Mo1973's Planning Journal: Jun 09 Site Tour Visit Updated 8/5/07 w/pics!

Discussion in 'Disney Weddings and Honeymoons' started by mo1973, Jul 29, 2007.

  1. mo1973

    mo1973 Earning My Ears

    May 21, 2007
    Cast o’ Characters:

    Wife (Since technically, I won’t be a bride!)- Me, Maureen, age 34
    Hubby (Since technically, not a groom!)- Kevan, age 38
    Kevin P, age 12, DS
    Katie, age 10, DD
    Matt, age 9, DS
    Emily, age 6, DD

    A Little Info about Us:

    Kevan and I met in college, when we attended the University of West Florida in Pensacola back in August of 1992. We were friends for a few months and then all of a sudden, things just went to a different level. From that point, we were pretty much inseparable and on New Years Day- we pretty much came to the conclusion we were meant to be together. We talked a little about getting married but realized we had to meet each others’ families first. So I brought him home to my mom the next weekend and he brought me to his family over Spring Break.

    He’s a very practical minded person and was very hesitant to pick out any ring for fear I wouldn’t like it (as if!) so I showed him a few styles and left the rest to him. We had a bet he wouldn’t be able to surprise me- I was pretty sure it wasn’t his style. One night we went to the mall and he went into the flower shop and came out with a rose. He handed it to me and said it was just a little something- then in the middle of the mall- he got down on one knee and said, “Here’s your big something!” and asked me to marry him. I know that passersby stopped dead in their tracks and a little crowd had gathered- all I remember is saying yes! I bought dinner that night- he definitely won- he completely and totally surprised me as I had NO idea it was coming.

    That was in May 1992 and we got married on June 4, 1994. Since we had moved to Orlando, we decided to have it there and THE first place we went to was Disney. Back then, FTW was pretty small and we fell in love with every site shown. But when the pricing was discussed, I was sick- back then it was a $4500 minimum on food and beverage alone. (Seems cheap now!!) But the budget for our reception was $2500 firm and there was no way a Disney wedding was within our reach. We were very young and not making money so there was no way either of us could make up the difference.

    We ended up having our ceremony at our church and then having the reception at the Peabody Hotel on International Drive. I must admit, we got a great deal- I think the reception was maybe $1300 and it was a wonderful site- you can still see it here- click on Coconuts Patio.

    There was some drama stirred by my MIL (but I hadn’t seen anything yet) but overall the day was really nice. However, we made some big, big mistakes. First of all, I did my own hair and makeup. It turned out awful. We entrusted the car decorating duties to a rather sketchy brained best man- as a result, our car had nothing on it when we left for our honeymoon. My MOH was my cousin I grew up with her- but as much as I love her- she was little help- living 5 hours away and a very poor communicator. My bridesmaids and their moms actually organized most of my shower. And the photographer. That disaster deserves another installment in and of itself.
  2. mo1973

    mo1973 Earning My Ears

    May 21, 2007

    My mom ran a senior citizen center and when the contracted photography teacher heard her daughter was getting married- he offered to come up to Orlando and show us his wedding portfolios and as a favor to my mom- give us a good deal.

    When we looked at the portfolio, we were SO impressed. One of the layouts included one that was published in Elegant Bride. We discussed what we wanted and he did truly give us a good price. But in the end- we got totally ripped off!

    The before wedding pictures were absolutely tacky. One of them, I am holding a Jim Beam bottle like I am drinking it. It’s the oddest picture because most of my family and friends know I don’t drink much at all- the last thing I would pick up if I was going to drink before my wedding is Jim Beam! I should have said no way, but I did it anyway. Here it is (pic of a pic) but I’ll spare you all of the other and pics.


    When we got the proofs back a few weeks later, I was absolutely horrified. There were NO pictures of me and my mom, except when she walked me down the aisle. (My dad passed away the year before). I was furious. (And when she passed away, it made me feel worse.) And then we noticed this odd pattern. We had tons of photos of most of the older, single women friends who attended our reception. The dude used MY wedding day as an excuse to hit on my friends!! Further, the pictures taken in the church were off center and some were actually out of focus!! TONS of my cake- I mean, like about 20 or 30. Here are some of the others that were okay enough to choose:



    We hopped in the car, drove the 2 hours to my moms and showed her. She got on the phone and tore this guy into shreds. But as I told her, there was nothing that can be done about it. Our day had come and gone. We tried to pick out the ones that were decent and put those in our album. We got a good deal but that didn’t mean we should have gotten a horrible set of pictures.

    Overall, I look back on our wedding day with happy memories but there are some parts we like to forget.

