- Every year, Disney cruises see dozens of brides and grooms tie the knot on their ships.
- Many of these couples grew up loving the Disney brand, and met working or vacationing at Disney themselves.
- Jeffrey and Ty Blake-Holden met on a Disney cruise in August 2016 and got married on one in May 2017.
- Kristen and Mubarak Alhassan met working at Disney World‘s market research department in 2012 and got married on the Disney Dream cruise in May 2018.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Every year, hundreds of Disney cruises set sail from ports in Florida, California, and all over the world to take their passengers on a floating Disney vacation. While passengers young and old come to experience the company’s high quality entertainment and iconic charm, many cruises also see couples getting married onboard or at one of their stops.
While each couple has its own history with the Disney brand, many grew up on its stories, ultimately deciding to include its magic in their special celebration.
“They make dreams come true, let me tell you,” Disney cruise wedding photographer Jess Collins told INSIDER about the Disney cruise weddings.
Here are five couples who chose to celebrate their love at sea with Mickey.
Monica and Ryan Poulin got married aboard the Disney Dream ship in February 2018.
Their three-day cruise included stops at Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, and Disney’s 1000-acre private island of Castaway Cay.
“Most weddings are between three and four nights because they are quite costly,” said Collins. “A lot of couples don’t want their guests to have to spend too much.”
The two met in high school, and, having ended up in Florida after college, had both gotten jobs with “the Mouse,” Monica told INSIDER.
Both worked at Disney World, Monica as a character attendant and Ryan as a photo pass photographer. Ryan proposed in January 2016 during the fireworks show at Disney’s Magic Kingdom when his family was visiting from out of town.
Knowing they wanted a Disney wedding but that park wedding prices were steep, the two opted for a cruise. Disney cruise wedding packages start at $US3,500.
“We came across Disney cruise lines and I was like, wow, that is perfect – it’s affordable, it’s still Disney, and it’s a vacation for everyone,” she said.
According to Wedding Wire, the average cost of a destination wedding in 2018 was $US32,000.
The two picked a three-day cruise and got married on Disney’s private island of Castaway Cay on the third day.
About 36 of the Poulins’ friends and family joined them on their special day.
Per Disney tradition, their cake was the stuff of fairy tales.
The basic cruise ship package includes a two-tier, white fondant cake with a selection of flavours including chocolate, vanilla, or marble, and fillings including lemon cream cheese, strawberries and cream, French vanilla, espresso chocolate, and raspberry chocolate.
The Poulins upgraded to a more chocolate-rich cake with a cookies and cream filling.
Following the ceremony, Disney ushers the wedding party back onto the ship for a Champagne reception.
The Poulins opted to have Mickey and Minnie join their reception (for 30 minutes and an extra $US850).
“Our first dance was to ‘Married Life’ from the movie ‘Up,'” Monica said.
Kristen and Mubarak Alhassan got married aboard the Disney Dream in May 2018.
Like the Poulins, they chose a three-night cruise out of Port Canaveral.
The two had met working at Disney World’s market research department in 2012, and began dating a year later.
While Kristen is a Florida native, Mubarak is originally from Ghana.
Their ceremony took place in the Outlook Lounge, located on the ship’s top deck.
Having considered various Disney wedding options (the Aulani resort in Hawaii, for instance, and Florida’s various theme parks), the Alhassans, who live in Florida, realised that a Disney cruise offered exactly the “intimate but elegant” ceremony that they’d want, said Kristen.
The Outlook fits about 30 people, she said, and the two had 15 guests altogether. “I really loved how intimate everything was,” she said.
“Eat all of the Disney cruise food,” Kristen told INSIDER, “it’s the best thing on Earth.”
The Alhassans opted for a nautical cake. One tier was chocolate fudge and cookies and cream, and the second vanilla with a citrus lemon butter cream.
Disney’s cruise line website lists 14 different dining options aboard the Disney Dream, including the Royal Court Royal Tea, where cruisers can have tea with a Disney princess, and the Enchanted Garden, inspired by the gardens of Versailles.
Kristen had grown up loving the Disney brand.
She’d grown up idolizing Cinderella, and her family was part of the Disney Vacation Club.
“Disney was like the one place where my dad always seemed like he was really happy,” Kristen told INSIDER. “It’s kind of funny that [Mubarak and I] had that crazy Disney whirlwind romance and now we’re married.”
After the wedding, a guest and die-hard Carnival Cruise Liner told Kristen, “you spoiled me for life. I can never do anything but Disney ever again.”
“Even to this day,” she said, “everyone’s like ‘when’s the reunion?'”
Tiffany Keffalas and Michael Beamer got married aboard the Disney Dream in November 2016.
The two booked a three-night cruise sailing out of Port Canaveral in Florida. Beamer is an engineer and Keffalas owns her own graphic design business in Butler, Pennsylvania.
The two were high school sweethearts, having met in their senior year in 2011.
During their time at Robert Morris University, Beamer and Keffalas also participated in the Disney College Program, where they ultimately decided a Disney wedding would be the way to go. The Disney College Program is a five to seven-month program offering college credit and leadership building courses.
“We grew up drinking the Disney juice,” Keffalas told INSIDER about her Disney-loving upbringing.
“I grew up going to Disney several times a year,” she said. When she started dating Beamer, she said jokingly, “I was like, listen, you better like Disney or you’re out.”
