How Agile Saved My Big Fat Overly-Complicated Wedding!

 Photo by the amazing  Adam Sparkes , superb groomsman and photog extraordinaire! 

Photo by the amazing Adam Sparkes, superb groomsman and photog extraordinaire! 

WHEN WORK PROCESS AND HOME LIFE COLLIDE

I try to avoid talking about my "real life" on this blog. I like to stick to parties and Disney and craft projects instead. However, you should know that these are all things I do in my spare time. By day, I work as a User Experience Designer for Fortune 20 companies helping to make software that you've probably encountered at some point in your life. The work I do to bring those apps and software products to life is engaging and interesting to me, but probably not so much to people outside of the field. 

I've worked in this capacity for over 10 years and most of that time has been in Agile environments. Agile is a philosophy used to organize team work, primarily in Software Development groups. The concept of Agile can be traced back as early as the 1970’s, but formally crystalized with The Agile Manifesto for Software Development in 2001 and went on to transform team dynamics at large and small companies.

I’m a big believer in Agile because I’ve seen it work wonders, and because I am a ‘type A’ person who loves lists and making plans. Agile provides a system to get things done, and there’s so much I want to get done in a week!

I tend to take on “too much”, or so I’m told. Big birthday parties, trips jam-packed with activities, an endless list of ideas for craft projects that I want to do…. My wedding was no exception to this. In fact, it was the culmination of all my grandiose party planning, hyper scheduled vacation, and craft goals. Eventually (inevitably) I became overwhelmed and things started falling through the cracks. Given the cost of the wedding and the fact that we’d waited 10 years to do it, failing was not an option. And so I turned to the Agile process to help me accomplish everything I dreamed of accomplishing in the time I had left.

This was not our first foray into Agile at home. We'd begun incorporating Agile into our parenting process the previous summer, to help our girls begin learning how to budget their time and reach their goals, as well as negotiating and pitching in as part of a family with shared objectives. I’d been inspired by a TedTalk about Agile Programming your family. Those experiments really helped open up communication with our kids by making them 'stakeholders' in the work that had to be done at home, while also celebrating their incremental accomplishments.

The wedding, though, took this to a whole new level. 

In addition to all the wedding tasks that keep ‘normal’ brides busy, we were having a destination wedding (at Walt Disney World, no less), and I’d decided I needed to: design & sew the flower girl dresses, invent a new style of bouquet that I made myself, design and fabricate overly complex invitation booklets, plan everybody’s Disney trips for maximum overlap, learn to waltz, put together thoughtful welcome gift bags for each family attending, and thoughtful gifts for my bridal party that included custom Mickey ears, and a million other things that I don’t even remember anymore!

 Me: "No flower girl dresses in the same fabric as the bridesmaids dresses? No problem!" 

Me: "No flower girl dresses in the same fabric as the bridesmaids dresses? No problem!" 

 Me: "Sparkle belts cost WHAT? I can make those myself."

Me: "Sparkle belts cost WHAT? I can make those myself."

 Somehow I decided I needed to find thematically appropriate ear hats for each guest, even if I had to make them myself!

Somehow I decided I needed to find thematically appropriate ear hats for each guest, even if I had to make them myself!

Sometimes you have to resort to child labor when you design entirely overly complicated invitations. That's why they have those little, nimble fingers.

As we got closer and closer to the event, I found myself snapping at my fiancé and our kids. My house was falling apart, cluttered with a zillion half-completed projects, and I was losing my mind. It wasn’t fun anymore. I’d taken on these projects because I wanted to do them --- I enjoy crafting, I enjoying being able to respond to a compliment with “thanks! I made that!!” but I wasn’t enjoying these projects anymore. So, we started our Agile Wedding Process and it saved the day (literally!).

In the hope that it might help others out there feeling overwhelmed by their own "too much", I've decided to share the basics here if you want to try these techniques yourself. 


WHAT IS AGILE? 

Agile is a philosophy of project management that empowers employees to make decisions and shift focus in order to react to market forces that move fast. It focuses on iterations and incremental completion. What I'm really talking about when I use the term here, though, is a frame work of Agile called "Scrum" which is a system for organizing work within the project. Check out this helpful summary on the scrum alliance website: 

  • A product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog.
  • During sprint planning, the team pulls a small chunk from the top of that wish list, a sprint backlog, and decides how to implement those pieces.
  • The team has a certain amount of time — a sprint (usually two to four weeks) — to complete its work, but it meets each day to assess its progress (daily Scrum).
  • Along the way, the ScrumMaster keeps the team focused on its goal.
  • At the end of the sprint, the work should be potentially shippable: ready to hand to a customer, put on a store shelf, or show to a stakeholder.
  • The sprint ends with a sprint review and retrospective.
  • As the next sprint begins, the team chooses another chunk of the product backlog and begins working again.

Now, I realize that's written in hyper software speak. But this process works at home too and I'm going to break down how we used Agile in the context of completing all the tasks required for our wedding and how you might be able to use it, too. 

 

STEP 1:  ESTABLISH A BACKLOG

We sat down one night with a fresh pack of sticky notes and wrote out everything that needed to be done for the wedding. In Agile these are called “User Stories”. A key part of writing stories is that you break down big to-do's into their component tasks. For example, making bouquets was not 1 sticky note, it was 10. There was one task for buying the materials. Another for finalizing the design. Arranging the bouquets. Wiring in the lights. Wrapping the handles. And, finally, packaging them up in their shipping boxes to send to our Disney resort.

I have a good friend who is an Agile Coach by day and a Life Coach by night. She always talks about establishing “SMART goals”, and I try to keep those in mind when I’m making my “stories”.

·       Specific – What are you setting out to do/make? 

·       Measurable – How will you know you are “done”?

·       Achievable – Is it realistic? Do you have the skills?* Is the time period reasonable?

·       Responsible – who will do it?

·       Time – how long will it take?

*Note, if you want to accomplish something but don't have the skills for it do not despair, you just need to make a story for learning those skills as a step before taking on the task!

Back in my college days I took a class in productivity skills for artists and one of the tricks I learned was that before you sit down to work on something, you should take 5 minutes and write out everything that’s on your mind. Literally everything from call mom to start eating better to write great american novel goes down on the paper. Holding these in your head steals mental processing energy away from the task you want to complete and writing them down lets your mind relax and focus on what you’re sitting down to do. I still do this exercise many times per day – especially before meetings where I need to be mentally present. If I find myself feeling distracted I flip to a clean page in my notebook and jot down what’s distracting me. Once it’s safetly down on paper my mind has permission to “let it go” for the time being. You'll find that just the process of writing out what needs to be done will help you feel so much more focused!