    We honeymooned in St. Augustine and on the day we returned, I came down with the most horrible stomach virus ever. I spent 4 hours that morning in the bathroom so sick I couldn’t even get off the bathroom floor. And it happened again the next day. And the next. Finally, it was my smart hubby who figured out- I wasn’t down with the stomach flu- we were going to be parents! Much to my shock, he was right.

    About 8 months later, our wedding present arrived in a bouncy baby boy, we named Kevin. Unfortunately, Kevin had a rough start- he had two surgeries to correct a heart defect- he spent the first month of his life in the NICU and his first year, we lived on and off at Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando. Several nurses told us that situations like that made or broke a couple and somehow, we never wavered- in fact, I couldn’t imagine going through anything like that without my awesome husband.

    Finally, after the last surgery, Kevin improved and began to grow like a normal toddler. In 1996, we added Katie to our family. Life was going along just fine- until we realized that Kevin was not talking and acting like a normal 3 year old. After tons of evaluations, we were told he was autistic. I was totally devastated. We put him into a preschool for disabled kids and his teacher actually suggested Asperger’s. After a year, he began to make some progress. Then I began noticing Katie’s lack of developmental progress. My pediatrician told me I was “paranoid”. It was my husband who told him we would be finding another pediatrician. Kevan has ALWAYS had my back, so to speak- whether I was right or wrong. We believed Katie to be autistic too- and turned out we were right. It was a horrible time- we both were so consumed with overwhelming guilt and if our marriage could have crumbled, this was yet another time ripe with opportunity. But it didn’t and we forged on.

    When we discovered I was pregnant again- we both panicked. We had taken many precautions to make sure our family was complete and this was not supposed to have happened! But it did. On Christmas Day, our next bundle of joy arrived. Matthew was from the start and continues to be a normally, developing and wonderful kid. He’s about as Norman Rockwell as American boys get.

    In 2000, my mom died after a long battle with lung cancer that drained us all in every possible way. Kevan’s mother convinced us that a change of scenery would do us good and somehow in our wacked minds, we thought packing up and leaving our home state of Florida would be a good idea.

    When I got pregnant (AGAIN) in 2001, Kevan was really panicked but I had such a feeling of calm and happiness it was almost eerie. I knew in my heart that this baby would be okay, like Matt and it would be a girl. I could almost hear my mom telling me. And she was right- Emily arrived in May 2001. Totally all girl and doing fine.

    During the course of our seven years near my MIL, we were miserable. We missed Florida so much and our relationship with her was very on and off. Often criticized about everything we did, including how we parented.
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  4. mo1973

    mo1973 Earning My Ears

    May 21, 2007
    Introduction Part III ( Good grief, I like to talk and type!) :banana:

    Last summer, Kevan was rushed to the ER with a condition called diverticulitis. We didn’t catch it early enough and as a result, he went septic. He did have surgery with a 50/50 chance of a successful intestinal repair and the odds for his survival were equally in question. After all we had been through, I was determined NOT to lose him. It was the worst time of my life. It was very touch and go, but two weeks later, we brought him home. However, it was a very painful and long recovery- I cannot even begin to describe how awful it was to see him go through what he did. Again, another test. After another surgery in February, he finally recovered in April. But in the end, we were strong enough to get through it together and weather yet another valley in our marriage.

    Last January, we decided we would be heading HOME where we belonged. In April, I was offered a great teaching position in Kissimmee. One of my best friends from HS was teaching at the same school, so although it wasn’t Tallahassee, where we lived before, it would still be Florida. I went to HS in Kissimmee, so the area wasn’t unfamiliar. And since WDW was our favorite place on earth- and the travel agency I co-own is pretty much Disney based- this would be ideal. All of my family and old friends are within a day’s driving distance. It was a scary propostion, but we did it. Moving four kids and a house full o stuff was an adventure to say the least. We’ve spent the summer working on our house and adjusting- while paying Mickey and crew a visit 3 or 4 times a week. Love those AP’s.


    On our 13th anniversary in June before we moved, we began to talk about how amazing it was we were near our 15th and it was Kevan who said something about a huge party. (He’ll deny starting all this talk but he did!) I figured it was the perfect time to renew our wedding vows. And then my thoughts immediately turned to Disney. I think Kevan was thinking big ole backyard BBQ.

