Locations: Epcot – Italy Pavilion and Living Seas Salon
Photography: Jennifer Werneth Photography
This is the story of how Ali and Chris got married at Walt Disney World. It’s a little bit epic, but definitely worth the read. Thank you, Ali, for sharing your story! Love this Disney bride community!
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Many people talk about their wedding being a fairytale. I think that is all I ever wanted from when I was little girl until my wedding day. I wanted that Cinderella, Royal Ball, glamorous wedding. I had wanted it since I saw an absolutely beautiful bride on the grand staircase, that my husband & I were lucky enough to take our engagement pictures on. My fairytale was kind of like Cinderella in a way. You know how Cinderella’s family – mainly her evil step mom – try to ruin her chances at true happiness, but her fairy godmother saves the day? Well I did not have just one fairy godmother, I had many. And they truly made my dream come true.
In July of 2013, while undergoing very heavy duty treatment for my severe Crohn’s Disease – my husband and I, with the help of my Dad, decided to go ahead and begin to plan our Disney Fairytale Wedding. (We were engaged on January 29th right in front of Cinderella’s castle! It was amazing.) First off, we picked our date, June 30th, a day when all our family/friends would be out of school. We picked a Monday because Disney Weddings are typically cheaper on a weekday. And it was also my husband’s late great grandfather’s birthday. We signed our contract and used what little savings we had to pay the deposit for a Wishes Wedding at the Wedding Pavilion and a reception at the Grand Floridian. My Dad, who had said since forever that he was going to pay for my wedding, stated that he was going to do just that.
We went through an entire year of planning. I made boxes to ask each of my eight bridesmaids and flower girls. We sent out Save the Dates that had one of our beautiful engagement pictures on it a long with a fast pass made by a very talented Disney Bride, Amy and her etsy shop – Main Street Designs. My mom ordered these absolutely beautiful invitations. Everything seemed like it was coming together. I had my planning session over the phone at the end of January, as we wanted to save as much money as possible for a honeymoon. All of my husband’s family/my friends started booking their trips. Everything seemed so perfect and I was beyond excited that my dream was coming true.
The one huge problem I was having was trying to get my mom to come with me just to try on wedding dresses. This was something we always said we would do together, but from July until May of 2014, I begged her to come with me and each time she always had a reason that she could not go. I had to cancel so many appointments and at times go alone to try on dresses. I went with my sister once person – something she said she HAD to do before I bought anything. Needless to say, I never went back to this store because I was embarrassed at how many times I had to cancel. And I moved on from the dress.
In April, just before our minimum payment was due, I finally made the courageous decision to go get a dress without my mom. One of my best friends came with me to a store in Manhattan. Despite it being so close to the wedding, I found my absolute DREAM wedding dress. When I put it on, I felt like a princess. And I finally had a dress.
Little did I know when the day came that our minimum payment was due to DFTW, my Dad decided to just not pay it. He did not speak to me about this, but did speak to my husband. My husband made efforts to help my Dad by getting a two week extension. During these two weeks, my Dad not once said that he was not going to pay. Instead he sent me countless text messages telling me not to worry and that, and I quote, “failure is not an option.”
As this was going on, my mom, who has been fighting my Dad in court since their divorce in 2003, decided that she no longer supported the wedding and told me that my Dad could not pay for our wedding until she received all of the money that he owed her in alimony. I didn’t understand how she could have bought invitations or talked to me about our menu, flowers, decorations, etc. She knew that my Dad had made this agreement with me. If I could take anything back, I wish I had never believed either of them when they said that this wedding was happening and they wanted to do it for me. I was so grateful that they wanted to do it for me, but in the end, they turned their backs on me and left me with a huge mess to clean up. And a broken heart.
On May 1st, 2014, my Dad called Disney himself and cancelled our wedding. He didn’t call me to tell me he was going to do this. He just did it. And even though he did this, he STILL continued to message me saying not to worry, he was going to make it better and the wedding would still happen. To say I was upset would be a huge understatement. All of my husband’s family and all of my best friends had booked their flights. Their hotel rooms. My bridesmaids had bought their dresses as had my flower girls. Chris’s groomsmen, all were measured for their tuxedos. My two brothers never went to a store to be fitted, but my sister helped by measuring them from home and my husband and I paid for their deposits for their tuxedo rentals.
So I tried so hard to hold on to hope. I prayed every night that my Dad would come through on his promise and that I would not have to tell all of our vendors (who we had paid deposits for) that our wedding was just not happening. And worst of all, all our friends and family. I had even put down a deposit on a room for my mom, sister, & brothers as I could never get my mom to talk to me long enough to book her stay.
Two weeks went by and things with my parents happened that I personally had nothing to do with. All I know is that on May 27th, my Dad completely stopped communicating with me. He texted my husband and told him he was not going to talk to him anymore and that he was not going to pay for anything. My husband. Not me. He never attempted to return any of my countless phone calls, emails, or text messages. He just stopped talking to me.
I broke down to my Mom, begging her to at least come to Florida on June 30th. She did not want to hear it. She actually did not stay on the phone long enough with me to hear that I had used money to help pay for her room or my brother’s tuxedos – all of which she said were going to be a problem for her. It broke my heart in ways I do not know that I can explain.
