I recently went to Florida for a wedding showcase at Reunion Resort aptly dubbed, “I Do With a View.” When I first heard the name of the showcase I was intrigued, but admittedly somewhat skeptical. Orlando wasn’t always necessarily on my list of top destinations with a view– but that’s because I had never been to Reunion! After spending 3 days at this resort I’m happy to report that Reunion Resort could not be more perfect for your destination wedding. And yes, they do have some great views (more on that later). During my weekend getaway, I took part in a variety of cool destination wedding activities: a bachelorette style mixology lesson, mock rehearsal dinner, groomsmen golfing, spa treatment, professional bridal makeup tutorial, a mock ceremony and reception, and a bridal send-off brunch.
Yes, all of that in THREE days. Reunion knows how to plan and execute a fun but relaxing wedding experience.
I also ventured out to Disney Springs which is only a few short miles away from the resort. Plenty to share on that, so that’ll be for another day, another post. Today I’m here to focus on weddings by Reunion Resort – the food, the venue, the activities, the vendors and more.
Disclosure: Although the media trip highlighted in this post was sponsored by Reunion Resort. All opinions and experiences are my own.
My Review of Reunion Resort Accommodations
I have a confession to make. My name is Cynthia, and I’m a little bit of a resort snob. I love to travel and I review quite a few resorts for this blog, but I would never lie to you guys. I had a destination wedding myself, so I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly during my planning process… and my entire mission is to provide as much good information as I can for anyone who feels like destination weddings are too good to be true. I would never recommend any venue that is below my own standards. With that said, I’m here to tell you that if you’re inviting guests to a destination wedding in Florida, you should definitely put Weddings by Reunion right at the top of your list.
The location is… awesome. Reunion is situated just south of Orlando, about 30 minutes from the airport, making it very easy to get to. It’s also only 9 miles away from Disney World, the happiest place on earth! Oftentimes, destination weddings held at a resort are somewhat secluded and there isn’t much to explore off the property. But there’s plenty for your guests to enjoy before/after the wedding in the area surrounding Reunion. Even if you never leave the resort, you can still enjoy Disney’s nightly fireworks show from the resort’s rooftop restaurant & patio.
My first impression, as I pulled onto the resort property, was that it was much bigger than I expected! Reunion Resort is an exclusive 2,300-acre property with a variety of resort-style accommodations ranging from luxury suites and condos, 1-3 bedroom villas, and private vacation homes of all sizes. It really felt like its own little city. I drove past some impressive houses (some can sleep up to 28 people, no big deal), before arriving at the Grande — the 11-story tower at the center of Reunion Resort. This would be my home for the next 3 days.
When I walked into the lobby, I was surprised to see that despite the size of the resort, the lobby felt really warm and homey. It has a nice seating area in front of a fireplace. I mean, I’m glad I had a villa – but the lobby would have been just fine, too.
I made my way up to my 2-bedroom villa and was really impressed. It was open, bright and huge with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a washer/dryer, balcony, and an open concept living room, dining room and kitchen. Everything was full sized, no dinky kitchenette here. A fully stocked kitchen with a large fridge, stove, oven, microwave, dishwasher, coffee maker, blender and even pots, pans and dishes is the surprise you didn’t know you needed – I was ready to get cooking! This would be a great perk for wedding guests on a budget, who may want to do their own cooking during the week.
Resorts can be so… cookie-cutter. Too often resorts force your hand when it comes to the size of your party, the accommodations, the food choices, and the dreaded minimum prices for all of the above. It’s hard to find a resort that can accommodate the different circumstances and budgets for all your guests.
Maybe you’re inviting someone who’s arriving solo… or someone who’s bringing their mother, their husband, their 6 kids and a friend. What I’m getting at, is that some might be fine with a quaint, 1-bedroom villa, and others might need an entire 5-bedroom house with some outdoor space. Reunion has all that, and a LOT more. By a lot more, I mean there’s a vacation home that fits up to 28 guests. If your destination wedding is small, you can all bunk up and rent one big house. Long story short, the possibilities are endless – and no two wedding experiences are the same, nor should they be.
