To have a Disney wedding is a dream and a wish many hearts make. Actually pulling it off seamlessly is a task handled by real-life fairy godmothers—or, in this case, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings team. In an exclusive, new interview with The Knot, a wedding consultant and event planner from the team explain exactly how they recently pulled off a wedding at Disneyland that has since gone completely viral.
The couple, Sarah Kabiling and Gilbert Hernandez, married in their dream venue on September 8. The extravaganza itself was held at the Rose Court Garden and the Trillium inside the theme park. The process typically kicks off with couples being assigned a dedicated sales consultant, who then matches the pair to a wedding planner. In this case, the bride and groom first connected with Sue Romano, a consultant with Fairy Tale Weddings, who then introduced them to their wedding planner, Keli Byrne. Photographer Jenna Henderson of White Rabbit Photo Boutique captured the magical affair.
“From the very beginning, it was clear they had huge love for Disney,” Romano tells us. “They wanted a Main Street, USA-vibe with the DJ spinning music… They knew what they wanted and we ran with it.”
One of the biggest hurdles faced by the team was receiving approval to have the wedding in the park. “I was patient with our magical operating partners, and we got approval,” Romano says. “Good things happen to good people. The love they have for not only each other but for their guests was so awesome. We want everyone attending the wedding to experience some magic, so it’s nice when we have a couple that cares that much too.”
Kabiling and Hernandez, who were both raised in the Bay Area, first met at UC Berkeley in their undergrad years; she fell for him almost immediately. “His smile was so charming and disarming, and his positivity radiated throughout the crowd,” she recalls. The two were friends for years before making their romance official. One of their commonalities, they found, was a true love of Disneyland. “We’ve both been going since we were kids, and it’s always been a home away from home for us,” the groom says. “We love the feeling of magic that Disneyland gives us every time we go, whether it be a multi-day extravaganza or just passing by the parks to take a short walk to grab a churro or a corndog.”
“Disneyland was the first vacation that Gilbert and I took together,” says Kabiling. “You can say that it was the first ‘test’ in our relationship to see our compatibility.”
It worked out between the pair. Hernandez proposed at UC Berkeley at the spot where he first envisioned a potential future with Kabiling. “We chose to have an engagement session at Disneyland since it’s such a huge part of our lives,” she adds.
“The couple definitely wanted something different and that was clear from the get-go,” their wedding planner Byrne tells The Knot. “They wanted to create a fun and unique experience for their guests, which initially included bringing outside elements inside their reception venue and some creative ideas for a fun after-party in the park.”
Some of the elements included a pumpkin carriage, inspired by Cinderella of course! “Initially, Sarah and Gilbert threw the idea around of incorporating Main Street Electrical Parade since it was an element from the parks that they loved,” Byrne adds. “We did some brainstorming and came up with the idea of using one of our Main Street vehicles [the fire truck] and giving their guests colorful, fiber optic wands to wave as they drove by. It was like their own Main Street Electrical parade.” The planner says this was personally one of her favorite elements from the wedding.
Romano says the ceremony itself was likely the most touching aspect of the day. “I was able to see both of them prior to the wedding, so I already knew what they looked like,” the consultant adds. “I just couldn’t wait for Gilbert to see Sarah arrive in Cinderella’s Crystal Coach and it was nothing short of magic. And that train on her dress… Wow.”
The bride says sourcing and finding the perfect princess gown was no small feat. “After more than a hundred dresses, I couldn’t find ‘the one,’” she says. “So I found something closest to it, and had it custom made by the designer Leigh Price from YSA Makino.” The groom showed his Disney pride with Mickey Mouse ear cufflinks.
Other theme park-approved elements included Disney wand bubbles, an Up-inspired mailbox, a live band that played classic Disney songs, and even, a guest appearance from Mickey and Minnie at the reception.
“We are beyond lucky to have the couples we have,” Byrne concludes. “They are so passionate and trusting towards the Disney brand that they allow us to take care of those details for them in a way that only Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings can… Sarah and Gilbert were that and more.”
“They’re a lot like me and have a great love for Disney,” Romano adds. “Not just Disneyland, but Disney… They were always cheerful and happy to be here planning their big celebration and wanted to share their love with everyone.”