This weekend, I witnessed a real life fairytale unfold.
If you don’t know by now (aka you have no social media, so the chances of you even reading this post are very slim) my oldest sister got married yesterday. Heather Jenna Hathcock, my best friend and partner in crime for the past twenty years, is now a Bohannon. Let’s not get too mushy right away though… we’ll save that until the end. If you’re unaware (again very unlikely) the wedding was located in Walt Disney World.This is probably not very surprising to anyone who knows our family well. And this wedding will probably go down in history as the most fantastic and extravagant event that Disney World has ever put on. Sounds like an exaggeration, I know. Keep reading & you can decide for yourself (-;
About a year and a half ago, my now brother-in-law, Josh came to me telling me how he planned to propose to my sister around Christmas time, while we were of course in Disney World. So basically my inner-Judy kicked in full force and we all went to work on planning the most romantic proposal in front of our entire family and all of Heather’s closest friends. The proposal took place at a beautiful arch overlooking Cinderella’s castle, perfectly timed to be followed by a firework display overhead. Josh incorporated Heather’s favorite Disney princesses into his proposal, and of course she said yes.
Fast forward a year and a half later and here we are. In the past year and a half I have witnessed my sister try on multiple dresses, change her mind on which crown she liked best, get Magic Mike’d on her Bachelorette Trip, go to countless Disney Wedding plannings, and so much more. It had felt like she’d been engaged for years and then it just hit us. After the new year came and went, it became clear we were reaching the finish line on what seemed to be the longest engagement of all time. Days started flying by and eventually a year turned into a month and then a week, and now were here.
We all knew the day would come, and some days I was ready for it to all be over so that the stress on my mom and sister would disappear with it. But now that its come and past, I can’t help but feel a little sad. I have spent the last year and a half playing my part in whatever ways possible. I threw Heather a shower, took their engagement photos, made the wedding video, and even prepared a special toast with my little sister (we killed it Duck (-; ). Saturday I watched what I thought would never come actually take place, and no words could truly describe the magic we all witnessed. My sister put on her princess dress and her crown to match, and walked down the aisle as a Hathcock for the last time. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you how the weekend began…
Family and friends arrived all week long to their respective hotels, and we met for dinners or fun-filled days at the park together. On Wednesday, Heather, Josh, and Mom got to be VIP’s on the View, which was being filmed in Disney this past week. They all congratulated the happy couple and even made Josh reenact the proposal in front of everyone. Thursday night, the family met for a grand dinner at the Polynesian for the Spirit of Aloha show. We all participated in the fun-filled Luau and talked about how it didn’t feel real that the time had finally come. Friday came along, and we all couldn’t believe that wedding day was just twenty four hours away. Then the best part came along… Heather and Josh did their “first look” and their wedding portrait session at sunrise in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. They woke around 4am to dress in their full wedding attire for their first look in the park, which they had to themselves, where Heather would reveal herself as a bride to Josh for the first time, right in front of Cinderella’s Castle. aka we should all be super jelly of this moment (well really this whole weekend, but you get the gist) The day went on and we all began to get ready and dressed for the evenings events. The wedding party gathered at the Wedding Pavilion for a lengthy rehearsal of what would go down the next day before heading out to rehearsal dinner.
In true Disney fashion, we followed wedding rehearsal with an all-out rehearsal dinner in an Epcot attraction no less. In the Living Seas ride, guests entered where they were taken “under the sea” to meet Ariel before proceeding into the grand room. We were all dressed to the nines and excitement overflowed as we greeted each other. Dinner was served and we all indulged on the excellence that is Disney food, the best food in the world. Family and loved ones stood to give their toasts and well wishes to the happy couple. Hope and I delivered our “sister toast” as I like to call it, in unison, recalling some of our favorite memories with our oldest sister and even including a few Hamilton references. The wedding video, my masterpiece, played and we all got a little glimpse into the pasts of Heather and Josh all the way up to wedding festivities and moments from their engagement. After dinner had come to an end, the Disney magic was not done yet. We were driven from the Living Seas attraction in motor coaches to the Italy pavilion just in time for our own dessert party and fireworks show. Pause – a moment of appreciation for the desserts is now required. The dessert party included bananas foster donuts, an ice cream bar, chocolate spheres that would collapse to reveal dessert inside, an entire table of Mickey themed desserts and more. Kyle and I of course had to try them all and then pray I’d still fit into my bridesmaid dress the next day. I did… no worries 🙂 We toasted to the almost-married couple and just reveled in each others company for a while. Then we all headed back to the rooms, and it kind of had the feeling of Christmas Eve, like we knew the next day would hold something magical and exciting.
