Right before her walk down the aisle began, Rani Golan was in a fit of panic. When she heard the song to which her fiancé Ronnie Baldino was supposed to enter the ceremony, she thought there must have been a mix up. “I didn’t realize we were ready to go because I was so stomach-twisting, nail-biting, eyes-popping-out-of-my-head nervous,” she confides, “and I freaked out thinking they had messed up the order of the music. Then my mother calmed me down and said, ‘Honey, it’s all right – Ronnie is walking down the aisle,’ and my eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t believe it was finally time.”
The journey that led to that incredible moment had been a long one. After three years of dating, Rani fully expected to get engaged the night Ronnie surprised her with a romantic dinner aboard a yacht. Unfortunately, the date ended without a proposal – at least not for her. “A couple at the next table got engaged, and Ronnie actually pointed it out and said, ‘Oh, look, how sweet!’” she recalls. “I almost killed him right then and there.” When the couple arrived at her parents’ house after the disappointing evening, Rani stalked upstairs to change and found her room was filled with roses. “He had spelled out ‘Will You Marry Me?’ on my vanity mirror… and when I turned, he was on his knee asking me to be his wife.”
Rani had often fantasized about a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding, but initially faced some considerable opposition. “To [Ronnie’s] old fashioned Italian family, and my Israeli family, it seemed crazy. Almost everyone we told tried to talk us out of it.” After numerous failed visits to venues in New York and Long Island, Ronnie finally suggested traveling to Florida to meet with a Disney coordinator on the assumption that the reality would snap Rani out of her fantasy. Once there, however, the groom got caught up in the idea as well. “I’m a romantic at heart,” he admits, “and I did love that our location would be very unique. We would also be able to spend a full weekend celebrating with our friends and family instead of just one night.” After a tour of all the beautiful venues they could utilize for their big day, the couple agreed to book a destination wedding for the following Fourth of July weekend.
The bride wanted the event to reflect elements of her favorite fairy tale in a way that was meaningful yet subtle. “I wanted a more sophisticated, elegant affair – which some people don’t realize a Disney wedding can be.” She fell in love with a voluminous princess gown in pale champagne by Pnina Tornai with exquisite rose detailing reminiscent of the ball gown in the animated film Beauty and the Beast. “I wanted ‘unique’ and I got it!” she says. Rani also drew inspiration from the film when designing her color scheme of deep reds, soft golds, and delicate ivories. Each of the bridesmaids carried a single Black Magic rose down the aisle, while the bride held a bouquet of red roses, alstroemeria, and hypericum berries offset with ivory blooms. The chuppah inside Disney’s Wedding Pavilion was draped with delicate sheets of ivory chiffon anchored with crimson flowers, and was placed to offer a picturesque view of the Magic Kingdom. Generous aisle arrangements reflected the flowers in the bridal bouquet and contrasted beautifully with an ivory runner scattered with fresh rose petals.
After refreshments were served at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, guests were shuttled to the beautiful Epcot® Italy Isola for an outdoor cocktail hour timed to coincide with the park’s spectacular “Illuminations” fireworks display. “We didn’t tell anyone beforehand,” Ronnie confides, “and when the fireworks began everyone was in shock. Aside from seeing the love of my life standing in the doorway at the end of the aisle, this was my favorite moment.”
The Epcot® American Adventure Rotunda was the grand location for the couple’s formal reception, a breathtaking combination of towering columns, marble flooring, and a spectacular ceiling illuminated with stars. Golden candelabras overflowing with roses interchanged with vases topped with scarlet florals on beautifully appointed tables draped in ivory linens. The professional wait staff began serving dinner to the adults as the song “Be Our Guest” filled the hall, while a supervised children’s party complete with kid-friendly foods, music, games, and entertainment took place on the third floor of the rotunda. Rani slipped into a second stunning princess gown in traditional white for the reception, a luxury she intends to recycle through the site SaveTheDress.com so another bride can benefit from her good fortune. After the couple cut the first slice of their amazing castle-shaped wedding cake, the bride gifted Ronnie’s cousin Donna with her bouquet in lieu of the standard toss. “It is Israeli custom to give the bouquet to the person you want to get married next,” Rani explains. “I love this tradition, and Donna deserves to find true love and happiness!”
It took years of daydreaming, months of overcoming opposition, and one full year of planning, but the couple’s big day was well worth the wait. “Our wedding was literally what dreams are made of,” Rani asserts. “At least it was for us.”