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Real Disney Weddings – Michelle and Freddy

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Hello everyone!  We had such a great response to our first Real Disney Weddings feature, so I’m excited to bring you another one!  This one comes from Michelle and Freddy.  You may recall we featured A LOT of Michelle’s great Disney inspired DIY (Part One and Part Two), including her Hidden Mickey Scavenger Hunt.  Now Michelle is back to give us a little more detail about her wedding planning, the Big Day, and most importantly, she shares her budget!

If you are enjoying this new feature, please leave me a comment and let me know!

(Please note the dollar figures provided were the rates at the time this couple signed their contract, and are subject to change at any time.)

All photos are by Disney Fine Art Photography.


Disney Bride:  Michelle Boudreau, 32, New Jersey

Disney Groom: Freddy Ortiz, 40, New Jersey

Wedding date: 8/9/10
Ceremony: Disney’s Wedding Pavilion
Reception: Narcoossee’s
Total budget:  about $35,000
Guest count: 38

Why did you choose a Disney wedding?  I wanted something that would be as fun for the kids to attend as it was for the adults. Me and my whole family are total Disney freaks and had season passes (including myself who lives in New Jersey). My parents and grandparents live in Central Florida so it was more convenient for them.  And finally, we have been doing everyone’s birthday in a special way at Disney, which usually involved staying on Disney property for at least 1 day and doing a bunch of exciting and cool stuff.  Unfortunately, my birthday is New Year’s Eve.  The busiest day of the year at Disney.  So we knew I was never going to do my birthday at Disney.  This was a way for me to have a special day at Disney.

How did your family/friends react to your Disney wedding?  They loved it and thought it was a cool idea.  Since Disney isn’t cheap, I sent out Save the Dates 11 months in advance of the wedding so people would have the chance to save money if they needed to.

What was your theme?  Tropical Beach Mickey

What was your biggest challenge in planning your Disney wedding?  Budget.  I have amazing parents, who paid for my wedding.  When I asked what my budget for the wedding was, my Dad said: “It’s your big day, if you want it, have it.”  Which is every girls dream, until it becomes a reality.  I think the reason my parents said that was because they knew I would be reasonable about the budget, but it was agony.  There were things I wanted that they would say, “We don’t need that,” before I could say I wanted it.  I spent more than one day crying over the budget, truthfully.  I was really in a Disney movie, I was the daughter in “Father of the Bride”… my Dad had the looks down perfectly.  Finally I came to a point where I told myself, “They said if I wanted it, have it, I’m going to take them at their word.”  

I went around to my Mom, Dad and Sister and asked honestly, if they could change one thing about the wedding planning, what would it be?  To my surprise, this opened a little more dialog to let them in on why I wanted some of the things they thought we didn’t need.  The best example is linens for the reception.  The restaurant provides linens, so why pay more for linens when the restaurant has them right?  Sounds like an easy place to save money, and it is, but to me if I used the venue’s linens it would be like going to the restaurant for dinner.  I didn’t want it to be like any other meal there; it was my wedding.  When they heard that, they understood, so we changed the napkins instead of the table clothes and used napkins in all the colors from my wedding to make it more colorful (I had a really colorful wedding) and just changing the napkins had a HUGE impact.

Tell us about your ceremony.  Did you include any Disney touches? All the music for the ceremony, with the exception of the song my husband walked out to, were songs from Disney movies.  There were Mickeys in my bouquet, and you could see Cinderella’s Castle from the Wedding Pavilion.  The program fans were Mickey heads with a Mickey and Minnie hugging with hearts on the front.  Truth be told, I didn’t have a lot of decor for my ceremony either.  I didn’t have a long ceremony, so people weren’t going to be there for long, so we didn’t want to put a lot of money into it.  The Pavilion is already beautiful by itself, and I would rather put the money towards the reception.

