My wonderful reader Fran married her husband at Epcot in January. She kindly agreed to write about her wedding and offer tips and advice to other Disney Brides. Be sure to read Part 1 of the Practically Perfect Tips for an Affordable Disney Wedding series.
There are a lot of little things we learned along the way to achieve our dream wedding.
Here are some wedding planning tips that were high impact, but low cost:
• The Wedding Gown: If the Bride has her heart set on a specific designer, try to go to the bridal salon or shop during a trunk show. I had the amazing luck of finding the only gown I had my heart set on, at the first and only salon I went to during that designer’s trunk show. I used that savings, which essentially got me my veil for free.
• Plan on alterations and storage to be up to 1/3 of the cost of your gown. However, my salon stored my gown for free because I paid in full the day I tried the gown on. They ended up storing the gown for over a year and while it was being altered.
• Shipping: I also shipped my gown using UPS and had a local salon take care of preservation and shipping back. All I had to do was pick my box us at the main desk and then drop it back off, per the salon’s request, at Bell Services. It was so easy and worth every penny.
• DIY works well for Save the Dates, Invitations, Custom Address Labels and even Favors. Using a company like VistaPrint, which has whole suite of items that coordinate together, will bring stationery costs down considerably.
• I really recommend the Site Visit and Planning Sessions in person if you can do it. Venue photos don’t really give you the spatial layout. Places you think may work, may not and things you didn’t want to consider, end up being your top choice. If you can’t go, use the Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings Virtual Venue Tour or Google Earth to give you a better idea of what to expect.
• Sometimes Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings gives you a travel incentive discount. It comes in the e-mail confirmation once you schedule your Site Visit and/or Planning Session visit. It is usually 10% off and you can sometimes stack that with low seasonal rates. If you are a member of AAA, they also offer great incentives for Disney when you book with them. But you cannot use DFTW’s and AAA’s discounts together.
• Keep printouts of all your paperwork handy so you don’t forget the decisions you already made and/or signed off on. Google Docs makes a line of wedding spreadsheets. They came in so handy for us. They allowed us to keep track of everything without bogging us down in details.
• Consider a hair and make-up trial at an on-site salon instead of an on-location service. I went with Periwg at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Clubs. They came to my room the morning of and really did a fantastic job. More importantly, I looked like me going down the aisle. I can’t say enough about them.
• I did not use an inspiration board because the direction it took started to not feel like who we were as a couple. It also clouded the idea of what we wanted our wedding to look like for the sake of our guests, too. We just wanted to see what Disney can do for us and go from there. That decision made a huge difference.
• Things like a type of chair, napkin fold or a color, can eat up your budget. While very nice, they are often not noticeable or appreciated. And that money could be used toward something like another food option, a cake layer or even guests at the wedding.
• Plan your wedding during Value Season, on a non-holiday weekend morning, being mindful of popular events going on at Walt Disney World and also in Central Florida (e.g. Cheerleading Competitions, Bike Week or the Daytona 500). This simple tip may cut cost by nearly two thirds depending on your venue and food/beverage selections.
• Use Timeshares if you are able to. We all have timeshares or borrow timeshares in Central Florida and on the Atlantic Coast of Florida~none of which are Disney Vacation Club. Our guests who had the same timeshare management company as DVC were able to switch out points with DVC with no problem. DVC counts in your required Room Block, too.
• Room Block: For Wishes and Couture Weddings, part of your contract requires a room block of a stipulated length of stay among your guests. The room night number varies. Take Disney’s advice and book Room Blocks at resorts which have all three price points. Originally, we did not opt for a Value Resort. One of our guest couples wanted a Value Resort, so we booked one unofficially. Word got around and Disney accommodated us. More of our guests stayed at that Value Resort than at the Moderate or Deluxe Resorts we blocked.
• For Transportation purposes, select Resorts closest to your venue. Book your Transportation based on a continuous need for your guests, rather than saving money here. Especially if you select having your event in a Park, this will save a lot of confusion on how guests return to their rooms or parking lots later in the event day.
• We opted not to book transportation for our Dessert Party. We went back and forth on how to coordinate our guests. So, we decided to meet in one location and then all go together as a large group to Epcot. Instead of walking, we all went on one of the Friendship Boats and that became a favorite memory of the evening.
• We personalized our brunch reception with a Signature Drink and Disney Parks Exclusive Wines. We knew no one would drink beer and hard liquors so early in the day. Everyone loved it and no one missed a full bar.
• We also did not decide to have a morning after event. We made things very casual and had who ever wanted to meet us, come and grab a coffee and pastry at our resort. It worked out perfectly.
• Last but not least, if you have an Annual Pass, definitely get Tables in Wonderland. It came in SO handy during our wedding week. We saved a bunch on food and alcoholic beverages. It paid for itself in the first meal. For us, it worked out much better than if we got the Disney Dining Plan.