Sunday, July 31, 2011

3 weeks to go

Alrighty, now that we can't do a monthly update anymore, I'll move on to a weekly update. Here's what happened last week and over the weekend.

  • We had a dance lesson in which we discussed an ending to our first dance. Am I giving away too much?
  • We picked out songs for the ceremony and reception entrances.
  • We got to know our awesome DJ. I can't even begin to tell you how amazeballs Max is. He's so awesome, that he took our selection for our first dance, and slowed down the tempo like we requested. Who does that? Our DJ. That's right. He rocks.
  • Applied for our marriage license and received our marriage license. They weren't kidding when they said it only took 3 days.
  • Part one of the escort cards has been completed.  \
  • Shipped out the thank you cards for our shower gifts.
  • Started writing our ceremony.
  • Designed our programs. Now I just need to work on the details

19 days. Holy shit.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

1 month!

EEEEKKK, less than a month!
1 Month before the wedding
 - Design your wedding programs - Still working on this...I keep changing my design.
 - Apply for your marriage license - Taking off from work early to take care of this today. It didn't dawn on me to do this last week when I took an entire day off work to do the final walk through and take care of other wedding business.
 - Have a final gown fitting - Scheduled
 - Choose all of your wedding accessories - You know...somtimes I just like to procrastinate. Really, I'm waiting for the final fitting so I can see how it looks together
 - Visit your hair stylist, work on a style with your veil - Already had this taken care of back in May.
 - Visit your make-up artist the same day - see line above.
 - Hair & make-up done, have your formal bridal portraits done - Uh, sorry, I ain't a Southern belle.
 - Discuss and finalize details with wedding service providers - Leaving this up to our planner.

What we've been up to for the last month:
  • We I found the last tie for the groomsmen. It took me 5 Macy's, but it's DONE. Also, we found pocket squares, too!
  • We celebrated Jake's birthday. It was very low key this year, just friends hanging out with food and board games; exactly what Jake wanted.
  • Finished project flower girl basket
  • We hung out with family for 4th of July and stuffed our belly's full of food.
  • We "celebrated" our 4th dating anniversary. In that I mean we watched fireworks from our living room in a half sleepy state. Jake said "Happy anniversary" and I grunted "uh huh."
  • I found out that I'm [VERY] lactose intolerant. I thought it was gluten for awhile. Thank god it's not. But going dairy-free is so much harder than going gluten-free, especially when I'm a cupcake baker!
  • I started crocheting a baby blanket (not for me). - I am either hella crazy or beyond insane...I started it on 7/14 and want to finish it before the wedding. Just to drive home how much of a nut job I am, I've had to restart it 2.5 times!
  • We had an AMAZING Jack and Jill shower. I will recap this way later, but I can't even begin to tell you how much excitement was in the air. No words can describe the feeling of being surrounded by family and friends who love and support us unconditionally.
  • We had a final walk through with planner, caterer, and venue coordinator
  • We I designed and ordered our thank you cards for the shower. I totally outsourced this project for the most part.
  • Completed project table numbers!
  • Ordered a bow tie for my dad! I also picked one up for our ring bearer. If he wears it, it'll be SUPER adorable. If he doesn't, no biggie.
  • Found a leotard for our flower girl. We'll let her and her mom worry about shoes and tights. Although, it might be a bit hot for tights.
  • Finalized gifts for the bridesmaids. We are no where near as creative and personalized with our gift giving as others are. If anything, we are practical. While we are gifting the ladies hair and make-up services, I also wanted to get them something physical, something that they could keep and use. It's only fair, the guys get almost an entire outfit.

Now for the personal to-do list:
  • Menus - they have been designed and redesigned. Now they just need to be redone in Adobe Illustrator (I started them in PowerPoint). They still need to be printed and assembled.
  • Cardbox - I told myself by the end of the's now the end of July. This was redesigned to make it way easier. I kind of outsourced part of it.
  • Chair signage - do we even need signage? seriously?
  • Welcome packages for out of town guests -I mean what welcome packages? No one is getting anything. Almost done!
  • Communicate with our photog and cinematog what photos/moments MUST be captured.
  • Seating chart - almost done, just waiting for the last of the rsvp's to roll in.
  • Super secret wedding stuff -  Almost there!
  • Ring bearer pillow - so close to being finished
  • Signage for guestbook and other things.
  • Escort cards - I actually started these the other night.
  • Put together ceremony
  • Finalize with the florist
  • Finalize drunk bus shuttle service to pick up guests from the reception and take them back to the hotel 
  • Choose our wedding music and share your selections with your Band or DJ - We are meeting with Max, our DJ, tonight!   

