The First 5 Things to Think About When Planning a Disney Wedding

Posted by Carly Morgan

This post is sponsored by Randy Chapman Photography.

Disney

Congratulations on your engagement and your decision to have a Disney wedding!

The process of planning a Disney wedding can seem a little overwhelming at first, but it’s actually one of the easiest places to get married (in my opinion). You have a huge variety of options available to you, which means you can easily one-stop-shop customize whatever wedding day fits the two of you as a couple. The toughest part is deciding what that day looks like (and figuring out little things like budget, travel arrangements, and narrowing down your amazing options).

Here are the first 5 things you should focus on when planning a Disney wedding:

1 /// Choosing a location: how much Disney do you want in your perfect Disney wedding day?

Deciding to have a Disney wedding doesn’t narrow down your choices as much as you’d think it would. Some brides need to go directly through Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons to feel like they got their “real” Disney wedding. Other brides choose “unofficial” locations in the Downtown Disney areas or at area hotels like the Swan and Dolphin, which offer proximity to Disney magic with more flexibility on things like budget and the details of the big day. Adventurous brides (particularly those with a smaller guest count) enjoy getting married during a Disney cruise, either on the ship or at the private ceremony location on Castaway Cay. You might even want to have a Disney wedding at home, incorporating Disney details into your big day without asking your guests to travel quite so far.

The easiest way to approach this question is to work backwards and list the Disney elements that you HAVE to have on your wedding day. If your list includes photos of you in your wedding dress inside a Disney park, you know that you want to go through Disney Fairy Tale Weddings to make that happen. However, if your list is more general (a Disney themed cake topper, pixie dusted wedding invitations, or engagement photos with a Disney twist), you might find that you’ll get more bang for your buck if you get a little creative. At the very least, this is a great exercise to do together because your visions of a Disney wedding might be completely different!

2 /// Creating limits: what are the hard numbers for your budget, guest count, and amount of time you want to spend planning?

Once you know the Disney elements you really want on your wedding day, you need to set some parameters to see how realistic they are. A Disney wedding doesn’t have to be unbelievably expensive but it isn’t hard to hit high numbers when you start adding things up! It’s important to know now if your wedding vision is doable on your budget, $2000 over budget, or $20,000 over budget because you don’t want to get too attached to an impossible dream.

This part of wedding planning isn’t all that fun, but it’s a great way to efficiently narrow down your options. You can also compare/contrast what the same budget will get you through Disney Fairy Tale Weddings vs. one of the other Disney area locations vs. your local venue with a little pixie dusting of your own. You might be surprised when you really look at the numbers all at once – we found out that it would be just as expensive for us to get married at home with everything we wanted as it would be to get married at WDW, which made our decision a whole lot easier!

Don’t forget to create a time budget as well. If you aren’t thrilled about spending a ton of time on wedding details, you can work with your official Disney wedding planner (or another wedding coordinator if you’re at a different location) to see what they can organize to save you time. Although you might pay extra to hire out a few things, saving your sanity might be worth it! Also, getting crafty doesn’t always mean you’re getting a deal. I made our wedding invitations because I wanted to say money and ultimately, after all of the craft supplies I had to buy and the postage spent on sending out the oversize things I created, we spent about $900 on them! It would have saved me money and a ton of time to have someone else do our wedding stationery.

3 /// Choosing a time: when is the best time for the wedding you want?

After location and budget, it’s important that you pick a time. This will allow you to start the process of booking the venue you want (important to do this ASAP!) and it will also tell you  how long you have to plan your wedding.

Start by picking a season. This might mean that you get married at certain times that work better with your schedules or it might mean that you coordinate with the Disney park seasons so that you’re there during low crowds or when the holiday decorations are up. After you pick a season, explore options like which day of the week and what time of day would be perfect for you. Budget comes into play here (along with how long you have left to plan) because Friday and Saturday night events are more expensive and more likely to get booked in advance.

Getting married mid-week or in the morning will save you money, but you have to keep in mind that this might make it harder for some guests to travel and if you really want a time-specific element like fireworks in your photos, you might need to add a separate wedding event to the schedule. If you’re going through Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons, talking to your wedding planner will help with this decision. You can talk to them even before you put a deposit down and they’ll work with you to see what’s available and advise you on the best time for your event. You want to lock your venue in as early as you can!

4 /// Creating a vision: what do you want to really remember about your wedding day on your first anniversary?

After the big details (location, budget, date) are settled, you need to start crafting your day. Even if you are going to be fairly hands-off and choose to have your coordinator work out the details, you still need to come up with the general mood or theme for your event. Instead of browsing through wedding magazines (or this blog!), try working backward from your imagined first anniversary. What details do you want to stick with you? Do you want to remember the beautiful flowers? Wearing a large princess gown? Enjoying special Disney desserts at the reception? The huge buffet? Dancing with Mickey and Minnie?

It’s easy to say yes to all of it, but if you really dig deep you’ll probably come up with a couple of things that you know you’ll want to remember. I had two things when we first started planning: (1) lots of romantic portraits on Disney property with my new husband and (2) lots of vacation photos from spending time with friends and family at the parks. Kyle really wanted: (1) dancing at the reception and (2) a wedding day that looked very traditional.

