After we left Disney, my in-laws, my parents, BW Groom and I headed to Innisbrook, where my parents live for the winter. They had made an appointment with their wedding planner for the next day, and I was excited to see what kinds of amenities my other childhood vacation "home" had to offer.
For most ceremonies, Innisbrook uses a picture-esque spot featuring a tree with Spanish Moss:
Then we went onto reception spaces. As I mentioned before, BW Groom and I were not interested in a standard banquet-hall room. Why were we making our guests come all this way, just to go into any old ballroom? Additionally, my in-laws happen to manage a banquet facility in Connecticut, and if that was the route we wanted to go, then we would have just gotten married back east.
We had informed our coordinator of this, and she did her best to make their facilities not sound like typical ballrooms, but there was no getting around it. In terms of indoor spaces, this was all Innisbrook really had to offer:
On top of not loving any of the reception options, we found that the pricing wasn't all that different from Disney. Slightly less, but not significantly so. Not enough to counteract the fact that you aren't at Disney and have all the Disney amenities!
At this point, we kind of looked at each other and said, "Um, what other options can we even consider?" No matter how you sliced it, even if we had the wedding in Connecticut (where BW Groom is from) or Chicago (where I'm from), we'd have a ton of people traveling. We couldn't come up with any other ideas that made sense for both of our families and friends.
So, I spent an hour on the phone with a Disney Sales Consultant crunching numbers, going through options, asking about 6,386 questions, and generally driving her crazy. I even recorded the conversation so that I could listen to it later in case I forgot what she had said (something I definitely recommend!) She generously gave us some sample cost proposals for a wedding of our size, and we discussed it with our parents. While Disney didn't come cheap, it didn't really come any MORE expensive than a wedding in any large metropolitan city (aka Chicago or near-NYC/CT) which we were bound to have, given our locations.
Disney told us we wouldn't be able to sign a contract until exactly a year out from our preferred date. They also recommended submitting our first 3 choices of dates, in case other couples wanted our dates/venues and we ended up in a "lottery" system.
So...we figured, what do we have to lose? We can at least submit our date requests...THAT doesn't cost any money.
So we did. And we kept our fingers crossed.