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two year itch

Time and time again, I catch myself falling into the same cycle over the years. This cycle repeats itself every 2-3 years without fail. I chop my hair off after growing it out. We aren't talking about a small trim, we are talking about going from long (past shoulder blades) to short (between ear and top of shoulders).

I just get tired of all that hair and yearn for something new. Yes, I know it's beautiful. But do you know how much it actually weighs? Let me tell you, it's even worse after washing your hair. Whether it is good for my hair or not, I have to wring it out like a towel afer each shower.  

I remember doing it twice in college. Once in in 2001 or 2002 and again in 2004. I remember the exact date in 2004 because I had grown out my hair for my bestfriend's wedding. The day after the wedding, I had it all cut off. Just FYI, so you don't think I completely neglect my hair, I do go in for periodic trims or cuts in between chops.

It always takes me about a week or two after chopping off my long locks to get used to it. I will also try my damndest to style it during those two weeks. After that, I get lazy and let it just do it's own thing. Sometimes it looks good, usually not.

Anyways, it's time for a chop. I have been fighting the urge for a long while now. I specifically grew my hair out for the wedding this time around. But a few months ago when I saw the season finale of Glee, it took a lot of effort to combat the urge.

Gorgeous Dianna Argon and her new do. Image captured from last episode.

I think I said to the TV, "Hey, that's what I want my hair to look like!" Yes, I talk to the TV. My hair will only look like that when I step foot out of my salon. Just gotta suck it up for another 5.5 weeks.

32 days.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chinese weddings - the modern

Today, Chinese weddings have merged with western weddings to create a new hybrid celebration. Sticking with the format from yesterday's post, let's get started. 

 - Picking a lucky date. This is still done in today's times. But it also depends on how traditional one's parents are. Our friends N and N had to pick a lucky date. They met with a "lucky" woman and consulted the Chinese almanac. We, on the other hand, did not have to pick a lucky date. We just picked a date that worked for most people at the time (remember, this was almost 2 years ago). We picked our date well before the 2011 almanac was even published. Lucky for us (haha, pun), 8-20-2011 is an auspicious date.
- Installing the bridal bed. Aka, making the bed with red sheets and such. I know this is still done. It can happen one of two ways. One as a request of the uber traditional parents/grandparents. Or two, because the wedding party wants to prank you. I saw a photo on Facebook recently, but I can't seem to find it now. I have also heard of couples not telling anyone where they are staying the night of the wedding to completely avoid it at all costs.

 - The groom has ditched the old digs and now sports a nice suit or a tuxedo the entire day. Sorry guys, you might have been more colorful in the past, but you are definitely dapper now.
 - The bride. Ummm....a modern bride has been known to change an average of three times. She will have an outfit for the tea ceremony. This is most likely the kwa. She will then change into the white wedding gown for the western vow ceremony. She will then change again for the reception. A lot of Chinese brides will wear the cheongsam/qipao for the reception. But here's the kicker, she will continue to change throughout the entire reception! I've heard of brides having 7 different dresses! Personally, I have never seen it in person. Photos, once. 

 - Chinese wedding door games. I have yet to see this in person actually. But I KNOW that it has happened to people I know. The bridal party plays a huge fact, it is the main role of the bridal party. What is it? The groom and his groomsmen must come pick up the bride before heading off to the tea ceremony. However. The goom and his buddies are put through the ringer by the bridesmaids. The groom must pass a series of tests and obstacles before the bridemaids will let him "retrieve" his bride. Let me just say that some of these "obstacles" are quite embarrassing. I saw a photo of a friend (groom), who had a bikini on over his suit.

via Wedding Moments

Alice Hu Photography

 - Tea ceremonies are not going away anytime soon. The timing of them has just changed. One can have it the day before. One could have it on the same day either before or after the western ceremony. One can have it the day after.

Mrs. Toucan and Mr. Toucan during tea ceremony. Image via Weddingbee

 - Western ceremony. Pretty self exaplanatory, I hope. Bride and groom can opt in for a vow ceremony.