The best part is that regardless of the arrangement you and your guests make, you’ll all have unlimited access to all of Reunion Resort exclusive amenities — signature Golf Courses, rooftop pool, 5-Acre Water Park, Award-Winning Dining, Tennis, Boutique Spa and daily housekeeping service.
Reunion Resort Staff
I’d be remiss if I did not give a huge shout out to the entire staff at Reunion Resort. Seriously, they are the heart and soul of this operation.
Planning a destination wedding (as you know) is stressful and complex. You need a staff with the experience and bandwidth to handle your needs with grace and professionalism –even when you’re not there to micromanage like you would at a local hometown wedding. It is truly the quality of the staff that will make or break your experience. I’ll tell ya… I spent 3 days getting to know the wedding, catering and public relations staff at Reunion Resort and I can personally vouch for their level of professionalism, attention to detail and commitment to excellent service. Not to mention that they’re all just genuinely nice, friendly, kind people who take great pride in their jobs – they are the kind of folks who I would have trusted to plan my destination wedding.
I do with a View
Hopefully, by now you have a pretty good understanding of what Reunion Resort has to offer in general – now it’s time to dive into specifics on all the amazing things I got to do during the ‘I Do with a View’ wedding showcase. It’s a lot, so hold on tight! Here’s my experience – a teaser into all they have to offer for destination weddings. I’ve also included a short video recap of the wedding showcase to help you visualize (and get jealous of) all the cool stuff I did!
Bachelorette style Mixology Lesson
The Reunion staff knew exactly what they were doing when they booked the first event – a bachelorette style mixology lesson in the lobby’s fireplace sitting area. It’s exactly like it sounds, but even more fun! What a great way to kick off your destination wedding, let loose, have some fun and really get in celebration mode. Alex Marshall was our mixologist, and he was awesome. As soon as he realized I was allergic to berries, he whipped up a delicious citrus sangria just for me. For those of you unfamiliar with sangria, it’s half wine, half heaven.
William Arthur Photography was on hand to capture day one.
They also paired our drinks with a great little mix of appetizers while we socialized by the fireplace. If you host your destination wedding at Reunion, you can replicate an event just like this – whether it’s a bachelor/bachelorette party event, or simply a welcome reception for all your guests to meet and greet each other upon arrival.
Here I am (on the left) with Kelsey, one of the lovely ladies who does Public Relations for Reunion Resort…
And here is that amazing wedding staff I was telling you about earlier…this is the Reunion dream team who will bring your dream wedding to life.
Mock Rehearsal Dinner
After appetizers and cocktails with Alex, we headed to Reunion’s authentic Italian Bistro, Forte, for a 3-course family style dinner. I loved the long table. It would be the perfect setup for a wedding rehearsal dinner. Family style is so fitting when you’re with a group of people you love – and you’ll feel so at home!
The decor was spot on – pretty, elegant and simple. The gold candleholders and centerpieces designed by Fairbanks Florist made it feel romantic, but not overly weddingy – which I felt was perfectly appropriate for a rehearsal dinner.
And the food? Goodness… I mean, it’s Italian. What kind of monster doesn’t love great authentic Italian cuisine? Every, and I mean EVERY single thing I tasted was prepared to absolute perfection. Because it’s a family-style Italian place, I, of course, left stuffed to the gills and happy.
The first course was a series of salads: Escarole Caesar, Italian Chop and a Full Caprese – each one was better than the last.
For the second course, we had Chicken Marsala, Fettuccine Bolognese, and Penne Carbonara. I wish I could tell you which one was my favorite but I honestly couldn’t decide. Don’t worry, I even went back for seconds to be sure… but the results are still inconclusive.
3rd course was tiramisu. I’ll be forever on the hunt for another dessert that was as good as that tiramisu.