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Step 2: SET UP A PROJECT BOARD

The next step is to put all of these stories onto a “scrum board”. Some people use their refrigerators, a whiteboard in their living room, bathroom mirror, etc. Basically any open wall will do. For our wedding, because we had SO MANY sticky notes, we used our corner window in our breakfast nook.

You’ll have to develop a system that works for you. The goal of the Scrum board is to make the work & progress visible to everyone on the team. The most common approach I’ve seen is a board with three columns and a row for each teammate (in this case, family members). The first column has all the sticky notes that are in the backlog. The second column are just the stickies you’ve identified to work on in this period. The third column is completed stickies.

Personally, I find a great deal of satisfaction is tearing the stickies down when a task is complete, so my board only has 2 columns: backlog and in process. Don't be afraid to experiment! Find what works best for you.

 

Step 3: PRIORITIZE THE BACKLOG

Grab two-weeks worth of tasks from the ‘backlog’ you made in step 1 and put them in a new area of your board. If you're having trouble estimating what two-weeks' worth of tasks is, it sometimes helps to look at each sticky and give it it's own time estimate (i.e., one hour to address the invitations) and then grab the sticky notes that equal the amount of time you have available to devote to your project.

In Agile, we organize our work into what’s called a “sprint”. A 2-week sprint is most common. You gather up the sticky note stories that you think your team will be able to accomplish within 10 days and identify who is responsible for completing each one. The goal is to get everything (or as much as possible) done by the 2-week deadline. Note that no story should be bigger than two weeks, if it is then it needs to be broken down into smaller stories. I'm a believer that you should “load” your sprint with extra stories (called “stretch goals”) that you can accomplish if you finish your other tasks early. Competition with yourself and other teammates helps you push to accomplish more: in Agile the number of stories you are able to complete is called your “velocity”. I'm always trying to increase my velocity: ie finish more in this sprint than I did in the last sprint. (yes, you can cheat by giving yourself easier stories, but that defeats the purpose and you're only cheating yourself!). 

The stories you’ve decided to tackle in this “sprint” are moved from the backlog to the “current” section of the board. Remember that this is a discussion with your teammates (family). They are indicating what they are willing and able to do by the deadline. I want to be clear: you are not “ASSIGNING” work to them. You can certainly negotiate with them, but they HAVE to “opt-in” that they are going to complete the work or I guarantee that those sticky notes will not get cleared. Trust me. Without genuine buy-in from your family, the system doesn’t work so don't bother. They have to WANT to finish the tasks too. Your job is to find out what tasks they can and will do in the time period and move those to the active section of your board.

It's all about pushing yourself psychologically to accomplish more by having laser focus and a desire to move the sticky notes across the board. Hack your dog brain, as they say.

3.1 WEDDING PLANNING AND SUB-DEADLINES

Wedding planning was unique in that we were managing a lot of deadlines that didn’t fit neatly into 2-week “sprints”. There were appointments and dance classes and due dates and shipping dates and all kinds of dates to keep track of OR ELSE. To accommodate this, we modified our board to have a calendar. Each day was represented by a half-sheet of typing paper with the date on top. Onto that we put any important deadlines that we needed to track. Then we started divvying up the sticky notes making sure that all the tasks associated to a deadline were arranged BEFORE the deadline. This really helped us organize what needed to be done when, so that we focused on the tasks that were due first vs. those we were more excited to get started on but weren't due until closer to the wedding. If a task didn’t get completed by the end of the day it moved over to the next day and so on.

I’m happy to say that we didn’t miss any of the important deadlines with this approach.  (For those familiar with Software Development, this is more of the “KanBan” style).

 

Step 4 COMMUNICATION CADENCE

Agile is, at it’s core, more of a communication methodology than anything else. There are two key communication touch points you will want to start incorporating into your daily/weekly schedule:

  • Daily Standup
  • Sprint Planning (Sprint Demo / Sprint Retrospective / Backlog Grooming)

4.1  Daily Standup:

Once per day the team (family) gathers together in front of the Project board to discuss their progress. They move sticky notes around to indicate what they are actively working on and what has been completed. If they have a sticky note that is assigned to them that they are not able to complete for whatever reason (this is called a “blocker”) they discuss with the group what is blocking them and the group’s job is to help eliminate the blocker. Perhaps Sue’s task is dependent on Joe finishing up something else. The daily standup is the opportunity for Sue to communicate with Joe and let him know how his incomplete task is affecting her. This should help motivate Joe to complete his task. 

I find it helps to do this in the morning so that what needs to get done is fresh in everyone's mind as they start the day. This is also why we chose to keep our board in the breakfast nook: a very central, visible place that we almost always spend time in first thing in the morning. 

Standup should only take a few minutes. If folks aren't sure what to say, you can use this template: "What did you do yesterday? What are you going to do today? Do you have any blockers?"

4.2 Sprint Planning:

At the end of your sprint / beginning of your next sprint the team comes together to discuss what they’re going to tackle. (Once per week or every two-weeks, or whatever time increment you’re using for your family sprints).

For teams that don’t throw away sticky notes as they’re done, you’ll start sprint planning by reviewing and removing the completed stories from the last sprint. With kids this is a great way to acknowledge and celebrate their accomplishments, which helps keep them motivated.

You might also do a quick “sprint retrospective” which is a chance to talk about what in the process went well, what didn’t go so well, and what could be improved in terms of the process. This is definitely important in the beginning when you're working out how the process will go for your family (an example, if the board isn’t working you could discuss an alternate way of setting it up or location in the house for it to be).

Then, it’s time to start planning for the next sprint. Just like in Step 3, you are going to go through all the stories in your backlog and decide which ones you're going to tackle before the next deadline, and move those to the active part of your board.

Then, take a look at ALL the stickies in your backlog: are they all still relevant? Are there things you thought you were going to do that now you don't think you need to or you could drop? Are there new things that have come up that you want to make space for? This process is called “backlog grooming” and it’s what allows agile teams to adjust so that they’re always working on the most relevant tasks. You'll need to order the stickies by priority. Look extra carefully at the sticky notes that you've ranked as lowest priority: are you really going to do them? If not, let those tasks go. My Agile Coach friend often says that this is the hardest, but also the most important, part: letting go of the things that you don't really need to do.

 

Step 5: REPEAT

Agile helps reduce conflict/stress and increase productivity because it makes work visible and organizes communication, focusing the team on immediate goals and that all lead to long-term, steady progress. These same principles work at home too. A family is a team and your family can benefit by learning new ways to work together, communicate effectively, and achieve shared goals.


