Check out the special guest stars at Rachel & Steven's Disney and Up-themed wedding

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Photos by Nicole Ami Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Rachel, U.S. Army Soldier

Her offbeat partner: Steven, customer service rep

Date and location of wedding: Shades of Green at Walt Disney World — October 7, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Steven and I are Disney nerds. We eat, live, and breathe Disney, so it only made sense to have a Disney-themed wedding. Steven did not want a wedding in our hometown of Reno, Nevada (golf courses, deserts, casinos, and drive-thru chapels were out of the question for us), and I did not want to spend a fortune on a Disneyland or Disney World contracted wedding.

I am in the military, so I try to take advantage of any military-discount opportunities. After days of research, I came across a military-sponsored location that was located on Disney World property (three miles from Disney’s Magic Kingdom). The Shades of Green Resort was perfect for us because it was a cost-friendly location that allowed us to express our lovely wedding with our close family and friends.

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We immediately knew we did not want a huge wedding and being that it was a destination wedding, it was clear not all of our friends and family were going to make it. We gave our family and friends at least a year out to give them an option whether or not to attend and no hard feelings if they were unable to meet Mickey Mouse. For the most part, our guests were very happy to not only attend but make a vacation out of it (47 guests made it from Nevada, Hawaii, New York, and Virginia; not bad for a destination wedding!).

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We love the movie Up, so we thought it was fitting we involved our wedding theme around the famous Pixar movie. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen wore a different color, and I tried to pick out items that screamed, “UP!” Our boutonnieres were custom-made to match details of the movie, the cake was balloons and the sky, and even the bridesmaid necklaces fit Carl’s house with balloons. Everything had color to it, and it was truly beautiful.

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With the exception of the toss bouquet at the reception, there wasn’t any floral. I didn't want to spend a ton of money on flowers that would only last less than 24 hours, so I made all the brooch bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids.

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For our cocktail hour, I wanted interaction and personality to come out from everyone. We provided three stations every guest had to visit. Station one had guests made a thumb print from stamps and provided “balloons” for our Up house that were signed individually. Station two had guests make letters or words of wisdom for our Up mailbox. Each month after our marriage, we'll open a letter from the wedding. Station three had guests sign our “Our Adventure Book” which has already documented past adventures of our relationship. Two pages were dedicated as our guest book.

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Décor for the reception was simple and economically friendly. Most wedding guests typically don’t remember what’s on the table other than food, so I wanted to make an impact by providing a motif of antique love rather than flowers. A collection of black and white photos of past family members in antique frames, super old ties, and classic soda bottle caps adorned each table, along with small LED lights. We didn’t have arranged table seating except for immediate family, so with those tables we put up photos of our families past weddings and childhood pictures. It was amusing seeing our aunts and uncles take pictures of the pictures on the table. Also, the chocolate-covered dinner menus being devoured before dinner as well as the chocolate covered Oreos as wedding favors were a huge decor winner.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony is pretty typical. We provided the “So you're going to sit through a wedding” program, with added Disney flair and other fun information. We are both Christian, and also wanted a ceremony to reflect our love and honesty in our relationship. My engagement and wedding rings were family heirlooms, at least 100 years old, passed down from every other generation. We each wrote our own vows, quoting some Disney references while adding our promises to each other.

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Our wedding music consisted of the following:

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Our biggest challenge:
Planning a destination wedding has its own challenges; we never saw our wedding location until two days prior to the wedding, arranging hotel and transportation accommodations for those who have never been to Disney World, and the small details and logistics of a wedding ceremony and reception. My biggest advice for couples: work on your wedding consistently, even if it is the smallest detail once a day.

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My favorite moment:
No Disney wedding is complete without Mickey and Minnie. Less than three weeks prior to our wedding, I wanted to surprise Steven by having Mickey and Minnie make an appearance at the reception. Additionally, I didn’t tell anyone I hired them, except a few key players (DJ, photographer, catering manager, etc.). After Steven and I had cut the cake, there was a song that played, and right in the middle of the song, out of the corner of the room, Mickey and Minnie made their dramatic entrance. All of the room roared with screams and applause, and it was the icing on the cake. Seeing Steven’s face was priceless — he couldn’t believe it. Mickey and Minnie danced with every single guest… twice. It was so cute seeing some of our elder family members kiss Minnie or shake Mickey’s hand.

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My funniest moment:
The dudes wanted to add their own magic to the day. Between the superhero socks and me ground-punching my power in our formal photos, everyone knew how to add their own personality to our wedding. And we loved that Steven's uncle wanting Mickey Mouse's autograph.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
We decided to do first look photos prior to the ceremony. It was one of the many best decisions we made for that day. Steven and I wanted to enjoy our wedding without the day being a blur. First look photos is one way to make the day last longer, especially because we knocked out a majority of our formal pictures before the ceremony. Additionally, we got to fully enjoy our cocktail hour. Our ceremony and reception was a total of a whooping six hours, so our photos were done before then. Also, when I did walk down the aisle, it was very magical and emotional, but far less stressful. So for those who believe the first look photos take away the magic, I think they only add more magic.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. I am a Navy girl myself. I never did take advantage of Shades of Green, but I know fellow military people who did and LOVED it! Yippee for military girls, we tend to get left out a lot (people forget that there are military spouses who are husband). Your wedding looked like so much fun and you had some famous mice there too! Can't go wrong with that.

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    • Mitzi,

      Thank you so much, we had a fab time and we were super blessed with the results and the costs. I think Mickey and Minnie were the most expensive portions of the wedding, but also one of the best parts of the reception. I do not have any regrets, and we still get comments today on how awesome the wedding was. Thank you again for your kind words. -Rachel

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  2. I'm not even a big Disney fan and I think this is totally adorable. The thumbprint guestbooks is especially cute!

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    • Thanks Kate!

      The Etsy shop we ordered this from has a variety of prints to choose from and each one was very cute. It's also a great item to frame and hang up in the home. -Rachel

  3. I absolutely love this. What a beautiful way to incorporate the theme! The shoes were the best part. My sister is doing an Up engagement shoot soon and I had to send her this. So many great ideas.

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    • Hi Meredith,

      Thank you for your kind words. What's great about the Tom's shoes is that I wore them throughout our honeymoon at Walt Disney World. They are very comfortable and I am so glad I changed into them after the ceremony (For the reception/dancing.). You really can't go wrong with Tom's and the sky is the limit on the designs. Hope your sister gets to share her engagement shoot with us, I know I'd love to see it! -Rachel

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  4. Best. Wedding. EVER!
    Thank you Rachel for sharing your wedding day with Jeff and me! Can you and Steven get married again next year so we can do it again? Please???

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  5. I need that mailbox in my life. Right now. Someone tell me where to find it so I can throw my wallet at it!

    • Hi Julia,

      Steven and I turned it into a DIY project. We spent 3-4 Saturdays putting the final product together. You can get the mailbox at Home Depot and the paint at either Hobby Lobby or Michael's Arts n Crafts store. Additionally we developed the stencils to create our names and painted them on the mailbox. After painting, we used a spray clear coat protectant to prevent the paint from scratching. Hope this helps :-). -Rachel

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