Indulge me in a bit of a hot take between posts about baking desserts: few things make me happier to be gay than watching straight people on reality wedding shows. Because reality wedding shows make straight people look like egomanical sequin-obsessed monsters and I’m grateful to have escaped whatever societal conditioning that makes people believe they need to be the center of attention at a party the price of a house to be happy.
Sure, I have to deal with perpetual attacks on my rights as a human being but no one will ever make me say “rustic chic.”
My entire family is obsessed with all things Disney World, so when this show called “Disney Fairy Tale Weddings” manifested itself on my parents’ TV, they DVR’d the whole series without question and we had a family marathon on the Fourth of July.
My best friend Stella actually got married at Disney World, and I was her maid of honor, so I consider myself an expert on all that goes into it. Basically, Disney takes care of everything, you don’t have to worry about a single detail. They’re great.
In fact, they’re so great, that whenever we go back, my dad and I make a special trip to say hi to one of the senior cast members at the hotel where we stayed for that wedding trip, and she always remembers us and asks how my friend is doing and says “How’s her husband? Any kids yet? She was such a beautiful bride!”
And I nod and smile and say, “No kids yet, but they’re doing great! They say hi!” and then we leave and my dad urgently whispers “We can never tell Rosa that Stella got divorced.”
The people on this show are horrifying. Yes, they’re on TV, and they’ve been picked because they’ll make good TV, but still, if this series is going to be an artifact of late stage capitalism in some post-apocalyptic civilization’s library . . . whoever watches it will say we got what we deserved.
(My dad and I have already formulated a plan to ride out the apocalypse at the Japanese counter service restaurant in Epcot. Bring your own ponchos and phone chargers and we’re golden).
My sister’s boyfriend, Steve, has never been to Disney World and thinks we’re all weird for loving it so much. He’s also an accountant with a mind that operates purely in terms of “Will it cost me money? Then I’m not doing it.”
So he was completely mystified by the people on this show. The brides were way too perky and the grooms never blinked. And they all were throwing multimillion dollar weddings, despite being very young and perhaps at a point in their lives when a more sensible use of their money might be a home or paying off student loans?
“These people have too much money,” I said, multiple times.
“They should be investing in the stock market,” said Steve. “You know what doesn’t appreciate in value? Cake.”
During the first episode, the couple was staying at the Grand Floridian before their ceremony—in adjoining rooms—and they just missed each other soooo much that they met out on their balconies and held hands through the partition, without looking at each other because of that stupid “can’t see the bride before the wedding!” rule that straight people obsess over.
You know who doesn’t give a crap about antiquated customs that end up costing thousands of dollars because you have to shell out for two hotel rooms that you don’t actually need because it’s fine in this current century for an almost-married couple to be in the same room?
Gay people. Just saying.
The straight couple cried happy tears as they held hands, the camera focusing oh-so-tightly on the bride’s giant honking ring.
“This is pornographic,” said Steve. “Stick it through the wall!”
My parents think Steve is hilarious, so they cracked up laughing even though he had slandered the innocent name of the Grand Floridian.
The bride and groom returned to their individual rooms with their groomsmen and bridesmaids, all getting ready in sequined bathrobes that said “Maid of honor” and “Best man” on the backs.
Stella only had one person in her wedding party—me—and I wore a $50 dress and clip-on earrings that I’d borrowed from a total stranger just an hour before. Stella told me I could wear a dress or a suit, she didn’t care as long as I was comfortable—because she’s the best—and the night before the wedding, she abandoned any pretense of a bachelorette party, put on her bridal Mickey ears and she and I met up with my dad to ride Star Tours at midnight.
As the ride ended, a lady with a little girl saw Stella’s ears and said “Are you getting married?” She almost started to cry when Stella said “Yes! Is it after midnight? I’m getting married today!” The woman gave her a giant hug and wished her all the best and the little girl waved as they walked away. It was the sweetest moment and it could only happen at Disney. And it didn’t cost a thing.
So this couple got married at the China Pavilion at Epcot around midnight, after the park had closed. They had very small children in their wedding party, who were struggling to stay awake as they toddled down the aisle.
“That’s not fair to those little kids to make them stay up like this,” I said. “Now they’ll be falling asleep tomorrow while they’re supposed to be having fun on their trip.”
“Just give them some uppers!” said Steve.
The camera panned to the officiant at the end of the aisle—and he looked really familiar.
“Oh my god,” I said. “It’s Pastor Kevin.”
Pastor Kevin was the officiant at Stella’s wedding. He talked to me a little bit before the ceremony and he was a really nice guy. He’s also very handsome and has that “central casting” look that I’m sure the producers of this TV show were happy to see.
I immediately took pictures and texted them to Stella. “Is he out of a movie or what?” she said. “Even more than I remember. He was made for TV.”
My dad said, “I think he’s an animatronic.”
A Chinese dragon emerged from the pavilion to present the rings. He did a whole dance and when he opened his mouth to reveal the rings, a banner unfurled that said “Congratulations!”