IN CONCLUSION

I hear friends and coworkers complaining all the time about a spouse who isn’t pulling their weight at home and leaves everything on mom to do even though mom works. This leads to simmering resentment. While of course there are husbands who are lazy, I believe most people want a healthy marriage and a functioning home and are willing to pitch in to get it, they just don’t know what to do. Women are notoriously bad at the whole “I’ll just do it myself!” thing, when what they really want is their whole family pitching in to help them.

By making the work visible I found that my family was not only helping me more, but helping each other more. Before we started our family project board no one knew what my priorities even were, and so they were bewildered when I would snap at them for not doing the things that they didn’t realize I was expecting them to do. We tend to ASSUME the other people in our family just know what needs to be done, what tasks are stressing us out and keeping us up at night. Well, you know what they say about making assumption...  

There is greater accountability with an Agile process, and less frustration AT each other (as opposed to WITH each other). When we decide together what our goals are, everyone is more willing to pitch in.

We’ve used the Agile process at home for both ongoing organization of everyday tasks and big event goals like a wedding, party, home improvement projects, and moving. I’ve heard of folks using it to set more emotional family goals like “yelling less” or “being kinder to each other”. Though Agile is designed to help groups work together, I also use many of the same tools  myself when I’m starting a big project on my own as a way to organize myself, even though it's just me. Like I said above: just the act of writing down and breaking out tasks helps to focus your mind and effort.

Whatever you’re trying to tackle, I’d encourage you to give Agile a try. It doesn’t cost anything aside from a package of sticky notes, and could make all the difference in reaching your goals!  

As for us, our wedding was a success! I completed all the projects I set out to do with the help of my family (and some friends!) And, I even found the time to learn to waltz!

 Learn to dance? Check.

Learn to dance? Check.

 Fancy dresses? Handled.

Fancy dresses? Handled.

 Super detailed invitation with planning booklet? Done.

Super detailed invitation with planning booklet? Done.

 Ridiculously fancy bouquet? Definitely!

Ridiculously fancy bouquet? Definitely!

 Like the ears? Thanks! I made them!! :-)

Like the ears? Thanks! I made them!! :-)


Wedding Invitations (wedding day photos)

Our Disney wedding photographer captures a few images of our (overly elaborate) invites on our wedding day! I'm so happy with how they turned out! (For details on how they were made, check out my construction post!) I will be doing a design shoot of them in the future because there are just so many more details that I want to make sure to capture before I tuck the invite away into my keepsake box. Stay tuned! :-)

 

 

Making Wedding Invitations for our Disney Wedding

(8 months out)

We sent out our Save The Date cards are early as possible after signing our wedding contract and locking in our dates, to give our guests as much time as possible to plan their trips. We asked them to Pre-RSVP if they could, to help wittle down the numbers of full invitations we would send out (because we knew the invitations were going to be expensive!)

You can read about the Save the Date card design and construction here. 

Once they were in the mail, we pretty much immediately turned our attention to the full invitation and planning booklets. 

 


GOALS & CONCEPT

Our guest list for our wedding was around 100--- that’s 100 addresses, many of which were families of 2 or 4. We were told that Disney weddings has an RSVP rate around 80%. We were skeptical that that many folks from our list would be able to make it, and thought that our RSVP rate would be much lower. Taking a trip to Disney is a big ask, especially for those who don’t go regularly.

With this in mind, I wanted to go above-and-beyond with our wedding invitations. For most of the folks on our list, we figured that this would be their only participation in our wedding and we wanted them to feel included even if they couldn’t come. We also wanted to share with our distant friends and family details of what we’d been up to in the past ten years since we’d originally gotten engaged!

On Pinterest I came across great examples of Destination wedding invitations (which can be more like mini-vacation planning packages) as well as some really lovely photo-album inspired invitations. I decided to fuse these two concepts together to create our invitations.

You can see my Pinterest research board here! 

 


DESIGNING THE DESIGN

In my past life, I attended design school and spent years making hand-crafted books. However, since 2009 I’ve been working in the technology sector designing software interfaces. I haven’t made a book in years. So this was a fun excuse for me to pull out my saddle-stitcher and bone folder (yes, I have those kinds of supplies and so much more!)

Once I had the initial design mocked up, I started the process of sourcing the paper and printing--- this was the first major hurdle that I experienced. Many of the printers that I had worked with years prior were no longer around! They had quietly retired or gone out of business, and the print shops that I was able to find did not have the types of paper that I really wanted to use. (I realize that this sounds a bit snobby, but bear with me: paper is one of my favorite things, so of course I wanted to use a lovely paper for my wedding invitations!)

Eventually, I reached a point of complete frustration and, crunched for time because we wanted to give our guests as much time to plan their trips as possible, I compromised and went with a standard paper stock with the intention of hand-altering it with stamps or other embellishments. This is something that I still regret, but it was necessary.

Near my office is a Paper Source and I stopped by there every few days to look at their crafting supplies. One day, one of the employee’s was giving an embossing demonstration. I wasn’t familiar with hand-embossing and immediately realized that the technique would help distract from the lousy paper I was printing on. I bought a variety of rubber stamps online (much less expensive!) and once they’d arrived I stamped directly onto my design mockups until I got the spacing just right. I even found a floral stamp that (unintentionally) looked like a Hidden Mickey when stamped upside down! #winning!

Note the spaces in the background pattern to accommodate the stamps. This took a lot of trial and error.

Another feature of the design that was problematic was the actual construction. I knew that we wanted to do a folder with vacation planning materials inside. We talked about printing a huge double-sided trifold, and then gluing in a pocket, but the trifold would have to be over 30” which would have been extremely expensive to produce. One afternoon while describing the challenge to my coworker (also a designer) the solution hit me. Instead of gluing a pocket into a 30” trifold, I could glue together two 20” bifolds, cutting down the excess flap of the second bifold to create the pocket! (This makes more sense once you see the photos below). Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but I thought this was a pretty genius solution!

I did several design mockups to make sure that I had all the margins correct for the complex assembly and stamping that I was planning before sending the files off to be printed. I received them back from the printer in batches, which worked out well because it forced me into more of an assembly-line production method--- I had originally been planning to assemble each book completely, and that would have been disastrous in hindsight.

 

 


EMBOSSING THE FOLDERS

If you aren’t familiar with stamp embossing, basically you use a slow-drying ink (I used Versamark), dust it with a special embossing powder, and then hit it with a heat gun to melt the powder. I experimented with a lot of stamps and inks on the actual coated paper we were using to find a combination that looked great. Some powders were too fine, while others too course, for the stamps I wanted to use. And some of the stamps I wanted to use had designs that just weren’t good for embossing. Eventually, I found a combination that worked well.

