Here’s a story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls (and one boy). All of them had spunk, like their mother, and went to Disney World. Here’s the story, of a man named Hannon who was busy with two kids of his own. They were three NDPs, living all together, but had they only known…
Imagine visiting the Magic Kingdom for the first time as a kindergartener. Imagine being fascinated by a topiary in the shape of an elephant. Imagine being nervous during a submarine voyage, being whisked in the air on a “Skyway,” or observing life-sized costume characters water ski while you passed by on a ferry boat. Our NDPs of the month didn’t imagine these moments; they lived them. They also didn’t imagine that all of that would one day play a critical part in them finding their future soulmate, but it did. Meet the Neurotic Disney People for this month, Brent and Maria Hannon (NDD#146 and NDM#130).
Brent’s first exposure to Disney came as a six year old. Maria strolled onto Main Street for the first time at the tender age of four. They both were enamored by Disney as children, but–ironically–it wasn’t until their adulthood that they were really captured in child-like wonder. Because the “magic” is sometimes more powerful when shared in the role of partner or parent, trips back to Walt Disney World with spouses and children cemented their fascination with Disney.
Their previous partnerships, sadly, dissolved, but their adoration for Disney did not. It carried on as they continued to bring their children to this dream destination as single parents. At this time they also began seeking out like-minded individuals (other Disney fans) to converse with and share Disney moments. It was this latter effort that eventually caused their worlds to collide.
Brent and Maria’s story began at an event that is completely fitting for any NDP…a Lou Mongello meet. It was an instant attraction from the second they set eyes on each other, and when everyone at the meet parted ways, Brent and Maria did not. Many tweets, phone calls and gatherings at Disney Parks followed as the two invested time in getting to know each other and introducing their families.
Love blossomed, and during a random day in January, Brent presented Maria with a dazzling ring. It showcased three diamonds that formed the shape of a Mickey head to pay tribute to the icon that brought them together. With this the plans for a Disneyesque wedding were set in motion. A flurry of activity followed in order to hold a ceremony within six months.
The last few months before the wedding were incredibly intense. Due to the limited budget that almost always accompanies a family of eight, Brent and Maria had to get very creative and produce most of their wedding dreams on their own. It became a family effort. Dylan (NDI#51) looked after the younger kids most days so that the others could focus on their tasks. Emily (NDT#15) helped stock gift bags for out-of-towners, fold programs, stuff envelopes, and create take-home baskets for each wedding guest. Briana (NDT#14) spent weeks single-handedly making countless confections for the event, including chocolate Mickey and Minnie lollipops.
Day after day, Maria was locked up in her bedroom and positioned at a craft table. She was consumed with labels, bows, paint, and worked diligently to convert nostalgic home videos of past Disney trips into a montage for the reception. Doubtful that her fingerprints were still distinguishable because the tips had been burned so much by hot glue, she still continued. Brent’s contribution was chaperoning numerous trips to Michael’s, JoAnne Fabrics, and Costco. At times he wondered if the bank would break by the end of it all.
On June 25, 2011, the big day arrived. It was a stressful morning because the outdoor wedding had to unexpectedly be moved indoors due to a harsh thunderstorm. Many of the details that had been carefully planned were suddenly irrelevant and needed to be adjusted. Matron of Honor, Jeni Lynn K. (NDM#1) coordinated last minute details with wedding director, Jackie G. (NDM#30). And the food and beverage coordinator, Lori A. (NDI#192) worked diligently to accommodate an unexpected wedding ceremony in the reception space. The space previously reserved for the reception was converted, making it an area that would transition for the two phases of the event. It finally came together in a very classy ensemble of red, black and yellow (the colors of Mickey Mouse of course).
