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Theme Park Weddings: Kim and Matt’s Discovery Cove Wedding – Orlando, FL

Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL

Discovery Cove is a beautiful and unique park in Orlando, FL.  Owned by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Discovery Cove offers its guests (limited to about 1,300 per day) the chance to swim and interact with dolphins, snorkel with rays, observe parrots and other exotics birds, and much more.

In this edition of Theme Park Weddings, Kim discusses the ins and outs of planning a wedding at this unique location.  Kim and her husband Matt were married at Discovery Cove on 12/10/12 — their ceremony was right on the beach in front of the dolphins!

Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and Matt

Wedding date: December 10, 2012

Ceremony location: The beach at the dolphin cove at Discovery Cove, Orlando, FL

Reception location: Laguna Grill at Discovery Cove

 Why did you and your husband want to have a theme park wedding?

“I had originally wanted to get married at Disney World, but my fiance wasn’t as into it. Plus, Disney can put a lot of restrictions on weddings and I wanted to just kind of pick and choose the elements we wanted in a wedding.

 I’ve also always had a love affair with theme parks. I’ve had season passes to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and King’s Dominion since I was a toddler so they’ve always been a big part of my life. I just love that places exist for families, friends, and couples to spend time together while still having fun.”

 Why did you pick Discovery Cove?

“We went to Discovery Cove for the first time in December 2011. It was so beautiful and towards the end of the day, my now husband asked if Discovery Cove was a possibility for our wedding. I told him I doubted it since it surely had to be very expensive, but that I would look into it when we got home. After getting home and finding out how reasonably priced the wedding packages were, we were sold!”

Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove, Orlando, FL - Kim and Matt

How did your family and friends feel about your choice of a theme park venue for your wedding?

“Some of our friends and family were more excited than others. One of the biggest issues was that 99% of our guests had never been to Discovery Cove and they associated it with just being a water park and didn’t know what to expect. Nobody was extremely excited about us getting married there, but realized it was something that was important to us, so they weren’t very vocal about it. It’s safe to say, though, every single one of our guests absolutely fell in love with Discovery Cove. Even the ones that didn’t want to get in the water. “

Can you tell us about the process of planning a wedding at Discovery Cove?

“After we became engaged I emailed Discovery Cove inquiring about weddings/special events. I received an email back with a PDF of their two wedding packages. Basically, you pay for the admission for the guests, call them up (you get a phone number and contact person after the initial email), they pencil you in for the date, and then you have 30 days to pay for the wedding package. It worked a little differently for us, as we were getting married at a slow time, and payment for the wedding package wasn’t due until 30 days before the wedding.

 All wedding packages do not include park admission. The largest and most expensive wedding package is the Grande Package. This includes up to 32 guests (including the bride and groom). The Grande Package includes the following:

·          Private Cabana

·          Reserved Lockers

·          DVD and all-image CD
(Dolphin Interaction and Park photos only)

·          Bride’s choice of 6X8 photo

·          Champagne Toast

·          Souvenir Toasting Flutes and photo frame for Bride and Groom

·          Rose Wedding Bouquet/Groom Boutonniere

·          Complimentary group photo for each family

·          Reserved Seating for lunch at Laguna Grill

We opted out of having the bouquet and boutonniere. We were given a large and beautiful flower arrangement in our private cabana as an alternative, which we thought was a very nice substitute! Also, when the flower arrangement was set up in our cabana after lunch, they had set up our photo frame with a group picture one of their photographers had taken right after the ceremony.

The Grande Package at the time of our planning (early 2012) was $1,259.95 plus tax. However, this does not include an officiant, photographer, or videographer. For an extra $500, you can hire one of their photographers, which includes one hour of photography time, 2 wedding photo CD’s, a 16X24 print/poster, and 15 6X8 photos.

 If you choose to hire an officiant, photographer, or videographer, they must provide a Worker’s Compensation waiver of subrogation language on Insurance Certificate or Proof of Valid Health Insurance Policy to enter the park. If you want to have a guest officiate, photograph, or video your wedding, they are included as part of your guest count and you have to pay for their admission. You do not have to pay for a professional photographer, videographer, or officiant to enter the park.