In practice, for the large-scale production of our invites, the embossing process took some time to develop a rhythm. Because the slow-drying embossing ink is clear, it’s really hard to line it up and know that you’ve gotten the whole image stamped before you dust it with the embossing powder… and of course, once you’ve dusted it with the embossing powder, it’s too late to go back and re-apply the ink. To help with this, I started marking the stamps’ wood block handles to line up with visible elements on the printed page.

  I even found a teal heat gun! Though I had to endure endless teasing from my partner about its unfortunate shape...

I even found a teal heat gun! Though I had to endure endless teasing from my partner about its unfortunate shape...

The folders were the first pieces we received from the printer, and were the two bifolds from which we were going to create the structure of the invitation and the pocket. These were embossed with a total of 4 stamps, then scored and folded. It was good that we received just the folders first (even though I’d originally wanted them all bookletized!) because it allowed me to throw away about 10% of each where the stamps hadn’t turned out well, and combined only those that had good stamps. If they’d already been combined, then I would have ended up in the situation where the first three stamps went well and the fourth one ruined the whole thing, which would have been really frustrating!

I returned the covers to the printer to be scored and folded, and for the left side to have the photo album pages inserted. When they were returned, I cut down the right side to create the pocket shape, and glued it into the left side, using sparkly silver tape to close the outside edge and create the silver element visible when the invitations were closed.

After assembling dozens of these, that sparkly tape started to feel like sandpaper and really tore up my fingers!


LIBRARY CARDS, FRONT INVITE, ENVELOPES

In addition to the envelopes, we embossing the library cards, library card pockets, invitation for the front of the packet, and the teal mailing envelopes. All of these little embellishments were hefty crafting projects in themselves, and I worked to get them completed while we waited for the main elements of the invitation to come back from the printer.


PICTURE ALBUM

Once assembled into the embossed folder covers, we added the replica photos into the photo album pages using inexpensive photo corners. I purchased a variety of photo corners, in silver, sparkly, and black. The ones that worked best were the super cheap black ones which came on a roll because I was able to apply them quickly to the photos. In order to speed things up we decided to use only two corners for most of the smaller pictures. This was also an aesthetic choice because having four corners on the smaller pictures was very heavy visually.

We applied the corners to the photo, and then stuck the photo into the booklet in the appropriate place. Remember the sticker-by-number books they had in the 80's? Yeah, it was sort of like that. The album pages had been printed with the captions already in place which helped guide the photos. I also created four “sample books” that my helpers followed in order to know which picture went where.

My daughters were both eager to help and so I laid out all the photos and they bundled one of each image in the order that they appeared in the booklets and rubber-banded them together to make little packets. This really helped in the assembly of the albums because we didn’t have to rifle through the pile looking for the next picture.

We found pictures that told the story of our lives together up to now (the wedding): from early childhood pictures, to snapshots from when we first started dating in college, trips we took together, the day we bought our first home, had our children, and more recent family trips. My partner kept it very "non-Disney", though on the last page of the album (once we were into the "trip planning" portion of the invitation) we cobbled together a picture of me with Minnie Mouse on the Empress Lily in the 1980's and a picture of Brendan at the Beach Club in the 1990's with current pictures of us with our kids at Walt Disney World!  


RSVP STATIONARY

Our RSVP’s were definitely non-traditional. For guests who were attending we needed to gather more information than just the traditional “beef or chicken” selection. I created little trifolds that had a check list of activities for guests to return in a supplied envelope.

For guests who could not attend, we decided to do a Disney postcard where each one is unique. I ordered the Art of Disney postcard set (which you can actually send through the mail, though that’s not the intent) and asked guests to write us a little note for our wedding album. We even tried to match up the post card design to the guest we were sending it to. We’ll have these at our wedding to mark everyone part of our special day, even if they weren’t able to join us in person!

To save on stamps, we included one stamp in the package held on with a heart-shaped paperclip. I had read a wedding tip that you should number your RSVP cards so that if guests forget to add their name or if their signature is illegible you can match it up. We did that and it was definitely a life saver!

An unintended consequence of this was that when I checked the mail I knew immediately whether I was receiving a Yes (teal envelope) or a No (happy postcard!). The adorable Disney postcards also made the No’s not feel so personal. For an anxious person like me who already doesn’t love opening envelopes, it was nice to know right away what the answer was. Though, of course, we received some postcards inside envelopes and some Yeses on postcards because either my friends were trolling me, or they can’t follow directions, or both! #thestruggleisreal!

But srsly, how cute is my mirror full of "no we can't attend your wedding" notes?


PLANNING BOOKLETS

I don't want to forget the planning booklets, but because they were only digitally printed and not embellished at all it's easy for them to get left out! The planning booklets were chock full of useful information about the trip, including a guide to the activities we were planning to do with our guests, details about the resorts, and contact information for booking a Disney Vacation. 

We even designed a map of WDW that showed where all the wedding activities were located, and priced out sample trip packages ranging from $300 for a family of 2, up to $3,000 for a family of 4 for a full week. We went into details about how to get dining reservations and make fast passes and the difference between booking with Disney Weddings vs. booking a traditional wedding package. 

They were super thorough... unfortunately, they went unread by many guests. How frustrating is that!? Maybe thorough isn't always the most helpful? (Nah!)

If you're looking for some ideas, I've linked our booklets below as PDFs.


FINAL PRODUCT

The last step was to put it all together. The library card envelopes I’d bought from the librarystore.com were self-adhesive. Those went in to the front of the left envelope. There were two planning booklets: one laid out the activities we were planning, and the other was about Disney vacations and accommodations. These stacked in the back pocket with the RSVP items so that the postcard was visible with the heart-shaped paperclip.

On the “front” outside of the packet I used sticky zots to affix the “traditional” looking wedding invitation, and the whole thing was tied up with a silver cord and put into the teal envelopes which I hand-addressed and sealed with leftover sparkly tape.

Most of the invitations arrived fairly quickly, but some took several weeks to arrive and I don’t really understand why there was a delay for some but not all.

We received many compliments on our finished invitations. Even though I’m never going to be happy with the paper we used, I’m thrilled with how they turned out. Most importantly, it was wonderful getting to work with my hands and put together physical books again after so long. Even though it was a lot of work, I loved every minute of it!

Check out the photos of our invitations from our wedding day! (I am still planning to do a more product-centric photo shoot of the invites, but haven't yet found the time. It's up there on my to do list, I promise!)

