From Hurricane Harvey to a Magical Disney Wedding: The Patel’s Fairy Tale Comes True

By M.G. Angulo | Photos by Claire Celeste/ Walt Disney World Resort –

Bride Alexis Preston arrived at her dream Disney wedding in Cinderella’s Glass Coach on national television on May 10th, 2018, at Magic Kingdom Park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Inspired by the upcoming royal nuptials of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings and ABC’s Good Morning America teamed up on a national search for a couple worthy of a wedding with all the royal accoutrements.

Newlywed Alexis Patel still has to watch her wedding video to confirm that the dream was real – the dream that she married her love in front of Walt Disney World’s Cinderella’s Castle, which interestingly enough, is where her husband, Jay, proposed to her last year.

“I have to see if that was really us, that it did actually happen,” she said, the awe still in her voice. “And it still makes me cry sometimes.” The tears she sheds are of happiness, wonderment and thankfulness.

After Jay proposed to Alexis, the couple eagerly began planning their wedding, saving the appropriate funds to create an exceptional memory for them both. Then Hurricane Harvey happened and snatched away their plans as quickly as its rising water. “I lost my car, and we had eight inches to two feet of water in our house,” Alexis recalled. “It was scary. It was night, we had to turn off the electricity, and we just sat there and listened to the water come into our home.”

Needless to say, all the money they saved for their wedding went to purchasing a new car and repairing the extensive damages in their home. Their story, however, did not end there. The dreams of a perfect wedding were not permanently crushed.

Alexis and Jay Patel pose after their wedding.

While idly scrolling through her Instagram feed one day, Alexis came across an advertisement to apply for a royal wedding at Disney World. She knew the odds of winning such a prize would be slim, especially since such an opportunity would draw scores of other Disney fanatics.

“Then I saw that the winner would have the wedding at Cinderella’s Castle. Now, I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, that would definitely have been on mine,” she said. So, she tossed her name into the application process, not expecting to win but satisfied to have tried.

On May 2nd on ABC’s Good Morning America— which offered the national contest for the Disney World wedding giveaway—Alexis and Jay discovered they were selected out of more than 2,500 couples to get married in front of idyllic Cinderella’s Castle.

For a person like Patel, who easily admits she “always has been and always will be obsessed with Disney,” to win such a wedding was utopian.

Coming Full  Circle

The Patels first kiss as husband and wife at
Magic Kingdom Park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Alexis and Jay, who were best friends in high school but not romantically linked, began dating in college.  “There were sparks flying in high school, but you know how high school is — a lot of feelings but no one ever says anything,” she shared with a laugh.

It was during college that Jay made clear his feelings for his future wife. “He was a little more open about his feelings than I was,” Patel said.  Soon, the two began dating. When Jay decided he wanted to propose to Alexis, he chose a setting that would forever mark the moment: inside Cinderella’s Castle.

Jay told local ABC Channel 13 that when he proposed, he did not have ring, but he would not be deterred.  “I was sitting there thinking to myself halfway through the fireworks show, ‘Man, this so much better than anything I could come up with,’” Jay said.

He then searched their table and found a napkin ring holder and fashioned it into a temporary ring. A few days later, he made it official with a special Disney Mickey Mouse designed ring for Alexis.

To have their love story come full circle, especially in light of substantial setbacks, almost leaves Patel speechless. “It just blows my mind,” she said.

In fact, the entire experience did, she added. The mood surrounding the big day was both typical of any wedding with all the jitters and excitement but also wonderfully insane.  “It was such a crazy week leading up to the wedding,” she said. “Let me put it this way: we went from seven months of planning a wedding to planning one in seven days.”

Still, the day was magical. Fifty friends and family members were able to attend, Patel arrived to the wedding in a Cinderella coach and Disney provided flowers and an engagement photo session at Epcot’s UK Pavilion. A string quartet, trumpeters, flower girls and page boys were incorporated into the celebration, and Patel had the choice to pick from a variety of Kleinfeld gowns and tiaras, all of which were flown in. And best of all, the Patel’s first kiss as husband and wife was highlighted by confetti cannons.

The Patels were treated to a wedding night stay in the opulent Cinderella’s Castle Suite in the Magic Kingdom and were sent off on a honeymoon in England and France, courtesy of Adventures by Disney.

On top of all of that, Jay and Aleixs Patel were the first to have their wedding filmed live in front of Cinderella’s Castle. “Having all of the cameras there, with so, so, so many people watching it live, felt a little crazy, a little intimidating,” Patel said with a laugh. “But when I arrived and I saw Jay standing there waiting for me, it was like everything else disappeared. I forgot about all the cameras, all the filming and just enjoyed getting married to him, this man who I love. It was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It was an over-the-top dream come true.”

Both Jay and Alexis are high school teachers in Katy ISD. Jay, who taught at Cinco Ranch High School, will now be teaching engineering and architecture at Paetow High School, and Alexis, who just received her teaching certification following being a Life Skills paraprofessional, will now be a Life Skills teacher at Morton Ranch High School.

“We’re just normal people,” Patel said. “And we’re both super thankful.  We are living the fairy tale every day.