Jess and Mike celebrated their happily ever after wedding reception at the beautiful Paddlefish at Disney Springs. The team at Wedding Venue Map connected with them to find out all the details to make up their special day!
Tell us the story and inspiration behind your wedding theme.
The theme of our wedding day was “Our Love Story”, and we wanted that reflected in all the elegant, romantic, and timeless elements of our wedding day. As avid readers and writers, we looked to literary references and the Victorian era as our sources of inspiration for our venue, attire, floral, decor, and menu.
Our color scheme was burgundy, blush, and ivory, and we used lace, pearls, and roses everywhere! What began as “once upon a time” became “happily ever after.” Our love story continues as we write the next chapter together as husband and wife!
Why did you choose Harry P. Leu Gardens for your wedding ceremony venue?
We selected the rose garden at Harry P. Leu Gardens for its perfectly romantic setting – like something out of a Jane Austen novel! Roses, a common symbol of love in literature, were the focal point of our venue location, wedding arch, bridal bouquet, corsages, and boutonnieres.
Harry P. Leu Gardens also has Bride and Groom Suites, so that made it very easy for us to get ready that day!
Why did you choose to have your wedding reception at Paddlefish at Disney Springs?
We selected Paddlefish at Disney Springs because I (the bride) was familiar with the venue as a Walt Disney World Resort Cast Member. The space was very flexible; we reserved the upper deck of the restaurant, so our guests could dine inside and dance outside on the deck.
This was especially important due to COVID-19, so we could properly social distance and adhere to CDC guidelines. All the food and drinks were delicious, and the service from our banquet duty captain and team was phenomenal.
The lobster corn dog appetizers and the signature Mr. and Mrs. cocktails (named “Captain Handsome” and “Mermaid’s Kiss”) were a major hit with our guests!
What are some helpful tips and advice for other engaged couples?
Relax and take a little vacation to celebrate your engagement! The day after Mike (the groom) proposed we went on a 3-day vacation to the Bahamas on a Disney Cruise. Live on Cloud 9 for as long as you can, and celebrate this milestone together!
What was the most important lesson you learned while planning your wedding?
No matter what happens, at the end of the day, you’re married! We faced many obstacles in planning our wedding – family illness, unemployment, a global pandemic, and more. Our initial wedding plans involved getting married back home in the Midwest with 120 guests. Because of COVID-19, we decided to plan a whole new wedding by moving it to Florida where we currently live, and narrowing our guest list to 20 people.
Even on our wedding day, the uncontrollable happened – it absolutely rained and poured during our ceremony! These challenges may not seem like a traditional fairytale ending, however, how we handled the situation speaks to our strength as a couple.
Our love story is raw and real and beautiful, and our wedding day was a perfect reflection of that. If we can handle rain on our wedding day, then we can handle anything that comes our way! The most important lesson we learned is to ground yourself, be mindful, and take delight in every moment of your wedding day! Your love story is worth celebrating!
What were the personal details of the wedding that are a great reflection of you as a couple?
All the personal details of the wedding were reflective of our theme, “Our Love Story.” For example, our officiant made our ceremony special by adding in quotes from Walt Disney, as well as reading a passage by American writer Mark Twain and an excerpt from “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman.
The theme was also reflected in all the details and elements of our reception decor. We distributed bookmarks with quotes about love as favors for our guests. Our centerpieces consisted of hollow books draped with pearls, antique doilies, book page confetti and roses, brass keys, and our favorite book quotes framed on top of the display.
Our cake topper read “Happily Ever After” to signify the closing of this chapter in our fairytale. The cake flavors were classic vanilla with Italian Amaretto, in honor of the groom’s Italian heritage.
Tell us some special moments from the day.
Due to the pouring rain, we improvised and moved our wedding ceremony under a gazebo within the rose garden. Exchanging our vows and declaring our love for each other under the gazebo was so beautiful, intimate, and personal. It was even dreamier than we ever could have imagined!
The first time the bride cried on the wedding day was when her bridal bouquet was delivered to her suite – it was so beautiful, she couldn’t hold back tears of joy! We originally thought about dancing to a slow song for our first dance, but we surprised everyone by dancing to “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede. We thought it fit our vibe better as a couple!
We actually ordered a cake meant to feed 75 guests because we wanted the leftover cake to take home afterward, but our party of 20 loved the cake so much that they ate the majority of it. The bride also dropped the bite of cake she was feeding to the groom, and it fell to the floor. Whoops!
The champagne glasses we used for our wedding toast were from my grandmother, who passed away from breast cancer a few years ago. It was a lovely way to honor her memory and have her there at the wedding with us.
Every guest received a face covering that said “Mike & Jess, Established 2020” and a personal hand sanitizer that said “Spread love, not germs.” All the reception decor was DIY. It was simply a romantic and chic look that came together better than we ever could have imagined.
After the wedding reception at Paddlefish was over, we celebrated by eating at Taco Bell! Cheesy gordita crunches never tasted so good. The day we were married, October 4th, was our dog Sparky’s birthday. The day after, October 5th, was our Lucky Number 7 years of being together as a couple!
A special thank you to the Wedding Vendor Team who helped bring this wedding reception at Paddlefish to life:
Ceremony Venue: Harry P. Leu Gardens | @leugardens
Reception Venue: Paddlefish at Disney Springs | @paddlefishorl
Photography: DeMarco Weddings | @demarcoweddings
Floral: Linens and Flowers Design | @linensandflowersdesign
Cake: Sprinkles Custom Cakes | | @sprinklescustomcakes
Officiant: Reverend Ray Alonzo | @officiant_rev_ray_alonzo
Hair & Makeup: Fifth and Eighth Beauty | @fifthandeighthbeauty
Wedding Dress: Morilee by Madeline Gardner | @morileeofficial
Bridal Salon: Bridal Gallery of Orlando | @bridalgalleryoforlando
Groom Suit: Allure Bridals | @allurebridals
Groom Salon & Alterations: Carolyn Allen’s Bridals & Tuxedos | @carolynallensbridals
Groom Wedding Ring: King Will | https://www.kingwill.com | @kingwillrings
Bride Engagement Ring: Brilliant Earth | https://www.brilliantearth.com | @brilliantearth
Bride Wedding Ring: Somen Tungsten
Face Coverings: BestDayEverSpot
Custom Last Name Sign: LavenderDotsDesign
Heart Confetti: ForLoversWithLove
Rose Petals: RosePetalsEverywhere
Cake Server Set: StayWithAnn
Book Roses: HouseOfPomPomsShop
Cake Topper: LoveWedStudio
Rose Pens: WhimsyCharmBoutique
Lace Doilies: LynnLakeWorkshop