Making Save the Date Cards for our Disney Wedding

(10 months out)

As soon as we’d locked in our venues and dates for our Disney Wedding, we got to work on our Save the Date cards because we wanted to give our guests absolutely as much time as possible to plan their trips in the hopes of being able to take advantage of the 180-day dining reservation window to secure group meals.

We also put together our wedding website with all the details we knew, such as which resorts we’d room-blocked, the contact information for our Disney Vacation Planner, and the activities we were thinking of to do with guests while we were down there. We asked guests to pre-RSVP on the website, to get them thinking about this information and also as a way of wittling down our guest list before our wedding invitations went out (because we knew they were going to be big and expensive).

 


CONCEPT

Originally, I’d had this concept about using a library card as a Save the Date which I got from Pinterest. But I also came across a tutorial for making hand-made scratch-off save the date cards which I also fell in love with! For a while I tried to find a way to make the two ideas work together, but it was hopeless. My partner suggested that I save the library card for the full invitations, and design around the scratch-off technique for the Save the Date card.


DESIGN

We put together our Save the Date cards so early in the wedding process that we didn’t really have a solid ‘look’ figured out yet. As a result, they’re much more ‘rustic’ than our full invitation and other printed material.

We had taken a few pictures while we were down at Disney for our Site Visit and those were the primary design elements that we used for the Save the Date Cards. That, and the color teal, of course!


Scratch-off-paint

I found an online tutorial for making your own scratch off paint by mixing silver (or any color) paint with dish detergent. Before applying the paint to your cards, however, you have to cover the text beneath with packaging tape. Because our design was to have the date in a heart-shaped design, I found heart-shaped hole punches to cut the packaging tape. 

Unfortunately, the packaging tape gummed up the punches. I went back to the craft store and found contact paper that was backed that worked with the hole punches, though this created an additional step of having to peel the paper off of the contact paper.

After the tape is applied, then you simply paint over the hearts with the handmade paint. I found that it took two or three coats of paint to fully cover the hearts. If I were to do this over again, I wouldn’t have the dates set on a white background but on something darker and easier to cover (like silver!)  Oh well, you live and learn!

In preparing this post I was looking through Pinterest and found that another designer did something similar, but according to their tutorial they used white crayon in lieu of packaging tape to keep the silver paint off the text. I don't know if that would work, but it sounds plausible and would be so much less aggravating than cutting packaging tape into little hearts was!! 

It's so easy, a four-year-old can do it! And I'm not above child labor!

Step 1: Print cards

Step 2: Punch hearts out of packaging tape or contact paper

Step 3: Apply hearts to cards

Step 4: Paint and let dry

Step 5: Repeat step 4 as needed

Step 6: Mail


FINISHING

As a finishing touch we wrapped each card in paper string with a small charm attached that said “2016”. They’re the same type of charm that you get for graduation tassels, and I found them very cheap on etsy! Also some other designs of the same size.

I love the final look of these Save the Date cards, even though the more “rustic” elements didn’t ultimately carry through to our wedding design. Guests loved the lotto style scratch-off paint, too! 

Sorry the images are so dark and grainy but I worked on the Save the Date cards mostly in the evenings after work. 

CHECK BACK: I'll be adding high quality images of the finished Save the Date cards as soon as I have a chance to photograph them!


WEDDING WEBSITE

For our wedding website, I was able to grab the domain cakeandfireworks.com... which I'm tempted to keep even after the wedding, but I have no idea what I would use it for! I chose to host the site through squarespace because it's the service I use for this blog and I'm comfortable/familiar with it.

The initial design only had pages for Our Story, Accommodations, Activities, and Pre-RSVP. The design borrowed heavily from the Save the Date card design as you can see. 

The Pre-RSVP included a nifty form widget that Squarespace offers. When people fill it out, the results automatically populate a spreadsheet over at google docs. That might not sound super impressive, but it made me feel extremely organized!

Later on, after the invitations were finished, I uploaded PDF's of the planning booklets we'd included with our invitations. I also replaced the Pre-RSVP with a full RSVP form that had a check list of all the optional activities we wanted guests to consider. I added a "How to Book" page with all the contact information for Disney Weddings, Dining Reservations, park ticket prices, etc.  and a Registry page (even though we don't really have a traditional registry and aren't asking for gifts). 

In addition to our wedding website, I created a Facebook Group so that guests could virtually meeting and communicate directly between each other to help facilitate things like room sharing and carpooling. I'm hoping to make this social element more robust so that guests who couldn't attend our wedding are able to participate and follow the goings-on if they want to.

Disney Wedding Part 4 - Menu Tasting & Planning Session Trip

(April 2015, 7 months out)

Planning Visits for Disney Weddings are usually scheduled about 6 months out, but we already had a trip planned for April, so we decided to repurpose that trip for our Planning Visit. I’ve written previously about the Site Visit, which is all about seeing the Disney wedding venue options. The Planning Visit happens after you’ve signed a contract, and it’s your opportunity to sit down face-to-face with your planner to discuss options like flowers, decorations, add-ons and also to do a menu and cake tasting. Some couples have to do this remotely by phone, but my understanding is that most couples go down in person. I think going down in personally definitely helped because we went through a LOT of stuff and it was helpful to be able to see the examples of what we were discussing and to be face-to-face.

The planning visit and food tasting takes a full day. We set aside a day in the middle of our trip for it. In addition to the day we set aside, we also made an effort on our April trip to schedule a variety of meals specifically to try out the food--- at least, that was my reasonable sounding excuse. We booked several different dessert parties since we knew we were having a Fireworks Dessert Party and thought this would be a good way to reacquaint ourselves with the options (there is not a Dessert Party dessert menu tasting, alas!)

Ahead of your planning visit, you're given a lot of “homework” about the options available, and are asked to select a few cake options and menu options for your tasting. You're given long lists of delicious sounding goodies that you somehow have to narrow down to only 8 things to actually taste! It was really hard to narrow down the cake options, I wanted to try them ALL, but somehow we narrowed it down to 4 cakes and 4 frosting options.

The menu tasting options were a little easier for us to narrow down. First, we went through and removed everything we knew we didn’t like (anything with onions or mushrooms or fish was right out!) We are frequent Disney Diners -- we love Disney restaurants and over the past few years have made it a priority to try new restaurants on every trip – so we were able to remove a lot of other items that we’d eaten at the resorts or parks before (like the Brown Derby’s Signature Cobb Salad) and had a good memory of what they were like. That left a small list of things we were interested in, but hadn't tasted before, and we made our menu tasting choices from there. Still, it was a challenge... Disney has AWESOME food!


