At Disney World, a marriage of fantasy and reality

November 11, 1992|By Orlando Sentinel

The morning of the Bandell-Strachan wedding dawned cloudy and gray.

By mid-afternoon, as the bridal party assembled at Walt Disney World's Grand Floridian Beach Resort, the talk was of rain.

The air was misty as the guests were shepherded onto a triangular lawn bordered by the ornate, white tiers of the Victorian-style hotel, the soaring concrete arches of the Magic Kingdom monorail and the willow-dotted shores of Seven Seas Lagoon.

A languid breeze stirred the white cloth covering a boardwalk that led between rows of gold chairs to a low platform. Here, the minister took up his position in front of an arch of lilies.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Jean Bandell joined daughter Patricia in the hotel's convention center, where the bride had changed into her slim-fitting, cream-colored gown with its long train and billowing veil. Together, they led her through the lobby to the porte-cochere, where Cinderella's Glass Coach awaited -- complete with six white ponies a costumed coachman and footman.

As the bride and her father stepped from the coach at the wedding site, the clouds were darker than ever.

But as the harpist and violinist hit the first chords of "Here Comes the Bride," a shaft of sunlight gilded the distant spires of Cinderella's Castle. As the bride reached the groom, the clouds parted. And as they joined hands, they were flooded with sunlight.

Just like in a fairy tale -- or a Disney movie.

"We always knew we would honeymoon at Disney," Patricia Bandell, 24, an artist, said a few days before the wedding. "I'm crazy about the place. And I've never met a man who is so into Disney as Kris."

"I've always been fascinated with Walt Disney," said Kris Strachan, 27, a stand-up comic who, like his bride, lives in Mesa, Ariz. "I have Disney bumper stickers, Disney plates on my car. We'veseen all the movies at least three times."

Patricia's parents, who lived in Massachusetts until moving to Arizona three years ago, first took their daughter to Disney World when she was 2 years old.

"During a visit when I was about 11, I remember saying, 'If I get XTC married one day, I wish it could be here,' " Patricia said.

The subject came up again last year, as her parents were preparing to spend their 29th wedding anniversary at Disney.

"We joked about how nice it would be if we could have the wedding at Disney. About how all we'd have to do after the wedding was go upstairs to start the honeymoon," Patricia said.

"Well, when Mom got to Disney, she found out about this new wedding program. She spent her whole vacation with a wedding planner. When she got home, the first thing she said was, 'Guess what? You're going to get married at Disney.' "

It would be Patricia's 48th trip to the Magic Kingdom.

The arrangements, made with the help of wedding specialists in Disney's new Fairy Tale Weddings department, all went according to plan.

The Grand Floridian was chosen as the wedding site, in part for its airy elegance, in part for the view of Cinderella's Castle across the lake.

There were other Cinderella touches: the glass coach; glass castle ornaments on the dinner tables; and "Once Upon a Dream," the theme song from the Cinderella movie, for the bridal couple's first dance.

The ceremony was followed by a reception with hors d'oeuvres and an open bar for the 55 guests.

The cost for the wedding was between $12,000 and $13,000. That included the two prenuptial parties, the wedding ceremony, reception and dinner, the cake, flowers, musicians and disc jockey.

Extras included hiring Cinderella's coach ($1,000), the Disney characters (about $1,000), and a photographer ($1,500).

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