Marrying Away in the US: Walt Disney World Weddings
From Floridian couples to jet-setters alike, brides and grooms are flocking to Walt Disney World to say I do. Like Las Vegas, it's fantastical and fun, plus totally convenient -- you can marry at Disney and spend your entire honeymoon there too. You provide your wishes -- they make them come true. From Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings to custom creations, Walt Disney World offers magical memories for you and your groom. Here's what may happen when you wish upon a star:
Tying the Knot
Marriage License Requirements
The fee for a marriage license in Florida is $93.50 ($61 if the bride and groom are Florida residents and attend a premarital prep course). There is no waiting period to obtain the license for non-Florida residents, which is valid for 60 days in the state of Florida only. No blood test is required. For more information on marriage license requirements and/or restrictions, contact: the Orange County Clerk of Courts Marriage License Division at (407) 836-2067; or Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings at (407) 828-3400 or DisneyWeddings.com.
Where to Say I Do
For style and sophistication, consider Disney's Wedding Pavilion, a nondenominational chapel that can accommodate up to 300 guests. You can also customize your wedding: from arriving in Cinderella's glass coach (or a vintage Rolls-Royce if you prefer) to a rose petal toss (um, we mean cannon burst) as you are pronounced husband and wife, your wedding can be personalized down to your every fantastical desire. There's also Disney Cruise Line Weddings at Sea: You can have a ceremony on Disney's private island "Castaway Cay" onboard the ship, followed by a cake and champagne reception. Then you'll set sail for a 3-, 4-, or 7-night cruise, beginning with a romantic dinner for two.
Knot Note: Disney weddings can cost anywhere from $3,000 and up depending on how customized you want the wedding. Contact a Disney Wedding Specialist at Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings, (321) 939-4610, for a personal proposal.
Celebrating in Style
When it comes time to picking a place to party, the option seem endless. There's the opulent Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the more casual Disney's Yacht Club or Disney's Beach Club, or you can even choose to hold your black-tie ballroom soiree in Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Like you would do with a wedding planned in your own backyard, you'll choose from entree stations or tuxedoed waiters and steel bands to big bands. Save seats for your favorite Disney characters who, if you send them an invite well in advance, will be sure to make it to your reception (though Disney characters cannot attend your wedding ceremony).
Knot Note: Disney is happy to host theme parties -- these have included "Beauty & The Beast" and "Under the Sea" Weddings -- but they are, of course, not mandatory. With destination weddings becoming more and more popular these days, Disney is happy to be your wedding home away from home.
Where to Stay: 5 Romantic Rooms
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
This theme extravaganza features African-inspired rooms that overlook a true wildlife sanctuary, where more than 200 giraffes, zebra, gazelles, and other non-man-eating animals roam. Four restaurants celebrate African foods, cooking methods, wines, and decor.
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
This old-fashioned seaside hotel offers Victorian-era elegance, afternoon tea, the award-winning Victoria and Albert's restaurant, a full-service spa (with a couples treatment room), and a white-sand beach, all conveniently located on the monorail route.
- Disney's BoardWalk Inn
For a less formal, more fun seaside romp, opt for this hotel located on a '40s Atlantic City-inspired boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment. Bonuses: two nearby miniature golf courses and a 200-foot-long "Keister Coaster" water slide "roller coaster." Spring for a one-bedroom villa to enjoy all the amenities of home plus a roomy balcony, Jacuzzi tub, and prime location.
- Disney's Polynesian Resort
Visit the isles of the South Pacific (those located along the monorail, that is) with lush landscaping, a white-sand beach, and adrenalin-pumping luaus including hula, fire dances, and a feast. Be sure to request a room with a lagoon view.
- Disney's Wilderness Lodge Resort
Modeled after the grand hotels of America's northwest frontier, this hotel has towering stone fireplaces, rustic log walls, and a mini National Park courtyard. To truly transport yourselves, book the elegant western-themed Yellowstone or ranch-style Yosemite suite for whirlpool tubs and spacious digs.
Knot Note: Rates at moderately priced hotels such as the romantic Disney's Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter (cobblestone streets and shady courtyards), Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Port Orleans Resort-Riverside (think Gone With the Wind plus six pools), and Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (southwestern style).
Honeymoon Packages: Live It Up Without Lifting a Finger
- Disney Cruise Line Romantic Escape
For romance on the water, consider this 7-night Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise (with a stopover, of course, on Disney's private island).
- Magic Your Way
Disney's Magic Your Way offers six package combinations and four resort categories (ranging from Value to Deluxe Villa) to help create a personalized trip for every honeymoon budget.
- Knot Note: To learn more about Disney honeymoon packages, visit DisneyHoneymoons.com.
Places to See & Things to Do
What to Do: Daytime
Here is a mere handful of highlights that will entice you to leave icky adulthood at home and play, play, play! Each of the following parks can be reached via free shuttle bus.
Knot Note: Be sure to take advantage of FASTPASS, an option available at popular rides that allows you to get a "reservation" to come back later in the day and skip the long lines. Until then, you can enjoy other attractions to truly maximize your time.
- Magic Kingdom: Classic rides for snuggling at the Magic Kingdom include the spooky Haunted Mansion (an 19th century-inspired mansion full of ghosts and classic horror-house tricks) and raucous Pirates of the Caribbean, in which you'll get a taste of the swashbuckler's life at sea. Fairy tales are spun in Fantasyland, where you can hop aboard Cinderella's Golden Carousel (built in 1917) and gawk at the twinkling SpectroMagic parade.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom: This celebration of wildlife features the astounding 14-story Tree of Life, a Rainforest Cafe, the wet and wild Kali River Rapids white-water raft ride, and animal displays.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios: Hold on to your stomach! Two of the most breathtaking rides are located here: the truly ominous Twilight Zone Tower of Terror -- a free-fall elevator ride that drops you 13 stories (you'll hear the screams throughout the park) -- and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster -- a wild ride on the wild side to a blaring Aerosmith soundtrack. Gather your wits -- and grab a bite -- in the front seat of a convertible as you watch black-and-white B movies and '50s cartoons at the cool and dark Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant.
- Epcot: Explore all corners of our world through food and exhibits at the 11 international pavilions of Epcot, including romantic restaurants such as Bistro de Paris (France), Coral Reef Restaurant, Restaurant Marrakesh (Morocco), and San Angel Inn Restaurante (Mexico).
- Typhoon Lagoon: Here, you can snorkel, laze away on an easy raft ride, learn how to surf at the largest wave pool in America, or "speed slide" through caverns on the Humunga Kowabunga slide.
What to Do: Nighttime
Speaking of entertainment, it's gone grown-up. You'll have almost as many tempting options after the sun sets as you do during the day.
- Downtown Disney: Sing the blues at the aptly named House of Blues, shake your booty to live Cuban music at Bongos Cuban Cafe (owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan), see a movie on one of 24 screens, or settle in for mesmerizing acrobatic feats performed by Cirque du Soleil.
- Disney's BoardWalk: For old-fashioned fun reminiscent of Atlantic City's heyday, stroll this authentic boardwalk and drop in at Atlantic Dance Hall or listen to pianos duel for your delight at Jellyrolls.
Wedding PreparationsBefore You Go:
- Best weather: March, April, November, December
- Best prices: January to mid-February, July through September, November to mid-December
- Getting around: Bus, monorail, car
- Complete the theme with Disney wedding favors and gifts.
- For more information on having a dream wedding (and honeymoon) come true: call Walt Disney World Resort reservations at (877) 566-0969; for general information, ticket prices, and an update on special events call (407) 824-4321 or visit Disney.com.