Who wants to see a bazillion photos from Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings’ 2019 Bridal Showcase at Walt Disney World?! (If you’d rather listen to this post, check out the Bridal Showcase recap episode this week on the Disney Wedding Podcast!)
Florida’s showcase was held on March 2, 2019 in the brand-new Newport wing of the Yacht Club Convention Center. Last year’s showcase occurred smack in the middle of our snowy anniversary trip to Disneyland Paris, so I was thrilled to be able to attend this time. (The bridal showcase I missed this year was Disneyland’s, since it was incomprehensibly scheduled for the same day as the Academy Awards!)
This year’s showcase ran from 2pm to 6pm and consisted of an expo in the Newport Ballroom, a self-guided wedding venue tour around Crescent Lake, an extra-cost IllumiNations dessert party inside Epcot, plus the debut of a shop selling Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings-branded merchandise. A ticket cost $45, or $115 with the private IllumiNations dessert party. Both events sold out.
New this year was a mobile site for the event containing the agenda, a map of the venues, an FAQ and continuous notifications about events and changes. Disney sent around a helpful email with instructions on adding a shortcut to the site to your phone’s home screen so you could easily access it like an app.
I thought the mobile site was a great idea, even if it was a little Web 1.0 (are those remnants of the Go Network I spy?). It was great to have the names of all the venues, a map and notifications all in my phone.
However, judging by the number of people who stopped me to ask for directions to the venue tour (apparently I’ve got a cast member kind of face!) not many attendees knew about the app. Maybe a paper map stuck in the swag bag would have helped.
Wedding Venue Walking Tour
This year, Disney skipped the breakout sessions, private menu tastings and David Tutera appearances of past showcases in favor of a self-guided walking tour of wedding venues around Crescent Lake, and I LOVED IT! Of course, I am a weirdo whose hobby is collecting photos of Walt Disney World’s wedding venues so that couples can see the myriad options available and envision their own events in those locations. So the chance to shoot these venues all set up for weddings sans guests was irresistible.
It was also a twofer because you got to see even more floral and decor options and ideas at each site. I notice that one of the things couples most request is photos and pricing for floral and decor, but since Disney Floral custom designs everything for Wishes couples, there isn’t, like, a list of photos with prices. This at least gave couples an idea of what Disney can do so they have somewhere to start.
Poolside Green — BoardWalk Inn
I’d never made much of an effort to track down photos of Poolside Green because it seems like nobody really uses it—probably because it’s right next to a pool! It also rivals The Attic for “Most Difficult Venue to Find.” For future reference, it is here:
But the beauty of this venue tour was that Disney had put out examples of both ceremony and reception setups at Poolside Green, and suddenly the location was gorgeous!
You can see the rest of the bazillion photos I took (including floral and decor closeups) on my Poolside Green wedding venue photo page.
The Attic — BoardWalk Inn
I didn’t really need any photos of the Attic because I have so many fabulous ones from The Roots on my Attic wedding venue photo page. But I have been in love with the Attic since the moment I first gazed upon its shiny floors during our wedding site visit. And since it is usually locked, this was a rare opportunity to see it again in person.
The Attic is notorious for being at the end of a very long, very winding hallway. We were initially discouraged from using it just because of its distance from the lobby. But I went striding off from Poolside Green, confident I could recall exactly how to get there all these years later—until I ran smack into a dead-end on the third floor, retraced my steps, detoured down the first stairwell I saw, and ended up standing back outside, just steps from Poolside Green! (Note to self: The hotel side and the DVC side of BoardWalk Inn only connect through the lobby!)
When I finally did find The Attic, a wave of nostalgia passed over me, and I soaked up the atmosphere—especially that fantastic view! I know some people think the decor is too granny-ish, and I’m not crazy about the bland sage green chair covers they introduced a few years ago (the floral print was crazy, but it looked so much more interesting in photos). But it’s so well-themed! Even if the theme isn’t my taste, it still makes the Attic feel like a real place with real history. (And don’t get me started on the blandification of the rooms over at the Beach Club!)
Since none of my photos could possibly do the Attic the justice that the Roots do, I’ll just put in two and direct you to my Attic wedding venue photo page for more!
Yacht Club Marina
I feel like this is another underappreciated gem. Yes, it is right on the main path around Crescent Lake, but the space is so wide that you can actually set up a smaller event a fairly good distance from the flow of traffic. And the views across to the BoardWalk and Sea Breeze Point are spectacular. You can even see the high fireworks from Epcot at night!
I have a ton more photos—like fireworks at an actual wedding!—on my Yacht Club Marina wedding venue photo page.
This is another spot for which I already have many many much-better photos taken by The Roots. But I stuck my head in cuz it was right around the corner from the expo.
