I met my husband at Walt Disney World in 2002. Seven years later, we tied the knot at Disney’s Wedding Pavilion and had our reception at the Grand Floridian resort. This article is a detailed look back at our amazing day…
The Night Before the Wedding
After our wedding rehearsal, my friends all took off to go to Raglan Road and I sat on the balcony of our beautiful hotel room at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian and I started to feel sorry for myself. It wasn’t a full-blown-woe-is-me type of sorry, just a gee-this-isn’t-how-I-pictured-this sorry. I felt bad for my fiancé, Kyle, because he was sick and I knew he’d probably be sick for the wedding. I also felt bad about not going with my friends because I don’t get to see most of them very often and they had flown all the way down here to celebrate with me, only to be kicked out because I hadn’t finished all the wedding stuff. And, of course, I felt sorry for myself because I wanted to fill up the tub, order room service, and enjoy the luxury of our accommodations, but I had wedding chores that I couldn’t get out of. So I sat for a little bit and just let myself be kind of blue.
Kyle was supposed to be resting during all of this, but after a while he came out to the balcony. I gave him a hard time about the chilly air, since I’m sure it didn’t help his cold, but he stayed out with me for a while and rubbed my back. He asked me if I needed help with anything and I told him not to worry about it. Then he asked me if I wanted my mom to come over. To be honest, I totally did. I wanted both of our moms and I wanted them in our room fixing everything and I wanted them now. But, on the eve of your wedding, you’re not supposed to want mom to fix it all. Plus, my mom was headed down to Downtown Disney for the first time and I didn’t want to rain on her fun. So, I said no, that I was just fine. And then Kyle told me that I was a terrible liar and that he had already talked to my mom and that she was on her way over. And that’s why he’s my favorite human.
I felt a lot better after mom got there. I don’t mind being sulky and stressed out around my mom because she’s seen it all, so I complained about bustling the dress and about not wanting to steam it and about feeling like I was way too fat to be wearing something strapless. She said all the mom things about how I looked fine and it was all in my head and nobody would notice that it wasn’t steamed and bustling it would only take a minute. Then we ordered a really nice dinner from room service and watched the fireworks from the balcony while I walked around in my dress and tried to feel like a real bride.
As a side note, I read a ton of articles that talk about what you’re supposed to eat before your wedding. You’re supposed to stay away from fats (obviously), salts, and things with a lot of fiber, sugars, and meat. You’re also supposed to drink a lot of ice water and eat very small meals every hour or so. For the record, I read all of these articles and cut them out and kept them and memorized them. And on the eve of my wedding, I sat in my hotel room in my wedding dress with my mom and my fiancé and I ate penne pasta with grilled shrimp that was completely doused in the richest alfredo sauce and topped with a cup of shredded asiago cheese. And it rocked my world.
It took longer than a minute to bustle the dress. Mom worked on it for an hour while I called vendors and organized payments and did lots of last minute things. Kyle snuck out a couple of times to the concierge lounge and brought us back things like sparkling water and chocolate covered strawberries. You’ve got to love the living at Disney’s deluxe resorts.
My night wasn’t as exciting as being out at Raglan Road, but it was really, really nice. In fact, I think it’s my favorite time that I’ve ever spent with my mom because it was just so calm and happy and quietly exciting.
After mom left around midnight, we stayed up for a little bit and just hung out. Kyle was doped up on a lot of cold medicine and he was singing me Disney songs while I plucked my eyebrows and did all the other things that girls have to do when they’re being photographed 5000 times the next day. Then we turned off all the lights and sat up in bed for a little while, watching the colors change on Cinderella’s castle. I know most people don’t spend the night before their wedding together, since it’s traditional for the bride and groom not to see each other before the ceremony, but it was really nice to have a little spot of quiet where we could look forward to the next day without having anything left to stress about. If we had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a single thing about that night…
Our Wedding Day
We slept so well in that king sized bed that I could have just slept and slept and slept. But, at around 6:30, I realized that it was my wedding day. And *BAM* I was up. We had ordered room service for 7 AM, so I got out of bed and brushed my teeth and threw on my Disney Bride hoodie and started getting all jazzed up for the day. I threw open the curtains and took in the most beautiful view.
The lake had mist over it, so all I could see was Cinderella’s castle coming up out of the clouds. Not a bad way to wake up, eh? Room service came and delivered eggs benedict, corned beef hash, a fruit plate, and a grapefruit. I steeped some tea and set our little coffee table and stuck Ratatouille in the DVD player and got all ready to have a happy little breakfast party with Kyle.
But Kyle didn’t want to play.
I had to draaaaaag the boy out of bed and then when I did he was still mopey, with no reaction to the view or the food or anything. I knew he didn’t feel good, so I didn’t give him a hard time, but it was weird to be so euphoric when he was being so flat line. Like I said, Kyle is usually the trooper, so I don’t have a lot of experience bucking him up. I tried to cheer him up a little, but after a bit I decided it would be easier to just let him be a lump and I devoured my breakfast and got ready for everyone to show up.
Mom showed up soon after breakfast was delivered and we rushed around the room trying to get everything together. In addition to gathering the wedding stuff, we knew that we needed to get everything ready for the bellmen, since we were checking out at eleven.
Our room was a mess and the stuff I needed for the wedding was all mixed in with things that I didn’t need, so it was very chaotic. Kyle was still sitting around being a lump and I started to get a little irritated. I know that sounds terrible since he was pretty sick, but I couldn’t get him to help us with anything and we were running out of time before the hair stylist arrived. I finally paused the DVD and demanded that he put his stuff into his suitcase…a demand that promptly bit me in the butt when he reached into his suitcase and sliced his finger open on his razor.
His ring finger. On his left hand.
Granted, it was an impressive slice and it was bleeding like there was no tomorrow…but honestly to hear Kyle go on about it, you would have thought that he had cut his finger off. He ran it under water and then looked at it and ran it under water and walked around clutching it and then asked me if I thought he needed stitches. I bit my tongue since I felt bad about making him slice open his finger when he already didn’t feel good, but I swear to God nobody in the world has ever been such a hypochondriac. We finally got him Neosporin-ed and bandaged up right before Anna called to tell us that she was waiting for us in the lobby. Kyle was supposed to go and get her, so I offered to go with him. He and I needed to have a chat.
On the way down to the lobby, I vented. I told him that he was killing my mood and wasn’t being helpful and that he either needed to suck it up or go away because he was making me cranky. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard anyone say on his or her wedding day? Honestly, with him sulking about his bandaged finger and me pouting about him not being cheerful enough, we were the perfect picture of a couple of kindergartners who needed a time out. By the time we got down there I’d apologized for pushing him to get all of his stuff together and he’d apologized for being cranky because he was tired and we were both over it, but it just goes to show that even the most perfect of days isn’t without its potholes.
We met Anna in the lobby and took her up to our room. The last time I’d had a run through with Anna I had been struck by how warm and friendly she is. To be honest, that’s not completely a compliment. It’s not really a bad thing either; it’s just…something you notice. Anna is warm and friendly in that way that hairdressers get sometimes when they don’t know you at all. She has lots of pet names for everyone and she says things like, “oh, that’s so you, baby doll” and “you’re lucky I love you so much”. I think that sort of stuff really works for some people…just, not for me. My favorite hairdresser in the world never said anything to me besides “What are we doing?” and “Ok, you’re done. You can pay up front.”
So we got Anna upstairs and got everything pushed off to one side and I sat down so that she could work on me. Kyle started getting into his tux and calling his groomsmen. He was actually a lot more cheerful when we went back up and whether he actually felt better or was just putting on to make me happy, I’ll never know, but either way it was really nice to see him joking and laughing.
After a while, Anna announced that my hair was finished and I could go look at it. My first clue that things were not well was that Mom looked at me and kind of cocked her head to side like “huh…that’s…interesting…” It was actually good that I caught her expression because it prepared me for what I saw when I looked in the mirror. If I hadn’t been prepared I might have…I don’t know…I don’t think I would have shrieked, but I probably would have yelped a little.
My hair was HUGE. Like HUGE HUGE HUGE. Priscilla-Presley-enters-a-children’s-beauty-pageant HUGE. It was supposed to be pulled back and hanging down, but the pulled back part was literally about six inches tall and she had used little tiny curlers to turn my hair into the biggest pile of ringlets I’ve ever seen. I had been growing my hair out for the wedding for at least two years, so I had an unreasonable amount of hair anyway. The combination of lots of hair with lots of curling resulted in a virtual pyramid of curls that started six inches above my head and then fanned out to a foot-wide blanket of solid ringlets. It was shocking.
I was not happy.
I wanted to be polite, though, which is hard when you’re really stressed and not happy, so I bit my lip and said something about how it wasn’t exactly how I pictured it. I explained that it was a little too big and she pointed out that the weight of everything would pull it down after a while, which was all fine and good except that the photographers were supposed to be showing up at any minute. I finally got her to comb out the top of it and put a part down the middle, which she was very opposed to but which made a big difference. In the end, I started to feel better about it, but ultimately it wasn’t what I wanted. Anna is a sweetheart, but I really should have followed my gut in August and gone with someone else.