I did not know what to do when our wedding was cancelled by my father. I literally felt like my entire world had collapsed around me. I do not even know what else to say about this situation as I still do not know for sure what happened behind closed doors. It broke my heart that they weren’t there on my day, and I still don’t know what they know about the situation because I have very limited communication with my little brother and the my other brother has completely stopped talking to me. I had a choice. I could do what my mom waned, which was to cancel the entire wedding, or I could take control of my own life, and make a life changing decision for myself.
I was fortunate enough to have befriended many of the girls in the Disney Bride Facebook groups. These girls have stuck by me through the best and worst of times. Little did I know, behind the scenes, the girls had begun a plan to help us with our wedding. Danielle Jones headed a group called “Operation Cheer Up Ali Taylor” on Facebook. I hadn’t the slightest clue. In the group, the girls all talked about ideas they had to help us still have our wedding on June 30th.
One of the biggest surprises was when Vicki Arndt actually called me. She had been reaching out to me, but I was in and out of the hospital as I came down with pneumonia right before the wedding. When I finally spoke to her, she let me know that the girls had all donated money to help pay for our photography. Complete and utter shock. One girl had just broken up with her fiancé and had planned to have engagement pictures taken in Disney, donated her deposit. The fact that someone would do something so selfless like that for me & my husband, I do not think I will ever understand.
It did not end there though. I spoke with one Disney Bride every night trying to find a venue to hold our reception that we would be able to afford. Another Disney Bride, who I refer to as my DisMom, helped us with our ceremony. She even went as far as to take pictures of the location for me! She wanted to make sure it was close to the indoors, just in case I got sick. She also spoke with Beaute Speciale and somehow/someway my hair & makeup was taken care of for the day. And they came at 4:30 in the morning! I got to work with an amazing Disney Bride who got married at Disney’s Swan & Dolphin – who now works for the company that does weddings there, and she helped me so much by answering ANY question I had! She forwarded me to Amanda, an absolutely wonderful planner who even allowed us to have a huge room the morning of the wedding at the Swan hotel to get ready in!
Another mom of a bride, who got married just two days before me, paid for my bouquet and also lent me a beautiful head piece to wear. (I unfortunately did not get to wear it because of circumstances beyond my control. But it was gorgeous.) One bride from overseas paid for our decorations and even went out of her way to make table signs for us! (Two sets!) Someone else created new invitations for us to send out via e-mail (since we obviously could not use the ones created for the wedding we had originally planned) and she also created a beautiful program (that our guests LOVED!) for us! And then another bride paid bought this beautiful paper that she printed the programs on! They looked amazing.
Another very good friend of mine had a limo pick my husband and me up at the Boardwalk, where we were taking pictures with David & Vicki Arndt, and bring us to our ceremony. A huge white stretch limo pulled up as we were taking pictures in front of the Boardwalk and Vicki said to me, “Let’s take a couple of pictures with the limo.” We thought, ok cool! It will look like we had one. Little did I know, as the limo came to a stop, the driver got out and Vicki said it was a gift from one of the Disney Brides. You probably could have picked my face up off the floor. I was stunned. I will never ever forget it.
Our video was also paid for from someone who I will always regard as one of the kindest people I have ever met. This woman helped me, knowing how important it was for me to live stream our wedding video, as my Grandma would have never been able to make the trip because of her health. (At the end of our ceremony, David from Trinity Wedding Cinema let me know that 107 people tuned in to watch our wedding at 10:30am on a Monday morning! I still cannot believe that!)
Gifts came in from brides from all over the country and even some from overseas! The surprises even spilled into our honeymoon with in-room gifts and a special firework viewing! I received so much support & love from these girls. To do something for someone that you know might not ever be able to pay you back, is truly doing an act of kindness. The kindness that I was shown by the Disney Bride community is one that I have never met anywhere else.
So my wedding happened on June 30th, 2014, with many other hiccups along the way. I felt as if there was a wall up and I had to keep climbing until finally the alarm clock went off at 3:45am in my best friend’s hotel room on June 30th and it was time to get up, get ready, and get married!
photos by David and Vicki Arndt Photography
There were so many other people, family & friends, who helped make our day possible. I cannot express how grateful I am for each single person who was at our wedding, including our photographers/videographers. (David & Vicki Arndt & Trinity Wedding Cinema) My sister, who went through SO much just to get to Florida was especially amazing on the day of our wedding as our original plan (since we were little girls) was for her to walk down the aisle to Beauty & the Beast before I walked down with my Mom or Dad. Right before she was supposed to go, she ran to the fountain where I was sitting in the Swan and I was crying hysterically. It is as if she knew that I needed her. Needless to say, she did not walk before me, but beside me, all the way down the aisle.
It is a day that Chris & I will NEVER forget and we will always have a special place in our hearts for all of the Disney Brides who helped make our dream a reality. Even if it was just emotional support, you each mean so much to us.
There were many other people who reached out to me that are not on this list, and you know who you are, but this list are the people who donated to help pay for our beautiful pictures. Vicki Arndt created a collage of pictures of each bride who donated – this is one I will be hanging in our apartment for sure!
I may never be able to give to these women what they gave to me, but I will never ever forget it. My only hope is that one day I will be in a position where I can help someone else find their happily ever after the way that the Disney Brides helped me.
(Left to Right)
Jill Nash Malool
Christianna & Tom Zammatore
Danielle & Bart Jones
Kristen & Brendan Hogis
Vicki & David Arndt
Katie Sweeney Piwonski
Kari Poulain Owston
Amy Landon-Marks & Jim Dollins
Lisa Leisher Reese
Holly Bray Douros