Starting there, we realized that our priorities were photography, a reception with a dance floor + DJ, and keeping the general look of the wedding pretty simple. We also realized that we didn’t think that the floral, cake, or what we wore was all that important so that told us that those weren’t elements we wanted to spend much time or money on. (We ultimately had silk flowers we bought on eBay, two yummy desserts in the buffet instead of cake, and we only spend $200 a piece on our wedding day attire. No regrets!)

5 /// Divide and conquer: how can you break down the wedding planning process into small bites?

Now that you’ve crafted your vision, list all of the things that need to happen and then break them down into smaller bites. For example, “hire a photographer” becomes “(1) find a style of wedding photography that you like, (2) find at least three photographers who shoot those kinds of photos and would be available for your location, (3) contact them to find out about availability/prices, (4) book the photographers, (5) have your engagement photos done, (6) come up with a list of must-have shots, (7) pay photographers”.

This probably sounds tedious, but the act of breaking down everything into smaller bites will actually save you a lot of stress in the long run and also give you a way to figure out who needs to do what when. You’ll probably be surprised how many details you can get started on early on so that you aren’t slammed later!

You’re well on your way to planning your Disney wedding, so be sure to reach out if you have questions about the process. Even if I can’t answer them, I have a great community of Disney wedding experts who can help you out. Have fun!

* * * * *

Chapman Photography

This post was sponsored by Randy Chapman Photography. Randy Chapman has been performing his photographic magic on Fairytale weddings at Disney since 1996 and around Florida for 25 years. Randy acquired a great reputation with Disney Fairytale staff from the sales department to the planners. Ask any of their staff and they will say; “When working with Randy Chapman, it’s like working with someone who’s a part of our team.” With his knowledge of all the wedding locations and Disney, the Bride and Groom receive award winning photos that they will cherish for a life time.

How to Fly with a Baby on Your Lap

Posted by Carly Morgan

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When we took Calvin to California a couple of months ago, we didn’t buy him a ticket. I had serious second thoughts about this plan at the last minute, but his ticket was going to be only forty dollars less than an adult fare (!!!) and we decided we’d rather have the money to play with when we got to Long Beach. So, we infant-in-arms-ed him.

No problems!

This is the fourth trip I’ve taken doing the infant in arms things and I’ve figured out a few secrets. Here are the biggies in no particular order:

(1) Have a bottle ready

We were supposed to have weaned Calvin off of bottles and we had for the most part, but I intentionally left one out when I packed them up so we could take it on this trip. The bottle is still soothing for him and was a big help with the changing air pressure during take off. I might even try to bring it back for our Florida trip in February!

(2) Invest in some kid headphones

I picked up child-size headphones for our Disneyland trip so I could turn on some sleep sounds and let him take a nap while we were walking around the park. That same combination let him sleep through pilot announcements and the noisy conversations of other passengers. Plus, on the return trip he was actually able to watch cartoons! They were some terrible show I’ve never seen before, but he was quiet so I didn’t care!

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(3) Pack two diapers, a pack of wipes, and a clean pajama onesie in a Ziploc gallon bag

These packs are great for grab-and-go diaper changes on the plane because everything is together and if you’ve had a diaper blowout you just put the clean pajamas on and seal the gross clothes in the Ziploc so you don’t have to deal with them until you get home. I packed three of these packs for an hour and a half flight, which was overkill, but when it comes to poop I like to be prepared!

(4) Pack two or three small new toys that don’t make any noise

Instead of packing a bunch of toys, we just packed one “old faithful” favorite toy and then I added three new items of interest: a small flashlight, a rubber animal, and a little car. They were good distractions when Cal started to get bored and when we lost the flashlight somehow on the first flight, none of us really cared.

(5) Gate check your car seat and a stroller frame

It’s a bazillion times easier to deal with the baby in the airport if they’re contained in the car seat and these light little stroller frames go through security very easily. Plus, if the baggage people drop kick your stroller frame all the way to the plane, they still can’t do much damage to it. The car seat might get a little scuffed, but if you gate check instead of checking it with your baggage there will be fewer people handling it without you. Just a thought!

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(6) Relax about people hating you and your baby

This is classic advice but it has to be said. It’s stressful to fly with a baby because you don’t know if they’ll scream the whole time. I’ve stressed about it every time and none of my kids have been airplane cryers, but there has probably been a crying baby on every flight I’ve ever taken. You know what? I don’t hate those parents. No hostility here. It’s completely background noise and I usually don’t even notice. Babies who hang over the back of their seats and drool on my snack trays, on the other hand…yeah, those parents get judged.

If you’re flying this week, stay safe and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Kid Style: Allergy Alert Shirts from Blue Bear Aware

Posted by Carly Morgan

Disclaimer: I received free products from Blue Bear Aware for review purposes. The thoughts and opinions below are my own. 