Anna started in on my mom’s hair and I got on the phone. None of my attendants had shown up and I was desperate to see them, especially Jed who has a knack for calming me down. He doesn’t exactly say the right things, but he’s really good at acting like a conduit for all of my stress so that it isn’t building up or being directed at other people. I had told Kyle that I needed to see Jed and was trying to get a hold of everyone else, when I got a call that four of my attendants, Kate, Michelle, Margi, and Janean, had arrived and were walking into the lobby. I love my girls!!! My happiness level went up at least 30% and I bounded out the door to collect my ladies…
Getting It All Under Control
I went down to the lobby of the Grand Floridian with my veil and my Bride hoodie and my super-curly hair, fully realizing that I was one of those spectacles that people point out on their vacation. The man I rode down with in the elevator congratulated me, asked if it was my first marriage, and then told me that he had been married four times and each time he had a big wedding, only to regret it later. Thanks for sharing, dude. That information is just the kind of thing you want to hear on the morning of your wedding.
My girls were waiting by the main doors so I went in for a round of hugs and then swept them upstairs through all of our keycard-only, super-complicated elevators. They were all business, with makeup bags and hair tools in hand, ready to get to work. Unfortunately for them, I had to put them to work almost immediately. Our wedding planner had called up to the room to let us know that the reception area was open and ready to be decorated, which gave us just about an hour before we were supposed to be taking pictures down in the lobby. We have a funny video of me giving the bridesmaids a VERY detailed description of exactly what needed to happen on the tables. I would post it, but it makes me look like a super bridezilla. I actually wasn’t too worried, to be fair. I’m mainly friends with people who are very good at that sort of thing.
The girls called a bellman and took the decorations down to the ballrooms while Anna started in on my makeup. I was a little nervous about the makeup application since the hair thing hadn’t gone very well, but she did a really nice job. As Anna was finishing up my makeup, our photographers showed up. We used Nathan and Jensey from Root Photography, who were the same people who shot our engagement pictures the summer before. It was nice that we were able to spend some time with them in August because seeing them on the wedding day was like seeing old friends. After the meet and greet they slipped into the background and took a lot of amazing shots of the room without getting in the way or bothering us at all.
Anna left (with an awkward I-love-you-girl goodbye hug) and the boys arrived (the boys being two of Kyle’s groomsmen and my male attendants). I escaped with Jed, my man of honor, to the balcony for a second so that he could siphon off some of the stress-energy and then I showed Nate, one of my bridesmen, how to send pictures to my wedding blog via my cell phone. Yes, I live-blogged my wedding. You’ve gotta love that new fangled technology.
My bridesmaids came back from decorating the reception hall and ran around finishing their makeup. We were supposed to be in the lobby to take pictures around ten or ten thirty, so as the clock ticked closer to our eleven o’clock check out time, I got more and more anxious and there was something of a mad scramble to get all of our bags together and get them out the door (which unfortunately resulted in the misplacement of EVERYTHING…more on that later…) and we didn’t head out of the room until around 10:50.
Everyone really wanted me to be calm and happy and not have to do anything, but hands-off isn’t really my style, so I was pretty much ordering people around and being incredibly bossy. I apologized to my attendants later for being such a wedding dictator, but everyone seemed to take it in stride. I guess that’s the one day that you get a free pass to be really annoying and not have people hold it against you later.
As we walked down to the lobby (with me leading the way, of course) it really started to sink in that my wedding prep time was over. Everything that hadn’t been finished – manicure, favors, gifts, emergency playlist, embroidered commemorative handkerchiefs – was never, ever going to happen. Our wedding had reached the come-as-you-are stage and whether we liked it or not, this was as good as it was going to get.
I admit that as I walked up to the large group of friends and family waiting for us in the lobby, and all of their happy faces turned to see the bride and groom, I sent up a short prayer. I try not to pray about things unless I really feel like they are serious matters, just in case I’m stealing time from people in war-ravaged nations, etc., but on my wedding day I just couldn’t help but think “Please, God, let us have a beautiful wedding where everyone is happy, everyone is healthy, and I don’t pop the seams on this stupid, giant dress. Amen.”
All Eyes on the Bride
It was weird, meeting everyone down in the lobby. I was coming off of an energy high, created by two solid hours of bossing people around and trying to get things done. The people in the lobby were coming off of waiting for the rest of us for thirty minutes, which meant a lot of sitting around and doing nothing. Adding into the general uneasiness of being formally dressed with nothing to do was the fact that a lot of the people waiting didn’t know each other since our two sides of the family hadn’t really had a chance to meet. So the group we walked into was pretty quiet and excited about the day in that shy way that middle school students are excited when they stand around in huddled groups during Friday afternoon dances.
There were so many people to see that I didn’t know where to start. I hadn’t seen Kyle’s mom at all but I didn’t have any time to visit with her because I was worried about my dad. Dad gets nervous about life in general and he isn’t a huge fan of things that involve lots of social interaction. He also gets nervous about unfamiliar situations in which he’s in the spotlight, so the Father of the Bride role wasn’t sitting well with him. He seemed happy enough, waiting downstairs with his girlfriend, Chris, but he definitely had that tense smile that signals an undercurrent of unbelievable panic.
While I was saying hi to Dad, one of our wedding assistants introduced herself. I hadn’t realized that my wedding planner wouldn’t actually be in the lobby, but it wasn’t the end of the world. The only reason her absence was a problem was that the assistant who met us in the lobby was soooo unpleasant. She faced the wedding party with the same grim determination that is needed to face a really difficult and taxing situation. It’s funny, because I would absolutely love to join Disney’s team of wedding people and apparently this woman hates her job. She couldn’t even get the introduction out without showcasing her general irritation. What she said was, “Hello, I’m _____ and I’ll be helping with your photos” but it was said in the same tone a person would use when saying “I’ve been waiting in line for two hours at the DMV and they just told me that it will be another four.”
Ignoring Ms. Unpleasant, we got started in on the photos. We wanted a bunch of posed group pictures, so I tried to wrangle everyone together over by the grand staircase. The Roots don’t specialize in that kind of wedding photography. If you look at their portfolio, you really don’t see a whole lot of standard-issue group photos. They did a really nice job, but in the end I have to admit that the group photos aren’t my favorite of the day. There’s just no way to not look stiff and vaguely uncomfortable when you’re standing there like a Disney Park Character and different groups are gathering around you for their keepsake snapshot.
I have to take a sidestep here and just mention our flower girl, who was so incredibly good all day. Kaitlyn approached her role in the wedding with all the seriousness of Chief Justice Roberts swearing in the new President of the United States. During the rehearsal she asked very good questions and was completely focused and on the wedding day she kept her attention on what was going on and was right by my side to hold the bouquet, snap a picture, or trail along with Kyle and I. For a six year old in a fancy dress with an important role at a Disney wedding, I think she did remarkably well.
After we did posed shots with the family, we went outside for individual shots with each of our bridal attendants. Originally I thought we were going to do these after the ceremony, but we flew through taking those family pictures. I don’t know if it was the Roots, or our families, or the fact that I was still barking orders at everyone, but we had those portraits done in about twenty minutes. We flew through the individual portraits with the bridal attendants at the same speed. It was still a little uncomfortable because it was just us standing there while the person next to us was swapped out, but the fact that these were our best friends made the process a little bit more relaxed and silly.
After Kyle finished up with his groomsmen, we “released” everyone to go hang out for the next half hour before it was time to go to the chapel, since the chapel didn’t open until it was nearly time for the wedding. I felt bad that there was a space of time in which our families and attendants weren’t really doing anything, but there are worse places to kill a half hour than at the Grand Floridian. Plus, it was hard to feel too bad because Kyle and I now had plenty of time to sneak off with Nathan and Jensey (and Jed, official-wedding-dress-train-carrier-extraordinaire) to take some sweet wedding portraits…
There are perks to being a Disney weddings groupie. One is that you get insider information. Another is that you get to share stories with other people who are in your same bridal boat. But one of the coolest is that you can walk around and recognize spots at WDW that played a significant role in someone else’s engagement or wedding day photos.
For me, one such spot is the fountain at the Grand Floridian. Because I Internet stalk the Roots and their clients, I had seen many couples take beautiful pictures at this fountain, but I had never actually see the fountain. In my head, I couldn’t even place where the fountain was. So, when the first stop on our photographic tour of GF was the fountain, I was pretty thrilled. It was funny because when we got there, Jensey actually sort of apologized for the fact that we were taking pictures there, saying “I know we use this spot all the time, but I just love it.” Um, yeah, me too!!!
After we got a ton of pictures at the fountain, we made our way over to the beach. I had actually never walked on the beach at the GF and I have to report back on two things. One is that the beach isn’t the cleanest and is in fact pock marked with lots of piles of bird droppings. The second is that the beach is not that large and doesn’t have the greatest backgrounds. I was thinking that you could see the castle and all that, but you really can’t see much of anything from the beach. It’s too low and there’s that island behind it that isn’t particularly attractive. Adding into all this is the fact that we were on the beach right before noon, so it was really bright and the sun was pretty much overhead.
Therefore, when we got out there, I thought the beach photos were already a wash. Our photographers were total pros, though, and the pictures turned out beautifully. It looks like we were naturally cuddling and nuzzling on a beautiful Florida beach, instead of sweating and awkwardly trying not to stare directly into the camera (or the sun).
After the beach, we headed over to the wedding chapel. It was sort of funny, because I could tell people didn’t know where to look when we were approaching. I guess it’s unusual for the bride to be wandering around with the guests before the wedding, since I’m supposed to be unveiled or whatever, but we just sauntered up and started chatting with everyone. The photographers and our videographer snuck around and took candids…something I believe any quality professional should offer to the bride and groom.