    Kevan was really unsure about the tact of it all- and he kept saying that many people would think it was like us, in his words- trying to get some loot. LOL! In a way, I had that concern too. So I began to ask some of my friends what they thought and the response was overwhelmingly positive. One of my girlfriends who just got married last year, told me.. “If any couple deserves a vow renewal- it’s you two!!” and that sealed the deal for me. And while I think there will be a lot of aspects similar to a wedding- it’s going to be something uniquely different. And I want to host something special to thank the many people who have supported us- from the time our son Kevin was sick through to the times when Kevan (husband) was sick- and the happy times in between- me finally graduating from college and the arrivals of our kids. The least I can do is give them a nice meal and a chance to watch some good fireworks.

    So, we both agree- we do some kind of Vow Renewal for our 15th wedding anniversary. It’s still a bit of time away- and anything can happen in that time. I just pray every day that we are going to be continue to be blessed with health and the chance to celebrate on that day, the way we want.

    In the next installment, I will actually get to the point of all this and really begin my planning journal. I just thought you guys should know where we are coming from!
  5. jasonandlisa

    jasonandlisa Mouseketeer

    Mar 18, 2007
    Thank you for sharing your story. I agree, you definitely "deserve" a vow renewal!! I hope you have lots of fun planning it and that it turns out to be a dream come true!
  6. oneyodafan

    oneyodafan Woman With Hobbit Feet

    Jun 27, 2007
    I love the photos Maureen! And the back story of you and Kevan, which I didn't know some of. More!!!!
  7. pixie08

    pixie08 DIS Veteran

    Mar 1, 2005
    Great start to a planning jouranl! Can't wait to see what else you have in store;)
  8. mo1973

    mo1973 Earning My Ears

    May 21, 2007
    After a few days of begging dear DH to please just let me call and see what DFTW has to say, he agrees. I called the main number and a very friendly guy took all my information and said someone would call me back in the next few business days. I did also email the Swan and Dolphin to consider other options close by.

    That night, I started googling all over for Disney Weddings and stumbled over here to this awesome forum. I think I spent the next four hours online and read about what a wonderful source of info that was. I have been lurking here ever since and only recently joined. I love this place!

    Unfortunately, Heidi from DFTW and I played phone tag for days and before I knew it, we were loading the massive moving truck for our 1000 mile move to FL. Knowing I would have all the time in the world on the way down between driving and hotel stops along the way- I left her a message to call me anytime.

    And sure enough, as I pass through Little Rock the next day, she calls! We were pulling over for breakfast and so while my kids and my DH fill up, I just worked on coffee and sat and talked to Heidi- she was absolutely wonderful. Because we would be locals and could come out to see the various sites anytime, Heidi suggested touching base with her later in the summer so she could take DH and I on a site tour.

    By this point, I knew the differences between Escape and Wishes ceremonies and also the options to us on DCL. That night in our hotel in Pensacola, I filled Kevan in on the details that Heidi was able to give me. He immediately said, "Escape". But I knew our guest list would exceed 20 easily and if I had to limit it to that number, I would have to exclude people that really, really meant alot to us- I couldn't choose. With a lot of persuading and including plans to actively save tax refunds, any spare dime and pretty much all the profit I make from my travel agency in 08 and 09- I convince him that we can do it. I think.

    We have spent the summer trying to go down the list of possible sites and ceremony options and have a few things narrowed down. With that in mind, I called Heidi last week and I have an appointment this Saturday at 9:00 am. I am so excited about this- especially when she asked me if I knew where Franck's was! I certainly do and am really glad the tour begins there!

    I have spent alot of time at the UK watching the British Invasion this summer- I go up with some friends once or twice a week to watch their nightly shows. We usually park at the Boardwalk. I must admit I was never big on the Boardwalk but as of recent, it has really, really begun to grow on me- I think because I am seeing more and more of it. The venues there will definitely be on my list.

    We do know we would like to keep our events in close proximity and EPCOT has really become our favorite park so I think we will be focusing everything in that area. Plus, DH really loves the idea of a dessert party and by choosing another site over the WP, we free up extra moolah for that. We also considered the MK photo session but with the price increase I read about, we decided we might elect the EPCOT one instead- it just suits us better.

    Once I meet with Heidi this weekend, I think I might have some more definitive plans and we can truly say whether or not we want to proceed with this. It's a big chunk o money and I don't want to go in debt or put Ramen or cereal every night our for dinner for two years to pay for it. Needless to say I am really looking forward to this weekend!! Unfortunately, I am going without DH as MIL is making her first visit to see our kids and we both felt, given the recent history between his mother and us- DH should stick around to keep an eye on things. But I plan to take plenty of pictures of all the sites. He's shown more interest in choosing things and I want him to have alot of say in our celebration.

