Ten years ago this week, I married my very best friend! Our wedding was incredible. We were married on February 2, 2002 in Oceola County, Florida at the Walt Disney World Wilderness Lodge Resort on the Sunrise Terrace balcony. A destination wedding was the perfect choice for us. It was an intimate affair with our closest immediate family in attendance. Andrew’s mother, father and sister came, and my mother, my father and his wife, my sister and her husband joined us. Andrew’s sister Amy was his Best Woman and my sister Kathleen was my Matron of Honor for the ceremony. It was very non-traditional. It was perfect.
I have written extensively about our wedding down to every last detail. Here is an excerpt featuring the wedding day itself and all the exciting things that happened before and after the ceremony.
The alarm went off at 3:30am. Andrew and I were too excited to really make a fuss about the time. We got up almost immediately and started to get ready. He took a shower while I pulled on my underwear for the dress.
Allison showed up to do my hair and makeup at 4:00am on the dot! She was all dressed and ready to roll. She got right to work and it took her until about 5:10am to complete my hairstyle. She started in on makeup and it was 5:30am when she finished. Then she touched up a blemish for Andrew and set out all of our touch-up makeup. She helped me into my gown, which she had me step into. I tipped her $20 and she was off to another appointment at 5:45am! Just then, Amy arrived from the fourth floor to help me bustle the gown. She got it all hooked up and we were off to the lobby right at 6:00am.
Castle Portrait at Walt Disney World
Mike Strickland (our photographer) was waiting in the lobby for us. He loaded us into the white van and we were off. Oops, I forgot my bouquet! Turned around and back, Mike went inside and grabbed it from the front desk. Then we were off again at 6:10am. We first did the shots with the colored castle in the background, because it was still dark. We went up to the right side and took more shots, then onto the front stage. Then it was inside the castle lobby. After a few, we went outside up the stairs and did the posed shots in front of the windows by the turrets. Warning: it’s VERY dirty up there, they don’t appear to clean it often. There were leaves and mud and slimy things everywhere. Then Mike took a few in the rose garden and then we went over to Adventure Land to get some on the Ferry Boat. A few last shots in front of the Presidential building and we were done. It was 7:40am when we finished.
Magic Kingdom Portraits
Mike dropped us back off at the Wilderness Lodge with my bouquet, and we saw my Mom smoking out front. We kind of passed her off (my apologies Mom!) due to total exhaustion. We came right up to the room and grabbed breakfast from the concierge after removing our wedding garb. Then it was naptime from 8am until 11am. Dana from Carolyn Allen’s showed up at 11am to re-steam my gown and drop off my Mom’s dress. I am SO glad I booked her for two steamings. The gown was a mess when we got to Orlando from storage and the trip. It was also a total wreck when we finished the Magic Kingdom portraits with dirt, grass stains, water stains, and wrinkles galore. Dana got it ALL out and the gown looked perfect again! Amazing, and highly recommended, especially if you do your MK portraits before the wedding.
At 12:00pm, Marcia and Irene showed up from Disney Cosmetology to do the girls’ hair. Amy went first, and she got a French twist. My Mom got rollers and then my sister had her hair up just like mine, without the veil of course. Amy’s hair is down past her waist, and Marcia had no problem making it look perfect in a twist! We were all shocked. Irene did Mom’s and Kathleen’s hair in no time flat. Marcia is fairly quiet, and Irene is a total hoot! Marcia said on 02/02 they alone had 10 weddings, with anywhere from two to nine hairstyles each. She said they had 17 cast members doing hairstyles that day. It was a very busy day for weddings at Disney!
Walking Down the Aisle with DaD
Around 1:45pm, the stylists completed and left. I tipped them each another $10 for their help. Amy went down with my Mom to start getting dressed, and Andrew’s parents showed up and joined Amy to get Jerald (his Dad) ready in his tux. At 2:00pm, Kathleen got dressed and they started dressing me at around 2:10pm. My Dad showed up at about 2:20pm and he quickly got into his tux in our bathroom. At 2:25pm, we went down to the fourth floor where all the action was starting to begin.
Brad Crews, our coordinator, showed up around 2:40pm. Rob, our violinist, was there already and was practicing off to the side in the main hallway. All of the furniture was arranged previously somehow, and the candles were placed outside. The florist had already been there and Kathleen went back upstairs to get the bouquet and bout that we forgot in our rented fridge. They were already wilting a bit by the start of the wedding (and were basically dead by the end of photos). They had been done the afternoon before so we could have them for the MK photos. The two videographers (I forget their names!) and our photographer, Mike Strickland, were there too. One of our videographers asked me to say a word to Andrew before the wedding, and then asked Andrew afterwards to do the same for me. I can’t wait to see the videos!!