It’s Almost Time
I started to head back over to the bride’s room so that I could catch up with my attendants (and see it for the first time!) when I noticed my dad out on the dock. I told you before about my dad’s general uneasiness with these sorts of things, so I figured his nerves were skyrocketing. He actually seemed to be holding up pretty well, so we took a spin around the dock in preparation for the father/daughter dance. It’s sort of funny, actually, how miserable he was about having to do the dance. He wanted to do it, but at the same time he was so incredibly nervous about it that I think he was ready to jump off the dock and swim away, alligators be damned!
Following the short waltz, I made my way over to the chapel where Kyle was chatting with people and then realized that we still hadn’t met our officiant. I found him in the chapel talking to one of the wedding assistants and he was very warm and happy. He ushered us into a little room near the chapel so that we could go over the vows. I was so happy that he was there, and not Theresa, that I actually wasn’t harboring any negative feelings about the fact that he had missed our rehearsal. However, as we got started, we realized that he didn’t have our vows. You know, the vows that we had written out, divided into clear sections, and emailed to him in both DOC and PDF file format. All he had was a little piece of note paper with general directions on what he was supposed to say.
It was just…bleh.
At this point it was 11:50. The ceremony was supposed to start at noon and I hadn’t really spent much time with my attendants and still hadn’t been inside the bride’s room. I wanted to be tucked away, getting excited, giggling with my girls, instead of slowly going over vows and a ceremony that should have been taken care of weeks before. He didn’t know when he was supposed to say certain things, didn’t know the order people were coming in, didn’t know where everyone was sitting/standing, and at one point referred to us as “The Lanes” (using my maiden name). The worst was that we got to some parts that we had taken out and he started to argue with us about taking them out, pointing out that they were very popular and moving. That’s great, dude. Use them in the next wedding.
The cherry on top was the fact that he asked us to pay him (we were supposed to pay at the rehearsal and forgot) and then when I had to send Kyle out to find whoever had my purse with my checkbook, he had the nerve to point out that if he didn’t get paid he wasn’t going to do the ceremony. From where I stand, if you didn’t show up at the rehearsal to collect payment, you don’t have a leg to stand on when making snide remarks.
Once he was paid and dealt with, I finally made it over to the Bride’s Room. It was pretty, but smaller than I thought it was going to be. The girls and boys on my side had split up, so I didn’t actually see Nate or Jed that much right before the wedding. My ladies were in high spirits, though, and we had a good time giggling and laughing and playing around.
Then, before I knew it, it was noon. I can’t even tell you how weird that realization was. Our wedding planner had appeared and was there to let my mom know it was time to go and then she took my attendants, lined them up, and swept them away. It was 12:03 according to the clock in the Bride’s Room and I was all by myself. That thing happened where you aren’t really nervous about something and then all of a sudden you break out into a cold sweat and your fingers feel like they have ice water running down into them.
Our wedding planner came back to check on me and I had her get my dad, who was sitting outside on a bench, looking a little miserable. Between dad’s discomfort at being in the spotlight and my sudden and immediate feeling of oh-my-god-I’m-not-ready, I think we were both ready to hail a cab. In fact, my dad actually offered as we made our way from the bride’s room to the chapel doors…
“Are you ready for this? Or should I go get a cab?”
“Shut up. I think I’m going to pass out.”
“I told you to just elope. Now look at us.”
“Oh God, I think I’m losing feeling in my fingers and toes.”
“If you pass out, I’m catching a cab.”
“Shut up. Enh…I’m going to puke.”
“Good luck puking in that dress. That will make this better…you walking into the room with puke all over the front of you. If we do that, I won’t have to worry about anyone looking at me.”
And that’s the piece of wisdom that my father passed to me right before the doors opened and we walked into the chapel.
The one thing that everyone said to me before I got married was that I wasn’t going to remember my wedding day. “It just whirls by! It will be over before you know it!” In one sense, this was true. Our wedding was a rush of happy faces and things to do and congratulations and lots and lots of pictures. When it was all done, I think I literally had to stop and catch my breath. But, in another sense, because I was trying so hard to take it all in, I remember more details about that day than I do any other day in my life…and, like a bad Lifetime movie, at least half of those memories are in slow-mo.
Walking down the aisle was one of them. Our wedding planner and her assistant opened the doors and it was completely and utterly bizarre to see everyone standing there waiting for me, including Kyle at the front of the chapel, . I remember when Craig and Kristen got married and I saw her walk down the aisle for the first time. It was actually at their rehearsal, and not their wedding, so she was walking down the aisle with a big bouquet of ribbons gathered at her bridal shower and we were all standing around in jeans, watching her. As she practiced going down the aisle, I distinctly remember tearing up and being embarrassed about it because I barely even knew them. A couple summers after that, when Justin and Jenna got married, she and her dad had the whole audience going when they both cried as they walked down the aisle. So, I was actually prepared to get a little watery-eyed on the walk.
Oddly enough, I don’t think I’ve ever been more dry-eyed and calm. It’s funny, because I was in a complete panic right before the doors opened, but when they opened I suddenly felt very focused and clear. I can honestly say that it was the most relaxed I had been all day. I wish I could say the same for dad, who approached walking down the aisle with the idea that the faster we got there, the faster he could sit down. We booked it about a fourth of the way until I dug my heels in and made him walk more slowly. As we walked, I looked at all the little piles of flowers that Kaitlyn had dropped, at all the people watching me through the digital screens on their cameras, and at Kyle who looked exactly as calm as I felt…and then the calm went away again.
I’ve heard brides say that locking eyes with their groom while walking down the aisle was the single most important part of their wedding…that at that second they could see all the happiness and love that the couple has between them…that their entire life had been leading up to that moment. That didn’t happen to me. I actually sort of wanted to lock eyes with Kyle (beautiful, tear-filled bride eyes) and realize that everything in life was absolutely perfect…but instead I looked into his eyes and started to feel ridiculously ecstatic to the point of being out of control. I just kept thinking to myself “Girl, you have got to calm down. You are a half step away from squealing with glee and that’s going to be very very inappropriate right now.”
I am a little disappointed that I wasn’t all tears-of-love coming down the aisle, but one of the nicer things I remember about the whole ceremony is having my father put my hand in Kyle’s, because as soon as we were holding hands, I felt complete relief. If I could have, I would have turned to him and said, “Friend, it’s a good thing you’re here because I was about 30 seconds away from freaking out just now. Ok, let’s do this…”
Wedding ceremonies are one of those things that you wait your whole life to do and then when you do it, it’s completely different than you always thought it would be. In my mind, the wedding ceremony that I would one day be a part of was a deeply religious experience with lots of music and candles and all of that. I imagined needing to have a little handkerchief to dry my eyes as my groom lovingly recited all of those words that you hear in the movies…
Yeah, it’s not like that…or at least ours wasn’t.
First off, I’ve already mentioned how bizarre walking down the aisle was. I started to feel better when I got to Kyle, but I think I came down from my ecstatic, euphoric high too fast, because I suddenly had to struggle with not passing out. The reverend was saying something and I just kept opening and closing my eyes, trying to get the room to hold still. Kyle kept squeezing my hand, but I couldn’t tell if he was excited or happy or just trying to tell me that I needed to pull it together and stop blinking at our officiant.
As our ceremony progressed at lightning speed and we turned to face our parents to thank them for everything, I was feeling a little bit better, but still pretty off. I think it started to be something of a stage production at that point. I could see everyone watching us and I could hear the reverend in the background, but in my head I was just thinking, “…ok, turn…stand…look left…look right…smile…turn…smile…turn…step…step…turn…” Kyle said the same thing later, that he felt like he was playing the part of the groom in a high school drama production and at any moment the crowd was going to burst into applause so that we could take our curtain call.
It was easier to be in the moment when we were finally able to face each other and hold hands. I have to admit, I wasn’t really listening to anything that the reverend was saying, but I was at least thinking more about Kyle than I was about not passing out. Neither of us cried, or even got misty eyed during the vows. We just said them very matter-of-factly in these voices that sounded totally alien to me at the time, but which apparently sounded like us to everyone else. My ring got stuck on the middle of finger and I put his ring on his finger before I was supposed to, but it’s funny how all of that stuff doesn’t actually matter when you’re going through the motions.
I don’t know. I wish I could give you a more interesting account of what I was feeling during the ceremony, but it was a weird combination of vacant and overfilled. I jumped around between feeling like I was having an out of body experience and feeling like Kyle and I were the only people in the room and everyone else was holographic. I think the easiest way to sum up what I was feeling is to take a moment out of the ceremony, in which I believe the reverend was offering a prayer. Kyle and I were looking at each other and I had the clearest thought…so clear that for a second I thought that I had spoken the words out loud: I marry you, I marry you, I marry you.
And then we were married.
Husband and Wife
My memory of the thirty seconds directly following the ceremony is incredibly choppy…I don’t remember if people clapped as we exited the chapel. I suppose they must have, since they all had to stand up. It would be weird if we just ran down between a punch of people who were standing around, looking at us. I think there were also fake bells being played, even though Kyle didn’t hear them, because you can hear them on the video. What I do remember is our wedding planner opening the doors for us and then telling us to go into the bridal room across from the chapel. We ducked into the tiny little salon and were silent for about five seconds before there was a complete explosion of talking…
“Oh my GOD, how weird was that?”