    We are also joining Weight Watchers as soon as our insurance with our new school district kicks in- evidently, the discounts are good. Kevan lost almost 60 pounds as the result of his illness last summer but still has about 60 to go- I would like to lose 50 or so myself. The VR will be excellent motivation and the main area of preparation for the next year or so. Along with saving money!!

    I'll post some more after the meeting on Saturday. I think it will help with a few decisions.
  9. myprincessgirlisa

    myprincessgirlisa DFTW 12/4/97

    Jan 2, 2007
    maureen: congrats on the upcoming 15yr VR!!!

    I think you definitely deserve a DFTW VR!!!

    You guys have really gotten thru some tough times...i admire that!!

    I hope the family is going well & the kids get super excited about it!!

    Your SO lucky to live near WDW!!

    keep us posted!!:goodvibes
  10. Chantelle

    Chantelle Mouseketeer

    Feb 20, 2007
    I am so excited for you! I've only been married two weeks and am bugging my husband about when we're going to do a vow renewal! You two seem like you have been through so much together and you definately deserve to have a magical fairytale wedding.

    I just don't understand how people can think you're greedy for wanting a vow renewal. I didn't even think you got gifts at a vow renewal and that is clearly not the reason you are wanting to do this.
  11. BrcsDisneyPrncs

    BrcsDisneyPrncs Mouseketeer

    May 17, 2007
    Wow, what a story... you two definately do deserve a fairytale vow renewal. i'm so glad your DH is ok! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you that everything works out and you can have the VR of your dreams! I can't wait ot hear more!
  12. mo1973

    mo1973 Earning My Ears

    May 21, 2007
    You guys are so kind- thank you! I am really, really looking forward to getting to know everyone and following your own "fairytales" and magical events! There is so much inspiration and sharing of ideas- it's going to be my go to place for sure!

    I think I got a few things decided but will post all that after the meeting with Heidi on Saturday.
  13. DisneyFairy19

    DisneyFairy19 Disney Bride 10-4-08!!! Annual Passholder!!! Been

    May 23, 2006
    WOW... What a story... Go for the VR at WDW you deserve it:goodvibes
  14. mo1973

    mo1973 Earning My Ears

    May 21, 2007
    Site Tour Report!

    Today was my site tour with Heidi from DFTW. I left my house at 8:15 and took my favorite back way to Disney but was shocked at how much traffic I hit on I-4 with tons of Tampa Bay Bucs fans- I knew they were in training camp at WWOS but figured something special must have been going on because I was in a sea of red and black. Luckily, I pulled into the parking lot of the WP at exactly 8:59. Kevan's mom is in town visiting our kids and he was pretty bummed out he would miss this meeting, but I insisted he go with his mom and I could show him what I saw another time. Living here is going to come in handy I think!

    Heidi greeted me right away and we went into an office to review what we had discussed thus far. I think my guest count might be around 50 or 55 now - previously I had told her 35-40- isn't that funny, how things can change- and I am sure it won't be the last time! Franck's is gorgeous by the way!


    The focus then became to find out what sites I wanted to see on the tour. Kevan and I are almost sure that we aren't interested in MK/fairy tale elements like the WP or the MK Photo Shoot. It's just not us at this point in our lives. I do love the WP and MK of course, but for some reason, it just doesn't fit the overall feeling of what we are trying to do with our VR. So, Heidi suggested we focus the tour on the EPCOT side.

    Leaving two sites for ceremony to visit- SBP and YCG. I walk by SBP three or four times a week (on my way into EPCOT in the summer evenings) and it has appealed to me. Kevan also likes those locations- but he preferred YCG.

    Heidi showed me some photos of St.James and Marvin Gardens- I balked at the ballroom idea but seeing the windows and french doors, I immediately decided to see it. Unfortunately, both spaces were being used but Heidi thought if there was a breakout session, we might be able to get a peek.

    Heidi also suggested the possibility of using Flying Fish Cafe- which I really thought might be fun. And Ariel's is still on our short list if it will be available.

    We discussed a few more things such as minimums and then set off in the Disney company car to tour.

    We headed to the Boardwalk first and getting a peek at the St. James and Marvin Gardens room was a no go. I will try and catch a peek in the next few weeks when I go to EPCOT. Then we walked out to SBP and almost immediately, the wind kicked up (very breezy there) and one thing I immediately thought about is how open it felt to the rest of the Boardwalk. Kevan is a very private person and I really felt like we needed more seclusion- Heidi told me she thought the YCG would be a much better fit for that. So we headed back to the car and went to YC.