Waking up on wedding morning was strange. I looked at my older sister who would soon no longer be just a sister but instead a wife as well. Everyone was in the best of spirits and great moods as we woke to the realization of wedding day and prepped for the long day ahead of us. The bridal party dispersed where the Groomsmen and guys went to their tee times on the Disney golf course, and the Bridesmaids and girls went to our private dressing room. We got our hair and make-up done and enjoyed a beautiful bridal brunch. Mimosas were served, and of course Judy provided snacks all day long accompanied by three huge smoothie machines. Heather revealed her gown to us 16 bridesmaids for the first time and of course we were in awe. We then gathered for photos in the gorgeous Grand Floridian in the late afternoon where we smiled for what felt like hours getting picture after picture taken. All day I just kept thinking how badly I wanted to freeze time. I love nothing more than spending endless time with all of my loved ones and celebrating the moment in front of us. I wanted to freeze time and watch the happiness on everyone’s faces over and over as we first saw Heather in her wedding dress. Or the tears in my mom’s eyes when it finally registered all of her planning and handwork has paid off and that this day was everything and more. And even the love and strength of the beautiful women who surrounded me all day long, from the bridal party to my family, the warmth was infectious. Everyone swooned over the beauty that was Heather, and could not believe the day had come for her to take a new last name. (Like wtf she has to come up with a new Instagram name and everything) If a day could be both stressful and peaceful, that about sums up wedding day. We did our best to keep calm and make it a serene environment, but the excitement was evident, a Disney fairytale wedding was about to unfold.
I blinked, and before I knew it, it was time to come together and make our way to Disney’s Wedding Pavilion. My sisters, my mom and dad, my niece Maggie, maid of honor Taylor, and of course Heather all got a little bit of special treatment when it came to transportation to the wedding venue. The Disney magic entered in the form of Cinderella’s carriage pulled by majestic white horses to transport us to the pavilion. We definitely rode in style, and Maggie could not believe she was riding in Cinderella’s carriage – well truthfully none of us could. We watched the guests pour in to the Pavilion as evening fell over us. An evening ceremony at 7:30pm in the beautiful Disney Wedding Pavilion was a setting of pure perfection for the fairytale wedding we were all about to be apart of. Heather’s carriage pulled up to the pavilion just in time and we all took our places behind the doors in anticipation for the ceremony that was about to begin.
My cousin began to sing “A Thousand Years” which meant it was time to start moving. My younger sister, Gage, and I were given the task of being the first to walk out (both terrifying and exciting). We made it to the alter without any falls as we stepped over the beautifully made aisle runner and hundreds of red rose petals covering the floor around us. Couple by couple followed us in as we all took our places on either side of the alter. Now, we were a very large bridal party, so you can just imagine how crowded it was up there. However after rehearsing the day before, it looked effortless as each couple joined us and the colors of gold dresses and black tuxes flooded the alter. It was finally time for the cutest ring bearer and flower girl in history to make their debut; Rhett and Maggie entered holding hands and making everyone smile from ear to ear. We all knew what that meant – time to stand for the entrance of the bride and my dad. Dramatic Disney music played and Heather was revealed to the guests for the first time, my dad probably trying to hold back tears even if he calls it “Disney allergies”. I however could not hold back tears and finally let my emotions of happiness and pure joy overcome me as I stood on the alter near my sister. The ceremony ended rather quickly and we all applauded and wept as they announced the new married couple. We filed out of the pavilion and threw rose petals at the newlyweds as they exited towards their carriage. As we posed for a few more bridal party photos, the guests made their way to the cocktail hour where they were greeted with endless sushi and an open bar. Translation – it was time to celebrate.