“So weird, so weird…did you even see my face?
“Did you even see my eye? It was twitching like crazy!”
“I can’t even believe that, that was so weird.”
“It just started twitching and I was, like, glad it’s on this side and not the other because of all the pictures.”
“I don’t even know if he said everything. Did he say everything?”
“I think so, but it felt like everything was out of order. Do we both still have our rings?”
“I’ve got mine.”
“Mine, too. Oh, did you see that seagull? It was freaking out!”
“No, but did you see our parents? I thought everyone was going to cry and I was, like, we totally should have gotten those little packets of Kleenex.”
“There wasn’t time to cry.”
“Do you think anyone is crying now?”
“Oh, like, because it just caught up to them?”
The door burst open suddenly and our planner popped her head in. She smiled at us and told us that they were lining everyone up outside…and then she said, “So have your special moment” in her cute little Scottish accent and then she was gone.
Kyle and I looked at each other. It had just dawned on us that we were supposed to be having an amazingly romantic moment, instead of a caffeine-fueled friendly chat. There was a little bit of silence while we both tried to think of something to say. Finally, Kyle smiled and…
Our wedding planner came back in and ushered us out into the rows and rows of bubble-wielding wedding guests. It’s bugged me ever since! I have no idea what Kyle was about to say, but I have the feeling that it would have been sweet and wonderful…
Herding the Wedding Guests
Our staged exit from the wedding pavilion was well-planned out. I had given our wedding planner and all of her assistants detailed instructions on what was to happen. I even sent Nathan and Jensey a little blurb about how the exit was to go down. That’s how into this exit I was.
The game plan:
1. Everyone lines up outside.
2. We come down the walkway amidst a shower of well wishes.
3. We lead the whole wedding party to the beach in a happy procession.
4. We get a big group picture on the beach with the castle in the background.
How awesome does that sound? Yes, well, like many things that I planned out, the exit probably needed to be a bit more thought through…
Problem Number One:
Bubbles. I really didn’t think the bubbles through. See, a few weeks before we went down to Florida, it occurred to me that “come down the walkway amidst a shower of well wishes” needed to be a little more concrete. Were people going to clap? Were they going to throw rice? Wave ribbon? Release butterflies? I was at a total loss…everything seemed both cheesy and overpriced. Then, in a stroke of luck, I found a box of 50 bottles of wedding bubbles on clearance at Michael’s Arts and Crafts for only $2.50. It’s true that they had little plastic butterflies on the top, which I wasn’t overly thrilled with, but I figured most people weren’t going to notice what was on top anyway and if I bought them I wouldn’t have to think about them again. Done and done.
Well, I should have thought about them harder.
As Kyle and I walked out of the bridal suite, we could see all of our guests lined up on the pathway leaving the pavilion. For those of you who haven’t been there, the path is pretty long. It’s actually a long bridge and then a long sidewalk, so Kyle and I had a bit of ground to cover before we got to anyone. It was sort of odd, because I feel like we should have been running or something, but we just walked hand in hand toward everyone, stopping underneath the wedding archway to steal a kiss. (awwww)
As we moved into the crowd, I felt a ton of love and happiness surrounding us. And then I felt something else. Bubbles. Millions of really, really cheap bubbles.
The bubbles might have been on clearance for a reason, because they were the stickiest, slimiest bubbles I’ve ever come in contact with. The bubble-blowing increased in intensity as a throng of well-wishers enveloped us. The only thing slightly worse than having a bucket of gooey bubbles dumped on you is when the bubbles are interspersed with the spray of someone who is overenthusiastic about the bubble-blowing and therefore is simply blowing the syrup at full force right through the butterfly-shaped hole in their bubble-blowing wand.
As we reached the halfway point, we started to really come unglued. Kyle grabbed my hand and I tried to duck behind him for cover. In the wedding video, you can actually hear Kyle say, “Enh, this is unpleasant!” while I simply utter a high pitched whine. We made our way quickly to the end of the pathway as our guests blissfully continued to shower us with soap, where I paused to silently reevaluate my love of clearance items.
Problem Number Two:
Despite being slightly sticky, we were still surfing the we-just-got-married-high as we moved away from the wedding pavilion. The weather was gorgeous, our guests were in high spirits, and it was almost time to party. My high quickly dissipated, however, when I realized that everyone was following us and we had only the vaguest of ideas as to where we were going.
Either Nathan or Jensey had said something to me about how you couldn’t really see the castle from the beach and we’d have to do the group picture somewhere else, but I admit that I wasn’t really listening…I know, I’m a bad bride. I was very much in the que syrah syrah mindset while we were taking pictures. You know, getting Zen and all. I wasn’t really thinking about silly things like “details” and “gameplan”.
So as Kyle and I started to lead our procession of 60, we both realized that we didn’t know exactly where we were going. In my head, the pavilion was surrounded by a beach that was easily accessible from the walkway. In reality, the beach is removed from the walkway by large, rolling, grassy hills. Kyle was not worried about this, because his job for the day was done. Marriage? Done. Wedding celebration details? Wife. I, on the other hand, started to panic. I knew that everyone would follow us for as long as we walked, but at some point we were going to have to stop and take a group picture. I racked my brain for whatever it was that the Roots had suggested and came up totally empty. So I stopped and went right.
Yes, I made all of my wedding guests climb those grassy hills to get to the beach, including the four guests who were in wheelchairs. Off we went like the Von Trapp family, holding each other up, struggling to make it to the other side…
We were successful! However, success only meant that we were on the beach, not that we had made it to any recognizable, designated Kodak Picture Spot. The Roots were right about not being able to see the castle from the beach. In fact, there isn’t a lot you can see at that beach, except for trees and more beach. With the sun directly overhead us and the fact that everyone was walking around in sand wearing their dress shoes, it was sort of a bust. But, we had made the climb, so we got the pictures.
After the group picture, the vast majority of the people headed over to the Whitehall room at the Grand Floridian to enjoy the pre-reception cocktail hour. The wedding party stayed behind to do our pictures, which somehow ended up being just a giant line of people in black standing around on the beach.
Since there were 17 of us (18 counting the baby), it was about as hard to direct everyone as it was to direct the giant group so we split the party down the middle, with me taking my people off to the side to get photos and Kyle keeping his people to take photos. After we got our pictures finished, we headed back over the grassy hills to make our way towards the Grand Floridian.
A Few Quiet Moments
When we got back to the Grand Floridian, everyone else took off for the pre-reception while Kyle and I stayed behind with the photographers and videographer to get some more shots around the resort. While our photographers were changing lenses, etc., Kyle and I made the mistake of sitting down and realized that we were exhausted.
The veil had come off and the bouquet had been thrown to the ground about 20 times by that point…and honestly if we had had the option of changing into t-shirts and jeans, our reception photos might have been very different. Everyone was nice enough to give us a second to collect ourselves, which was handy because as we relaxed we realized that we had forgotten to tell Kyle’s Aunt Evelyn that we wanted her to give a blessing. Oops! Thank heavens she had her cell phone on her…
After we caught our breath, we wandered around for a while and took more pictures of the two of us. In the 20 or so minutes that Kyle and I were getting our post-ceremony portraits done with Nathan and Jensey, we really had a chance to catch our breath and touch base with each other. Kyle was holding up, but he was kind of flushed (he was still pretty sick, remember!) and he probably needed a nap. I had been manic all morning, so I was actually feeling a bit under the weather myself and I felt like I was coming down from an intense high.
We actually talked about taking a little bit more time before going into the pre-reception, but I was really concerned about people being bored while they waited for us to get back. I’ve been stuck at weddings in the in-between part where the bride and groom are nowhere to be found and there’s nothing to do but chat with people and drink…and honestly, it sucks. So, we headed straight to the Whitehall Room, but we were intercepted by our wedding planner on the way in and she took us over to the ballrooms so that we could get a sneak peek at the reception. Let me just say…wow.
My bridesmaids had done an amazing job with the centerpieces and the place just looked stunning. Literally stunning. It’s amazing what having most of the lights off will do, especially with that castle illuminated on the wall and all those candles lit up. I had actually heard that my attendants had had some sort of problem with the table arrangement and the fire codes for the room. (I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I believe it stemmed from me threatening their lives if the tables weren’t exactly as I had drawn them in the seating chart.) I’m not sure how it all get resolved, but the room looked perfect…
We also had a chance to meet the DJ, JR Silva, who we had heard great things about but whom we had not met. He seemed nice enough (ok, overenthusiastic people tend to freak me out, but that’s a me thing) and we were able to practice walking in and starting our first dance right at our entrance. While we were dancing, Nathan and Jensey were sneaking around the room, grabbing shots of the food.
After seeing the room, I felt really relieved. I had been so worried that the centerpieces weren’t enough, that things wouldn’t be set up right, that the lighting would look cheap, that the dance floor would be too big, that we should have done more with decor…but our room was perfect. All of those different decorations that Disney offers are totally unnecessary if you ask me. All the room needed was just a little bit of pixie dust…
The Celebration Begins
Walking in to the pre-reception was totally weird. Everyone clapped and smiled, but then they were all quiet, staring at us. So, rather than say something profound or kiss my husband or do anything of that sort, I made a sharp right to the bar and ordered a white wine (white dress and all).
