Orlando Weddings and Honeymoons
Thanks to the diversity of botanical garden backdrops and fantastical theme park settings, Orlando is a popular destination for showers, weddings, and honeymoons. Starry-eyed young couples and, more and more, older couples who are marrying for the second time or are renewing their vows in the wedding-vacation-reunion of a lifetime travel from across America and around the world to mark their memorable moment here.
More than anyone else, Disney has created a cottage industry from weddings. Just visit www.disneyweddings.com, and you can begin designing the nuptials of your dreams, picking and choosing among hundreds of locations and enhancements until your imagination (or bank account) runs dry. One bride made an entrance in Cinderella's glass coach; her groom rode in on a white horse. A thrill-seeking couple took the free-fall plunge on the Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Two couples, on separate occasions, tied the knot in the middle of their Walt Disney World Marathon run, exchanging vows in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. Moonlight on the Ritz-Carlton lawn set the scene for another couple's romantic vow exchange, and a rooftop Orlando wedding wowed yet another couple's guests with a 360-degree view of the downtown skyline and scenic Lake Eola Park.
Showers and bachelor and bachelorette parties are easy to arrange in a city where there's so much to do—provided you have a lot of money to spend. At Disney, the Mad Hatter can show up for a bridesmaids’ tea event at the Grand Floridian. Parties can begin with dinner and a wine tasting at Hannibal's wine cellar in Winter Park before moving on to a local nightclub. Grooms who stay at Portofino Bay like to party at Universal CityWalk because no driving is required—a ferry will shuttle them back to the hotel.
For rehearsal dinners (or wedding receptions or honeymoons), Disney pulls out the stops to stage events ranging from an after-hours reception in one of the theme parks to an internationally themed event at one of the World Showcase countries in EPCOT.
You can opt for a traditional ceremony at Disney's Wedding Pavilion on the Seven Seas Lagoon by the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Designed with the charming features of a Victorian summerhouse, the pavilion is an airy room with a view of Cinderella Castle just across the lagoon. Alternatively you can plan an informal beachside vow exchange at a lakeside Disney resort; a garden or gazebo ceremony; an over-the-top, Cinderella-style wedding; or a Broadway-theme blowout.
Downtown Orlando and historic Winter Park are popular wedding destinations as well. Elegant, yet affordable, lakefront ceremonies are popular, with a variety of waterfront pavilions and gardens available in picturesque city and county parks and botanical gardens.
Other top wedding spots are downtown's Orange County Regional History Center; the Mennello Museum of American Art in the city's Loch Haven area; and Casa Feliz, a historic Spanish home–museum in Winter Park.
Another factor that makes Orlando the perfect choice for a wedding is the city's wealth of entertainment and resort hotels. Theme-park musicians and other performers often hire out for receptions at reasonable prices, and there's a lot of diversity, from zydeco and salsa bands to groups that specialize in swing music. Resort hotels like the Four Seasons, the Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astoria, and Portofino Bay at Universal feature romantic backdrops for the ceremony plus smaller ballrooms ideal for receptions. The hotels can also support activities ranging from spa parties to golf outings for those in the wedding party.
Central Florida resorts cater to honeymooners with special packages. Honeymoon suites with whirlpools and other amenities create the backdrop for romance that's enhanced with extras like champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Resort pools with cabanas, beaches, waterfalls, swaying palms, and poolside margarita delivery make the subtropical setting seem as exotic as a tropical island.
Disney's Fairy Tale Honeymoons division helps you customize a vacation package and even offers a Honeymoon Registry if your guests wish to contribute to your postwedding getaway rather than give a traditional gift. There are package deals to be had at Walt Disney World resorts and at Disney's Vero Beach Resort. Some couples make their wedding dreams or vow renewals come true at sea, where the honeymoon follows immediately.
If you're dreaming about a Central Florida wedding, keep these tips from the experts in mind:
- If your budget can handle the expense, hire a reputable planner long before the big date. Though you'll pay a fee for your planner, he or she will be an advocate with barter power when dealing with vendors.
- For a destination wedding, build in plenty of time to book travel arrangements and accommodations for all who plan to attend.
- If your budget is tight, plan your Orlando wedding between Monday and Thursday during nonpeak season for the lowest hotel rates.
- Split the wedding-planning tasks with your partner. If the groom is focused more on the reception's music, food, and beverages, the bride can focus on, say, wedding flowers and photography.
- Let your wedding planner arrange romantic escapes from your guests, especially if you plan to wed and honeymoon in Orlando. If everyone's staying at the Gaylord Palms Resort or the Hard Rock Hotel, have your wedding planner book you a spa package at the Waldorf Astoria or Ritz-Carlton.
- Start your research by visiting several Orlando-area wedding-planner websites: Visit Orlando at https://www.visitorlando.com/en/things-to-do/discover-orlando/weddings, and Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons at www.disneyweddings.com, www.disneyweddings.disney.go.com.