In Dana Travels

Now that I’ve been married for a whole month—and am nearly recuperated from our whimsical bridal bonanza—it’s time I share my Walt Disney World destination wedding adventure with you. Let the memories begin!

Perhaps the easiest part of planning a destination wedding was deciding to have one in the first place. We’re from New Jersey and live in California, and up to 3,000 miles separate us from our invitees. Wherever our wedding was, guests would travel from Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Florida, as well as the Garden and Golden States.

We pondered the options, from Las Vegas vows for two to a Jersey-style wedding for 200. Having spent the previous year and a half removed from many of them, what we fancied most was to let loose for quality, frolicking fun time with 40 of our nearest and dearest at a beloved destination. For us, only a Disney wedding would do. So we did!

Despite countless wedding marketing in which I’ve written their praises, I didn’t fully understand the value of “dedicated wedding planner” and “expert team” until our own preparations. We had a crew of pros at the helm, almost entirely consolidated under one vendor with one payment. That made planning from afar a breeze.

In person, on the phone and/or by email, we met with our wedding coordinator and planner, plus our chef, baker, florist, photographer, videographer and DJ and all of their rockstar assistants and teammates.

Each one presented us with about a million possibilities. Together, we navigated, pinpointed and customized the details of the big day, complementing our very own style, venues and, maybe most importantly, budget. Throughout our wedding day, they were on the ball and there at every turn, a comforting, supportive force.

Pardon my Mousespeak, but it really was magical. So lugging four suitcases, three carry-ons and a wedding gown across the country was NOT a highlight. (The latter elegantly rolled into an overhead compartment! The horror!) Nor was playing concierge to frazzled guests when there was a bridal party to…well…party with.

But then there were was the chance to introduce newbies to the wonders of one of our favorite places—and the happily valid excuse for eager veterans to return again—with the benefits of discounted resort room block rates and Disney ticket packages.

There were the unforgettably unique destination wedding adventure touches that we handpicked and for which we were so psyched. Like the knee-slappin’, foot-stompin’ rehearsal dinner at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. Where else would my groom be tapped to grace the stage as a fairy with tutu and wings, in front of our hooting bridal party and hundreds of adoring strangers?

Even the cynical couldn’t suppress grins over the luxurious, castle-view venues, exquisite tropical buffet and white-glove service. Jaw-dropping surprises like our wicked “missing” wedding ring stunt (our apologies to Kurt’s Best Men, but thanks to Cinderella’s Major Domo). The Grease-inspired flash mob led by the Mother of the Bride (we were gobsmacked). And the secret Epcot fireworks dessert party (our guests were too).

That week, with the help of overly keen family and friends, we polished off margaritas and The Most Amazing Wedding Cake Ever by the pool. We celebrated birthdays and an anniversary. We blasted off into space, plumbed the depths of the living seas and rode every ride in between.

We can’t think of a better way to embark on a matrimonial odyssey than with a once-in-a-lifetime escape with the folks who love you most. Okay, maybe not just ONCE. Five-year Disney vow renewal, anyone?

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