“The people in that dragon are so drunk,” said Steve.
The dragon was followed by the Chinese acrobat show that plays at the pavilion a few times a day. The acrobats are extremely young and I don’t think it’s a reach to say they aren’t paid very well.
“Wait, so they’re doing an extra show at like one in the morning? Are they getting overtime pay?” I said.
Steve just started laughing.
Then the show cut to the reception, which was at the American Adventure pavilion, in the same building as the show starring an animatronic Ben Franklin.
“Whoa, this isn’t right,” said my dad. “How is Ben Franklin supposed to come alive at night and walk around Epcot if these people are in the building?”
My dad is obsessed with Ben Franklin and what he would make of modern technology. He has stalled us during boarding on pretty much every Disney ride by making us stop and wonder “What would Ben Franklin think of this?”
And the answer is “Ben Franklin would lose his shit. Just get on Big Thunder Mountain.”
There was a surprise guest at the reception, but it wasn’t a robot Ben Franklin.
It was the Stanley Cup. Because this couple only loves one thing more than Disney, and that’s hockey.
“Can they eat that?” said my dad.
“That’s not the cake!” we all said. “That’s the Stanley Cup!”
“Oh,” said my dad. “Why is that there?”
Suffice it to say, Stella didn’t have any of that. She got married in a gazebo by the Boardwalk hotel. The reception was right after, just cake and pictures and a violinist who kindly indulged my mom’s request for the wedding song from Fiddler on the Roof.
On the next episode, set at Disneyland, the bride’s main claim to a personality was being obsessed with the color pink to the point that everything, from the flowers to her gown to Sleeping Beauty’s castle was pink at her insistence. The ceremony was at 5 in the morning right in front of the castle. The adorable gay wedding planner must have been up all night getting everything just right. There are lots of adorable gay wedding planners on this show, working themselves sick to indulge every whim of insane straight women who want their own private fireworks show and Cinderella’s actual carriage.
“Sorry Sleeping Beauty, today it’s my castle!” declared the bride.
“I’m going to say that from now on,” said Steve. “You know, we go to a lot of weddings and I never know what to say for those videos they make everyone do. So now I’m just going say, ‘Sorry Sleeping Beauty, today it’s my castle!'”
The reason I love Disney isn’t because of the castles or the princesses or the fireworks. It’s because of the people. And the people who work at Disney are the best.
Stella’s wedding planner handled everything without breaking a sweat—and Stella’s was one of four weddings she was coordinating in a single day.
And Rosa at our hotel saved the day, when I was only about 90 minutes from walking my best friend to the altar and I realized I didn’t have any earrings.
To be fair, I don’t have pierced ears, and every single time I’ve been to Disney World since I was a toddler, there have been cute little clip-on earrings in every gift shop, and I figured some tasteful silver Mickey ears would be perfect. Only, when we got to Disney, there were no clip-on earrings. Anywhere.
Rosa called all the stores to check. No clip-on earrings left on Disney property. Why? No idea, but it haunts me to this day. Who bought all the clip-on earrings?
It wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t need earrings. I just thought it’d be a nice touch. But a woman staying at our hotel overheard me asking Rosa for help, and offered up a solution.
“I have a pair of clip-on earrings,” she said, gently dropping them into my hand. “You can borrow them for the wedding.”
I was shocked. “Are you sure?” I said. The earrings were really pretty—simple silver flowers, a perfect fit for my dress and the delicate mini roses I had just gotten arranged in my hair.
She seemed pleased that I liked them. “They belonged to my mom,” she said. “Ever since she passed away, I like to take them with me everywhere so she’s always with me.”
Now I was really stunned. This woman was handing a total stranger her dead mother’s earrings and was completely fine with the fact that I’d be wearing them into a theme park with thousands of people around.
Naturally, my anxiety went into overdrive. “As soon as the ceremony is over I will bring them right back to you,” I said. “What’s your room number?”
It was then that I noticed that this woman was standing beside a pile of suitcases, with her husband and children waiting patiently for her to finish talking to this hyperventilating weirdo with flowers in her hair. “We just checked out,” she said. “We’re driving home right now. Rosa has my address, just give them to her and she’ll mail them to me.”
I could actually feel all the blood draining from my face. How was this person trusting her beloved heirloom to both the postal service and a complete stranger who was dumb enough to forget earrings for a wedding?
“Why are you doing this?” I whispered.
“I’ve always liked people from the Midwest,” she shrugged. “I heard Rosa say you from Michigan, I knew I could trust you.”
And then she left, and I just stood there, slack-jawed, still holding the earrings in my hand. I wore them to the ceremony and everyone loved the story behind them. The moment it was over I hot-footed back to the hotel and delivered them to Rosa, and asked for the woman’s address so I could send her a thank you note, like a good Midwesterner.
When we visit Rosa, she always makes a point of saying that she mailed the earrings back right away, and then called that nice woman to make sure they’d arrived safely. Because that’s what Disney people do.