So…picking up where I left off in my last post!
After we left Disney, my in laws, my parents, Mr. Llama, and I headed to Innisbrook, where my parents live for the winter. They had made an appointment with their wedding planner for the next day, and I was excited to see what kinds of amenities my other childhood vacation “home” had to offer.
For most ceremonies, Innisbrook uses a picturesque spot featuring a tree with Spanish moss:
Yes, I enjoy this. / Photo by Corey Conroy Photography
I was pretty convinced on this particular spot. Our coordinator showed us a couple other options, but this was really the obviously best choice. However—the price for this space was almost exactly the same price as Disney’s Yacht Club Gazebo. Hmmm.
Then we went on to reception spaces. As I mentioned before, Mr. Llama and I were not interested in a standard banquet hall room. Why were we making our guests come all this way just to go into any old ballroom? Additionally, my in laws happen to manage a banquet facility in Connecticut, and if that was the route we wanted to go, then we would have just gotten married back East.
We had informed our coordinator of this, and she did her best to make their facilities not sound like typical ballrooms, but there was no getting around it. In terms of indoor spaces, this was all Innisbrook really had to offer:
“Where am I…Cleveland? Schenectady? Tucson?” / Image via Innisbrook Golf Resort
“Wait, aren’t I just a hallway outside the ballroom? That doesn’t count as unique…” / Image via Innisbrook Golf Resort
I had heard through the grapevine that you could rent out the largest pool on the property and do a reception there. But realistically speaking, we could not expect our guests to sit out in the sweltering July Florida sun for both the ceremony and reception. That’s just mean! And while you could probably have the area tented and air-conditioned, I think we’d be spending half our budget on making our guests not sweat. That just doesn’t seem like a practical use of our budget.
“I am beautiful, but your guests might also die.” / Image via Innisbrook Golf Resort
On top of not loving any of the reception options, we found that the pricing wasn’t all that different from Disney. Slightly less, but not significantly so. Not enough to counteract the fact that you aren’t at Disney and don’t have all the Disney amenities!
At this point, we kind of looked at each other and said, “Um, what other options can we even consider?” No matter how you sliced it, even if we had the wedding in Connecticut (where Mr. Llama is from) or Chicago (where I’m from), we’d have a ton of people traveling. We couldn’t come up with any other ideas that made sense for both of our families and friends.
So, I spent an hour on the phone with a Disney sales consultant crunching numbers, going through options, asking about 6,386 questions, and generally driving her crazy. I even recorded the conversation so that I could listen to it later in case I forgot what she had said (something I definitely recommend!). She generously gave us some sample cost proposals for a wedding of our size, and we discussed it with our parents. While Disney didn’t come cheap, it didn’t really come any MORE expensive than a wedding in any large metropolitan city (AKA Chicago or near-NYC/Connecticut), which we were bound to have, given our locations.
Disney told us we wouldn’t be able to sign a contract until exactly a year out from our preferred date. They also recommended submitting our first three choices of dates, in case other couples wanted our dates/venues and we ended up in a “lottery” system.
So…we figured, what do we have to lose? We can at least submit our date requests…THAT doesn’t cost any money.
So we did. And we kept our fingers crossed.