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This Oakland Couple Snuck Their Entire Wedding Into Disneyland

How they got away with it.

SLIDESHOW

"I do."

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The happy couple.

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Our photographer tries to slip in unnoticed, but the post stooges him off.

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Mission accomplished: 

Reception at Carthay Circle in Disney's California Adventure.

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Just another Disney day for the kids' table.

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The band wasn't half bad either.

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Thousands of people get married at Disney theme parks every year; the one in Florida even has a wedding pavilion with views of Cinderella's castle. If you want to get hitched in the Walt Disney Company's company, they sing "Be Our Guest" and make it happen—provided you pony up. Venues start at $12,000, and that's an economy package.

Lex Emmanuel and Emily Rose of Oakland didn't much like the idea of a fat nuptial bill from their favorite theme park. Their solution: Just smuggle the whole thing in. Last weekend, a party of 25 (mostly) Oaklanders gatecrashed Disneyland with a stealth wedding, and on the park's busiest weekend too. There was some risk involved: Had anyone caught on, a squad of mouse-eared security guards would have thrown the nuptialists right out of the park. So secrecy was a must. This reporter only knew what was going on by virtue of being the best man, which made it hard to keep me out of the loop.

An operation like this hinges on two things: speed, and audacity. The speed part is easy: A marriage may last a lifetime, but there's no reason a wedding needs to go longer than 90 seconds if you break it down to basics: vows, rings, kiss, and you're done. The second part is harder: Since 25 people (including seven children) just can't stay completely under the radar no matter how hard you try, the only thing to do is power through on chutzpah. If you tell yourself you can't get caught, it becomes true. Probably.

 


It would all go down
at the Enchanted Tiki Room, which edged out the Haunted Mansion as the preferred venue for space reasons, and because there was a four-minute window between the audience's entry and the show's beginning. (The photographer and I cased the place an hour ahead of time.) By 11 a.m. everyone was assembled for pre-wedding Dole Whip at the fruit stand. 

The bride wore a cream-colored dress, the groom a Don Johnson-style white bespoke suit; just classy enough for the occasion, but not quite enough to attract suspicion. "My hand wouldn't stop shaking when I put my mascara on," the bride confessed. She still looked great.

The doors opened and the whole party rushed the easternmost seats. The woman working the door must have recognized me as the guy who was just here an hour ago, which was about as suspicious as things could get since no one likes the Tiki Room that much. No time to think about that now, though, just get into your places and hope for the best. It's hard to feel like you're getting away with anything in a place where the walls literally have ears. And eyes. And mouths. The Tiki Room is a little freaky, if you've never been.

"We're doing this," said the groom. "Short and sweet." The place was filling up. People were noticing us. We all looked at the officiant; nobody knew exactly what he was going to say. When he cleared his throat and spoke up (just loud enough for everyone nearby to hear) the vows consisted entirely of:

“Do you take this awesome man? Do you take this awesome lady?”

Short and sweet it is.

They let the “I do’s” fly and everyone was almost home free. Why did it feel like something was missing? Oh, right, the rings! It was my job to discreetly hand them off. Actually, the rings weren’t finished, so in this case it was a necklace, but same deal. Naturally I fumbled the pass and almost dropped the whole thing, but the groom was quick off the mark and rescued it.

Then came the kiss and…they’d done it. One Disneygoer who was not with us burst into excited applause. A woman whispered to the photographer (busily snapping away), “Did they just get married?” His response: “Who wants to know?”

Nobody got busted. Security detail in oversized Goofy heads failed to whisk us off to Disney jail. A freak July thunderstorm did wash us all out and flood the plaza around the Matterhorn. But not everything can go as planned. “This is the beginning of an awesome story,” the officiant said when it was all over. A pretty awesome story just wrapped up, too. They did, after all, start their lives together in the official Happiest Place on Earth.

 

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