"John and Karen Stagliano recited their wedding vows on November 26 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL."
Here's some details.
Thanksgiving week has always been a special time of year for John and I. John's November 29th birthday often falls within a few days of Thanksgiving, and we have spent the week in Hawaii or the Bahamas every year since 1999. This year, because John was going to be in Washington DC on the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, we decided to spend our vacation on the East Coast rather than go to Hawaii. We didn't want to go back to the Bahamas in November, so we decided to go to Walt Disney World.
At the same time, we were already in the beginning stages of planning our wedding, but we hadn't decided on a location. We were deciding between Southern California so a bunch of our friends could be there, or someplace intimate and casual, which is what we really preferred. When I saw some wedding pictures of Walt Disney World's Fairy Tale Weddings, I thought they were breathtaking and asked John if he would consider having the ceremony at a Walt Disney World resort. I showed him wedding photos, assured him that it could be very elegant. He was pretty happy about the short planning time.
Some of my friends were surprised to hear that John and I weren't officially married before this. When I was pregnant with our daughter in 2001, I legally changed my last name to Stagliano with the court because we wanted our daughter to have the same last name as both of us. At the time, John and I said commitment vows to each other, and left it at that. It's been something that meant more to me than to him, and over the years, I finally realized that John loves me more than a lot of married guys love their wives, and I didn't really need a marriage certificate to tell me that. It wasn't until this year that we both felt like it was the right time to have a full ceremony. With so many things in the world unsure, our love at home is one of the things that has kept both of us grounded and strong. And on a completely unromantic and practical point, we figured we might as well get the legal benefits that go along with being married, like tax breaks and fun stuff like that.
So starting in early October, I had a wedding location of Florida with a wedding date of November 26th. Six weeks to get a dress and make all of the arrangements. My coordinator was fantastic. She helped me with so many things, from finding a great hair stylist who would come to my resort the day of the wedding, to letting me know that MW Tux and a professional cleaners would deliver the pressed tuxes and steamed wedding gown directly to my WDW hotel. We took care of flowers, cake, limo, music, photography, officiant. John and I picked out coordinating Jeff Cooper wedding rings. And with the help of Sarah Doom, Lissa and Laura, I somehow managed to plan in 6 weeks a wedding that we the perfect wedding for John and I.
My daughter was my flower girl. I asked my best friend Laura to be my maid of honor and her daughter was the ring bearer. John, never wanting to put a burden on someone, felt too nervous to ask one of his friends to be the best man. I asked him who he would ask if we were having the ceremony here in California. He said Joey Silvera, who he's known for over 20 years and considers one of his closest friends. So I called Joey and let him know what was going on and asked him if there was any way he'd be able to come out to Florida for a couple of days. He barely took a couple of seconds to tell me for sure that he'd do it. Honestly, the hardest part of the planning was keeping Joey a secret from John until the night before the wedding. But it was so worth it. Only a few people knew about the surprise, and at the Orlando airport baggage, Joey walked up to John.
On the day of the ceremony, I woke up at 2am so the stylist could do my hair and makeup for the 5am Cinderella's castle Magic Kingdom photo shoot with John. After that, we picked up our marriage license, the stylists came back to the room for Laura and to touch up my hair and makeup, and to style the girls' hair. I started crying because the only stressful part of the day was when my internet connection wasn't working and I couldn't send the wedding ceremony text to the coordinator, and I didn't have an easy way to print it at the hotel. John and I had completely written the ceremony text, and I was going to take the laptop to the ceremony and have the Reverend read it right from the laptop if need be. All of a sudden, the connection worked, the coordinator phoned me that she had printed it, and off we went in the limo.
The ceremony location was at the Polynesian Resort under some palm trees by a lake. Afterwards, we took pictures on the beach.
We spent 5 more days at Walt Disney World after the wedding. It's so beautiful at the holidays.