DESSERT PARTY RECON

  Polynesian Luau

Polynesian Luau

Much like with our Site Visit, we used our vacation time in Disney to do what reconnaissance we could on our own first. At every meal we paid special attention to ordering a variety of desserts and keeping note of the ones we liked and disliked.

Over the course of the week we ate at 1900 Park Fare (which had a huge dessert buffet and the famous Strawberry Soup!), Be Our Guest (where you can try the grey stuff, of course!), Akershus, Kona, the Polynesian Luau (where we found the perfect teal napkins!), the Boathouse, Hollywood&Vine (also a great dessert buffet!), Diamond Horseshoe, Grand Floridian café, and O’hana (oh that great paradise juice!). 

We’ve always loved Disney's food and especially desserts, but with our “wedding glasses” on we sampled more broadly and were a lot more critical of the treats.

  Cotton candy... just to be thorough.

Cotton candy... just to be thorough.

  Strawberry soup and other goodies from 1900 Park Fare.

Strawberry soup and other goodies from 1900 Park Fare.

  Be Our Guest (though the grey stuff is not our favorite, the strawberry cupcakes are to die for!)

Be Our Guest (though the grey stuff is not our favorite, the strawberry cupcakes are to die for!)

  The sundae from Kona @ the Polynesian!

The sundae from Kona @ the Polynesian!

  Breakfast buffet options.

Breakfast buffet options.

  Macaron taste-testing!

Macaron taste-testing!

We booked the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party as well, specifically to sample the desserts (OK, and also because we love to watch the fireworks from there, too!) At the Dessert Party, it felt like the treat options had been reduced from previous years, and that what options there were weren't as good as what we'd had before. This was disappointing. I did take the opportunity to chat up several servers about what were the most popular desserts. I figured that since they work the dessert party night after night, they'd have a great pulse on what people like, and they did have great suggestions: basically, they said, anything that comes in a little cup or mini glass is a winner!

All-in-all, our April vacation was a great trip for food as you can see! It was also our first time visiting the parks as annual pass holders and using the Tables-in-Wonderland discount, which made sense for us to buy because of the frequency of trips we are taking in 2016 due to the wedding!


 

PLANNING SESSION

Our planning session was on Thursday, smack dab in the middle of the trip. We sent our girls off to the parks with their grandmother and headed over to Franck’s Studio from the Polynesian resort for our appointment at 9:00am. There is a lovely little water-front walking path that connects the two resorts, and the wedding pavilion / Franck's is right at the end of it.

At Franck’s we met our wedding planner for the first time (our assigned planner was different than the one who’d shown us around for our site visit). Our planner spent some time getting to know us and our story. We discussed our likes and dislikes and ideas about what a wedding “should” be for us. She wanted to know what color scheme we’d settled on and I was supposed to have brought a swatch with me but I hadn’t actually selected my bridesmaids dresses yet (I’m such a slacker!)

Then we started going through the enormous list of things we needed to make decision on. Basically, this was a first pass. She marked down everything that we were slightly interested in to include in our wedding budget. The approach Disney takes is to put in everything you think you might want up front, and then they let you pare it down in later revisions. This allows you to get accurate pricing (because for many of the things we discussed, she had to request pricing). I will admit that the pessimistic side of me thought that this was an upsell strategy, but I found that the planning team totally expects you to pare down the budget and strip out things. They never once have made me feel guilty or “cheap” for removing items, and I really appreciated that!

This process was long and thorough. It helped us form a list of things we needed to go home and research that we hadn't even really thought about yet (First dance song? No clue. Who’s in the bridal party? Don’t know yet. Who’s escorting the moms? We’ll get back to you.)  We ended up with a really long list of TBDs, but we were also able to check off a lot of items fairly quickly. Cinderella’s carriage? Nope. Theme park photo shoot? Nope. Mickey at the reception? Nope.

  Not even this candle with Hidden Mickey gems on it...

Not even this candle with Hidden Mickey gems on it...

  ...or a castle cake! Though it's tempting!

...or a castle cake! Though it's tempting!

The planning staff were understanding that even though we were having a wedding AT Disney, we didn’t want to have a DISNEY Wedding. That is, we weren’t at all interested in any of the theming options that are the reason most couples choose Disney. That’s not to knock those couples in any way--- Disney does beautiful themed cakes and decorations. That just wasn’t the vision we had for our wedding. We chose Disney because of the convenience, quality of service, and value for our friends&family. Neither of us had ever had any desire to have Mickey at our wedding, and moving the location from Michigan to Orlando didn’t effect that vision. If anything, it had made my partner hyper sensitive and vigilant about keeping Disney separate and apart from our wedding day.

The one disappointing moment from our planning visit was when I realized that the ONLY Disney-themed item I WAS interested in having, the one thing I’d fantasized about having at my wedding for years, the awesome Projector Cake… was not something that we were going to be able to have. There were a couple of reasons. Firstly, we have a daytime reception in a well-lit venue which makes it less feasible. But also the cost was crazy-expensive. Like insanely crazy expensive. Like so expensive that no matter how much I wanted it in my heart there was absolutely no way to justify the cost. I work in technology and I had a number in mind that I thought was generous as to what that particular option would cost and then I doubled it to estimate what I thought Disney would charge. The actual cost was 3x that! I was jaw-on-the-floor shocked, to be honest. (And immediately started thinking about switching to a career in projector wedding cakes!) Also, that cost doesn't include an edible dessert to serve your guests. (Disney, if you're reading this, include a complimentary sheet cake or something with the projector cake in the future!)

Other than that one item though, we found the pricing for ‘enhancements’ to be very fair. Because they’re subject to change, I don’t want to get into particular numbers here, but I’d say they were right in line with what you’d pay for enhancements at any wedding venue. It helped that we weren’t interested in the ‘Disney-themed’ options, of course. Things like the Cinderella Castle Photo shoot and having the Carriage and characters at your wedding are the most deluxe and exclusive (and expensive) enhancements that Disney has to offer--- they’re THE reason many couples choose a Disney wedding. Keeping to our non-Disney theme had the unintended consequence of being a very frugal choice!

That’s not to say we didn’t have outlandish ideas. I’d always wanted to have Bubble tea and Mochi Ice cream at my wedding (which we discussed with the culinary team), and professional dancers… this one took a little explaining. What I had in mind was one or two classically trained dancers who would mingle with guests and dance with the singletons. As a super-shy socially-anxious person I always wished for something like this at the weddings I attended. I thought it would be super fun and set folks at ease / get people dancing if there was someone there to kind of teach them how. Look, we don't all know how to dance at weddings, OK? Disney offers an enhancement where you have actors arrive pretending to be lost tourists (yes, that’s a real thing!) and it has rave reviews, so I explained what I was envisioning basically as the same as that… but with dancing. A friend later summarized it as “Like the employees at the resort in ‘Dirty Dancing’ are supposed to be doing when they’re not having secret dance party in the employee lounge?” Yes, exactly! 

