In the 90-minute special, three couples will get to experience a Disney wedding, while one lucky couple will start their wedding journey with a proposal of a lifetime.
Hosted by The Bachelor‘s Higgins and Bushnell, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at these one-of-a-kind weddings.
The special is produced by T Group Productions and Roberts Media. It airs on Sunday, May 7 at 8 p.m. EDT on Freeform.
Realscreen caught up with Jennifer Daly (pictured, right), president of T Group Productions and executive producer on the series and Ann Lewis Roberts (pictured, left), president of Roberts Media and executive producer on the series, to chat about the special and what it takes to pull off a Disney wedding. Realscreen was also provided with an exclusive clip from the special, which you can view below.
Can you provide a brief synopsis of the project?
ALR: Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings is a 90-minute special featuring the magical work of Disney wedding planners as they create amazing, dream come true weddings and a surprise proposal for four couples in Disney’s theme parks across the country.
What was the genesis for this series?
ALR: There’s a very popular division at Disney called Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons. They create 6,000 of these unique, dream weddings, honeymoons and engagements a year at the Disney theme parks and cruise lines all over the world. The Disney wedding planners take events to another level, making a couple’s ideas (big, small, unique, out of this world) come true – pure magic. From rings, to dresses, to cakes, to venues and entertainment, it’s a cut above anything I’ve ever seen. Kary McHoul, SVP and head of unscripted for Freeform, had the idea for this project and brought it to us to figure out how to make it into a big television event.
Why do you think there is an appetite for this special?
JD: The weddings area has been a proven space time and time again across multiple networks. It’s a relatable subject and by adding the layer of fantasy, it is every woman’s dream come true. With Disney being a brand that is so universal, the appeal for this, in my opinion, is something every single person can connect with.
ALR: We’re lucky, there’s several compelling entry points for this special. As Jenny said, wedding shows consistently fare well. Ben and Lauren are one of the most popular Bachelor couples and were the subjects of Happily Ever After, a successful series on Freeform. We have a live musical performance with recent Grammy winners Pentatonix surprising our bride at our Disneyland after hours Castle wedding. And for those loyal (obsessed!) Disney fans, we have special access to the parks and show off some very cool new things.
How does this special fit in with Roberts Media and T Group’s commitment to formats and original content?
JD: We’ve done celebrity weddings in the past and wedding programming. Formats are the majority of our content. Having this larger than life Disney wedding feels like an even bigger and more exciting extension to our brand.
ALR: We’ve both produced wedding shows and this type of compelling storytelling is definitely a sweet spot for us. But even more exciting was turning it into a big event with a network quality look, musical performances and great visuals. We were very fortunate to have our talented showrunner, Simon Lythgoe, who helped bring American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance? to life. He really looked at this as a variety special with our couples’ love stories at the heart of it. He’s brilliant and shot it as a multi camera special from every angle imaginable.
What challenges did you face with production?
ALR: One challenge was shooting at the parks given the customer experience is very important for Disney. We had to be creative on when and where to shoot which ended up being a cool thing because we shot very early in the morning and late at night giving us a peak behind the scenes at the parks. We had to walk through a few underground tunnels with our production gear to get places without disturbing visitors…that’s a whole other show we’d love to do, behind the scenes at the parks!
ALR: Another challenge was the Pentatonix performance given we had limited time to rehearse due to schedules. But Simon has musical performances down to a science and Pentatonix were so gracious and on point. They were really touched by the romance of the moment and needed very little rehearsal. So, after worrying about that for a few weeks, it turned out we pulled it off without incident.
Can you name two or three elements that you think will make this special appeal to audiences?
ALR: The Disney brand is one main element that will bring audiences to this project…it’s so strong around the world. And Ben and Lauren will definitely make this special a much watch! This was the first hosting experience for Ben and Lauren and they were naturals. Proposals and weddings are definitely in their wheelhouse, so that part wasn’t a stretch. But reading, remembering and delivering copy is a skill and they both did a stellar job. The two of them also have great chemistry on camera…they are the secret sauce of this project!
What audience do you think this appeals to?
JD: I think this appeals to anyone who has experienced Disneyland or Disney World, which is almost everyone. Women of all ages will find it appealing because who doesn’t want to be a princess for the day? And men too, because who doesn’t want to live out the most magical day of their lives at the one place that can actually bring it? And just based on the initial casting, we already have hundreds of applicants to hopefully participate in what could be an amazing series.
What did you learn during the production of this project that you think would be valuable to other professionals in the industry?
ALR: Being flexible is something I continue to rely on when faced with unpredictable issues that pop up when following a story or doing live programming. When we shot our Bahama’s wedding, it was an incredibly windy morning. We kept calm and made a few changes. It’s one of the most beautiful segments in a special. Gives new meaning to beachy bride hair. Flexibility is so important.
Did you use any new or revolutionary technology?
JD: Kary and Freeform challenged us to come up with a new way of producing this special. We wanted to capture the high-quality Disney is known for and the youthful energy of Freeform so we used every type of camera, light, set up and device in our arsenal. From iPhones and still photography, to high end cameras with jibs, steady cams and sliders, to a live multi cam set up, we mixed all types of media together for a unique feel.
What’s your favorite moment from the special?
JD: My favorite moment is seeing our bride Ruby’s face as she realizes her wedding song is actually being sung to her by her favorite group. Magical.
ALR: My favorite moment is our hidden proposal out on the Kilimanjora Safari in Walt Disney World where our groom Greg gets down on one knee surrounded by giraffes, zebras and rhinos. Wild and super romantic.