Kyle got a beer and then wandered off somewhere so I kind of walked around the tables and said hi to people. Everyone seemed to be waiting for me to do something…after I said hi, they would all say “hi” and “congratulations” and then just sit there and beam at me. I should have taken in some card tricks or something.
People were sitting around the tables inside the Whitehall room and standing around on the patio, enjoying the weather. I noticed that there were red roses in white vases on each of the tables. I guess that Disney provides those for the lame brides who don’t order flowers or provide decorations…
As I moved from group to group, people said that I looked beautiful and all that, but I just couldn’t think of anything to say other than “thank you” and “having a good time?” I finally switched over to “Did you enjoy the ceremony?” which, when you think about it, is still kind of a dumb question. I mean, what are they going to say? “No, your ceremony was awful. Worst two minutes of my life.”
People did say that they really enjoyed how short it was. Then, almost everyone followed that up with, “Hey, I saw your preacher take off like he was on fire after the thing. Do you know where he was going in such a hurry?” Running out of the wedding pavilion as soon as our backs were turned…that’s a nice move, reverend. Way to leave a cherry on top of what was already an impressive failure to earn that $300.
I’ll admit, after I hit most of the tables, I took refuge in the bridal party. I had told myself to make sure that I was social with everyone for an equal amount of time, but the silent smiling and repetitive conversation was freaking me out and the bridal party was pretty much over me (open bar, etc.) so when I walked up, they had no problem pretending that I wasn’t standing there in a white dress on my wedding day. In fact, I’m pretty sure they were knee-deep in an alcohol-fueled debate, but I can’t remember what the topic was.
As I walked around and talked to people, our flower girl stayed pretty glued to my side. She had sprung up like a daisy almost as soon as we walked in and was following me from table to table, eventually swinging my arm around and trying to get some attention. As she yanked on me so hard that I almost fell over, I realized that I hadn’t actually paid that much attention to her all day. Yes, she had been there for most of the picture taking and the preparation, but really she had just been following us around, holding things for us and bossing other people to help us out. We hadn’t actually been interacting with her. I think it was at this moment that I realized just how well-behaved she had really been all morning, so I took her out on the patio for a little one-on-one time with my new niece.
So there we were, sitting on the ledge, her with her white shoes and me with my white wine. I was asking her about her new kitty, when I realized that about thirty people were taking our picture. This will probably be my only taste of what being a celebrity must feel like. Kaitlyn and I were staring at each other, trying not to notice all the flashbulbs going off, and she was very carefully telling me a ton of random facts about her new kitten…all of which were stated in a loud, clear voice that was obviously intended to let everyone know that no camera on earth was going to interrupt our conversation.
My dad, however, proved more formidable than mere camera flashes and we weren’t outside very long before he came over to chat with us. Being a lady, Kaitlyn graciously allowed him to step in on our conversation, although she compensated not having my full attention by climbing up into my lap. Dad had unwound a little bit, now that the ceremony was over. He was still complaining about the father-daughter dance, but at least he didn’t look like he was about to bolt from Disney property.
Kyle wandered over while we were chatting and we were snagged by people who wanted to make sure they got pictures with us. I was actually really grateful whenever people grabbed me, because I was having a terrible time keeping track of who I had and hadn’t said hello to.
While we were getting photographed, our wedding planner started moving people from the pre-reception to the reception. It’s funny, but I actually saw both Kyle and my father’s stress levels go up about ten notches. I’m starting to think that those required wedding reception dances were designed solely to make all men involved feel truly miserable.
It took a little bit of maneuvering to get everyone from point A to point B, but eventually they all made it. We walked behind everyone, slowing down so that we could make our “grand entrance”. The wedding assistant actually pointed out that we weren’t supposed to go to the pre-reception. We were supposed to stay hidden somewhere and then reappear magically at the reception. Kyle and I, drinks in hand, walking ten feet behind our guests, were apparently not following the DFTW protocol for magical entrances. Oops…and now we know…
As the last of the guests filed into the ballroom, they closed the doors and motioned for us to come up for our big entrance. It was actually pretty silly, since we’d just seen everyone and been chatting with them, but the fact that our wedding planner and her people were making such a thing about our entrance to the reception kind of those butterflies of excitement going for me. I will say this…Disney does a really good job of making you constantly feel like something wonderful is about to happen. Out in the hallway, we heard the DJ asking everyone if they were ready to celebrate with us and we heard our guests clap and whistle and make general joyful noise as our planner swept open the doors for our grand entrance…
Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Morgan
When we walked into the ballroom and everyone was clapping for us, I still hadn’t quite gotten over how silly our entrance was. As I mentioned before, we had just seen all of these people at the pre-reception and we’d talked to many of them before the ceremony, so the fact that they were clapping and hollering as though they had never seen us before was enough to give me the giggles a bit. Kyle and I honestly strolled in like it was no big thing…and in retrospect I wish we had come in with a bit more energy. It is fun to see brides and grooms come in like “Oh, yeah!” whereas we came in like “Oh, you guys. You’re so funny.”
When we had rehearsed our entrance before, the music started to play right when we walked into the room and by the time we got to the dance floor, it was time to start dancing. When we walked in to the actual reception, there was some sort of celebratory track playing…which was a lot of fun, but which left us doing the whole “what is this?” thing on the way to the dance floor. Again, that sort of ran down the energy of our entrance because we weren’t sure if our song was going to be there for us when we got to the dance floor. We shouldn’t have worried. The song switched over right as we started to walk onto the floor and we were able to start dancing almost immediately. It’s just funny to see our faces in the video because you can tell that we were totally thrown off.
The Story of Our First Dance
Our first dance is one of those things that I obsessed about in the beginning. Kyle and I like music and like to dance (we actually slow dance together all the time) but we aren’t what I would call “dancers”. You know that couple that always warms up the dance floor with their hip, graceful moves…the ones that are so good at dancing that you end up having a great time at the party just watching them? Sooooo not us. We’re the couple equivalent of the “Elaine dance”, with the weird faces and all.
So, when the fact that we were going to be having a first dance occurred to me, I went into a bit of a panic. Yes, we know how to slow dance. Yes, we could have done the middle-school shuffle to pretty much any slow song that we wanted to pick. However, I wanted the dance to be special because I wanted the whole wedding to be special. This is what happens when you have 6 months or longer until the wedding…you actually believe that you have the ability to make every element of the wedding unique, memorable, and perfect. Since we had about a year until the wedding when I first started thinking about our first dance, I had no problem deciding that we would learn a choreographed number and blow everyone away. Dance lessons? Sure! Instant YouTube celebrities for having the greatest first dance ever? Naturally!
Fast forward about seven months…I had lost my ample amounts of free time and definitely lost my desire to recreate the final scene in Dirty Dancing. We had also done some serious tightening of the budget as our guest list grew and our savings account dwindled. Suddenly, dance lessons were a luxury that probably weren’t going to happen. They aren’t that expensive, actually, but every little bit counts when you’re working with a wedding budget like the one we had. So, I did the next best thing. I hit YouTube.
I watched so many first dances. I watched people tango and shuffle and swing and twirl. I would say that I watched a combined six hours of first dances on YouTube…and I learned some valuable lessons. First, first dances are naturally boring events. It’s hard to watch people dance around and look lovingly at each other for a full four minutes. The idea that you can make your first dance something that people will want to watch again and again and again is really a pipe dream. It’s probably not going to happen. Second, it does make a difference if you pick a bad song. You can have a great dance set to a terrible song and you’ll remember it as a terrible first dance, or vice versa. Third, funny first dances are a bad idea. They aren’t likely to be funny and, unless you’re that one couple that managed to pull it off, they come across as embarrassing and a little desperate. So, basically a “no”.
Finally, in my searching, I found a first dance that I just loved. It’s obvious that the couple had either training or a background in dance, but the dance wasn’t so ridiculous that it looked difficult to pull off. It was also set to a Disney song remix and it was a remix that was classy, fun, and perfect for the occasion. Other than the obnoxiousness of the woman who filmed it, it was the perfect first dance video.
So, Kyle and I decided that we would try to recreate it. We figured we could copy the people in the video and then make up whatever parts were missing. I tracked the song down on a Disneymania CD and got it from Half.com, so that we could practice. And then…we didn’t. I don’t really have an explanation. We just didn’t ever set aside time to learn the steps or put anything together. We both liked the song, but we weren’t that enthusiastic about our first dance when we really thought about it. It was an abstract “oh, I guess that will be nice” instead of something that really felt like “us”. Of course, the problem was that there was no first dance that felt like “us”…so it was either this dance or the middle school shuffle.
About a month passed with us debating between the YouTube dance or just doing the middle-school shuffle to our song, which is “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Then, one day, we were dancing around our living room just for kicks and giggles and I was making Kyle sing songs for us to dance to. He’s notorious for not knowing the words to anything, so we don’t usually get very far. I love his singing voice, but his renditions are usually things like, “You…are…so beautiful…to me…something something something…everything I hoped for…something something need…” I was giving him a hard time and threatening to not dance until he could make it through a song, so he switched over to his Kermit voice (so good, btw) and sang me The Rainbow Connection, which is one of our favorite songs ever. It’s also one of the only songs that he actually knows all the words to. I noted that it was really easy to dance to and joked that we should just dance to that on our wedding day…
Fast-forward two more months. We were now in crunch time and we were sans first dance or even a first dance song. I was alternating between being completely pleasant and being completely irrational, so in one of my irrational moments I announced that we were just going to have to skip the first dance completely because we hadn’t done anything about it. (For all you rational folks out there, this is bridal code for “I am upset that you didn’t make our first dance a priority and push me to get off my butt, which would have resulted in us having a perfectly choreographed dance. For this reason, I am holding our ruined wedding against you as it is your fault entirely.”)
