Derek and I met through our shared love of Disney; in fact, our first date was at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, our first big vacation together was onboard the Disney Fantasy, and we even became engaged at Epcot. As we started to plan our wedding, we knew Disney had to be incorporated in some way, but had assumed that an actual Disney Wedding would be outside of our price range. On a whim, we went to the Fairy Tale Weddings website to do our due diligence in research and happened to discover that Disney Cruise Line’s ceremony package started at just $3500; was it possible that we could have our Disney Wedding after all?
The more we read about it, the more we knew this package was made for us! Not only was it well within our budget, the planning was as hands-on or off as we needed it to be, perfect for our hectic lifestyle. We polled our closest friends and family members to make sure there weren’t any red flags and determined a sailing that seemed to work for everyone (roughly one year out). Before we knew it, we were booked on a Very Merrytime Cruise onboard the Disney Dream.
Our travel agent was able to book the sailing for us along with the wedding package we wanted. We received some informational packets with our options to consider from her. We also contacted the Shoreside Weddings Manager to review the packets. I had several months to mull about the options, but the planning was truly as simple as circling the item I liked best in a category (for example: choosing the style and flavors of the cake, selecting a bouquet, and preferencing our location). The base items cover just about everything you need, but there are a few premium options you can upgrade to (we opted for Mickey bling in my bouquet.).
Sandy from Instant Impressions made the experience a breeze. From creating an evite we could send out to helping to coordinate the bookings of our friends and family as well as all of our onboard requests (such as linking all of our reservations together, booking Palo Dinner for a party of 16, and securing Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for our Flower Girls). She was able to share tips on things to consider (like if we give out bubbles to everyone no one will have free hands to clap when we walk backup the aisle). Guests appreciated the shipboard credit they received too! It was also helpful that all our guests received packages with ship maps, a list of where to find others in the family and deck locator cards for everything onboard.
Upon arrival at Port Canaveral we were whisked away to the Concierge check-in (a perk of being a Disney Bride and Groom) and ended up being the first Guests allowed onboard. We checked in our wedding attire at the Front Desk to have steamed (another complimentary perk), and they also delivered the welcome bags for our Guests. We were able to have lunch with our friends and family before meeting our onboard Weddings Manager.
Our meeting with the Weddings Manager resulted in a quick tour and walkthrough of our ceremony/reception area, as well as a chat to go over any last-minute questions or concerns that I had. The checklist from our agent helped us with some items to be sure we shared. Our Weddings Manager pulled some strings to ensure my entire wedding party had hair and makeup appointments in the spa, and helped me plan out my morning to ensure I could make the Princess Meet & Greet in my wedding gown prior to the ceremony. The meeting was done within an hour, giving us the rest of the afternoon to explore the ship with our friends and family, partake in the sail away party, and attend the evening festivities in the Walt Disney Theater. While we were at dinner, our garments were magically delivered to our room, ready for our big day, and our guests all received invitations with instructions on when and where to meet for our ceremony.
The next morning started with an appointment at the spa, while Derek and his Best Man took to the Aqua Duck to scream out any last-minute wedding jitters. My stylist knew my vision (Belle from Beauty and the Beast) and put together my look skillfully, leaving more than enough time for me to get into my dress, have a meet and greet with the princesses (if this is on your bucket list, be sure to sign up for the Princess Gathering ahead of time), and do a bridal photo shoot around the ship.
Thirty minutes prior to our wedding, the onboard Weddings Manager met me in my room, went over the plan once more, and then escorted me to our ceremony location: the Atrium, which was all decked out for the holidays. A live pianist played my selected music, my flower girls danced down the aisle in Princess gowns, and there at the end was my handsome groom. This was my personal Disney dream come true! While traditionally Disney Cruise Line Weddings have the Captain or a member of his steering committee perform the ceremony, we had arranged for my Dad to be the one to marry us, just another example of being able to customize the package to fit our personal needs.
At the end of our ceremony we were able to take some group photos in the atrium before heading to Pink where our reception took place. We’re not a huge party group, so in lieu of a DJ we opted to have the pianist accompany our traditional dances (first, mother/son, and father/daughter). The pianist continued to play light music while the whole group partook in cake and champagne, it really was exactly what we were looking for. We spent the rest of the afternoon taking bridal portraits around the ship, while our guests had the opportunity to go ashore or partake in activities of their choice. Our wedding happened to take place on “Pirates in the Caribbean” night, and we had a blast outfitting our wedding attire to align with the theme. To say we were the stars of the ship would be an understatement, plus we got to celebrate with fireworks.
All in all, having our wedding onboard the Disney Dream was a perfect decision for us. Rather than just a few hours to celebrate, we had a whole weekend onboard where we were treated like royalty! When we returned home, we had a large brunch reception for more friends and family, giving us another chance to celebrate (and wear our wedding attire!). Looking back, there’s not a single thing I would’ve done differently.
Melissa Kratish, is your typical Disney girl. With a love of all things princess and magical from a very young age. A Belle fan through and through with a passion for theater. Melissa visits Disney everywhere she can with countless visits to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani and of course, a platinum Disney Cruiser!