According to photographer Jess Collins, the Disney cruise couples she’s photographed “live, breathe, or eat Disney.”
Keffalas and Beamer got married on Castaway Cay with 50 guests in attendance.
“We knew if we did a Disney World wedding we would have had probably closer to 150 to 200 guests,” Keffalas said about wanting to keep the event small. Going the cruise route “was kind of our way of eliminating guests without not inviting them,” she said.
According to The Knot, one of the main reasons to have a destination wedding is “they’re virtually stress-free.”
One of the most special moments during Keffalas and Beamer’s three-night wedding cruise was getting photographed on the ship’s stage.
“We got special permission to take pictures on the stage on the cruise ship where they do all of their musical productions,” said Keffalas, “so that was really special to me. My husband and I met in music and musical theatre.”
Among the shows featured on the Disney Cruise Line are “Beauty and the Beast,” “Frozen,” and “Tangled.”
Keffalas’s advice for first-time cruisers? “Always do a four-day over a three-day if this is your first cruise because a three-night’s gonna feel way too quick.”
“I actually put Disney cruise standards way above the resort standards,” she said of the various Disney experiences. “We did the first cruise with everybody, got married, and then my husband and I got right back on the ship for a four-night cruise – that was our honeymoon.”
Jeffrey and Ty Blake-Holden got married on the Disney Dream in May 2017.
Having gone on between 30 and 35 cruises on cruise lines from the Norwegian Cruise Line to Royal Caribbean to Carnival Cruise Line, Jeffrey’s an avid cruiser.
“Most of my vacations are Disney vacations just because of the level of service,” he said. “There’s a Disney difference – it’s the smell of the ships, it’s the interaction with the cast members … Bottom line, it’s quality.”
The Disney Dream and the Disney Wonder both scored 100 on the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention‘s sanitation test.
The two had met aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship in August 2016. Blake was vacationing while Ty was working as a sign language interpreter.
“I was sailing from San Diego to Port Canaveral and I happened to meet him while we were in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico,” said Jeffrey. Weeks later, introducing Ty to one of his friends, said Jefferey, “I whispered in his ear that this was the guy I was gonna marry.”
The two had their ceremony in the Outlook Lounge (but took photos in the atrium) on the second day of a four-night cruise.
About 20 friends and family joined them. The basic Disney cruise wedding package includes an officiant for the wedding, cake, and Champagne following the ceremony, and a solo musician, according to Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons.
The Blake-Holdens’ first dance was to Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This.”
“There’s this thing called trashing the dress,” said Jeffrey about a wedding tradition and highlight of their day: after the ceremony is over, some brides will jump in the ocean or take on an activity that effectively ruins their dresses.
The Knot defines “trashing the dress” as brides “wearing their wedding dress once more in a much less careful manner (no bridesmaids carrying the train here) for a dramatic photo shoot.” Brides run into the ocean, climb trees, or take on any number of dramatic activities with their dresses.
“On the ship they have a waterslide,” said Jeffrey, “we got on the raft in our wedding clothes and went down the slide – kind of our version of [trashing the dress].”
“I cried a lot,” said Blake about their wedding day, “happy tears, happy tears.”
NBC News named Disney Cruise Lines one of the best options for a wedding for their low stress and low hassle.
The following fall “we did it all over again,” said Jeffrey.
The Blake-Holdens planned to go on another Disney cruise for a family vacation the following fall with members who were unable to attend their initial ceremony. Having planned to rent one of the lounges on the cruise for a Champagne toast, Jeffrey and Ty soon found out the family was expecting a full-fledged ceremony.
“So we actually went through and did the whole thing over again,” said Jeffrey.
Krystal and Ben Tirado got married on the Disney Dream in 2013.
The two booked the three-night cruise out of Port Canaveral as well.
“I always kind of dreamed of having a big Disney wedding,” said Krystal, who’d wanted a Magic Kingdom ceremony but found the price tag too high. Luckily, she soon discovered the cruise wedding option.
“What intrigued me about it,” she added, “was we had basically a three-day wedding.”
The two had met in college: she was a cheerleader and he was a football player.
“I knew he was a keeper,” Krystal said of her husband, “when I found out we had a mutual love for all things Disney.”
Their ceremony took place on Castaway Cay.
The Tirados were joined by 16 of their friends and family and were married by Krystal’s stepfather.
“When you’re walking around on the ship and you’re in a gown, little girls will come up to you and ask you what princess you are,” Krystal said.
“They will ask you for a picture and an autograph,” she said. “I think I probably had about four or five little girls say that to me on our wedding day and it just made my whole night.”
According to a part-time Disney princess at Disneyland in Anaheim, of the 600 or so women who audition for the role of a princess at one of the parks, only 30 ultimately get hired.
Krystal herself is a wedding photographer in Pittsburgh, and photographed both the Alhassan and the Keffalas/Beamer weddings.
“I am obsessed with sunset and night-time photographs,” Krystal said of her signature wedding shots. “There is nothing that beats a sunset in the Bahamas.”
Though she shoots between 30 and 35 weddings a year, among her favourites, of course, are Disney’s.
“They have so much extra Disney magic,” she told INSIDER.
- Read more:
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- 54 photos that will make you want to visit every Disney theme park in the world
- 16 foods at Disney parks that you didn’t know were vegan
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