Disney Bride Larissa is planning a Disneyland Escape wedding at the Adventure Lawn Gazebo and Napa Rose Terrace for October 2016.
First off, let me start by saying I am a HUGE Disneyland fan! My fiancé Mike and I have been to Disneyland four times in the last five years. I refuse to go anywhere else. “The Happiest Place on Earth” truly is just that for me. As a person who has high stress levels and can never seem to shut off her brain, the moment I walk into the general vicinity of Disneyland and I can hear the Disney music playing in the background … it’s like it’s calling me home and brings me peace of mind, body, and soul. Nothing puts a smile to my face faster than the mention of anything Disney related.
Mike and I have been a couple for almost five years and when he proposed on April 5, 2015, I knew right away, and I am sure he did too, I would want to have a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding.
After a few days of enjoying the fresh feeling of being engaged, I started to seriously think about if having a Disney Wedding was possible. I had many discussions with Mike regarding budget, timelines, and pretty much everything under the sun, and in the end he simply said, “Is this what will make you happy?” I didn’t even have to think about it; the resounding answer was “YES!” It was the only wedding location I could look back on and not have any regrets.
But it just wouldn’t be a wedding without some bumps and bruises along the road to the alter. There are bound to be a few things that go wrong, more than a few things that cause stress, and that one family member who you secretly wish you could remove from the guest list. In the end, you hope it will all work out and goes off without a hitch. That the blood, sweat, and many tears I am sure we have all shed at some point during the planning process will all be worth it.
However, there is one thing that can really put a damper on your planning. One thing that can keep you up at night questioning all your decision making and whether or not a destination wedding is really worth all the trouble it appears to be causing …
As a destination bride-to-be, I am sure we have all received some of this at one point or another during our planning journeys. What do you do? How hard do you push back, if at all? How do you convince people it’s worth it to travel to Anaheim for a wedding? Truth be told, you can’t. You cannot convince anyone to spend their hard earned cash on a trip to Disneyland, or anywhere. Sadly, not all your friends and family are going to be Disney fanatics like you. Most of your guests probably haven’t been to Disneyland in years, if at all, and have zero plans in the future to do so.
To be completely honest, Mike wanted to elope in Cabo and get married under a waterfall and then come home to Canada and have a reception for all our family and friends. I was adamant that I wanted a small Disney wedding surrounded by family and friends. He wanted me to be happy so he agreed.
I could never quite understand why Mike wanted to elope so bad … until I had to start finalizing the guest list.
Right off the bat, when I sent out Save the Dates and the travel agent gave me the due dates for the guests’ deposits, I started receiving emails about how the dates just didn’t work for them. It was too soon and too expensive. What could I say? If people couldn’t pay the deposit in time, who was I to judge? So I requested the date be moved forward by a month. Luckily the travel agent did this without a whimper or complaint.
However, when I started getting emails from family suggesting that I should perhaps consider having my wedding local so it would be “easier” on me and Mike, that just made me think, easier for whom? Mike and I already announced our wedding in Anaheim, why would we change our minds now? What could possibly make me change my mind about my dream wedding destination?
I started having to chase down various guests to get them to even provide us with an answer about whether they were going to attend or not. Just like that, in the first week after RSVPs were due, we went from 18 guests down to 15 guests.
Now when you have an Escape Wedding (18 guests max) you only can invite your closest family and friends. So when anyone declines their invite, you must admit, it hurts just a bit. You start to question whether the reasons they gave you for not attending are the real reasons. It can mess with your head and before you know it you are up for all hours of the night worrying about your guest list and if anyone will be at your wedding at all!
Mike said not to worry and this is exactly what he expected to happen from the beginning. I began to think Mexico may not be such a bad idea …
At this point, things started to really fall apart. I kept trying to get confirmations from our invited guests with no luck. My dad also informed me that due to work related reasons he won’t be able to confirm attendance until September and since he didn’t want to leave me high and dry, it was best to consider him not attending at this point.
I tried to push it from my mind and focus on other aspects of the wedding. Sadly, there were always the voices in my head saying, “You lost your dad, what happens if you don’t have a bridesmaid either? Who is going to walk you down the aisle? Who is going to help you get ready in the morning? To just be there and support you on the most important day of your life?”
You begin to be consumed by the negative. Your mind is always on the “what ifs.” I was driving Mike crazy because all I could talk about was my concern regarding if any of our guests would actually attend our wedding.
Mike couldn’t stand seeing me so upset. He said, “Don’t worry, just leave it alone and everything will work itself out”.
Sadly I kept thinking about it and along the way, I lost three more guests that meant the world to me. I felt alone and heartbroken. That all the people I loved would not be there with me on my special day.
I spoke to my Maid of Honor and found out that the time off she had requested was still not approved and wouldn’t be until August, and there were now some financial issues affecting her attendance. I told her it may be best for her to step down as Maid of Honor if she couldn’t commit. I explained about the stress it was causing me and I just couldn’t wait anymore. She understood and promised to still help with my bridal shower in June.
An hour later, I asked my other best friend if he was coming or not and he also had to say no as he had just taken a trip that had affected him more financially then he had anticipated. I can’t lie, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear. What bride would? I was hurt, angry frustrated, but mostly sad. These were two of the people I cared about more than anyone else. We have been friends for over a decade. I couldn’t imagine not having them at my side at my wedding. I told myself I can’t beat myself up over things I couldn’t control, yet I continued to do so.
At an all-time low, I even considered giving up on the Disneyland wedding and getting married at home. Why? Because I was trying to ensure who I felt was important to be at my wedding were actually there. I felt there was no way I could be happy without these specific people. I wanted to be accommodating, even if it meant sacrificing the venue I really wanted.
Mike said “Honey, does it really matter who’s there? Does it really matter who comes? As long as you and I are there that is all that matters”.
I then thought to myself “Exactly!” This day is about us. There could be no one else there and I would still remember this as the best day of my life.
This was the turning point for me.
I woke up the next day and voila! I felt so much better! The things that had been causing such a dark cloud around my mind were gone! The guest list was solidified – no more guessing. There was no more resistance from family and no more thoughts about changing locations.
I even asked another friend/guest to step in as my Maid of Honor and she happily accepted and is looking forward to going shopping and buying herself a new dress for the event. As Mike has been saying all through the process, “Things happen for a reason.”
What I learned from all this was – 1) I should have listened to Mike and eloped (just kidding…sort of), and 2) as a destination bride you cannot let other people control your happiness. You need to do what’s best for you and your partner. No one else should be given the power to make you second guess your choices or make you feel like your day is a hassle or an inconvenience.
So forget about the initial resistance you may have received. Focus on why you are there in the first place. LOVE! I know that sounds cheesy and cliché, but it’s true.
When you’re so stressed that you are tempted to finish off that bottle of wine you have hidden in the kitchen, remember why you picked Disneyland as your destination in the first place. There is a magic there that you cannot find anywhere else. What you feel when you walk through those gates cannot compare. If that is your dream, then dream on, baby!
This is your day! It’s about you and the love you share with another human being. People will be there if they can. If they can’t, you can still move forward and hope those people are thinking of you on your wedding day.
In the end, your family and friends may not be there, but the person who matters the most is.
And do you want to know the best part? You now get to spend the rest of your life with him or her.