Kyle looked up at me totally confused and said, “I thought we were doing the Rainbow Connection?” My husband was apparently completely satisfied with Kermit’s voice coming out over the dance floor as we did the middle-school shuffle. For him, that dance would be the epitome of “us” and we had naturally realized this and therefore we needed to think on it no longer. For me, this was not an ideal solution. However, since we were floundering in the first dance category, I was open to ideas. I pulled up a different version of The Rainbow Connection, which we had gotten as part of a charity CD purchased solely for Cake’s rendition of “Mahna Mahna”. Sarah MacLaughin had done this really beautiful version of the song and it was set perfectly to a waltz tempo. As soon as I heard it, I knew we had found a winner. Of course, there was that little detail about not knowing how to waltz.
Enter YouTube. I already knew the basic box step and YouTube provided a couple of flourishes that we were able to teach ourselves in the last couple of months. We actually had to practice in the hallway of our apartment building because our living room does not have enough space for us to flourish, so I’m sure our apartment building enjoyed our nightly routine of listening to The Rainbow Connection twenty times in a row between the hours of eight and nine. Jed provided a couple of pointers when he came out to visit and that was pretty much it.
I’ll admit, I was really frustrated with Kyle when we were learning to waltz. I’m not a great dancer, but I had the advantage of knowing the box step and expecting to be lead around the dance floor. Kyle didn’t have any experience either waltzing or leading, so there were a lot of headaches in the beginning. Right up until a couple of days before the wedding, I was close to just pitching it out and doing the middle-school shuffle.
It’s only due to Kyle’s unending patience and his determination to practice until perfect that we even waltzed at all…and he was so right. It was fun and we had such a good time on that dance floor, even when he forgot to turn me and I had to twirl myself around. Yes, we felt awkward and off-beat. Yes, I tripped all over my dress and he had to catch me from falling. Yes, we were nervous and giggly and counting out loud. But it was so, so wonderful and somehow, inexplicably, it ended up being exactly “us”.
We’re Here For the Food
Our reception was arranged in the following manner: the dance floor was in the center with three tables on either side, the DJ at one end, and the sweetheart table on a riser at the other end. We were a little iffy about the sweetheart table when the idea was first presented. The idea of sitting at a lonely little table, away from everyone else, was very reminiscent of that scene from The Parent Trap where Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills are being punished at camp and have to eat in isolation. However, we were at a loss as to which table we would sit at if we sat with other people, since our three sets of parents had three different tables and our sides of the bridal party were at different tables. The sweetheart table ended up being the easiest thing.
Honestly, now that we’ve done it, the whole sweetheart table thing is a little weird.
I don’t mean to say that it was bad, but it definitely isn’t one of those things that I would want to do all the time. We moved off the dance floor and went over to the sweetheart table, which was propped up on a riser and backed against a wall. I thought it would be more of a lone-table-yet-with-other-tables, but it was very much like being on stage. We even had special lights on us and the big castle gobo in the background behind us, so the whole thing was completely high school drama club production. There’s nothing to really drive home the fact that everyone is looking at you like a teeny tiny stage lit up at the end of a dark ballroom.
Following the blessing, it was time to eat. Yay! We were having the most delicious buffet of green salad, red skin potato salad with dill, seafood pasta salad, steamed vegetables, bread rolls with butter, pecan rice pilaf, grilled chicken breast with mandarin oranges, slow-roasted strip loin of beef with a plum tomato demi. Mmmm…I hadn’t had eaten since 6AM (it was around 2PM by this point) and I’d burnt up a lot of calories on that dance floor, so I was actually pretty hungry. Again, I’ve heard that there are brides who couldn’t eat on their wedding day, but that wasn’t me!
Unfortunately, there was a catch to the whole having-a-buffet thing and I have a feeling it was supposed to be a touch of Disney magic, but instead it was total crap. When it was time to eat, two Grand Floridian staff members came up and escorted us to the buffet. They held our plates and we were supposed to walk along with them and indicate which foods we wanted. In theory, I understand that this is supposed to be white glove service. In practice, it keeps you from being able to do what you’re supposed to do at a buffet, which is to fill up your plate as though it is the last time you will ever eat on this green earth. I shouldn’t be putting this out here, but I freakin’ load up at buffets. I’ve even been known to double plate it if everything doesn’t fit.
You just can’t do that when someone else is helping you…especially if you’re in a wedding gown. True, nobody else could see my plate, but I didn’t want the waiter to be thinking, “Holy crap. This heifer wants a lot of food. She is going to burst out of that dress.” So, I followed the waiter and didn’t say anything when I got a half spoonful of rice, a half spoonful of seafood salad, part of a chicken breast, one roll, and the thinnest slice of strip loin that you’ve ever seen in your life. I shouldn’t hold it against the guy, who kept bowing to me every time I was gracious enough to indicate that I wanted a side dish…but come on now. I paid $130 for that lunch and I’m pretty sure it qualified as a Lean Cuisine meal.
Kyle wasn’t phased by the whole waiter-gets-your-food thing because he doesn’t have a chubby chick mentality and he thought it was all a reasonable amount of everything. In the meantime, I was pretty sulky about it and, I admit, I ended up stealing my new husband’s strip loin. I could have gotten up and gone back through, but I would have had to take that waiter with me because he was off to the side with his eye on me. Besides, I didn’t really want to be that bride who went back for seconds. In retrospect, though, I totally should have because I don’t think anyone went back for seconds and that food was gooooood. We paid for it all, so it would have been nice to have a ballroom of people stuffed to the gills.
After everyone started getting their food, people began to come up to the sweetheart table. Most people just wanted pictures of us eating (nice) but there were a handful of others who were sneaking in their first “hellos” of the day. I also had to grab a quick hug from Kate, who had to catch a plane back to Kansas. It was really bittersweet to see her go because I was happy that she had been able to come at all but she had been such a huge help that as soon as she left I really missed her.
I cheered myself up by getting dessert, which is the greatest way to cheer yourself up ever, especially if you’re at GF. I managed to elude the waiter (woohoo!) so I was able to serve myself. I probably shouldn’t have, but I totally took one of each and told everyone at the dessert table that I was getting one for Kyle. Then, when I got back to the sweetheart table, Kyle attempted to take a bite out of one and I almost stabbed him with my fork. Never try to take food from a hungry bride!
One of the nice things that I’ve heard about the wedding is that people were really happy that we did two of our favorite desserts instead of doing wedding cake. To be honest, the wedding cake was nixed mainly because we couldn’t afford it, rather than because we wanted to make a statement about cake, but the truth is that we aren’t huge fans of wedding cake. I’m starting to think now that almost nobody is a huge fan of wedding cake. It really doesn’t taste good that often (although I’ve heard Disney cakes are amazing) and you don’t get a very big piece (very important in chubby girl world). We went with angel food cake with berries (for Kyle) and a double chocolate torte with rum balls (for me) and they were amazing.
People were just crazy about them and everyone said that they were a vast improvement over the traditional wedding cake routine. It’s true that we have pictures of demolished desserts rather than pictures of us cutting the cake, but it was totally worth it…and economical! Disney cakes set you back thousands and thousands of dollars on top of the food fees, but we were able to build our two desserts into the $125/person minimum for lunch.
Soon, the eating portion was over and I was happily satisfied with a belly full of desserts. The DJ (who had been playing all of our requested songs, god bless him) came up and checked in so I gave him the go ahead for the father daughter dance. As he announced it and I made my way down to the dance floor to meet my dad, I have to admit that I was already a little tickled. There’s something kind of funny about taking a deep breath and facing the longest four minutes of your dad’s life…
The Longest Four Minutes of My Dad’s Life
I wasn’t sure what to expect for the father-daughter dance. As I’ve told you many times before, my father does not enjoy being in the spotlight. Additionally, to the best of my recollection, we’ve never danced together (at least not since I became too big to stand on his shoes). My father seems to avoid events at which dancing would be expected, in fact. So, the father daughter dance was a big open-ended question.
In fact, we almost didn’t have one. When we initially started planning the wedding, I asked him if he wanted to walk me down the aisle. To be fair, it wouldn’t have surprised me if he had said no, given his reluctance to do things like that. To my surprise, he agreed, but immediately conditioned his agreement on the fact that he was not agreeing to dance in public. This was the last we said on it until we were only four or five months out from the wedding, so I was surprised when he brought it up. As it turned out, he had been planning on dancing and had even been practicing!
We don’t have a standout song or anything, so I mailed my father a cd with potential songs to pick from. He’s a Deadhead who is into rock music and we’re both really into folk music, so I included a lot of those sorts of songs (an acoustic version of “In My Life”, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King) and I threw in four or five really sappy songs just to round it out. This included Butterfly Kisses (I hate that song), I Loved Her First (which I have always thought was really inappropriate), and Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman.