The small and intimate gathering of family and friends included many of the NDP Community such as Charles and Vanessa A. (NDD#142 and NDM#363) with Noah and Brandon (NDK#71 and NDK#72), Shane C. (NDH#21), Amanda T. (NDM#175), Todd and Cheryl P. (NDH#19 and NDW#29), Jerry G. (NDD#69) with Zach and Molly (NDT#25 and NDK#33), Joel K. (NDD#1) with Margeaux, Miller and Elle (NDK#1, NDK#2 and NDK#3). They waited patiently in their seats while Glenn S. (NDI#168) took his place at the front of the room to officiate the ceremony.
Maria was tucked back in a hidden area, waiting for it all to begin. Disney had played such a critical role in her relationship with Brent. It was the topic of their first conversation, the location of their first meeting, the background for their courtship, and the site of their engagement. Disney had literally been the context in which their story had been written, and she had worked so hard to have it culminate in the theme of their wedding.
As instrumental compositions from Disney movies filled the air, signifying the beginning of the ceremony, Maria held her breath. She peeked beyond the doorway that served as her private quarters and looked around. This was it. It was really happening. Everything she had worked so hard for was finally becoming real. No longer something just visualized in her head, she was seeing it before her eyes. Her Cinderella moment was about to take place.
The theme to Beauty and the Beast played through the speakers. Jackie signaled for Maria to emerge. It was her time. She timidly stepped beyond the threshold and into everyone’s sight and began to take dainty steps towards her future. Brent laid eyes on her and temporarily lost the ability to breathe. Utter happiness consumed him, and he felt his heart might explode. It was hard for him to grasp that within moments this beautiful vision would soon be his wife.
Maria, choking back tears, reached the end of the aisle and joined Brent at his side. The group was greeted by Glenn. He proceeded with the ceremony, mixing tradition with comedic references to one of Brent’s favorite Disney attractions, Star Tours. There was a bond felt by everyone in the room as they looked on, watching not just the joining of Brent and Maria but also a union that actively involved their children.
The vows were said. The unity candle was lit. The kissing commenced. A celebration of joy, love and Mickey Mouse began. At the end of the day, Brent and Maria basked in the glow of being husband and wife and determined to never lose sight of one thing . . . “that it was all started by a mouse.”
We’ve had a few milestones reached within the NDP community during the couple years that we’ve been around. We’ve had NDPs get engaged to one another. We’ve had babies counted within hours of their birth. But now we can boast that we have had the first wedding take place between two Neurotic Disney People. In fact, the entire wedding party and a significant portion of the guests were among “our own.”
Brent and Maria, you were able to hold the very first NDP wedding. It is a milestone that we couldn’t be more proud to announce and celebrate. We are so honored that you allowed us to be a part of the beginning of your lives together. To express our thanks as well as present you with a wedding gift, we are appointing you as Neurotic Disney People for the month of July.
*The NDP of the Month will receive a free premium subscription to TouringPlans.com for comprehensive assistance in vacation planning . If you or someone you know does something noteworthy within the Disney fan community, we hope you will take time to nominate him or her by contacting NDM#1 (putting NDP of the Month in the subject line) for consideration.*
Contributed by: JL Knopp (NDM#1) JL is the creator of The Disney Driven Life. She is also a blogger for Savvy Auntie and Touring Plans as well as a contributing writer for The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.
JeniLynn was born and raised in South Florida. Being so close to Walt Disney World, she grew up regularly visiting the Mouse and developed a fascination with the creativity of Disney Parks. Noticing that her happiest moments seemed to always take place in Walt Disney World, JeniLynn began trying to recreate the magic of Disney in her everyday life beginning in her pre-teen years. Adulthood, sixteen years of marriage, and three children later, JeniLynn continues to lead a Disney Driven Life and diligently works to pass her love for Disney on to her husband and children. She has blogged for Touring Plans and been a contributing writer for The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and she currently co-hosts Orlando Attractions Magazine: The Show; however, her primary focus has always been with the community that has grown around her own site, The Disney Driven Life. Through these venues JeniLynn strives to help other Disney fans stay connected to the brand that has served as a keystone in her family’s life.