Weddings at Bok Tower Gardens

Last week my husband and I renewed our wedding vows for our 20th wedding anniversary and we chose Bok Tower Gardens to hold the ceremony.

The wedding co-ordinator at Bok is Rita DiJoseph Horton.  Bok offer 3 wedding times each day (9:00AM, 11:00AM, or 1:25PM) and book one ceremony per time slot.  If you decide on a reception package, then the wedding time changes to 4:30PM.

The wedding fee includes everyone’s admission, a private room for the bride and girls to get dressed in, golf cart transportation from that room to your chosen wedding garden, chairs for all guests (white, square shaped, with padded seats), use of the wedding garden for 1 hour, carillon bell music (60 bells ranging from 16 pounds to 11+ tons) from the Tower for your processional, full use of all of the landscape gardens for your photos (there isn’t a time limit and we’ve got 157 acres), our staff members to assist you, and the 1 year gift membership for you and your spouse.  Everyone is invited to enjoy the rest of the Gardens, the carillon music, and our Visitor Center after your wedding ceremony has concluded.

Bok is a non-profit, the wedding fees are used to support our many conservation efforts, as well as their educational and environmental programs for children and adults. 

Rates begin at $695.00 and go up to $4,995.00, depending on which package you select.   There is a special rate for the sort of renewal of vows ceremony which we had – we had a small number of attendees (8, including the wedding party) so we were able to use the wedding gardens, (we chose the White Garden) for a very discounted ceremony only rate of $350, instead of the regular rate of $695, and it still included absolutely everything that comes with the $695 wedding ceremony.

Rita also provided us with a list of recommended photographers, hair stylists and wedding officials.  We used our guests for photographs and I styled my own hair.  We did use one of the recommended wedding officials – Rev. Georgiana Johnson               ~ georgiana@spiritbreath.com or (407) 339-4050.  It was actually Reverend Michael on the day and he was absolutely fabulous.  They took the time to ask us what type of ceremony we wanted and asked about our history and took some feedback from each of us individually on each other making our ceremony very personal and meaningful to us.

There really are not enough words to recommend both Bok and the wedding officials enough.  Please go to http://boktowergardens.org/weddings for more information.

Sanford Airport

Sanford Airport is North of Orlando and takes longer to get to from the Disney area, that as far as we can see is the only downside.  Sanford Airport is so easy to negotiate – we were through immigration, the bags were already on the belt and you are then literally straight out into the Florida sun.  We rented our car from Dollar and there was no line there, the beauty of Sanford is once you have picked your rental car up you are straight out of the airport and on your way.

We wondered whether our experience on the way home would be different and I am glad to say it was not.  We found the car rental very easily – there was no queue.  They asked which airline we were flying with and gave us direction to the correct terminal – which was literally just across the road.  There was a slight queue at check in but it was well managed and moved quickly.  We then moved on to security which was also quick and well managed, then up an escalator and you are straight into the waiting lounge which has a reasonable range of shops and a better duty free than MCO.

All in all a 10/10 for Sanford

Epcot – Flower & Garden Festival

Have been today and WDW have excelled themselves again.  Some wonderful topiary characters, beautiful flower beds, a fabulous butterfly garden plus all the usual attractions for no extra cost – win/win.

Our party consisted of 8 adults age range 28 – 78 and everyone had a fantastic day.

It runs until May 20.  www.waltdisneyworld.com

Hurricane kit

Hurricane season begins 1 June. The advice is to prepare, plan and be informed. Prepare an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan and be informed about different types of emergencies.

Everyone should have basic supplies on hand in order to survive at least 3 days if an emergency occurs. In your go kit in case you need to evacuate. The go kit should include important documents, cash or travellers cheques, a 10 day supply of medication, emergency phone numbers and video/photos of belongings.

The cost of being prepared is nothing compared to the cost of life.

Florida extremes

We landed at Sanford one Friday afternoon; first off the plane unfortunately our case wasn’t. We collected our rental car and headed down the 417 South towards Orlando. It was partly sunny and 83 degrees. We saw about 10 basking gators as we drove across Lake Jesup and then a pair of Sandhill Cranes with their chicks. Then the sky ahead of us went black. A few drops of rain landed on the windshield and then the heavens opened. The rain poured down, faster than the windscreen wipers could cope with. The lightning flashed and the thunder roared and then the hail came the size of golf balls. The temperature plummeted to 63 degrees and we turned the aircon off. The skies ahead of us started to brighten. The hail stopped, the rain slowed. We reached our exit for the 192 and the temperature had risen back to 74 degrees. The birds started singing again and you would never know about the storm – until we reached the villa and there was a hail stone melting on thedoor mat – still the size of a marble and several tears in the pool screen where the stones had come crashing down.

Florida extremes – expect the unexpected.

Orlando International Airport

Orlando International Airport is a large modern airport which can be a little confusing on your first visit.  Firstly you need to tackle immigration – there are 2 queues you need the 1 for foreign nationals unless you hold a US passport.  Get in line and wait for the official to tell you which kiosk to go to.  Answer the immigration officers questions, you will have to have your finger prints scanned and a photo taken.  Then on to collect your luggage and proceed to customs.  Then you have a choice of taking your own bags/cases or putting them on the conveyor belt to collect in the next terminal – personally I would take your own, it saves some time.  You then get a  little shuttle to the main terminal where you can then collect your hire car or meet your family or get a taxi etc.

The car hire firms are on a lower level so take the escalators down and complete your paperwork you then walk over to the garages and collect your car.

http://www.orlandoairports.net/

Rainforest Cafe, Animal Kingdom

When we go to Animal Kingdom we love to have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe a) because we love the Rainforest Cafe environment and food and b) because it is a great way to spend an hour cooling down in the aircon.

Rainforest is popular with our whole family – my Dad likes the pot roast, my niece likes the kids hot dog meal, my hubbie likes the Veggie burger – I have tried quite a few of the menu items, they used to do an awesome crab cake sandwich that I loved and now I usually have a stir fry or burger.

The other thing I like about Rainforest is the range of beverages – they do some lovely cocktails – both alcoholic and non plus some nice wine and beer.

You can make a reservation which is recommended if there are a few of you or you want to dine at a popular time.  You can often get a seat at the bar area though if you are ravenous and just can’t wait.

The cafe itself is themed  – there are regular storms with thunder, lightning and rain.  The monkeys ‘ape’ around and beat their chests, the leopard growls and the elephants trumpet – all great fun.  My hubby loves the fish tanks with real fish swimming around.

There is another Rainforest situated at Downtown Disney.