Farm-to-Vacation Home Lunch
After my Forte induced food coma, I woke up the next day to explore Legend’s Manor which is one of the vacation homes you can rent at Reunion Resort. Of course, this is not just any vacation home — this massive 5,797 square foot estate was named the #1 vacation home in America by HGTV! As soon as I pulled up to the front of the house I could tell why it received that distinct honor. I’m so glad Rhodes Studios Photography was there to capture all these gorgeous photos so I can give you a glimpse inside…
Talk about excessively gorgeous… Legend’s Manor has 5 bedrooms, 5 full bathrooms, 3 half bathrooms, a state of the art eat-in kitchen, an outdoor kitchen, a huge living room with an 80″ flat screen TV, a second-floor entertainment room with 50“ flat screen TV, games console & bar. You and your guests can enjoy grilling out by the private heated pool and a second-floor balcony with a billiard table – among many other impressive features.
You can rent this house for a bridal luncheon like the one we had –or if you’re having an intimate destination wedding with less than 12 guests, you can even rent out the whole house and have your wedding there. Sharing a house like this would be a great opportunity for you and your friends/family to bond but it’s so big and open that you will never feel like you’re on top of each other. There were about 22 of us there for the luncheon and it never felt tight or uncomfortable. Here are some more pics…
After lunch, I headed over to their boutique spa to unwind. Like everything else at the resort, the spa was cozy, relaxing and so welcoming! Their lovely staff treated me like a queen… I almost forgot I wasn’t actually preparing for my own wedding day!
Make-up and Mimosas
My kind of M&M… makeup and mimosas! After having lunch at the #1 vacation home in America AND being pampered at the spa, the About Face Design Team hooked me up with a glam session before the mock ceremony and reception. For a bride needing a little bit of relaxing girl-time before the ceremony, this is key.
At first, I was a little nervous about this. You see, I don’t wear makeup. Like, ever. Just not my style. But Kari, founder of About Face Design Team was an absolute sweetheart who went above and beyond to make sure I was comfortable with the process and ultimately happy with my look. From the second I sat on her chair, her amazing energy swept me off my feet. Her positivity is contagious, and that’s exactly what a bride needs on her big day. Not only is Kari just the most wonderful, warm person to be around… but man, she is a true artist!
I was so thrilled with the results of my makeup that I wanted to bring her home with me. She made me look natural and beautiful, but the best part is that I didn’t even feel like I had a drop of makeup on. For a gal who’s pretty much bare-faced at all times, this was both impressive and comforting to me. You want to look like YOU on your wedding day – not like a clown (no offense to clowns.) Kari’s ability to simply accentuate and polish your natural beauty is everything you could want or need.
“Love In Linear Park” – Wedding Ceremony
Reunion Resort has a variety of indoor and outdoor venues to choose from for your destination wedding. I got to experience a mock wedding ceremony at Linear Park. This vast, lush garden has the capacity to seat up to 225 guests (wow) –but it’s surrounded by hedges that enclose the space for an intimate feel. The sunken fountains add to the calm ambiance. This venue is so naturally beautiful that it doesn’t really need much in the way of decorations, yet Cheryl’s Distinctive Creations found a way to further enhance the space with gorgeous florals on the arch and delicate rose petals lining the aisle. Photos of the ceremony and reception were captured by Rhodes Studios Photography.
“Enchanted Ever After Garden” Reception Dinner in Grande Falls Pavilion
Reunion Resort and their amazing team of vendors hit it out of the ballpark with this ethereal reception inspired by an “Enchanted Ever After Garden”. Dual staircases led us down to the Grande Falls Pavilion located at the base of a stone wall with cascading waterfalls. I had not even walked into the air-conditioned glass-walled pavilion and I was already blown away. Magical, simply magical.
I’ve personally never been a fan of indoor destination weddings. I hate to see a wedding miss out on the allure of a beautiful view at their destination of choice. But I realized that you CAN have it all when you’re completely surrounded by glass and have air conditioning. Also, I absolutely LOVED everything about this venue in particular. I might have had my own wedding here if I knew about it back when I tied the knot. Hmmm, I can always renew my vows.
Anyways…The Grande Falls Pavilion was gorgeous beyond anything words can describe. I can’t stress how great having a controlled temperature was – for any bride worried about the humidity messing with her hair and makeup, or the groom sweating through his suit, this is your answer! It was a really large space that can accommodate up to 240 guests, but it doesn’t have to! The Pavilion can also be completely transformed into a more enclosed space for much smaller groups if your destination wedding is purposefully small and intimate. For example, although there were only about 25 people in our party, the space felt perfect because of the way they set up the table, lighting, and decor.
