Not all Disney weddings are fairy tales

Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings is the company’s wedding branch and the name of a special on the Walt Disney Co’s Freeform cable channel offering a behind-the-scenes look at weddings held at Disney.
Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings is the company’s wedding branch and the name of a special on the Walt Disney Co’s Freeform cable channel offering a behind-the-scenes look at weddings held at Disney. PHOTO: COURTESY OF FREEFORM

WASHINGTON • First, a storybook romance. Next, a lavish castle wedding. Then, a lifetime of "happily ever after". According to the Walt Disney Co, mere mortals can achieve this fairy tale. That is, with its help, and for the right price.

Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings, the company's wedding branch, may not be able to set you up with Prince Charming or promise wedded bliss, but it can help you design a wedding day fit for a Disney princess.

Since September 1991, Disney has put on more than 30,000 weddings around the world, including at Disneyland in California, Walt Disney World in Florida, Disney's Aulani resort in Hawaii, on multiple Disney cruise lines and in Disney resorts and parks abroad.

In 2013, Disney held 1,500 weddings on its properties. Last year, that number swelled to more than 4,000, with about 11 ceremonies a day globally.

It does not hurt that millennials are lapping up the princess fantasy.

"They're all about customisation and engaging their wedding guests," says Ms Korri McFann Spolar, director of marketing for Fairy Tale Weddings. "I think this generation really is fit for a destination wedding, you know, multiple days of celebrating, multiple days of gathering with family and friends."

For Mr Nathan Mulder, 30, and Mr Brian Falco, 30, it was always Disney World or bust. Months before a proposal even took place, they had decided to spend what would be "the best day of their lives" at "the happiest place on Earth". The theme park was a natural fit for the Disneyphiles, who visited the park frequently over their decade-long courtship.

For their ceremony at Disney's Beach and Yacht Club Resort in Orlando last year, the couple envisioned something elegant and traditional - save for a few hundred "hidden Mickeys" scattered throughout the venue.

"I think that a huge misconception about Disney weddings is that they are childish," Mr Mulder says. "We really wanted to have a wedding that was at Disney, not so much a Disney wedding."

The final price tag? More than US$100,000 (S$139,500). "The entire week, weekend was a dream come true," Mr Mulder says.

But not every wedding at Disney is as magical.

Ms Yasmin Uddin, a 22-year-old YouTube gamer based in Leeds, England, had a very different experience with the House of Mouse for her wedding last month. She and her fiance, Mr Kyle Sinnett, 26, settled on a small ceremony for 24 guests at Disney's Wedding Pavilion in Orlando for about US$25,000.

First, when Ms Uddin requested a venue visit in January, she was told that her wedding coordinator would not be able to host her."I don't think she took me seriously," she says.

On the morning of the wedding, things were missing, namely a bouquet and the officiant. After waiting 30 minutes, Ms Uddin learnt that the officiant had been told that the start time of the 10am ceremony was noon.

About an hour later, the ceremony finally began. But at the reception, the venue manager and DJ started to shut down the party an hour early, as they had not been informed of the timing goof.

Even Cinderella's carriage was a letdown. "You feel like you are sitting in a greenhouse, like you are literally being boiled alive," Ms Uddin says.

After multiple complaints, the couple were told that their flower costs would be refunded and that the wedding service director would have "a stern word" with the coordinator. They also were given a free portrait session in the park for their first anniversary, no airfare or lodging included.

Ms Uddin's advice to Disney brides-to-be? "If you want your wedding to be perfect, just do it yourself."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 08, 2017, with the headline 'Not all Disney weddings are fairy tales'. Print Edition | Subscribe