Can’t Afford a Wedding at Walt Disney World? The Next Best Thing is Totally FREE!

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Walt Disney World wedding
Updated for 2018!
To have your wedding at Walt Disney World would be like a dream come true for many a Disney Princess. But have you looked at wedding prices lately? reports the average wedding cost in the United States is $26,720. The average couples spend between $20,040 and $33,400 but, many couples spend less than $10,000. This does not include cost for a honeymoon. notes that you should expect to pay, on average, 50% to possibly even more than 100% when you choose well-experienced professionals, designer labels, popular event locations, and unique or custom products and services.
There are wedding locations that might be more unique (I’m thinking Bora Bora here,) but for the Disney fan, this would be the ultimate wedding dream. It’s tough to get the average cost of a Disney wedding, though there seems to be no shortage of websites discussing prices, all with beautiful photos of brides and wedding cakes with Disney locations distracting me in the background. interviewed five Disney Brides who had weddings on Disney properties and spent under or just slightly above $10,000 total.
Don’t have the cash for a Disney wedding with all the Tinker bells and Magical Express whistles? Your next best idea may be a proposal at Walt Disney World, and those are totally FREE.
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I was lucky enough to be at the right place, totally at the right time, to witness a marriage proposal one summer, two people I had never met before, and it was honestly just crazy luck. I just happened to have my camera sitting five inches from my hand, and it all took place in a blur. Who did I photograph?
I’ll let them tell the amazing story of their relationship, and how they came to be mere feet from my camera lens, one of them down on bended knee, in front of Cinderella Castle in all her romantic beauty.
Our names are Jamie Schroeder and Matthew Mueller, and we are from a small town in Iowa with a population of roughly 5,000. It’s not too big, but its small enough for everyone to know your name and know your whereabouts. We are both 24 years old. I am a High School English teacher and Matt works for the ambulance service called MEDIC in the Quad Cities, the metro area for our location. He is enrolled in paramedic school in hopes to be a paramedic for MEDIC and then eventually a firefighter.


Matt and I have been dating for three years, with a whole year of “fuzz” before that. We were mutual friends in college–I lived with his best friend from high school and played softball with her as well. All three of us hung out often, and that is initially how I met him. Matt carried an energy with him that was always upbeat and ready for whatever, something that I enjoyed and a similarity to my personality. I had never looked at him as “boyfriend” material early in our friendship, but as we grew older, I found that he was there for me when I needed him the most. It was almost the cliché saying of “… it was right under your nose the entire time.”

I always knew we had a lot in common: we love sports, we love being with our friends and family, and we both like being active. I was never worried about not being compatible with Matt; our friendship progressed with ease and I knew our relationship would do the same. Not saying that there haven’t been struggles, but we have always been able to sit down and meet in the middle which is something I value about our relationship.


I met Jamie through her roommate, who happened to be my best friend from high school. Right from the beginning we had something–a spark of some sort–but neither one of us looked at it as a “relationship” type of thing. Jamie carries a large personality with her and is always up for a good time, which made hanging out with her almost an addiction. It wasn’t until later in our college years that I started feeling like she could be more than my friend. I guess what attracted me to her was her personality, very compassionate when the time calls for it but a jokester at the right moments. As we have progressed in our relationship, we found that we have similar interests: sports, traveling, the importance of friends and family, being active in outdoor adventures, etc.

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We were visiting Disney in June on a family vacation. It was something that I had been looking forward to for a very long time. I grew up at Disney World since my uncle was head of security at the parks. It was always awesome visiting him every summer AND seeing Mickey Mouse.

I was excited to take Matt to Disney and give him my “insider experience,” since he had only been once when he was eight. I had NO IDEA that anything as amazing and special as a proposal would take place–at all!



I started planning for a proposal in early February. When Jamie’s dad started planning the vacation to Disney,  I knew that was the perfect place for a proposal to her, because it had so much meaning to her when she was growing up. I always hear about Disney at home and the memories she and her family made while visiting Orlando.  I really wanted this to be a memory that she could add to the list, as well as the first memory we could make together at Disney World. With her dad’s permission, I bought the ring and carried it with me in my pocket through the airport, through the parks, everywhere. I was so nervous about losing it before I even got the chance to put it on her finger!

