xu mickey minnie grand floridian
disney wedding risa xu happily ever arvanitis grand floridian
disney wedding risa xu mickey minnie cake cutting gold

We received over 2000+ pictures from our team of awesome photographers from Disney Fine Art Photography! But I wanted to share some here that I hadn't shared previously. There's also all our Magic Kingdom pictures and I'll be sure to share our experience of being some of the only people in Magic Kingdom before the sun is up - but I think this post has run long enough. Share below what else you'd like to hear about our special day - I'm sure I missed a bunch of details so I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.

A big thank you to our wedding party and our parents, and everyone who traveled near and far to be with us and made our big day so so very special.

And also a thank you to our wedding planner (Kristie), our officiant (Reverend Kevin Knox), our DJ (Dj Chuck Johnson), our videographers (between sleep & awake), hair & makeup (Stacie from Fairytale Hair & Makeup), and our photographers (Mike & Dean from Disney Fine Art Photography.)