Describe your reception.  Was it completely traditional or did you do anything unique?  I had almost all the traditions, but I did do some things my way.  I asked my husband if he wanted to see me before the ceremony, he said no, and I kind of wanted to wait until I walked down the aisle for him to see me too, so we did that traditionally.  It was family only, and most are married/older, so we didn’t do a bouquet or garter toss (good thing too because I forgot to wear my garter). 😉  We had a cake, but that was because my Dad insisted on it.  I wasn’t going to have one; we wanted a dessert bar, so we ended up having both.  I didn’t do a traditional father/daughter dance.  My husband isn’t close to his mother, and I didn’t want him to feel like he had to have a mother/son dance because I had a father/daughter dance, but I had always dreamed of dancing with my Dad on my wedding day so instead of the DJ announcing it was the bride with her father, I had him invite all of the father’s and daughter’s up to dance.  I have a picture of my cousin with his 3 daughters – that’s priceless!!!!  I tried to bring Disney to my reception.  To me, I was getting married at Disney.  Why get married at Disney if it isn’t going to scream Disney!!!  I had a Tropical Beach Mickey theme, with Mickey EVERYWHERE, including a surprise visit by Mickey himself (a present from my parents that I didn’t know about).  We had a hidden Mickey game to bring in some of the magic from the parks, there were Mickeys in my bouquet, I wore Mickey earrings, I tried to put in as much as I could.

What did you splurge on?  Where did you save money?  I read somewhere online when I was planning for my wedding, that the best way to ensure you were on budget was to think of the two things that meant the most to you, and don’t compromise on those.  Everything else was negotiable.  I knew the things that were the most important to me were food and photography.  I made arrangements to split my photography package so that there was a photographer at the rehearsal dinner as well.  I thought we could take a lot of the family shots then, so that fewer needed to be taken on the wedding day and my husband and I could enjoy the cocktail hour and reception as well.  My husband and I also splurged to make sure my parents got the perfect album to remember our day.  We saved money on videography by asking all the family members that had camcorders to bring them and use them at the ceremony and reception, then we got copies so that we could edit them all together.  My whole family is a bunch of foodies, so even my Dad agreed that nothing should be held back for food.  We had a HUGE amount and all different things so people had a variety to choose from.  Also, ask about children’s meals, they are cheaper than the per-person cost of the reception food and can save you money, and give the kids something they will definitely like at the reception.

We also saved money on the ceremony decor.  I picked a venue that was beautiful in it’s own right so I could get away with not doing much to it.  I was a David’s Bridal bride, and I had a beautiful dress that took my breath away the first time I saw it on me, which is how I knew it was the one.  I wanted personalized napkins, but I didn’t want to spend a fortune on them so I found them on TheKnot.com shop and paid less than $100 for 200 cocktail napkins and 200 hors d’ oeuvres napkins.  I was having a tropical themed wedding, and I wanted everyone to have a lei, but those are REALLY expensive when you get them out of real flowers (even for as few as 38 people).  A friend of mine said that she knew how to make leis out of ribbons and that she would make them for me for the cost of the supplies.  I got to pick ribbon colors that went perfectly with my wedding and they were something people could keep forever.

We wanted booze at the wedding, but didn’t want a premium bar so we had a few signature cocktails and a generic bar to save a little money.  We did splurge and get the Fairy Tale Wedding Cuvee for the champagne toast though since it was a Disney wedding.  We also saved money on attire.  Since it was a tropical beach Mickey theme, it wasn’t formal so my husband didn’t have to buy/rent a suit/tux.  We got him and the best man a really cool Hawaiian shirt that matched with the theme and they wore beige slacks.  My maid of honor wore a Hawaiian dress that was only about $50 (much less than a bridesmaid dress).  We also saved money on the center pieces.  I had different center pieces on the immediate family tables with more floral, but the other tables had minimal floral and colored sand in the vases. Less floral in the center pieces kept costs WAY down.