    I was relieved to know guests are taken care of in the lobby first and held there as long as possible so they don't melt in the sun. We walked out to the Gazebo and it was almost like trying on the dress- the location was perfect. As we walked up, bunnies came out to greet us.



    I loved the fan in the gazebo- although I am sure it doesn't help all that much-the whole location felt more private, even though there are guest rooms that look out on to it- Heidi mentioned that some people will come out and watch and in her experience, they are excited to see something going on and are very respectful. The YCG has a nice entrance up to the gazebo too. I felt very at home and happy in the gazebo- it's ideal. DH was right on- he hasn't seen it up close though so we will go over there next week.

    Heidi did show me the ballrooms at YC as they were open and being set up but I didn't care for them at all- it felt like a true convention center- very big, massive and uniform. That helped me for sure get it off my list.

    On the way back to Franck's, we discussed room minimums as well as the dessert party and an EPCOT photo session, as well as reception entertainment. We are on the fence about that- it would be fun to have some dancing. She's going to check on the possibility of booking the British Invasion too- they are my favorite and this summer, you can find me in the UK two or three nights a week enjoying the shows- so it would be most appropriate to have them play. However, I think they will be waay to much for us to afford- but it can't hurt to ask.

    We got back to Franck's and Heidi made a list of the things she has got to check into and get back to me on- Flying Fish, British Invasion. We also went over the dessert party policies- the whole either you pay $12.50 viewing fee for everyone or everyone has to have an admission really has put me in a quandry. I do think there will be several people attending who might be too tired and won't even buy park admission- they'll come to the VR and that's all. However, I am fairly sure everyone else might have park hoppers- but to ask them to use a day just for entrance in to the dessert party seems unfair. I am going to ask for RSVP's to the dessert party though- because with how hard we are going to have to save and work to do this- I don't want to pay for anyone who won't attend.

    Heidi took me through Franck's and let me know what arrangements were made through what department and I took some pictures to get some ideas.

    Neat ideas for centerpeices here, although I would rather flowers.. decisions, decisions!

    I got a nice big packet of info to take home and review and we wrapped up. I thought it would be fun to have my pic taken in front of Franck's so Heidi helped me out with that:


    We wrapped up right at 11:00. I absolutely love Heidi. Never once was I given any response that made me feel like I was being obsessive or presumptive planning so far in advance. It's going to be a looonng twelve months before that booking date comes.

    There are a few things that I know we can decide on soon, so we are working on that. And I suppose, once we do, I can add that to my planning journal.

    A very, very fun day!!
  15. sunsh1ne

    sunsh1ne DIS Veteran

    Nov 9, 2006
    o reading our tr made me want to redo mine. i swear it was one of m most favorite days ever. they are so nice and you really feel that they care. the british invasion sounds awesome. my df loves them also. i did not know that you could book them?? hmm might want to add that let me know the price
  16. Lynn5700

    Lynn5700 <font color=darkorchid>WOO HOO I will be there<br>

    Feb 2, 2007
    Maureen I am so happy you had a good time. Don't you love Heidi. She is such a a sweetheart.
  17. hmgolden

    hmgolden <font color=deeppink>Disney Bride June 25, 20

    Sep 19, 2003
    Great start to your planning journal! Thank you for sharing your story. You and your DH have weathered quite a lot together. Congratulations on not only making it through, but making it through as a stonger couple. I can't wait to see how your plans develop!
  18. JaxTeach

    JaxTeach DIS Veteran

    Aug 4, 2004
    I'm so excited to read your PJ! Congratulations on almost 13 years of marriage!

    That's great that you were able to take a site tour today. DF and I go to the parks frequently like you, but it's nice to speak to someone who can explain how a wedding or VR works. We were torn between SBP and YCG too. DF didn't like that the Yacht Club guests could watch the ceremony from their window so we went with SBP. Of course we are a December wedding and hopefully will not have to deal with the heat. But ya never know!

    That would be so cool to have the British Invasion play! When DF and I were checking out SBP we could hear them playing from Epcot. I told him we needed to time our ceremony to specific songs. :rotfl:
  19. mcarthur205

    mcarthur205 DIS Veteran

    Nov 3, 2005
    Just wanted to let you know that I'm enjoying reading your PJ and hearing about your plans for your VR!

    We are also planning on having a VR for our 25th anniversary in 2009. Our actual anniversary is in January but we are thinking of having it in March as we have a DD6 and DS12 in school, and we'd like to have it close to a school holiday! Ours will be an escape VR - I'm sooo jealous that you live so close - we may not be able to get back to WDW before the VR as we're so far away :sad2:

    Anyway, looking forward to hearing more about your plans! :flower3:


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