I posted about Cinderella earlier in the year, right after I heard it for the first time, and noted that it was perfect for a Disney wedding, but probably not something that my father would want to dance to. Well, to my complete surprise, that ended up being the winner. He acknowledged the cheesiness, but thought it would be the easiest to dance to. Plus, he thought most of the other songs were either too romantic or too bizarre. (I suppose he had a point with “Angel From Montgomery”…). Honestly, there is a real lack of good father/daughter wedding songs out there if you aren’t going for the whole Butterfly Kisses effect.
As I walked to the dance floor to meet my dad, the music started to play and I realized that I was really happy with his choice. The songs is just so perfect for a Disney wedding and I think it really sums up the father/daughter relationship without turning it into something that belongs on WE Television for Women. Dad was waiting for me on the dance floor…smiling, but looking a little miserable…and as we started to dance he said, “ok, let’s get this over with.”
My dad is the 2nd funniest person on the planet. He loses out by a small margin to my little brother, who is the funniest person who has ever lived (If you’re wondering about Kyle, he comes in 4th). As we started to dance, Dad started to just toss out little quips about how miserable the situation was and, as a result, we had a hard time staying on beat because I was laughing so much. You can hear me making very unbridelike snorting sounds in the wedding video and saying really sentimental things like, “for real, shut up, I’m concentrating here.”
Poor Dad, who hadn’t even eaten because he was so nervous about the dance, totally lost focus about halfway through and tried to give me a hug and exit the dance floor. Not wanting to finish the dance up by myself, I ended up holding him in a death grip to prevent his exit. He almost physically dragged me off the dance floor, but ultimately he must have decided it would just be easier to finish up the dance. Luckily, the death-grip-exit-attempt-threat-exchange wasn’t accurately captured in the wedding video and it just looks like we stopped for a second in the middle to give each other a hug and then kept on dancing.
It was a long, long song, but we made it through and Dad was finally able to give me the first genuine, non-pained smile that I had gotten all day. I suppose that some of our guests might have thought that Dad’s periodic scowls were the pangs of losing a daughter, but in reality I think he was just really sweating that dance. I shouldn’t have gotten so much glee from making him go through it, but it’s just such a good memory now.
As I exited the dance floor, passing Kyle, who was making his way up for the mother/son dance, I really began to feel a deep sense of satisfaction that so many lovely things had already happened that day. All of those little things that were supposed to go wrong hadn’t and the little things that had gone wrong didn’t matter. It started to sink in that we just might have pulled it all off…
When Kyle and his mom were sharing the dance floor, I had a few minutes alone for the first time that day (freaking out by myself right before the ceremony doesn’t count). My job during the mother/son dance was to sit and watch and not be talked to and not talk to anyone and not do anything or worry about anything. That was a really, really nice feeling.
All throughout the day, I had been working hard to not expect perfection. I’d heard way too many horror stories about brides who fell apart when the tiniest things went wrong and I also knew that the surest way to ensure a bad wedding is to be a negative bride. Guests always take their cue from the host and hostess and if you make bad things into a big deal, they will be a big deal. So I was mentally prepared for everything to go wrong. Everything.
What I wasn’t prepared for was for everything to go right. Yes, we had problems with our officiant, but at the end of the day they didn’t really affect us at all. He was annoying, but ultimately he got things done and, you have to admit, the man photographs well. We also had that tiny hiccup about my hair looking like I was ready for the Little Miss Sunshine competition and the bubbles that were the equivalent of getting slimed, but seriously. These are blips that didn’t even make us blink. I was waiting for the big bad thing to happen…
Honestly, I think I wasn’t letting myself even hope that the day could go smoothly because I didn’t want to be disappointed. I was counting on people messing up or flaking out or getting lost. I thought for sure that there would be some big emotional drama or health emergency. It wasn’t until I was sitting at the sweetheart table alone, watching Kyle and his mom dance to “Return to Pooh Corner” that I really started to let a little bit of hope creep in. It was almost a scary sensation, because I had been so adamant about the fact that there is no such thing as a “perfect wedding day”.
As I sat there, I admit that I got a little choked up for the first time. I was looking at all the tables and everyone was smiling and taking pictures and talking and eating cake. People were catching up with siblings they hadn’t seen in months or hugging old friends they hadn’t seen in years. My friends who hadn’t known each other two days before were chatting and showing each other pictures and laughing at inside jokes. I had wanted so much for everyone to have a good time that it was almost surreal when it was actually happening! Everything was sparkly and candlelit and beautiful. And best of all, on the dance floor, my husband was dancing with his mom and it really started to hit me that not only was I married to my absolute favorite person in the entire universe, but I had this whole new family now and all of these other people to share our lives with.
I probably can’t even type it out authentically, but the sheer joy and hope and love of the moment was overwhelming. It’s unbelievable to me even now that we are lucky enough to have so many wonderful people in our lives that were there to celebrate with us. I think it was exactly the emotion that people try to capture in their weddings and I just happened to be lucky enough to fall backwards into it because I finally had a minute to sit down and take it all in!
Let’s Get This Party Started
After Kyle and his mother had finished their dance, the DJ gave us some cheesy commentary on how he wanted to see who the first table up on their feet and dancing would be. I think he might have even thrown in the suggestion of a contest…like “Who’s going to be up to the dance floor? Is it Table 3? Table 5 is looking ready? Oh, I think Table Two is going to give them a run for their money! C’mon, you don’t want to be a part of the losing table, do you?” That sort of behavior might work for prom and bar mitzvahs, but wedding guests know what’s up. There was no prize for getting on the dance floor and the losing table that didn’t make it to the dance floor was going to be the table that got to eat their cake the longest, so…
At least, this was my experience at wedding receptions. The dance floor either warmed up slowly with the help of a few slow songs and some brave people or one small group of rowdy (and incredibly talented) dancers rush the floor and effectively block out everyone else. So, I was prepared to see people refuse to dance. I was even willing to go from table to table, imploring people to join us on the dance floor.
That’s not how it went down.
Kyle walked out from the dance floor and I walked down from our mini-stage while the DJ was giving his cheesy schpeal. We stole a quick kiss, locked hands, and turned to face the difficult task of populating the dance floor with wedding guests who were still sober. I really, really wish that Nathan or Jensey had been behind us with a camera for this moment, because we would have gotten the best picture ever. A bride and groom, hand in hand, facing a tiny dance floor that was so packed with people there actually, physically, was not any room left for us. You know those cartoons where suddenly a crowd of people moves from one spot to another and all that’s left is a cloud of dust and a spinning plate? Yeah.
I don’t know if it’s our people or if it was the DJ’s cheesiness or what, but that dance floor was PACKED. Packity-packed. Packed like tuna.
Kyle and I hesitantly edged towards the floor, unsure of what to do. The guests had formed a perfect square of dancing humans, which made it difficult to dance on the perimeter and pretend you’re part of the masses. (Imagine two people dancing next to an aquarium and trying to act like they’re fish) Luckily, the crowd parted a little bit and we were quickly sucked into a group of happy party people…
There were a lot of options for different services that the DJ offered us when we were filling out our request form. From money dances to chicken dances, the guy honestly had the ability to turn the reception into a three-ring circus. We elected to skip most of that stuff because we wanted to let people just dance and visit and eat and not feel like they were constantly being forced on and off the dance floor.
The only special request that we made was that I wanted to have a special dance for my grandparents. They’re celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this year (!!!!) and I wanted to make sure we recognized them for doing something that amazing. After a couple of songs, I let the DJ know that I wanted to have their dance. I think he was surprised, because the dance floor was just heating up, but my grandparents get kinda sleepy sometimes and I wasn’t sure how they were holding up…
The DJ announced the dance and everyone sat down so my grandparents could take the dance floor. I was actually a little concerned about whether or not they would be able to dance through the whole song. In addition to sleepiness, my grandparents often tip over and the fact that they were holding each other up wasn’t the most reassuring thing. We could have picked a short song for them, but I wanted to choose one that had a special meaning for them, so we had the DJ play “Always” by Patsy Cline, which is “their song”. I actually thought they might dance for a little while and sit down, but when they got on the dance floor, they looked completely comfortable…
It was a really lovely moment and they made it through the whole song. I’ve been to weddings where everyone gets on the dance floor and then the DJ tells people to stay on the floor if they’ve been married for five years, ten years, etc…until the couple that has been married the longest is left on the dance floor. I always thought that was nice, but watching my grandparents dance slowly to their song really drove home how sweet and touching and amazing it is to spend sixty years with the same person.
We had an incredible time at the reception, but MAN that thing just kept going and going. As the reception went from hour one to hour two to hour three, I started to notice two things. One was that I really tired and wanted to be out of that giant dress. The other was that nobody was leaving. Usually at wedding receptions, people take off after a while, leaving behind a few close family members and the die hard party animals, but at our wedding nobody left unless they had a plane to catch. I actually started to worry that they thought they couldn’t leave, but since I figured it would be rude to go around and say, “you can leave, you know” to everyone, I let it go.
Finally, the DJ let us know that the last song was coming up. We had debated about which song to use as the last song for a long time. I was leaning towards a romantic slow dance, since that would be a relaxing and sweet way to end a wedding. Plus, I figured most people would be gone, so my vision was me and Kyle dancing in an empty room that was all lit up with our wedding decorations. Kyle, on the other hand, wanted something that would really pull everyone together, like the cha cha slide, since he was thinking our wedding reception would segue directly into going out to bars/dancing.