What was your favorite moment of the day?  I was surprised by Cinderella’s Carriage (I planned for a Model A Ford).  My Dad wasn’t keen on the idea of the carriage in the beginning because of the cost but my Mom told him I was getting married at Disney and every Princess needs a carriage.  My wedding was amazing, I loved every part.  Mickey is my favorite character so having him there was awesome, but nothing will ever top seeing that carriage for the first time and knowing it was for me.  A close second would be our wedding cake.  It was amazing and a total surprise to me and my husband.  We gave total control to the chefs at the Grand Floridian and the trust that they would never make anything less than beautiful, and we were right. They asked a few questions about our theme and colors, and no one knew until the wedding day what it would look like.  It was amazing!  I even got to meet the Chef that made my cake, Chef Ellen DiGiovani and I am still in contact with her today.

What would you change if you had to do it all over again?  Unfortunately, my planner.  Because there were the two surprises for me (the Mickey appearance and the Cinderella’s carriage), two sets of BEOs (Banquet Event Order, aka, the budget sheet) had to be kept.  I meticulously planned my wedding and had rearranged a few things to something that I preferred, those changes didn’t make it to the real BEO.  Additionally, not all my menu options made it to the real BEO either for the same reason.  And I had expressly said that there was to be no pork or beef at my reception (my husband doesn’t eat them and I wanted him to be able to have EVERYTHING at our wedding) and they put panchetta in one of the pastas (which also was a problem since the pasta dishes were my vegetarian option they put meat in both – and I had a vegetarian at the wedding).  Also, my husband said he would have liked an aisle runner at the ceremony, which I didn’t realize, but I would change that and have one for him if we could go back.

What advice would you give to couples that have just started planning their Disney wedding?
1) Think about what you want.  Tell your planner.  Your planner knows your budget, you discuss it, don’t not tell them you want something just because you don’t think you can afford it, tell them EVERYTHING you want. Sometimes they might have something that’s more affordable that is similar, sometimes they can help you figure out other things to adjust in the budget so you can get it.  Tell your planner all your wishes and dreams, it’s Disney, and you never know what magic is lurking around a corner and what can happen.
2) Remember, it’s about getting married.  At the end of the day, if you are married to the love of your life, the rest really doesn’t matter.
3) People have opinions about what to do for your wedding.  Listen, take the ideas if you want to, but remember it’s your day and you should do it your way.
4) Find ways to make the wedding about you and your husband-to-be.  Everyone says it’s the “Bride’s Day” but you wouldn’t have that day without him.  It’s about celebrating both of you and you coming together, make it about both of you.  Adding a few things in there that are about you that maybe no one else knows makes the day that much more special. (example –  I only used Gerbera Daisies in my wedding because they are the flower my husband gave me when we were dating, he said that they are bright, vibrant, fun and full of life, like me.)

Budget breakdown

Venue:  $3195 (after tax)
Food/Drink:  $8353.70
Floral:  $2980.87
Other Decor (chairs/linens):  $132
Officiant:  $250 (including rehearsal)
Ceremony Music:  $0
Reception Music:  $1150 (DJ)
Other Entertainment:  $800 (Mickey Mouse appearance)
Favors:  $462.90 (we did a chocolate favor with a tag stating that a charitable donation was made in honor of their being at our wedding)
Photography:  $3650 (Disney Fine Art Photography)
Videography:  $0
Bride’s attire:  $748 (includes fittings and bustle)
Hair/Makeup:  About $600 (included bride, Maid of Honor, mother of the bride, Aunt of the Bride, 3 flower girls and touch ups for everyone)
Groom’s attire:  $50

About Mindy

Mindy Marzec is a life-long Disney fan who grew up in Los Angeles. She started This Fairy Tale Life to share Disneyland travel tips for adults. When not at Disneyland, you can find Mindy at home snuggling with her cats and re-watching Thor: Ragnarok for the billionth time.