During the Ceremony
The time was 2:50 and Brad was asking me lots of questions about logistics. The waiter gave me some water. Then I saw the cake! It was SOOO pretty! We thought it was going to be small from the photos but oh boy, it was HUGE. We didn’t ask for anything special on the cake, just to use our own topper. Disney did a great job, and the cake was totally delicious! The videographer caught my first reaction to the cake and I was so giddy!
Reverend Day showed up around 2:55pm. He gave me a great big hug and told us how proud and happy he was to be performing our ceremony for us. It was time to go on stage! I discussed the veil with my Dad and Andrew, and then totally forgot to put it down over my face because the start was so rushed and exciting! First, the mothers walked in. Then Amy (best woman) walked in. Kathleen walked in really slowly and then it was our turn! My Dad took my arm and he went through the door first, then me. We got through the doorway and past the first bench and stood there for a minute while people took photos.
Toasting and Cutting the Cake
Dad walked me up to the front and confirmed to Reverend Day that he was the one to give me away. We did a triple handshake toe loop backwards forearm freak move with the handoff, but eventually we got the right hands in the right places! I was in Andrew’s hands now!
Most of the ceremony is kind of a blur. I remember trying to decipher which parts of the ceremony I had written, and which parts Reverend Day was adding in. At that point I had no idea. He was just telling us what to do and when. Andrew and I both made it through our vows just fine. We even got the rings on perfectly fine. I do remember when I turned toward Andrew and took both of his hands, I thought, “Oh my God, I’m getting married!” When speaking the vows, I was thinking, did I write that? Whatever, I was just going with the flow! Andrew had this smirk grin thing on his face the whole time, and I was so happy I could NOT stop smiling and glowing bright! I’m sure the photos will show how excited I was and how nervous Andrew was.
Handmade wedding favors with a custom bound book, programs and Ty Halo II Beanie Babies
The Moms lit the tapers and we lit the unity candle. Then we exchanged our first gift, a single ivory presentation rose, and we also presented them to our parents (which was a surprise to them all). We had our first kiss, which was excellent! Then we were pronounced, “Mr. and Mrs. Andrew and Jessica Green.” Pictures pictures pictures, everywhere! We walked slowly straight into the video cameras down the aisle and out the door, over to the cake table inside. About five seconds later, Kathleen and Amy came out with Mickey Ears on their heads! They had conspired together and added a little Disney to our non-Disney wedding, unbeknown to us! Ahh well, I’m sure it looks great on camera.
The cider was poured for our toast and Amy gave her speech to everyone, which was very nice! It was short and sweet. Kathleen said a few words too, as did Andrew’s father, who really wants me to call him “Dad!” We toasted several times and then we cut the cake together. It was incredible; I really wanted more of it! In fact I think I did eat more of it before we left for pictures. We had our “first dance” in the hallway. Andrew really didn’t want to, but he did it for me anyway. We swung around like one or two times, and then my Dad cut in on cue. I swung around a few times with my Dad, and that was it!
Waving From Sunset Point Balcony
The entire time, I had no idea what the violinist was playing. I heard him a few times but couldn’t make out what the music was! I don’t know if it was excitement, adrenaline, or just disillusionment, but I’ll have to watch the tape to figure out what happened. One of the videographers took off, and our violinist left too. Kathleen and Amy signed our marriage license, and Reverend Day left quickly after. At around 3:30pm, Brad presented us with our Disney Wedding Certificate, and our special gift. I won’t reveal it per DM unspoken code, but it’s very nice!
Brad took care of all of the candles, the cake, the serving set, the toppers (we got to keep the porcelain Mickey and Minnie topper even though we didn’t use it) and everything else. He put them all up in our room, on the bed, and we put it all away later. It was time for photos! I had given Mike a listing of our wish list and he used it to get all of our pictures. We went outside the back of the Wilderness Lodge, next to Silver Falls waterfall, for most of the family photos.