One of the biggest surprise perks for us was the DVD with all the park photos. We were able to get all of our guests pictures of them having fun throughout the day on one DVD.

The smaller Intimate Wedding package is for up to 12 guests (including the bride and groom). The cost of this package is $859.95 plus tax. It includes all of the same features as the Grande Package except for the reserved locker section.

After our initial phone call to be put on the calendar in the spring of 2012 (we had paid for 14 guest admissions that we knew for sure were coming at that point), we didn’t have any further contact until about a month before the wedding. At that time, the Special Occasions Coordinator went over our final guest count, our wedding colors (they put potted plants around the ceremony area and try to coordinate with your wedding colors), and any final details (like arrival times). “

 Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and Matt

What is the cost involved in having a wedding at Discovery Cove?

“Since we had 32 people at our wedding, we purchased the Grande Wedding Package. We also have Platinum Passes to Busch Gardens so we were able to purchase up to 7 admissions to Discovery Cove at the reduced cost of about $73 per person, including tax. This does not include the dolphin swim. If you purchase Sea World annual passes, you can also get discounted admission to Discovery Cove (up to 7 per person). We bought three Sea World annual passes for family ($150 per pass at the time) to be able to get additional discounted admission for all our guests at the same $73 per person. The grand total for our wedding (less the officiant, photographer, and videographer which were about an additional $1,300 total) was $4,167.53. “

Tell us how your day went — what was the flow of events?

“I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get my hair and make-up done by Beaute Speciale at 4 a.m. I was staying at Disney’s Old Key West resort and my flower girl and her mother arrived around 6:15 a.m. to get her hair done. I had rented a chauffeured SUV to pick us up and take us to Discovery Cove through Happy Limo.  We arrived at Discovery Cove about 7:10 a.m. Our photographer and videographer were already there waiting and everyone at Discovery Cove were so friendly as they greeted us. I had been told beforehand that I would be escorted to a private area to put on my wedding dress so I wasn’t wearing it at the time. As we were waiting for our ride behind the scenes, my fiance shows up in his towncar! I wasn’t sure I wanted to see him and everyone made sure it was okay first if he came in.

A few minutes later an SUV pulled up and took my flower girl, her mother, and myself back around Discovery Cove to an empty classroom type area. Our photographer and videographer went to the ceremony location and started taking location shots and shots of people coming in. As our guests arrived, they were given lanyards with their names on them, but no picture. They were then escorted to the ceremony location. Around 7:50 a.m. our photographer, videographer and officiant came back to check on me and take some photos/video. My Dad arrived shortly after (everyone was always escorted by a Discovery Cove employee) and we started walking towards the ceremony location. We were held up a little behind some tropical landscaping while my flower girl went out first. We followed soon after. Discovery Cove allows you to have one song on a CD that they play during the processional. Our ceremony began at around 8:15 a.m.

Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and Matt

After the 15-20 minute ceremony, we lingered around taking a few photos. Our guests were directed to pick up wetsuits by Discovery Cove employees or to Laguna Grill if they wanted some breakfast. All meals, snacks and beverages (including alcohol) are included with admission to Discovery Cove. A Discovery Cove employee also let our guests know that if they were interested in drinking alcoholic drinks, they could be directed to the area to get a new lanyard with their picture on it and to show their ID.

When you get your lanyard with your Discovery Cove identification card, if you want to drink alcohol, you show your identification (Driver’s License), they mark “over 21” on your Discovery Cove identification card and then that is used as your identification throughout the park.

While our guests were having fun, changing, eating, or relaxing, Matt and I were escorted around the park by a lovely Discovery Cove employee to take pictures with our photographer (Randy Chapman of Chapman Photography) and videographer (Stan Severance of STVS video). Around 10:45-11 a.m., we were done taking all the photos and video. Matt left to go change into park clothes and I was escorted back to the room I started out the morning in. I changed out of my wedding dress into a bathing suit and a sundress. The wonderful Discovery Cove employees told me to just leave everything, including my wedding dress and sandals, in the room and they would bring it up to the front when we were ready to leave that afternoon.

Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and Matt

Before we had left the group that morning, a Discovery Cove employee told everyone to meet back at the cabana area (where we also had lounge chairs for about 30 people, since the actual cabana could only hold about a dozen comfortably) at 11:30 a.m. to be escorted to lunch. As soon as Matt and I arrived, we were all escorted to Laguna Grill for lunch. We were able to go through our own buffet line and we had a variety of options from hamburgers and nuggets to BBQ and grilled fish.

After making our selections, we made our way to the reserved seating area that had been set up with bright pink tablecloths (one of our wedding colors) and tropical flowers. There was a steel drum band playing on the open stage next to our huge table set up. A Discovery Cove employee had also set up our guest book “tree” with flowers decorating the table.

I forgot to mention that with every private cabana at Discovery Cove (you can rent one with or without a special occasion), you get a cabana host. Our cabana host, Cheryl, was amazing! She was so on top of things and very friendly. She even came over to the lunch area with us and brought my husband and I refills on our drinks, extra salad dressing, or anything. We didn’t even ask, but it was very appreciated! During lunch, the chef at Discovery Cove came out and gave us two slices of red velvet cake on a huge decorated plate that served as our “wedding cake” (there were also plenty of cake and dessert options at the buffet).

After lunch wrapped up, everyone was on their own. Some of our guests, who are older, left after the lunch, but even they enjoyed the beauty of the park and relaxing for a few hours. It was such a neat experience to be floating down the Windaway River and come upon some of our guests or to go back to the cabana and see family members talking and having a great time.

Around 4:30 p.m., we showered and changed into dry, warm clothes and slowly made our way to the exit. It was such a beautiful, wonderful day and we didn’t want it to end. When we entered the lobby to leave, I noticed they were playing our wedding song (Behind the Waterfall)! It was so touching and a great way to end the day. They brought my wedding dress, bag, guest book “tree”, our vase full of flowers, and other things out to the front, which my parents thankfully took back for us. I had rented a 14 passenger chauffeured van through Happy Limo to take us and some of our guests that didn’t have transportation back to our hotels.”

Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and Matt

What was the best part of the day?

“The absolute best part (of course, besides the ceremony) was later in the afternoon when we were in our private cabana with about a dozen of our guests. It was very lightly raining, but the sun was still out. We were all laughing and talking in our little secluded area and the kids of the group were watching the dolphins play in the water next to our cabana. Everything just felt perfect.”

Was there anything that didn’t go as you planned or expected?

“You know? Not a thing! Everything went smoothly, it was a sunny beautiful day for December (and gorgeously foggy during the ceremony), and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

Do you have any advice for couples who want to have a theme park wedding, or a wedding specifically at Discovery Cove?

“Be patient. I thought we were going to have a lot of communication, but we only really had one planning phone call and a few follow up emails. This could potentially make someone who wants to know about every detail a little nervous, but everything was beautiful and wonderful in the end.”

 Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and Matt


Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Kim and Matt Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Kim and Matt Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Kim and Matt






Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Kim and Matt Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Kim and MattTheme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Kim and Matt






Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and MattTheme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and MattTheme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and Matt






Theme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and MattTheme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and MattTheme Park Weddings - Discovery Cove - Orlando, FL - Kim and Matt







Kim and Matt’s vendors:

Photography ~ Randy Chapman of Chapman Photography

Videography ~ Stan Severance of STVS Video

Officiant ~ Kevin Knox of A Beautiful Ceremony

Hair/Makeup ~ Beaute Speciale

Transportation ~ Happy Limo

Dress ~ David’s Bridal (discontinued dress)

Groom’s Shirt ~ Via Uomo

Groom’s Pants ~ Banana Republic gray linen pants

Flower Girl Sign ~ Signs to Live By (Etsy)

Guest Book “Tree” ~ Peachwik (Etsy)

Thank you, Kim, for sharing the story of your beautiful Discovery Cove wedding!


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  1. SO BEAUTIFUL! We just decided this was it for us! I did Discovery Cove in 2007 with my Mom and Dad and we fell in Love with it! Seeing your story and pics, we agreed fully that this was the perfect venue and day! Congratulations and Thanks for sharing all the info!

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