Fan­tas­ti­cal Wed­dings

From fairy­tale princess wed­dings and solemn vows to fan­dom to whim­si­cal re­cep­tions in­spired by movies, des­ti­na­tion wed­dings in Or­lando are a dream come true.

Where Orlando - - Where now - SHEL­LEY PRE­STON

Rachael Ca­bant­ing and her hus­band Steven are self-pro­fessed “Dis­ney nerds,” so much so, when the time came to get hitched, Or­lando was a no-brainer des­ti­na­tion. The cou­ple loved the Dis­ney/Pixar movie “Up” for its sweet mes­sage about grow­ing old with your true love, and of course, the whim­si­cal jour­ney us­ing thou­sands of bal­loons. So they de­cided to use the movie for their wed­ding-day theme. The re­sult: rain­bow bal­loon bou­ton­nières, old-timey bot­tle caps strewn around the ta­bles and a bou­quet made from candy-col­ored vin­tage jew­elry. And guess who showed up for the dance? That’s right, one of the world’s most-fa­mous cou­ples, Mickey and Min­nie.

In a place where on any given day you’re likely to spy cou­ples at the Magic King­dom wear­ing mouse ears with a veil and top hat at­tached, a fan­tasy wed­ding in Or­lando is par for the course. Lo­cal wed­ding photographer Nicole Faust says she’s shot sev­eral off­beat wed­dings over the years. “Or­lando is a place that fa­cil­i­tates an area where hav­ing a spe­cific theme to your wed­ding is ac­cept­able and al­most en­cour­aged.” And, with cos­play (cos­tume play) go­ing main­stream and the pop­u­lar­ity of Dis­ney, Lego, Marvel, Star Wars and Harry Pot­ter, could there be any bet­ter des­ti­na­tion than Or­lando to have the char­ac­ter wed­ding of your dreams? Per­haps more than any other place in the world, peo­ple can live out their un­abashed fan­dom in and around Cen­tral Florida’s theme parks and at­trac­tions. Me­dieval Times, with its faux cas­tle and joust­ing arena, is a Ren-faire par­adise, and plenty of brides have said “I do” wear­ing corseted gowns with flow­ers in their hair.

Or­lando, and Florida in gen­eral, has al­ways been a des­ti­na­tion for wed­dings. With warm weather, a vast num­ber of posh re­sorts and prox­im­ity to the beach, there’s a lot of al­lure when it comes to trad­ing vows. But, like the Ca­bant­ings, we all know the big­gest draw for a des­ti­na­tion wed­ding in Or­lando (ahem, hey there, Mickey Mouse.) Ac­cord­ing to Dis­ney, 1,000 cou­ples are ty­ing the knot on their prop­erty each year. Brides, once lit­tle girls who wore cos­tumes of their fa­vorite princess, can get as close as they can to a real princess ex­pe­ri­ence with a des­ti­na­tion Dis­ney wed­ding. To com­plete the trans­for­ma­tion into a princess bride, wed­ding dress com­pany Al­fred An­gelo makes of­fi­cial Dis­ney wed­ding gowns based on pop­u­lar princesses in­clud­ing the Elsa gown (from the per­pet­u­ally pop­u­lar movie “Frozen”), a whis­pery, pale blue gown be­daz­zled with a crys­tal bodice and flow­ing, di­aphanous cape.

Cen­tral Florida is one of the world’s most-pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion wed­ding lo­ca­tions. Now that gay mar­riage is le­gal, the state of Florida ex­pects an ad­di­tional 7,000 wed­dings a year ac­cord­ing to The Wil­liams In­sti­tute, a pub­lic-pol­icy or­ga­ni­za­tion. Cer­tainly those num­bers will be re­flected in Cen­tral Florida, increasing the num­ber of cou­ples, al­ready around 18,000, who marry in Or­lando and Kis­sim­mee every year.

Of course, fan­tasy wed­dings are only a small slice of the cake when it comes to themes and dé­cor, but wed­ding plan­ners and pho­tog­ra­phers get giddy when the topic emerges. Tracy L. Marini, owner of the Or­lando-based wed­ding plan­ning group, Event­fully Yours, says, “I re­cently did a Harry Pot­ter-themed wed­ding. It was so much fun. When do­ing wed­dings every week­end, any­thing out of the nor­mal realm is ex­cit­ing be­cause it’s so dif­fer­ent than what we are used to.” For those not will­ing to go full- on Ren-faire or come down the aisle as Princess Leia as Han Solo awaits, Marini sug­gests cou­ples in­cor­po­rate small themed el­e­ments into a more tra­di­tional wed­ding. But for those cou­ples who dare, they’ll come away with some pretty awe­some photos from an “only-in- Or­lando” wed­ding.

With warm weather, a vast num­ber of posh re­sorts and prox­im­ity to the beach, there’s a lot of al­lure when it comes to trad­ing vows.

Have the fan­tasy wed­ding of

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Dis­ney des­ti­na­tion wed­dings

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