Check out my Ariel’s wedding venue photo page for an extensive collection of fabulous shots of real weddings at this location!
I didn’t visit the other venues because I already have so many great Root shots of them. Also because it was 86 degrees and humid as H. E. double hockey sticks! Click the links below to see what they look like.
Bridal Showcase Expo
I sneaked over the day before to take a picture of the empty Newport Ballroom before Disney set off its wedding glitter bomb inside.
Because I wanted photos with as few people in them as possible, I agonized over the best touring strategy: Should I hit the showcase first-thing to beat the crowds and then tour the presumably less crowded venues? Or should I tour the venues while everyone bum-rushed the expo and then hit the convention hall? I took a sort of halfway approach that did not work very well, visiting a few venues first, then dropping in on the convention at 2:30pm, so my advice to others who can’t stand crowds is: Do the venue tour first and hit the expo during its last two hours!
(And according to my guest on this week’s Bridal Showcase Recap episode of the podcast, I could have gotten there an hour before doors opened and still been in a huge mob at 2pm!)
My strategy did help me avoid standing in this queue to pick up my credentials!
Attendees were given tote bags containing a bunch of promotional materials, a nifty glass slipper bottle opener, and a gift certificate to world-famous bridal shop Kleinfeld for $250 (which should pay for about one bobby pin!).
The halls leading to the Newport Ballroom were lined with additional vendors and experiences.
I found it interesting that Disney Springs’ MAC was doing the makeovers this year rather than the usual Disney-approved cosmetologists who can actually come to your room on the day of the wedding. I’m not sure how many brides are really going to shlep over to Disney Springs on the morning of their wedding when they could have someone come to them!
The ladies at Senses Spa kindly posed for my photo.
I thought this idea was genius: Disney had a quartet set up in different areas throughout the showcase to play for attendees so they could get a feel for what it would be like to have them at their wedding ceremony or reception. Not pictured is the uber-talented Robert Kerr, whom I interviewed on the Disney Wedding Podcast a few years back and who gets rave reviews from brides and grooms for his ability to play just about any request made by wedding guests.
Judging from the Instagram hashtag, this photo spot was a hit with showcase attendees.
The first thing you saw when you entered the Newport Ballroom was a bevy of lovely ladies in wedding gowns…
… to help distract you from the utter chaos of lines that snaked from each of the four food-tasting stations, winding so far around the central core of pipe-and-drape that each one practically touched the next.
Speaking of pipe-and-drape, allow me to geek out for a second about the fact that each section was styled differently so you could see multiple options. Sure, Disney’s prices for it are ungodly expensive and (if you’re in a ballroom) you should probably use an outside vendor, but… isn’t it cool?
Disney also provided a bar and one free drink ticket to help wash down all the dollar signs.
I spent a few minutes trying to shoot photos between the gaps in the food lines and over the heads of the mob but finally gave up and went back to the venue tour instead. So most of the rest of these photos are from the last hour of the showcase…
Let’s break down what there was to see!
As everyone who is me knows, the most important part of any wedding is the cake! This year Disney set up a different cake in each of the four themed floral-and-decor displays instead of keeping them all in the dedicated cake section (a very good idea considering that the cake samples were so mobbed for so long that otherwise you’d never have been able to see these cakes!).
Some of the cakes were the same ones displayed at last year’s bridal showcase with few or no changes, but the blue and coral “La Donna Nerina” cake had a sweet story behind it: The pastry chef created it to honor her Italian grandmother.
It would have been nice to see at least one really Disney-themed cake, like the Alice In Wonderland themed cake of 2014. It was also disappointing not to see any of the Escape cake designs, but maybe that has something to do with the rumored redesign coming down the pike.
They also had a few sculptural samples on display, including the perennially popular white chocolate castle cake topper, but few of the hand-painted flowers and none of the white chocolate character figurines of years past.
This year the cake samples were efficiently squiggled with accompanying mousse flavors, which seemed like a much better way to taste the two together than previous incarnations.
Floral & Decor
Once again, Disney pulled out all the stops with floral and decor. This is always one of my favorite parts of the bridal showcase because you get to see a ton of new ideas in person, rather than just squinting at Pinterest. It’s also helpful because Disney doesn’t have a list of all the floral and decor options to choose from. It’s more like, “What do you want? We’ll make it happen!” — which is great if you do know what you want but super-frustrating if you don’t.
In addition to four themed tables, Disney had dressed each spot on the wedding venue tour to the nines, so it was like getting to see bonus floral and decor ideas. You can see more at the links in the Wedding Venue Walking Tour section, above.