I’d also been wanting to have a silhouette artist here in Michigan for one of the girls’ birthday parties, which I never was able to coordinate due to the absolute lack of silhouette artists in Michigan. For the wedding, I thought that that would be a nice ‘bookish’ alternative to the more common cartoonist that you find at weddings, and of course Disney employs a team of silhouette artists in their parks! These specialty enhancements were all things that our wedding planner needed to put together custom estimates for.

Less glamorously, during the planning session we also sorted out our transportation plan. Disney offers vintage cars for the wedding couple, as well as ‘complimentary’ (the couple pays for it) bus transportation for guests from the select room blocked resorts to the wedding, and then from the wedding to the reception and so on. Our wedding planner seemed to think we needed a small fleet of vehicles, but I was skeptical.

Disney also provides photography and videography service. Our photography package choice was ultimately based on the number of hours of coverage we needed (because of our dessert party), not so much on the goodies. That said, the photography packages include a number of goodies, including complimentary theme park photo shoot and lots and lots of albums. We have a close friend who is a very successful wedding photographer in the metro Detroit area and Disney’s packages were actually less than what he charges. A really great value, and the peace of mind knowing you don’t have a manage yet another subcontractor yourself.


 

CAKE TASTING

The cake tasting took place at Franck’s a few hours into our overall planning visit, which was good because I hadn’t grabbed breakfast that morning and by the time the tray with little slivers of cake appeared I was famished. (After we made our choices, I unashamedly polished off the rejects!)

Look at these delicious slices of sugary goodness? Honestly, how can you choose just one? It was hard to pick just two!

For cakes we tasted: Yellow, Chocolate, Almond, and Red Velvet.

For Fillings/Frosting we tasted: White Chocolate Mousse, Amaretto Mousse, Buttercream, and Strawberry Jam.

All of Disney’s desserts are top-notch, and the pricing again is in line with what you’d expect to pay in any metro area. At the planning session we chose the Almond cake AND Red Velvet cake in alternating tiers, and we worked with the bakery team to come up with a design later via email. 


 

 

FLORAL PLANNING

After the cake tasting, we met with our floral coordinator who went through the enhancement options venue-by-venue. We have in total 5 venues as part of our wedding weekend that potentially could have floral enhancements, so there was a lot to cover. We decided to go with standard tables at our rehearsal dinner and farewell brunch, as those two venues don’t “need” any enhancement, in my opinion.

  The decorations in the wedding pavilion when we saw it on our site visit.

The decorations in the wedding pavilion when we saw it on our site visit.

For the ceremony we talked about swagging and floral that could be reused at the dessert party, but didn’t want an aisle runner. I even asked whether the floral coordinator could put together something like drapery to cover the big picture window overlooking Cinderella’s castle, and the Disney emblems on the arches at the wedding pavilion. To her credit, she didn’t miss a beat at these requests!

It's a lovely Disney view, but not what I had in mind for our wedding. And the logo on the arches irritates the graphic designer inside me. It makes me think of Venn diagrams, and that makes me think of work, and I don't want to be thinking about work at the wedding!

For the reception we went through piles of fabric swatches. It was really a handicap that I hadn’t picked out my bridesmaids dresses yet, and so if I was giving out advice I’d say 100% have your bridesmaids dresses picked out BEFORE your planning visit so you can match. It would have made things so much easier! Ultimately, after I had picked out the dresses, I mailed a swatch off to our coordinator and she was able to find the closest match.

Once we got home, our choices for floral 100% changed, of course as we developed a clearer picture of what we wanted our wedding "to be". We decided we DID want an aisle runner, but did NOT want swagging. We decided to block the view of Cinderella's Castle with a large floral arrangement instead of drapery, which we will be re-using at the reception. Our coordinator has been extremely patient and after something like 6 revisions we finally came up with a decoration plan that I’m super excited about for both the ceremony and the reception.

What I've loved most about working with our Disney floral coordinator is her willingness to make our centerpieces feel like “home”… if that makes sense. There are elements that I always wanted to have at my wedding ever since I was a little girl, specifically I’d always wanted to use my grandmother’s cut glass basket collection at my wedding as centerpieces and vintage books, and our floral coordinator has worked to bring these elements in even though they are very non-traditional for a Disney wedding. I think she’s excited about doing something out of the norm, too! I love thrift-shopping and finding vintage things, so I wanted to participate in finding objects, not just write a check, and she’s been open to me sending down the elements that I find and mixing them up with the items she is renting. I’m really excited about this fusion and I can’t wait to see what she puts together on the day of!


 

 

MENU TASTING

The menu tasting took place over at the Boardwalk and we had a brief break between the planning session at Franck’s and the appointment for the menu tasting. Unfortunately, we arrived late to the menu tasting because we were lost on Disney transportation. We learned the hard way that there is absolutely no direct route from the Grand Floridian to the Boardwalk area. I don't even remember now how we got there but there was a monorail and a bus and a boat from Hollywood Studios involved. It was awful!

At the earlier planning session when we’d been discussing transportation, I had been skeptical that we needed all the buses and vans that our planner was recommending. The first thing I did when we FINALLY reached the boardwalk was to apologize for my skepticism and tell her to put in whatever she thought was necessary for shuttling our guests around.

The culinary team had a spread ready for us when we arrived, and since I’d only had slices of cake so far that day to eat I was super excited to dig in! You are allowed to bring two guests with you, but since a menu tasting isn’t really an activity for kids, it was just my partner and I. It felt really weird to be served so exclusively, but the food was so delicious that I SOMEHOW managed to get over it!

Appetizers (from left to right): Mini Cuban Sandwiches, Smoked duck with mandarin orange and chili oil, Poached Granny Smith apples and brie in a quesadilla caramelized onion chutney, and Compressed truffle macaroni and cheese balls

Entrees: Tandoori and herb braised beef, Oven-roasted baked chicken stuffed with prosciutto, spinach, and fontina cheese, Oven-roasted chicken with chardonnay and toasted pine nut butter sauce, mashed boniato sweet potatoes with coconut milk. (Don't ask me which was which because I honestly don't remember!)

While we ate (I mean, sampled) we discussed with the culinary team our likes and dislikes: I dislike seafood, mushrooms, and onions with a vengeance. My husband is a bit of a foodie so he had a more refined list of preferences and questions for the chef.

