I, like many people I’m sure, am a perfectionist, especially when it comes to planning theme parties. I have a vision in my head, and I do the best I can to make it work the way I’d envisioned. Yet I’ve planned enough giant wedding-scale parties over the years to know that you really have to leave room for plenty of compromise: if you can’t afford what you originally wanted, if the style of invitations you wanted are suddenly out of print, if the tables you wanted for a sit-down dinner aren’t all going to fit in your living room.
My most recent almost-compromise with this wedding—there’ve been a few—was, as of early this morning, concerning the cake topper.
Initially, I’d planned on a wedding cake to go with our theme: Journey to the Center of the Earth. I had no idea what that was going to entail, except for maybe some dinosaurs and miniature palm trees at the base of the cake and crystals on the second layer—you know, sort of make the cake build from what was deep inside the volcano to its caldera. One thing of which I was certain: I wanted Nathan in charge. He’s the one with the sweet tooth and likes what he likes; I could care less. So I decided he would be in charge of choosing what type of cake and filling he wanted, and probably, also, the design.
But he surprised me the night we were finalizing our Guest List—Thursday, January 19 (yes! Poe’s Birthday!) I “officially” told him he was in charge of the cake, and he mentioned he wanted to do a Disney’s Haunted Mansion cake. “We could use your ghost bride action figure up in your office.” He also mentioned he’d like The Skeleton, his favorite of the three Hitchhiking Ghosts, to be the “groom.” I recalled that I had a statuette of one of The Hitchhiking Ghosts in my Walt Disney’s Theme Park Characters Collectible Figures (Disney Theme Park Exclusive) set I’d bought back in 2010, but I wasn’t sure which of the three it was.
It turned out it contained the ghost he wanted. Using these two figures we already owned appealed to me for a number of reasons: we wouldn’t have to purchase anything (and 18 years later I’m still burnt from having spent a ridiculous $75 on a not only clichéd by cheaply-made plastic bride and groom statuette topper from my first marriage which I sold at a tag sale for a buck); I’ve always identified with the Mansion’s Bride, so it was like putting a piece of me on the cake; Nathan and I aren’t only into the paranormal and ghost stories so it says “us,” we love Disney too. And because part of our favor is going to be an as-yet unwritten original ghost story set in Howe Caverns, the ghost cake would provide the thematic bridge, so to speak, between Journey and the story.
I agreed and told him he could do whatever he wanted. But when we put them together, the two didn’t really match. The Bride was an action figure and was much taller than The Skeleton statuette—and not only that, The Bride stood on her own, while The Skeleton was atop a little pedestal with The Haunted Mansion’s signage on it.
It really was going to look like two toys that didn’t match on top of a wedding cake.
For the moment I decided I could live with it, and showed Nathan that one way we could lessen the mis-match effect was to put The Skeleton at the base of the cake, and The Bride on the top—he agreed this made sense, since The Skeleton is at the end of the ride just outside the Graveyard at what would be the Mansion’s Ground Level while the Bride is up on the Mansion’s third floor in The Attic (I have learned from doing a lot of theatre that there is an artistic explanation for everything you have to compromise, you just have to think long enough and then say you planned it that way).
The matter seemed settled.
But all weekend long—as I was working on our Guest Book on Shutterfly—the inconsistency was bothering me. I wanted to use The Bride, but The Skeleton really didn’t match. Even with the artistic explanation, I didn’t feel it would look right. There had to be, I thought, some kind of Disney’s Haunted Mansion Cake Topper out there. Or maybe even a ghostly bride and groom that wasn’t part of theHauntedMansion. I was willing to compromise just so it would look right. After all, I thought, The Bride is a one-of-a-kind action figure. The chances I was going to find anything that’d match her were slim.
After I completed the Shutterfly project, I was free to get the cake topper issue resolved. So, this morning, I set about Googling all the usual stuff—Wedding Cake Toppers, Disney’s Haunted Mansion Cake Toppers, Dead Bride Figurines, Hitchhiking Ghost Figurines, Haunted Mansion Figurines…I spent an hour and was coming up with nothing, but I refused to give up; I figured if I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, something would present itself that I could live with. Finally, a search item featured the phrase “Disney’s Haunted Mansion Action Figure Line” in its description. I thought, okay, there must be a collection that’s different from mine and if I have to shell out the money I will—at least it’ll match. I Googled that…and scored.
The top three results were from YouTube’s MisterClown01, the first a video of “Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion The Traveler Figure”—and it was from the same line from which my Bride had come (even if they were re-issues). I had no idea they had more in the line than just The Bride. This excited me to no end…perhaps they had The Skeleton, too, and then I wouldn’t have to purchase an entirely different item as I’d planned. I headed over to his channel right away.
MisterClown01 is a collector of various action figures fromDisneyParks, Star Wars, and other stuff I’m totally into. On his YouTube Channel, he presents two-minute reviews of each item he buys. He shows you the packaging, takes the item out of the box, plays with it to illustrate its various features (i.e., whether its poseable, etc), tells you what he likes and doesn’t. These are the people I love—they’re just like me. I scrolled through his entire list of videos, at first only finding the second of the three ghosts—The Prisoner. He also had The Bride, so I watched that video, too. But the third Hitchhiking Ghost, the one Nathan so badly wanted and loves best, seemed to be absent.
Undaunted, I kept looking, stopping to watch videos on items he and I owned in common just to see what he’d say about them. Then, there it was: “Walt Disney’s Haunted Mansion The Ghost Figure.” I couldn’t believe it! It really did exist! He even compared it to the size of others, so I could get a sense of scale—and yes, it was perfect, exactly what I was looking for. And because he showed the packaging, I knew exactly what search term I needed to use.
Now the question was, could I find it, and not pay a ridiculously high price for it since it’s retired. I plugged it into Amazon—and there it was. For an amazingly low $19.99.
Thrilled, I also decided that since my Bride lives in my office as a good luck charm for my ghost stories, she shouldn’t go on the cake. She was cheap enough at $3.48, so I ordered a second one. This way, I figured, we could give both figures to the bakery in the boxes. Makes things easier, right?
I wrote MisterClown01 a note, thanking him for helping me. He was thrilled to hear that someone had benefitted from something he enjoyed doing. I sent him a copy of my book Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World as a thank you—he’s exactly the kind of person for whom I wrote the book, and I hope he enjoys it as much as I enjoyed—and will continue to enjoy—his video work.
It just goes to show you that sometimes, when planning a wedding, resources and help can come from the strangest places. Compromise is important—accept that not everything might turn out EXACTLY the way you’d envisioned. Chances are, if you’re willing to be flexible, the right thing, consistent with your vision, may still come along, because you’re putting out the vibe that you’re open.
But there’s another lesson to be learned, here, too. My Dad always said “do what you love and the money will follow”–and this is the type of thing he meant. Here’s this guy, just filming his beloved Disney collectibles for no reason other than he enjoys it. Yet, in this case, he provided a valuable service—he solved my “Wedding Cake Topper Problem.” MisterClown01’s pursuit of his passion has affected what will be one of the most special days in my life—he made a dream come true, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. So the next time you stop and wonder if what you’re doing in life—writing, blogging, artwork, filming your cat doing silly things, whatever—is really worth it, take a minute to think of those out there your work affects on an every day basis that might not take a moment to tell you. For all you know, you could have changed someone’s life.
And if that’s not a good reason to keep at it, then I don’t know what is.