It felt like Disney was attempting a lot of high-concept dishes at this year’s showcase, including a vegetarian option, which, of course, is wonderful. Unfortunately, a lot of them just didn’t translate in a buffet environment (especially the fish… when has buffet fish ever been the correct temperature or consistency?). I would like to have seen at least one station serving Disney Wedding Greatest Hits—you know, the stuff all the brides rave about! Things that you constantly see recommended—like cheeseburger spring rolls—would’ve been nice to try.
This year, Disney had two large stations set up where you could wait to speak with a wedding planner or sales consultant, and it was all hands on deck! I think this feature alone is probably worth the price of admission, especially if you are too far out in your planning to be able to speak with Disney under regular circumstances. Some people thought the wait was too long, so maybe it would be a good idea to do a mix of appointments, as in years past, and walkups.
I was wondering what Disney would do now that Alfred Angelo has shut down, but instead of scrapping the usual wedding gown display, they partnered with the world famous Kleinfeld (of Say Yes to the Dress fame) to bring a bevy of beautiful gowns to the showcase. I always feel sorry for the models, who have to stand around awkwardly trying to look chic while we treat them like mannequins as we jostle to get photos.
Across the way was an exhibit by Disney Floral & Gifts of some of the floral and gift basket options (with prices!) you can order for delivery to your resort room.
They were even selling small bouquets for those of us who wished to swan about like Miss America (and when you were done swanning, it made a great floral arrangement for your hotel room!).
At the same table, partner vendor Keepsake Floral had a few samples of its bouquet-preservation work—including this unusual lantern with a photo and a few flowers from the wedding floral arrangements.
In the far corner, Disney had assembled three of their approved videography vendors.
One of the niftiest offerings was this virtual-backdrop photo booth, which turned out surprisingly great composited photos of attendees in front of various Disney backgrounds.
Mindy of This Fairy Tale Life kindly shared her photo with me so you can see how seamless the integration is!
I wasn’t sure what could possibly be on display at the Disney Honeymoons booth, since Disney doesn’t actually offer honeymoon vacation packages. It was the “limited time” the Enchanted Evening package with the special Magicbands and access to Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After fireworks dessert party, which keeps being extended further into the year.
Disney’s Vero Beach and the Disney Cruise Line each had a table promoting their weddings.
It was helpful to see a sample bouquet and one of the standard cakes available with DCL weddings.
Disney Fine Art Photography’s booth is always a great place to check out samples of the myriad album types they offer, which can be overwhelming for couples. It also gives you the opportunity to speak with one of their photographers in advance. Even though you can’t guarantee you’ll get that person for your wedding, it could help you narrow down your request list.
Impressions: Themes Come True is one of the only vendors authorized to use Disney iconography and images in stationery, AND the owner, Shelley, created the beloved white chocolate castle cake toppers seen on so many Disney wedding cakes. You can hear an interview I did with her on the Disney Wedding Podcast to learn more!
And, last but not least, Disney had a roving caricature artist lurking around the fringes of the room, secretly sketching brides and then surprising them with their caricatures—which I’m sure was not as creepy to them as it appeared to me. I gave him a taste of his own medicine by secretly taking this awful photo, but he wasn’t interested in keeping it—go figure!
IllumiNations Dessert Party
For an extra $70, guests could buy a ticket to a private IllumiNations dessert party held at Italy Isola that evening. This might’ve been the thing I was most excited for—I am heartbroken over the impending demise of IllumiNations, so this was a chance to see it one last time from a really great spot.
We met the event guides at International Gateway at 8:20 pm and were escorted over to Italy. I thanked my lucky stars that I’d run into Mindy and Sandy in line, because they kindly thought to save me a seat while I darted around taking really bad photos of desserts in the dark.
…But if I’d actually been LOOKING at what I was shooting, I ‘d have seen it was a DIY ice cream sandwich bar! YUM.
I was really glad it was so dark out there on Italy Isola, cuz I was sobbing through the whole show.
Afterward, we three Disney uber-planners inundated the poor mother-daughter duo sitting at our table with dozens of wedding-planning tips after they said they felt like they hadn’t been able to get any concrete info out of the planner they spoke to because the wedding is in December 2020. Hopefully we didn’t fill their heads so full of trivia that some of the important stuff spilled out!
The Bottom Line
Is a Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings Bridal Showcase worth making a special trip to Walt Disney World?
- If you are planning a Wishes event but not close enough to your date that Disney will speak to you, YES.
- If you are planning and Escape event and want to taste the cake, plus the package with extras or add any type of catered event, YES.
- If you are already working with a sales consultant or a planner on your Wishes wedding, MMMMAAAAYBE…. If you can swing an extra trip, the floral, decor, food and cake ideas might be worth it. But I wouldn’t choose this over a planning session trip if you can only afford one.
And if you’re wondering whether there will be another one of these next year, Disney doesn’t really have a set schedule for these showcases. But they managed to get two up within a year of each other, so the answer is “probably”!