The team described a new Nitrogen chocolate dessert that was being offered for the dessert party that sounded really amazing: basically, guests choose a frozen chocolate ball filled with unseen goodies like marshmallows and cake bites and other things, and then the on-stage chef pours hot caramel or fudge over it and the frozen chocolate melts away to reveal the goodies inside! It sounded delicious and super-fun!

To the credit of the culinary team, I pitched them my idea for having a Bubble Tea bar in lieu of alcohol and they didn’t laugh in my face, so that was better than I expected! In fact, they took down the information about my favorite bubble tea café in Ann Arbor, MI and contacted them to find out specifics about their suppliers and menu options, which I thought was especially thoughtful! At the end of the menu tasting, they had a little set of heart shaped cookie cutters to give to us a mementos, too! What a great day!!

When we got home we referred back to the many pictures of the delicious items we’d had at the menu tasting as well as at other meals on the trip. It really helped to put a “face to the name” on the endless lists of dishes.

One of the great things about doing a Disney wedding is that you don’t have to find your own caterer, it's all taken care of for you. The Disney Wedding team has access to, basically, whatever food you want from around Walt Disney World. Based on our own recon had some “wishes”: we loved the Strawberry Soup at 1900 Park Fare and the Frangipane from EPCOT France’s bakery, and the delicious breakfast juice from O’hana, and the culinary team was able to add these favorite treats to our farewell brunch along with iconic Mickey Waffles! For the Dessert party we were likewise able to customize the menu to include Macarons from EPCOT France, which is our daughter's favorite.  And, for the reception the catering team pulled together a Bubble Tea mini-bar based off my favorite café at home in Michigan which I think helps make our wedding very unique to us!


ATLANTIC DANCE HALL SITE VISIT

I mentioned in my review of our Site Visit that the one location we didn't see was the one we ultimately chose for our reception. Because our Menu Tasting was over at the boardwalk, afterward we took a little extra time to swing by the Atlantic Dance Hall to see it in person. It was sort of a superfluous effort because we'd already signed the contract, but it did help put the floral and decoration conversations into context.

One of the things we realized right away was just how large and over-powering the big blue curtain is! We asked our planner to look into options for breaking it up or using lighting to make it appear more teal than blue (by shining green lights on it). Turns out you can actually replace the curtain with another color curtain (though this solution was cost prohibitive for us, and we went with the uplighting solution instead). 

Another thing that we hadn’t done on our Site Visit was see the fireworks from Sago Cay Pointe. We'd watched videos online and felt confident that Disney fireworks are great from any angle, but we still wanted to see them ourselves. We rushed over one night just in time to catch the tail end and were reaffirmed that we'd made a good decision. The view from Sago Cay Pointe is absolutely fantastic and it made me even more excited for the dessert party at our wedding!

They look something like this (note, this isn't my video, but same view):


 

CONCLUSION

There were many things we discussed at the planning session that we ultimately decided weren’t really “us”. A big and controversial decision was that we've decided to forgo the traditional, tiered wedding cake.  The Disney bakery team was fantastic and worked with us to come up with a design that we were super excited about. But then as we started laying out the itinerary for the day, we began to realize that we had A LOT OF FOOD. I mean, A LOT. And we realized that the whole cake cutting ceremony and picture op wasn’t very important to us as much as we were concerned about stuffing our guests to the point where they felt sick. I am one of those people who absolutely hates food wastage and so the idea of the cake going to waste (because it would be served at 4:00 after a full buffet and cocktail hour!) really bothered me... especially since we were having a full dessert bar three hours later! I really love what we are doing as an alternative… you’ll have to wait and see because it’s a surprise!

We also pared back on the cocktail hour for this same reason, and replaced the hors d'oeuvres with a much simpler fruit spread considering that it'll be just 11:00 in the morning. I would have nixed it altogether, but my partner says we don't want to have folks drinking on an empty stomach! Along the same line of thinking, we regretfully decided that the frozen Nitrogen chocolate balls on top of a full dessert bar were probably sweets-overkill, and so we cut that out as well. 

We also cut out the Disney floral bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids and flower girls. I love the Disney bouquets I’ve seen online - they're great quality!- but I really wanted to be more involved than just being handed a bouquet on the morning of. One of my bridesmaids knew an amazing silk floral artist here in Michigan and I’ve been working with her to put together something that’s truly one-of-a-kind. It’s not less expensive, but it's very different than what I would have ended up with with Disney floral. What’s awesome is that the floral coordinator has been totally supportive of me pursuing this alternate, even though it cut out a chunk of work for her. She’s even letting us incorporate the bouquets into the decor for the rehearsal dinner and dessert party because I like the bouquets so much I don’t want to use them for just the ceremony only!

As I’ve mentioned a few times earlier in this post, re-use is something that’s really important to me and probably one of the biggest challenges that I’ve had personally about doing a Disney wedding. (“I have to pay how much for table clothes and I don’t get to keep them afterward?!” is a common complaint of mine). Our Disney floral coordinator has done a great job of coming up with ways to move and re-use floral from the ceremony to the reception, and then the reception to the dessert party. Because we are paying for our floral vases, we are even getting to “keep” the floral for the remainder of our trip and give bouquets away to our guests to brighten up their resort rooms. This was something I felt really strongly about and I love Disney floral for understanding how important it is to me--- even though it probably seems like a crazy request, they’ve never made me feel crazy or silly about wanting to do this.

I will admit that, months later, I’m still bummed about not having that projector cake I always dreamed of. But, to put it into perspective, it would have cost more than the ENTIRE dessert party… plus some… and you can’t eat it! I just couldn’t justify the cost to myself. Though, I do always ask the planner whenever we chat whether there’s a discount or projector cake coupon. And I’m not gonna lie, if the projector cake just somehow showed up I’d be spending the entire evening like this…

Some other items we eventually removed after our Planning Session were the staged exit (I hated the idea of having a bunch of people throwing confetti or rose petals or bubbles at me), having a photo booth, and the vintage car… which I thought was important to my partner, but turned out he would rather rent a luxury modern car for the entire week instead of the old timey vintage car for an hour! We’re also forgoing things like the garter and bouquet toss (because we have very few single friends coming), though as of the writing of this post we’re still holding on to the swing dancers, silhouette artist, and bubble tea bar! 

After returning from the April planning trip, we immediately got down to business assembling our full wedding invitations, which were at the printers' while we were away. I wrote about that project in detail here.

Check back for my next post which is all about how we managed to get 30 ADR's for Cinderella's castle!