Sorry dont know why the first link is not working, as that word document was on my work computer, I will have to start typing the worlds longest trip report...sorry give me some time but I will post the details of our story soon.
I thought it would be easier to write down what a magical week we had for our special wedding. Although words or even picture and video will never quite capture all of the magic I hope I can give you some feeling for what transpired leading up to, during and after our wedding.
Andrea & I have been truly blessed in so many ways and our wedding was just one more way that showed the blessings that God has bestowed upon us.
Many now ask how and when we came up with the idea of a surprise wedding. Well there was no single moment that we can pick out. We always knew that one of our families would have to travel if we got married as they live in several areas, mostly New York and the Washington D.C. area. We had always held two places in our heart where we would love to have our "Dream" wedding. New York City at St. Patrick's Cathedral and reception at Tavern on the Green or at Walt Disney World (WDW). Our first thought as to a date were originally in July as this is the anniversary of both our parents. (The best examples of love we know.)
The thoughts of a hot July day in New York or Florida were a bit more than we could handle. So on one of our many visits to WDW we started to think how much there was to offer in our favorite place in the world. Family is so important to us and we wanted to make this not only our special day but a way for our families to be together, get to know one another and have a great time.
A visit to Orlando in Jan.06 really started our first ideas of pulling off a surprise wedding. We thought what better cover we will ever have than my 40th birthday in December. It would be close to Christmas (such a beautiful time in Disney) and an opportunity to get our families together. We played with the idea of an outside wedding at WDW but my wife was smart enough to talk me out of that because of the stress of weather related problems not to mention Disney has the most beautiful Wedding Pavilion right on Bay Lake looking toward Cinderella's castle. About six months out we put the plans into action. We reserved a spot at the Wedding Pavilion for December 16th 2006 at 7:30pm, just 2 days before my actual birthday. We spoke on the phone and had several email correspondences with some Disney wedding coordinators and then set a meeting up with them in early September.
Our first visit in September was a chance to meet a wedding coordinator in person, select a reception location, chose flowers, a cake (with samples to test :slurp: ) decorations and all the other magic that only Disney could offer. We also met Reverend Jack Day for the first time, who would perform our ceremony. He was highly recommended from all and has done weddings on Regis & Kathy Lee as well as Lifetime Weddings. Incredibly in one visit, although 1/2 days worth, we decided probably 80% of the wedding details. Of course after getting home we made some small changes but with the help of the Disney experts everything was coming together.
Now we had to convince our families to come to WDW a week before Christmas to attend a surprise black-tie 40th birthday party and still not let them in on too much as to spoil the surprise. We made our own tuxedo style invitations and told our families that accommodations had been arranged and that we only needed to know how many days they planned to stay. This was actually not too much of a stretch as we are DVC members and have invited family to WDW before. But little did they know to what extent we were actually going to, to pull off this surprise.
As RSVP's began to roll in only a few family members were holding out and we started to contemplate having to tell some to get them to come. But my wonderful bride to-be did a great job convincing those that were leaning the other way. And some of them were not easy including both fathers! We waited until the final days to finally have to tell just a couple of family members but swore them to secrecy.
We worked closely with our WDW wedding coordinator to make sure that everything would say birthday celebration and that there was no mention of wedding as not to have anyone slip up. One of the additional surprises for our families was we made all the resort reservations and chose the theme of the resort based on the likes, hobbies, personalities of our family members. As examples one sister and her family love the islands and beaches so they were to stay at Caribbean Beach Resort. And a brother and his family that love the outdoors, etc, were to stay at the Wilderness Lodge. We sent out packages to everyone the week they were leaving that had lanyards with a pin from the resort where they were staying and brochure information. They were told not to open their packages until they were in flight to Orlando. And it seems they followed the rules and were very excited when they found out all the different places they were staying.
Andrea and I had checked in Thursday Dec. 14th. I had surprised Andrea where we were going to stay. We stayed in a once in a lifetime suite at the Contemporary. We both had always wanted to stay there since we were kids and took that first monorail ride through the hotel. But for our first experience what more could we have asked for, we were in the Vice Presidential Suite. It was as large as our two townhomes! It had 4 bathrooms, a living room with a huge flat screen TV (4 TV's total) a full size dining room with a bar, 2 bedrooms and even its own Christmas tree. We also had 4 sliding doors that lead to 2 huge balconies. Since we were on the 14th floor what views we had of bay lake! This suite was part of the concierge level with its own concierge lounge where they served food and drinks throughout the day and night. The concierge level also has a huge balcony that has everyones dream view right into the Magic Kingdom toward Cinderella's castle and Space Mountain. The concierge outside our door was there to get our every need.
The excitement and nervousness was building as we approached Friday and Saturday (wedding day). Our first guest were to arrive Friday late afternoon and evening and the rest early Saturday morning.