However, I was much more nervous about the actual proposal itself. I knew in my heart she would say yes, but I feel like the butterflies just come with the territory. I initially wanted to propose during the Main Street Electrical Parade because it’s her favorite parade at the parks, but the nerves got the best of me so I told myself I would propose as soon as the fireworks started. However, people started to file in so fast, there was no place for me to get down on one knee! I waited until the fireworks were over and people started to clear out-of-the-way and took her hand and headed straight for the castle. I was extremely nervous, but very much ready to pop the big question.

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Now here is where I have to interject myself briefly. My kids and I finished watching the now-retired Wishes fireworks from our traditional viewing location behind Cinderella Castle, and we then walked straight over to the front of the castle to watch The Magic, Memories, and You! show.

cinderella-castleThe 10:30 show is much less crowded, and we grabbed our usual spots right in front of the castle, just about 10 feet from the chain, with nothing in front of us but a fabulous view of Cinderella Castle.

We were no more seated than a guy and a girl walk right in front of us, which was not all that unusual, as people pass through before every show. He was holding her hand, five feet from our spots, so when he did a quick about-face, she was suddenly facing him. And he dropped to one knee.

All this happened within about 15 seconds; he had a ring in his hand, and she was smiling. There were no camera flashes going off. There was no one clapping or cheering. I kept waiting for family members to appear, for someone to say something.

But it was just this couple, who are totally oblivious to everything around them, and I realize they will have no photos of this special moment. Trying not to attract attention to myself like a “tourist,” I reached for my camera…


I had no idea that a proposal was in the works. I was more than surprised when he got down on one knee in front of the Castle; I was practically speechless. I know I kept asking him “Are you serious?!” We had talked about marriage every once in a while. We discussed how important it was to us, and how we wanted to enter marriage with a solid set of morals and values and the understanding that it was going to be an “I” game anymore–we were going to be taking care of each other and having to put someone else in the minds of all our decisions.

In my heart I knew I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life; Matt is my best friend.

Disney World proposal, the best place to propose at Disney World, why propose at Disney World, Disney proposal, Disney WeddingAs far as the wedding goes, I was never the little girl who planned out her dream wedding, so the planning process is a little overwhelming right now. We have set the day though. We will soon be Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Mueller. I wanted to have a Disney Wedding, but seeing that we have so many friends and family that we want to share this special day with, we will be having a wedding and reception on the campus where we met (St. Ambrose University). Since I can’t make it to Florida for my Disney Wedding, I am hoping to incorporate a little bit of the Disney Magic in my wedding here in Iowa.

As far as our trips back to Disney–we are looking to go back in September during the International Wine Festival. I have never been but it sounds like an amazing experience. If all else fails though, we will be stopping by Disney for a small honeymoon before we take off to a variety of tropical islands. Disney has always had a special place in my heart, but now it rings true even more.

Jamie and Matt


So while these two were embracing, I had the good sense to write down my name, my e-mail and my Disney website address (imagine the coincidence here) on a piece of paper. I walked up, touched Jamie gently on the arm and said, ”I’m so sorry to interrupt you two, but I photographed the whole thing. I would love to send you the pictures.” They both thanked me, even apologised for being in our way, and they ran off into the Magic Kingdom night.

And that…that is how I came to cry three times in less than an hour on vacation. I cried through Wishes with my semi-grown children, I cried when I explained to my youngest son why the tall guy was down on one knee, and I then cried through the Magic, Memories and You! show.

Love. It’s just a truly Magical thing.

Read: Gotta Have it! 12 Cheapskate Splurges at Walt Disney World

A big thanks to Jamie and Matt for their amazingly romantic story, and a shout out to fate for dropping them right in front of me at that exact moment in time, allowing me to photograph the coolest thing I have ever seen at Walt Disney World.  I deeply believe in the power of love, and I hope one day I’m there with a camera if my own children pick this spot to get engaged. As I told Jamie,”Wow, Matt really set the bar high.”

Indeed he did.

Disney proposal wedding ring

So while weddings, yikes, certainly aren’t free or what you would even consider to be cheap, you could propose at Disney. It’s probably a good thing usually the men handle the proposals, because if women did, there would probably a FastPass+ line at the Magic Kingdom to propose in front of the castle, complete with a PhotoPass photographer there to make sure you never forget it.

Weddings are expensive, but proposals can be practically free!

If you could be proposed to at Walt Disney World, where is your most romantic spot? Leave us a comment and let us know.

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.


Amanda, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


Mike Ellis

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