The Wedding Party - Amy, Andrew, Jessica and Kathleen
Traveling through the lobby and out by the pool was surreal. Everyone stopped to say congratulations, good luck, and a few said “too bad”. We ignored those last folks. I had an entire fan club of children, mostly little girls. The mommies would say, “Look, she just got married, isn’t she pretty?” They would wave to me and stare in amazement. Some little girls came up and gave me a hug, after Mom asked if it was ok. I shook a lot of toddler’s hands and a bazillion folks took my picture! 99% of the attention was focused on me and not Andrew, which I thought was sad but Andrew loved getting away from it all. He wanted me to shine, and he was holding the spotlight so nobody could see HIM behind it! I loved every single second of it.
Little kids would be running up to the slide at the pool and stop in their tracks when they saw us getting photos taken. It took us a bit more time than usual to do the photos at WL because so many little wet kids were running in our camera path. Also, in the background of the waterfall is a lookout point, which sometimes tourists would stop on. Mike was so funny! He would wave at them until he got their attention, and asked if they wanted to be on camera (very sarcastically).
Our Entire Family Together
After most of our photos, we went back through the lobby and outside the front down to the left path on the steps to the parking lots. We got some train shots of my gown and a few more family photos there. Then we called it a wrap! The gown was bustled back up, and we went in to take some candid shots. A man stopped on the path and said that his son had just had a vow renewal and I asked what the last name was! I couldn’t believe it, it was KIM! I begged him to have Kim come and find me, I wanted to meet her so badly! He promised to tell her. Andrew and I went up to the Terrace and all of the camera family members went down to the pool area. They took a bunch of photos of us up on the terrace from below. The people downstairs were clapping at us! We kept smooching for photo opportunities from the balcony.
We realized we had not photographed the rings and my beautiful nails (which I spent nine weeks growing and protecting). Kathleen and Mom took photos for us with the bouquet and our new rings. Andrew keeps complaining that there’s something stuck on his finger, and Mom kept telling him he’ll get used to it.
Andrew’s Dad came up to get us and said he found Kim! I ran downstairs (well, down the elevator) and Kim was there! I gave her a big hug and we each got pictures for our DM scrapbook. We both had to go so we only had a second to say hi, but I can’t wait to read her recaps! Andrew and I then went back up to our room to drop off some stuff.
We went back downstairs and waited at Artist Point for a few minutes until they opened at 5:30pm. We were seating promptly at a long table in the back left corner. I can’t say enough great things about AP, it was unbelievable! The background music was wonderfully soft and pleasant. The seating arrangement was great for twelve people. We had waiters getting our drinks right away, and they took our orders promptly. One nice thing about AP is that they started with the bride, and went clockwise around the table taking all the women’s orders, then took the groom and all the men’s orders. It was subtle but very regal.
And They Lived Happily Ever After
I went way out of my own league and tried something I never thought I would try: the Mixed Grill! Elk, ostrich and venison meats with purple potatoes ($34)! I actually liked every one of them, especially the venison! Andrew had the grilled buffalo sirloin ($30), which he thought was really good. My Mom and Karen both had the chicken dish, and they both liked it. I don’t think anyone disliked anything about the food or the service! We were all very, very pleased. They cut the cake and brought it out for dessert, which was perfect! Everyone was so stuffed from the meal, it was hard to eat the cake but we couldn’t help it! Total bill for 10 adults and 2 children: $438.
We rushed from the restaurant with the extra cake (later given to the concierge staff for them to eat) and quickly got out of our wedding attire. I still had the veil on my head because I didn’t have time to remove it. Our honeymoon coordinator, Matt Titus, threw together a really quick Fireworks cruise with only 4 hours notice. We went out to the loading dock behind the WL at 7:30pm and hopped on a private covered motorboat to go out and watch the fireworks. It was a little chilly but not too bad! We had a great time chatting and looking at all the scenery. We had already seen the fireworks from Narcoossee’s the night before, but we still enjoyed them all from the lake.
After the boat docked around 8:30pm, we tipped the driver ($10) and said goodbye to Andrew’s parents and Amy. We said goodbye also to my Dad and Karen after cashing his traveler’s checks wedding gift to us at the front desk. Kathleen, Joe, Ashley and Cole went back to the All Stars Movies resort. Andrew and I went up to see Mom and she gave me all the Polaroid’s she had taken so we can scan them in and send them back to her. She also gave us her wedding gift to us (more cash).
Andrew and I went back up to our room on the seventh floor to clean up and remove my veil. It only took us about six minutes to take out the 42 pins in my hair and remove the veil. We had the luggage services come up and take the three tuxedos and my wedding gown down to the bell desk for Carolyn Allen’s to pick up the next morning. After cleaning up the room enough to sleep, we literally crashed at 11pm due to total exhaustion.