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Blue Bear Aware is a company that specializes in items that make life easier for families with food allergies. They have all sorts of things, from medicine pouches to clothing to stickers to books, etc. I want all of it, of course, because anything that will make life easier when it comes to Eva’s allergies is welcome in this house!

Today, Eva is modeling the “Don’t Horse Around, Nuts Ain’t for Me” Fitted Long Sleeve Tee and the “Don’t Feed This Princess” Long Sleeve Fitted T-Shirt. I love the idea of allergy alert shirts because they’re an easy way to bring Eva’s allergies to people attention, especially in situations where we’re around people who don’t know her (i.e. parties where someone might hand her a cookie or a playground where someone might see her having a reaction and not know why). Plus, they’re so cute!

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2Blue Bear Aware also sent us some allergy alert labels that are weatherproof and dishwasher safe and a Kids’ SPIbelt, which is like a super secret fanny pack that discreetly holds medication. Eva is actually wearing it above and it’s holding her inhaler, but it’s so discreet you can’t even tell that it’s there!

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I’ll be featuring these two products in upcoming posts to show you more about how they make life easier and I’m especially excited about the belt. The SPIbelt expands to hold EpiPens and Auvi-Q injectors, which is amazing because it’s critical that Eva gets an epinephrine injection within 5 minutes of having an allergic reaction. Longer than that and it’s much harder to treat her! It’s a big relief to know that she’ll be able to carry and manage her own meds before I know it so we don’t have to depend on always having the big diaper bag around. One less thing!

Thanks, Blue Bear Aware!

Preschooler Pixie Cut

Posted by Carly Morgan

Mom with the scissors strikes again!

Eva’s hair kind of drives me crazy. On the one hand it’s this beautiful, soft, golden hair with a light curl that just looks gorgeous when it’s brushed out. Unfortunately, it only lasts about five minutes brushed out (no exaggeration!) before it kind of clings together and twists and knots and gets stringy because it’s still thin baby hair. It also hangs in her eyes all the time and is constantly full of the grossest stuff. Dirt. Grease. Small pieces of food. Honestly, most of the time it is just awful.

So I cut it all off. (!!!)

Before:

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After:

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Definitely a crazy difference but it will be so nice not to comb dried oatmeal out of her hair at the end of the day. Plus, Eva is a fan. She is not afraid of change. She actually wanted me to cut her hair like Daddy’s so we almost went full Emma Watson pixie but honestly since I was wielding the scissors and didn’t really know what I was doing…well, I decided to stop before she was completely bald.

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I do need to pick up a little something to give it some texture. Any kid products you know of?

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Our Preschool Art Gallery in the Playroom

Posted by Carly Morgan

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A year ago, our living room held normal things like couches and our TV. It also had a great big blank wall that I had never quite managed to conquer, so last November I tried my hand at putting up a gallery wall of family Disney photos using a collection of secondhand frames and photos I had printed at home.

The results…well, I wouldn’t say disastrous so let’s just go with “not what I had hoped for”.

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The gallery wall was pretty short lived. The pictures constantly went wonky, the filter I had used to make all of the photos look uniform ended up looking cheap and sun-bleached, and the whole thing wasn’t large enough to make an impact on that wall. So I took it down and revealed a thousand tiny (and not so tiny) holes that had been created during my redecoration attempt. Sigh.

Some months later, we converted the living room to the playroom, moved the couches to Eva’s bedroom, and moved Eva in with us. It’s been a great move and the room feels much better now that we’re using our largest space for the kids, but that giant wall continued to haunt me.

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I wanted to put up some really cute kid art a la Pinterest…you know, nice framed Scandinavian prints or something…but I was very much not looking forward to putting a whole new series of holes in the wall. Plus, I have a finicky history when it comes to art and we have no less than thirty framed prints in storage (none of which felt right for this space). Sigh again.

Ultimately, we left the wall blank for a while and I would sit at my desk and glare at the holes and think about how dumb I was to attempt the gallery wall. So, one night I pulled out a box of Eva’s old art projects and began to hang them up using washi tape, just so I didn’t have to look at the holes a minute longer. I figured this would be a good temporary solution until I got my artistic vision solidified.

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Funny thing –

When Eva woke up and saw her art on the wall the next morning, she was ecstatic. Ecstatic. You would have thought she was having a gallery opening in Manhattan. She got right to work creating new pieces for display (really messy stuff) and I had a moment of internal panic because she was going to want me to stick all sorts of crap on our wall.

Two things learned: (1) no art I could ever buy and hang up would make me as happy as Eva is when we hang her projects up on the wall and (2) I underestimated my kid’s internal curator. As she finished art, she’d bring it to the wall and consider where it should hang. At least 94% of the time, she made the decision on her own that she didn’t want it hung with the rest and took her art to the fridge instead. So when she does have something she really wants to hang, I know that it’s important to her and it goes up. I don’t always like it and I do surf Pinterest every now and then for those lovely kid art prints, but I’m happy that she’s found a space in our small house to really call her own.

Of course, her brother has started fingerpainting and I’m not looking forward to future family committee meetings on art installation. We need more walls…

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