Our only possible big slip up came up right when our first guest arrived for check in at their resort. But God in his wisdom helped us avoid a huge mistake in spoiling the surprise that we had worked so hard for 6 months to keep. We had not planned to pick up the father of the bride and his wife from the airport but something made Andrea decide to go pick up her father and take them to the Grand Floridian for concierge check-in. Luckily when she helped them check in they were distracted by all the happening in the resort so they didn't hear when the concierge said "So you're here for the wedding!" At that point Andrea nearly died and quickly said "No its a birthday!" Once they were checked in she called me choking back the tears to tell me what had happened. We had a true emergency on our hands as we had everyone else checking in later that evening and the next morning but in 7 different resorts! She took care of the issue at the GF as my parents were also to check in there the next day. I hopped in our rental car and went to each resort to speak with a manager to make sure they deleted from their computer any mention of wedding and to put a warning that they were not to tell the guest anything. Once I relayed the entire story to each manager they all apologized and things were taken care of, now we just prayed that there would be no other slip-ups prior to the big event.
Saturday December 16th, 2006 a day that will always be Magical!
Again another night of very little sleep as the anticipation was building. I had to go to the airport to pick up one of my nieces, Michelle and her husband Rich from Oregon. They were one of the few who knew the real story. No one else in the family knew they were coming for "The Birthday". We had to get them from the airport before their parents and the rest of the family arrived at the airport and spoiled another one of the surprises. Once I got them checked in it was off to get nails done and last minute things. Since our suite at the Contemporary was so large I was able to take one wing and bedroom and my lovely bride to-be the other to get ready that afternoon without seeing each other. She had always dreamed of having her favorite movies like While You Were Sleeping and When Harry met Sally playing in the background as she got ready for her big day and with 4 TV's and DVD players her dream came true. At 2:00 that afternoon she decided to tell her only sister the real story. She invited her over to help get ready and to help decorate for the birthday party. When she arrived Andrea took her out on the concierge balcony overlooking the Magic Kingdom and the Wedding Pavilion. I was hiding on the other side of the glass siding doors taking pictures as she told her sister we had just become engaged the night before, showing her the ring and then after a huge scream,a ton of hugs and tears, then watching her tell her that it was not going to be birthday party that night but that it was a wedding over at the wedding pavilion. More hugs, more tears and then she told her to turn around, where she saw me snapping pictures. If this was the reaction we were going to get from everyone, boy were we in for an unbelievable night.
A hair and makeup person came to the room to get my bride ready and I relaxed (not really) and had a couple of beers and watched movies before I had to get ready myself.
I left for the wedding pavilion around 6pm to meet our officiant Rev. Jack and our wedding coordinator. I watched as they finished another wedding, took down their flowers, etc and then got the pavilion ready for our wedding. What an operation to watch. All the cast members with Disney weddings were amazing, they had their walkie talkies and ear pieces in place ready to pull off our big night.
The start of the Big Surprise.
We had chartered a Disney Cruise line bus to start picking up our guest at the Grand Floridian where our parents were first to board. We also had 2 friends and their teenage children on board who knew about the surprise and were there to make sure everyone was aboard. The videographer and our English Butler (Winthrop) were also on board to greet our guest and ask them to give a birthday wish on camera. Our friends also handed out buttons that were made with pictures of me growing up (still trying to throw off any suspicions!). The bus then began its journey around Disney picking up our other guest at each of the resorts we had selected for them. On the third stop my brother Paul and his wife boarded, the first of many surprises that night. My parents didn't know they were coming so the tears had begun. Several stops later my niece and her husband from Oregon got on and they were a surprise to everyone. The final stop before heading to the pavilion was picking up my brother Jim his wife and daughter. When they got on board and saw their other daughter from Oregon, of course the tears were doubled.
Then Winthrop got everyones attention and began to read a poem that my lovely bride had written...with some smiles, giggles and laughs to begin, little did they know what they were in for. The poem ended this way....
"In this world of magical wishes where dreams really do come true" "My friends, this is not so much a surprise for Phillip as it is a surprise for you"
At this point the gasps had begun! The poem continued... "On behalf of the Walt Disney World Resorts and Andrea Veronica Mench and Phillip Clayton Nixon I cordially invite you to their wedding!"
That was it...screaming, crying, hugs, laughter and cheers had begun...having seen the rough cut video it was something to behold. The bus then arrived at the Wedding Pavilion.
All this time I had been waiting in the grooms waiting room all by myself going crazy wondering what was happening. Finally our wedding coordinator Michelle Wenzler came in and told me the bus has erupted in joy and that they were on the way. My bride and her sister had been listening in on a cell phone that was on a open line from our friends that were on the bus, so they were able to join in on the excitement.
When our families arrived, my 2 brothers, my sister and my mother and father were ushered into my room to see me. The tears and laughter started, I asked them to be my best men and maid of honor. At the same time my brides family had gone to see her in the brides vestibule and the same reaction was happening over there. She also asked her brother and sister to be our other best man and matron of honor. After a few minutes to decompress and gain our composure we still had a wedding to do!