Ultimately, we agreed on Piano Man by Billy Joel. Yes, it’s not weddingish at all, but we both love the song and honestly, I figured nobody would be around to hear it. So, when the DJ let us know that we were about to do the last song, I panicked because we still had a room full of dancing guests. I grabbed Kyle and tried to talk him into a slow dance…the best is yet to come, or something…but the boy stuck to his guns and demanded Billy Joel. I have to admit, I was cringing a little, but what could I do?
Then, the weirdest thing happened…the weirdest thing! The song started and there was a general murmur of approval and then people started singing along and seriously, before I even knew what was happening, all of our guests got on the dance floor and put their arms around each other and started singing along while swaying back and forth in a giant circle. It was so weird and so incredible!
Sweet Neaner, who was drunkety drunk, grabbed my little handheld camera and started videotaping everyone. It’s one of my favorite videos from the wedding, but it is a little unsteady…I think the best part is where you can tell that she was stamping her feet along to the music and twirling around. Sheer, lovely magic.
Leaving the Ball
Usually when a wedding ends, the bride and groom are long gone. I don’t know if you guys have seen as many 80’s wedding movies as I have, but in the end the bride and groom are supposed to get into a car with “just married” scribbled across the back window. They take off, waving, with a trail of string and tin cans behind them, while all of the guests watch them drive off into the sunset. That’s how weddings end in the movies.
We didn’t do that, which is pretty unusual from what I could tell. After the last dance, our wedding planner mentioned to me that it was time for the reception to end and I told her “ok”. We just looked at each other for a second and I could tell she was waiting for me to do something, so I turned to the guests within arms reach and said, “Ok, party’s over. Let’s all get our stuff together. Where are the boxes for the decorations?” Apparently, the correct response is that Kyle and I were supposed to make a grand exit and take off for the honeymoon hotel, because our planner just shook her head at me and motioned for the staff to turn on the lights.
The cute thing was none of the guests followed the correct leaving procedure either. We all ended up milling about on the dance floor, giving each other hugs, talking about how great it had all been, and making plans to meet up later…all 60 of us! Now that the music had stopped, I was able to listen in on conversations between people who hadn’t seen each other in a long time, etc., and it was so nice to hear how happy everyone was.
Our wedding planner let us linger for a good 20 minutes before she really started to impress the fact that another wedding was coming in behind us. My incredible moms and bridespeople had made boxes appear out of nowhere and were busily scooping up the decorations and repacking them. I swear, every single piece of diamond confetti was picked up. That room was spotless when we left it!
By the time Kyle and I actually shuffled out, most of the people had left and we were joined by my parents and a handful of the wedding party members staying at the Pop Century. Most of us were carrying a bag or box stuffed with wedding things. As we left the ballroom, I asked the general mass for the bag that had our clothes in it, so Kyle and I could change.
No such luck.
As it turned out, we only had the stuff that we needed for the ceremony/reception. Everything else had already been taken from the Grand Floridian to Pop Century by the bell service, which would have been incredibly handy if I hadn’t been in a giant white dress. As it was, we were stuck in our finest for the ride home.
We hadn’t made any kind of transportation arrangement because…well, we just didn’t want to spend the money. It probably would have been worth the limo ride home since we had a bunch of people with us, but we just hadn’t really thought that part out. So, we all walked up to the monorail station, wedding clothes and all.
As we walked, I had a really great talk with my stepdad. I love him. He’s pretty quiet and doesn’t talk unless he actually has something to say, but he was completely full of conversation on the walk to the monorail. He said all of the things that I really wanted to hear after the wedding…things about how everyone had such a good time and he’d never seen anything like it. We did a replay of our favorite moments from the wedding and all the little funny things that had happened. It was such a perfect continuation of that happy wedding buzz and I was just eating it up with a spoon.
Up at the monorail station, people were staring and taking pictures, but we were in a pretty big group so I didn’t feel too awkward in the big dress. We did get pulled up to ride in the front of the monorail, however, which was disappointing. I’ve actually ridden up there at least five times and I never thought it was that cool. I know, I lose points as a Disney fan, but honestly that car is really little and those windows are pretty hard to see through and who really needs to see where they are going when they’re on a monorail? Plus, riding up in front meant that we were separated from everyone else, who were all back in the normal cars with our bags and boxes, which was a bummer because mom, Lonnie, and Randy were all getting off at a different spot than we were.
At the Magic Kingdom, Kyle and I got off the monorail and took the wedding party with us. Well, we almost took the wedding party with us…we ended up losing Janean, who had left her purse at the Grand Floridian and went back by herself to get it. It was around 6:30 at this point, so not really a crowded time outside of the park, but there were still plenty of people to gawk at us.
Our people were still happy and tipsy, so picture taking and general merriment continued down to the busses. I wish we had a shot of us standing in line for the Pop Century bus in all of our wedding gear, but alas…
We took up the back of the bus, as people who have enjoyed an open bar should, and survived the ride back to the resort without anything terrible happening. At the resort, the looks on the faces of the people waiting to go to the park were pretty priceless. I think they get a lot of brides traipsing about in their wedding gear at the Grand Floridian, but at Pop Century it still seems to be a pretty rare event.
Everyone went back to their rooms and Jed and Steve waited with us while we got checked in to the Pop Century. I was pretty disappointed with the guy that checked us in, since we were all decked out and he didn’t mention the wedding or even say congratulations. I’m pretty sure that Disney training covers going bezerk when people check in wearing a tux and a wedding gown, so this guy wasn’t doing the greatest job earning his ears.
We ended up in the same room that we had had before, which wasn’t a huge surprise since all the rooms around us were wedding guests and it wasn’t like they were going to rent out that room for only one night. It did feel kind of like coming home, since we’d already spend four nights in that room and we were able to throw our stuff on the floor and get out of our wedding clothes.
It’s terrible, but in the last three hours I had forgotten that Kyle was sick, so when we made it back to the room and he practically toppled over, I had to do a little reality check. We had made plans to meet up with everyone at Raglan Road, so we did need to get going, but first we pumped Kyle full of every cold medicine we had in our artillery. Poor guy was really trying to hold it together, but his fever was totally spiking. You could actually feel heat radiating off of him, but you’d never know it because he was such a good sport. So, packing Kleenex and Cold-eeze, we tossed on jeans and sweatshirts and split up to collect our people so we could head to Downtown Disney…
I found most of my bridal party and assorted friends enjoying a pizza and a bottle of wine poolside. Janean had made it back with her purse, despite having sprained her ankle at the reception. Apparently, as the alcohol wore off, the ankle got worse, so a bottle of wine was prescribed as a anti-ankle-pain remedy. I did not know this, however, because Janean didn’t want to bother me on my wedding day.
This brings me to one of the big drawbacks of being the bride…a drawback that I had not heard about at all during the wedding planning phase. When you’re the bride, people don’t want to burden you. This means that they will intentionally leave you out of the loop. How out of the loop, you may ask? Well, here’s the top three things that nobody told me because I was the bride:
My bridesmaid, Margi, was newly pregnant with her second child.
My bridesmaid, Michelle, had just gotten engaged to be married.
My bridesmaid, Janean, sprained her ankle at the reception during the Love Shack, which is ironic because she hates that song.
Additionally, I found out later that one person was sick during the reception, two others had gone way overboard with the open bar, and my brother had body checked my great-aunt on the dance floor. (She popped right back up.) Bah…I hate being out of the loop…
My people were all pretty worn out, so I headed over to the bus stop with Kyle’s brother and some of Kyle’s friends to meet up with Kyle and catch the bus to Downtown Disney. We missed one bus while waiting for him, but he was having trouble wrangling everyone else together, so we ended up hopping on the next bus without him.
My mom, stepdad, and little brother were all there when we got to the bar. We had to wait about twenty minutes for a table, so we milled around and checked out the gift shop. Kyle got there not long after we did and slowly people started to roll in and join us.
In the end, we had about 20 people meet up with us at Raglan Road, which is a decent amount considering we only had 55 guests. I would have thought everyone would have been too exhausted to show up, but that’s probably because I was projecting my exhausted-ness on everyone else. We got some snacks and what not, but mostly we just hung out and chatted. I caught up with a cousin that I hadn’t seen in years and finally had a chance to talk to Kyle’s cousins and his parents, who I had pretty much missed all day. I think some people went out after the rest of us decided we were ready to hit the hay, but Kyle and I just couldn’t get it together to keep the party going. Between being sick and being exhausted, I think we’ve never been more done with life in our lives.
Just the Two of Us
By the time we got back to Pop Century, I was dragging Kyle along with me. He actually fell onto his bed, on top of all our wedding stuff, and was asleep immediately. I was close to following his example, but my hair was still full of puffy curls, with little bits of glitter tossed in for good measure, so I took a shower and finally un-bride-ed myself. I loved being a bride, but one of the best parts of the whole day was combing out my wet hair, sitting on the bed in Kyle’s pajamas (hey, he wasn’t using them!), and watching the Disney channel at 1:00 AM.
I was still sort of jittery with excitement when I turned out the light and it took me a while to go to sleep. I just kept replaying the day in my head, still incredulous that nothing had gone wrong. An entire year’s worth of planning and it had actually all come together, been wonderful, and passed. We’d had our dream wedding and now, I would never, ever, ever, have to plan a wedding again.