Once they opened up the reception room, our jaws dropped to the floor as we entered a grand ballroom that seems only imaginable in fairytales and movies. The Beauty and the Beast theme really came out in full force with gold, red, and roses covering the room. A beautiful canopy came from all sides of the room on the ceiling and led to an extravagant center with a chandelier. The tables were decorated in intricate gold tablecloths, gold plates, beautiful menu cards, and red roses of course. The center pieces included the magical rose from Beauty and the Beast or a large flowered center piece to differentiate each table from the next. The huge cake sat on an elevated stage with a white rose flower wall behind it and another chandelier on top. (this flower wall was Kimye material if you know what Im sayin) The bride and groom sat with their maid of honor, best man, and parents at an almost royal-looking table in the back center of the room. Of course a dance floor took over the middle of the ballroom with bars to both sides. The buffet tables took over an entire wing of the room, which of course was a good thing, because like I said… Disney food. We were called to dinner by a very special guest, Lumiere came out and danced to “Be Our Guest” in the center of the dance floor to welcome us to the buffet. – I have to geek out here for a second, because for all the non-addict Disney guests in the room, this may have seemed insignificant to all of the other magic. However, Disney has never let the Lumber character go to any event, show, parade, etc. other than the Belle show in Hollywood Studios… aka this was super cool. We all attempted to make our way to the buffet and stuff our plates with every choice of food offered. I had to mingle and eat almost simultaneously in order to greet all of my friends and family properly… and I still wasn’t able to make it to everyone. Throughout the evening we listened to more toasts given by my parents (both which made me cry), watched firsts dances, saw them toss the bouquet and garter, and then eventually cut the magnificent cake. It came to dessert time again and we enjoyed “grey stuff” cupcakes, four different types of cake, a Mickey waffle bar, and more. Safe to say we were stuffed come the end of the night. The magic continued as we were greeted by Belle and Beast and then Mickey and Minnie throughout the night, dressed in their most formal attire. Mickey and Minnie joined Heather and Josh for a dance on the dance floor and even assisted them in cutting their cake. Because what is a true Disney wedding without some Disney characters showing up? Before leaving, guests were treated to a full candy bar where they were able to make their own take-home candy bag and fill it to the top. We ate and drank way to much, talked laughed and cried, danced for hours, cheered at every chance possible, and just relished in the magic that was unfolding all around us. If anyone didn’t believe in fairytales, they definitely did after Saturday night.
Around 4am, we headed back to our rooms in the Grand Floridian after bidding all the guests farewell, and Heather and Josh headed to their newlywed suite. I had never been more exhausted, but the adrenaline kept me awake and reminiscing on the night I had just been apart of. As I am back in Gainesville a few days later, I can’t help but only have this weekend on my mind. As the happy couple honeymoons in Cancun, and we all return to reality, I am again sad that the wedding of the century has come and passed.
Josh – Like we said in our sister speech, I didn’t gain a brother this weekend, because you have been our brother for the past four years. You go above and beyond to help and be there for every member in our family and we know you’ll make Heather the happiest wife there ever was. I am so glad she found her Prince Charming in you and wish y’all a life as magical and happy as this weekend was.
Heather – I am so proud of you and the gorgeous, funny, intelligent, full-of-life woman you have become. I am reminded of our years together and realize not one memory I have doesn’t contain you. You have been my partner, my best friend, my cheerleader, and so much more over the past twenty years and I can’t believe we no longer share the same last name. You will always be the Angelica to my Eliza, the Blair to my Serena, the Brooke Davis to my Haley James Scott, and so much more. I know Josh will give you a lifetime of happiness and I can’t wait to see your happy ending unfold. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and here’s to many more memories together. I love you always.
Bottom line- in all my twenty years of attending Disney, I have never witnessed something as magical or magnificent as I did this weekend. I will remember it always, and know that it will go down as one of the most fabulous, extravagant, over-the-top, elegant weddings of all time. There are not enough words to express the magic that filled this weekend, but this was my attempt in doing so. Heather and Josh’s Disney fairytale wedding on March 11th 2017 was something out of a story book, and will be remembered by all for all of time. Continue to scroll down for a glimpse into the night through some photos 🙂
BIG SHOUTOUT to Judy Hathcock ( you rock mom!) for having the most creative, over the top brain that brings these fantasies and magic to life for us. We love you & you killed it.
thanks for reading – i love you all xxx