Here are some photos of the reception details, taken by Rhodes Studios Photography.
Umm, show of hands…Who here has seen a living water fountain?
What’s that you ask?
Believe me, I was absolutely tickled at how unique, fun, whimsical, and just freakin’ cool this was. I don’t think I’ve seen anything so out of left field as this, but The Living Fountain by The Living Garden absolutely elevated the entire experience. I have never seen anything more perfectly extravagant in my life. Period. Just check out the short video clip I took with my phone, because you really just have to see it yourself to believe it…
There were so many vendors who teamed up for this absolutely stunning mock reception and I wanted to take a moment to give them each a much-deserved shoutout. The Florals were designed by Greenery Productions. The table and chairs were provided by RW Events, and linens by Over the Top. Chargers, goldware, glassware & chivari Chairs were provided by Chair Affair. The menus and invitations were designed by Dragonfly Custom Design. DJ Stylings & LED Lighting by DJ Sound Waves. Draping was courtesy of Dazian Creative Fabrics Environment. The lighting was done by Get Lit Productions and the waterfall gobo by Encore Event Technologies.
“After Party” on Eleven Rooftop
The after party was held at the highest point on the resort, at Eleven Rooftop– where you’re treated to a serene view as far as the eye can see.
Try to get up there for a sunrise at least once, it’s amazing. As if the view from this rooftop patio wasn’t breathtaking enough, we also got to enjoy those Disney fireworks I mentioned!
And what’s an afterparty without a nightcap? Please, you think we just had regular ole liquid drinks? Nope, we had drunken cupcakes by Party Favors and nitro ice cream drinks by Three2oh liquid Nitrogen Systems—which can really sneak up on you, and ultimately rendered the rest of my night into kind of a blur.
Photos by Rhodes Studios Photography
To wrap up our wedding showcase, the Reunion staff treated us to a farewell brunch at Eleven rooftop restaurant, which is one of the optional enhancements you can add to your wedding package. We had a full buffet, omelet stations, and a build-it-yourself Bloody Mary Bar. You heard that right: bloody mary bar. Not only will you probably need one, but it’ll be the best bloody you’ve ever had… because you make it YOUR way.
Your guests came a long way for your special day, and this is the perfect way to send ‘em off with a big thank you. Hosting a ‘farewell brunch’ to express your gratitude and make sure you get another hug and goodbye is worth it. Oh, and you have a view! You see the city on one side and the golf course on the other. William Arthur Photography joined us to document the experience.
Getting some fresh air and blowing off steam before the wedding is a good idea for all parties involved. And for the groom and groomsmen, what’s better than a day of golf on a premier course? During my stay, I learned that Reunion is the only resort in the world where you will find signature design courses by three of golf’s greatest legends – Watson, Nicklaus, and Palmer. I’ll admit that I don’t know a whole lot about golf but I have been on my share of golf courses and this is one of the most impressive ones I’ve seen. If like me, you’re not a big golfer, I suggest you check out Reunion’s Golf Academy for some lessons or Footgolf for some soccer-golf infused fun! I had a blast with both and think it would make such a fun and relaxing group activity for your guests of all skill levels.
Check me out – here I am practicing my swing…
I had such a great time at Reunion Resort, and I hope you enjoyed living vicariously through me… but hey, that could be YOU!
What makes Reunion so special for destination weddings is that although the resort itself is vastly enormous, it’s not one of those convention resorts with competing groups imposing on each other’s space. Reunion operates very much like a boutique resort. And when you have the undivided attention of the staff, they’re there to make sure your wedding day goes off without a hitch. Reunion doesn’t even go there with trying to lock you into minimums when planning your wedding. Bring 100 people, or bring 12. They’ll make it special either way.
*Sponsored Post Disclosure: The media trip highlighted in this post was sponsored by Reunion Resort. All opinions and experiences are the author’s own.