This past weekend, I was in Orlando with my parents and the wee ones at Disney World, being feted by Disney at their Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I was thrilled to have been able to attend, and I love all that I learned and the opportunities we had.
This year, the vast majority of the conference activities happened at the same location as the hotel, making logistics much easier for me. I was able to sleep a little more and get to conference sessions much easier. The first event was even onsite, making it easy to meet up with my family for that portion of the evening.
The first event for us attendees was in the Disney Wedding Pavillion, where we were able to chat with some of the other attendees in a reception-like atmosphere. And like any good wedding reception, there were favors. We were all given little Chinese takeout containers to fill with candy from the tables out front.
The most thrilling part to me? In addition to all the "traditional" candy that I can't even think of giving to the wee ones (we don't do HFCS and avoid dyes wherever possible), they had some selections - clear rock candy - that I was able to bring to the wee ones, and boy were they thrilled.
Disney also used this opportunity to showcase their line of Disney Princess wedding dresses. I'd seen pictures of them online previously, but they were even more gorgeous in person. They were designed by Alfred Angelo and inspired by Ariel, Cinderella, Tiana, Belle, and more. I love how you can see the personality of each princess in each of the dresses.
This one was my personal favorite. I'm a strapless wedding dress fan, and I love the princess skirt that isn't too super fussy.
That said, I also loved the Tiana inspired dress with the one shoulder look - something I'd love to be able to pull off myself.
While I'd never thought of Disney as a wedding desination, plenty of other people obviously do - I already knew that it was the number one honeymoon destination in the US. There have been Disney weddings for the past 20 years, and more than 40,000 couples have tied the knott at Disney.
As we explored the wedding pavillion (before being ushered to the chapel by "Frank" from Father of the Bride and "Edna" from The Incredibles - both of whom were perfectly cast), we saw various place settings and cakes available to couples being married at Disney. My wedding cake pales in comparison.
It's a good thing Little Miss wasn't a part of this portion of the conference, or we would be eating Tinkerbell cake right now. I'm pretty sure this will be her wedding cake someday.
Regardless of an individual's taste, there was a choice available to fit - from the very Disney to the classic and understated to the regal princess.
After "Frank" and "Ednda" brought us to the wedding chapel, we learned about Disney weddings and trends in weddings in general from Carley Roney from The Knot and David Tutera from My Fair Wedding.
It was interesting to hear how The Knot has grown over time from a forum on the old AOL to having a brand new site for those who have gone through their wedding and are on to the next stage: The Bump.
David Tutera had some great commentary about the weddings he comes in to plan - three weeks before the wedding. He had the most inspirational story about a boy who's Make A Wish was for David to plan his mother's wedding. The whole town came together to rally for her, and there was the most beautiful wedding that meant so much to all the participants. And really... that's what the wedding is all about.
Interesting tidbits: purple and silver are becoming the new "in" colors for weddings (I was ahead of the times?). While budgets are still important to couples, they would rather cut the guest list than cut back on the cost of items in the wedding.
We also witnessed the vow renewal of a couple who was married at the chapel only two years ago. It was very sweet, but the best part had to be the actual carriage with miniature horses and liveried footmen coming to carry them off. It. Was. Gorgeous.
After the happy couple went on their merry way, it was time to meet up with our families for dinner. The lawn at the Grand Floridian - where we were staying - had been turned into a mini-carnival for the children to enjoy.
I was amazed at the food - thank you Chef Gary for walking me through the buffet to let me know exactly what Little Miss could and could not eat and for making it all taste awesome. We all ate our fill, and this was not your typical banquet food. The beef kebabs with chimichurri sauce was actually cooked on giant grills right there in front of us.
Once we finished eating, the wee ones sprinted off - with all the other kids! - to go play the carnival games. They had a blast trying to toss balls into a crocodile's mouth, throwing balls to knock down clowns, attempting the ring toss, and more. Their favorite - and a keepsake we're bringing home - was the spin art booth. The wee ones thought this was the most amaing thing ever, and I was just thrilled that we ended up with no paint on any clothing. How we accomplished that miracle, I'm still not certain!
Various characters also joined us during and after dinner. While Mister Man was too busy to have his picture taken, Little Miss was in heaven. She loved hanging out with Goofy, Mickey, Pluto, and more. Having characters come to us instead of waiting in 45 minute lines in the parks to meet them was amazing. I'm so grateful for this opportunity!
The other favorite of the evening was the balloon man. The wee ones waited in line for an hour and twenty minutes to get their balloons made - potentially the only down side of the night was the long wait here - and they were fascinated. The balloon maker did a great job of engaging the children, and the variety of balloons he was able to create - from Ariel to Mickey to a "horse" that kids could ride - was impressive. I loved his interaction with the children, and so did they.
It was a lovely first evening, and a great way to ease into the conference with the spirit that is Disney. And tomorrow? The meat of the conference - including some great tips on how to handle kids who think they're ready for Facebook.
And you can always catch up on my first "recap" post on my family's take of the conference here.
In the interest of full disclosure, I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. The conference ticket also included discounted hotel stay, park tickets, and some gifts for myself and my family. I was not compensated in any way, nor was I asked to write about the conference. All opinions expressed are my own.