Even though we had planned a small elegant wedding our families were abuzz with excitement and they cheered as I entered to walk my parents down the aisle and continued when my bride and her father entered as well. With all the excitement it was more like an elegant tailgate party, but we couldn't have been happier.
Reverend Jack Day was just perfect, the music was beautiful as well as the flowers and pavilion. What more could we have asked for. With the ceremony over we were ushered out and our guest lined up on the bridge leading to the pavilion. We walked halfway across the bridge and stopped and turned back toward the pavilion and began a LOOONG kiss. Fireworks then exploded for several minutes as we held that pose and our families were mesmerized. Luckily its all on video because we missed half the fireworks while posing!
Then we exited through a cascade of rose petals thrown by our families and entered Cinderella's carriage for a farewell ride to our reception at the Whitehall Room & patio at the Grand Floridian. We were also blessed to have timed our carriage ride to the GF as the Magic Kingdom (Wishes) fireworks were going off above the castle. As our little white ponies slowly moved along, people came out of the resort to take pictures and little girls chased our carriage to see the princess...we were our own little parade as we waved. The Whitehall Room & patio is wonderful for a small gathering, we had about 40 people. It's a small octagon shaped room on the end of the GF convention area. It also has an outdoor patio that looks toward the Magic Kingdom and Cindy's castle, with the monorail passing overhead. The pre-reception was held outside on the patio.
The Whitehall room was beautiful at night. We had done everything in whites, silver, white flowers with greenery and lots of candles and twinkling lights. (The lights were dimmed and the room was beautiful) The ceiling had tulle draped from the center with lights and ficus trees with lights surrounded the room. We had a sweetheart table at one end, the dance floor in the center and 2, 10 seat tables on both sides of the dance floor. The DJ was at the other end of the room from us and our beautiful white and silver "Mickey Wave" cake topped off with a white and silver chocolate castle was off to the side surrounded by candles. All of it was truly breathtaking and everything we had dreamed about.
We had a wonderful appetizer followed by a salad, then they turned down the lights even more and several waiters all at once brought out ice sculptured glass slippers lit from underneath with green and red lights and topped with a rasberry sorbet. (To the music of the electrical light parade). Then the main course of surf and turf!. Wow what a meal. We then smashed a little cake in each others faces and the party began.
Our DJ was great, we had crazy hat dances and the best time of all...all to end too quickly. We did go over a little till about quater to 1am. Then most of our families (minus the parents) came back to our "rock-star" suite at the Contemporary to finish the party till 2:30am!
We cant say enough about how blessed we are to have had such a perfect wedding; the entire staff of Disney World was perfect and not only did a wonderful job but really joined in on the excitement and fun. We had so many of them come over to us and tell us it was the best wedding they had ever done.
The next day(12/17/06) we had most of our guest still in town so we had planned a day at EPCOT with a late lunch in Japan (Teppanyaki Dining Room/we took up an entire room) and then the Candlelight Processional at 5:30pm (with Kirk Cameron as the reader of the Christmas story). We also hopped over to MGM to see the Osbourne Lights and finished off the night at the Magic Kingdom as it was open until 1am! Another magical day and night!
THANK YOU FOR INDULGING ME WITH SUCH A LONG POST AND TO TELL YOU ABOUT OUR MAGICAL WEDDING. We enjoyed several more magical filled days at WDW and a quick 4 day WDW cruise but I think my post was long enough!
Congratulations on a magnificent, Magical wedding and pulling off such an elaborate surprise!
I love to concoct elaborate ideas for surprises, birthdays, etc. and hopefully will be able to continue that into my engagement and wedding plans (although doubtful that anyone in all of time could pull off something quite like this!).
Seriously, I've gotta try to dry up here before any of the other guys around the office come by my desk!
That is an amazing story and God bless the two of you for having so much passion to carry out such a Magical dream!
I'm so happy for both of you and am truly amazed how you managed to pull that off. I wouldn't be able to contain my excitement!! The pictures were wonderful and it must be so nice to have such a wonderful thing to associate WDW with. (I should know, I was proposed to and honeymooned there! )
I loved loved loved how you choose the resorts based on the personalities of your guests, I mean that is such a awesome idea! I bet by doing that it also retained even more of the surprise because they didnt even know whether each of the other members of the party had come! O gosh, I just wanted to cry when I read your post and saw your pictures because it was just so BEAUTIFUL...:kiss:
I just read your story to my husband and he and I are just amazed that you were able to pull off such an awesome surprise. When we married in WDW, we came back with a surprise for the IL's, we lived at their home, and they had no clue we were off getting married. My parents did as they paid and drove down to FL to walk me down the aisle.
What a beautiful wedding story. I love how you suprised everyone, very sweet. My husband and I just celebrated 25 years of marriage and I can tell you from experience it keeps getting better every day. Here's to good health and good times!