 - The couple can choose to either throw a reception as we know it: cocktail hour followed by dinner (plated vs buffet style) and dancing. They can choose to throw a more traditional banquet feast with a multi-course meal. Or, they can choose to do both. We have had multiple friends have a traditional banquet overseas and a western reception State side. Here is a collage of a 12 course dinner from a wedding. Abalone, duck, fish, lobster/crab, sticky rice, long noodles, and fresh fruit are all stapes.

via Carmen Weddings

 - Toasting. Almost completely forgot to mention this. The bride and groom, parental units, and wedding party will go table to table and toast each one. As you can imagine, one can get pretty smashed if you are toasting with the real stuff and taking big gulps. One "tradition" that has started with the younger crowd, say your college friends, is that the ice bucket is emptied and any and all alcohol is poured into it. When the wedding party comes around to toast, someone has to drink the concoction! The groomsmen usually take one of the team, but ugh. For N and N's wedding, me and the bridesmaids hid towards the back of the train, toasted with water, and let the groomsmen take care of the "ice bucket."
 - Theme and decor. It is completely up to the couple on how they want the reception decorated. Modern times me added modern touches like floral center pieces. Although, I'm not sure why you would want to waste money on center pieces if you are having a traditional family style dinner since there will be no room left on the table. One thing I've noted in weddings in Hong Kong/China and in really asian weddings in the US is having the the bride and groom's first name on display. Maybe this is so that you know who's wedding it is?

I think the bride is the one in yellow. Image via Yours Truly Weddings

Well folks. There you have it. Chinese weddings in a nut shell. To be honest, I didn't do it justice. There is SO, SO, SO much more. Feel free to let me know if you have any questions or want to know more. I can conjur something up.
Here's a link to a fairly traditional, but yet modern Chinese wedding. It gives you a pretty good idea of how things look and play out.

35 days.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chinese weddings - the old

Chinese weddings are rooted deep in tradition. There is so much to talk/research about that I don't have a clear idea of where or how to even start telling you about them.

Let's go back, way, way, way back in time. Back in the days where marriages were arranged. Back in the days when brides had dowry's. Back then, there was no such thing as first looks before the ceremony. Hell, the bride and groom didn't even get to see each other's faces until the end of the night when they were to consummate their marriage! 

Pre-wedding traditions (only touching a couple):
 - Picking a lucky date. The date of the wedding has to be a lucky one in order to bring luck, good fortune, and longevity to the couple. Date should be an even number of an even month, but cannot be during the Ghost Festival. There is an entire almanac that is published yearly with listings of what is a good date and what is not.
 - Installation of the bridal bed. This doesn't mean go out buy a new bed and set it up in the couples home. What is really means is that the sheets are changed to brand spanking new red sheets and blankets. Only people who were blessed with children were supposed to dress the bed. Little kids are encouraged to jump on the bed as to bless the couple with lots of children.

Growing up, this was my idea of a bridal bed, based on Chinese movie.
Image via Beijing Holiday

 - Combing of the brides hair. I'm pretty sure that I have only ever seen this done in movies. But knowing Chinese people and their love for traditions, I'm sure this is still done in reality. A comb is run through the brides hair four times. Each to signify a different blessing: together forever, happiness, children, and long life.

Now to get to the good stuff, you want to know what people wear! There were no wedding parties, thus there were no groomsmen or bridesmaids. Of course, people in attendence dressed in their best rags.

 - Exhibit 1: Ancient wedding attire. I'm not sure what the significance of the groom is blue is, but in movies, they always wear blue with a big red bow across their chest. A red cloth would be draped over the brides head piece as a veil. Can you imagine having to wear that thing all day long?

via Life Is Really Beautiful

 - Exhibit 2: Old school, but not ancient wedding attire. The difference between these photos is in what the brides are wearing. In first, the bride is wearing a two piece dress called a "kwa". Kwa's are traditionally worn by people in southern China. In the second photo, the bride is wearing what most people think of when you mention a mandarin collar dress or a Chinese dress. This is actually called a "cheongsam" or "qipao", and was originally worn by women in northern China.

via Life Is Really Beautiful
Kelly Niemann Photography (image cropped by me)

 - The tea ceremony. This is the equivalent of vow exchange in a western wedding ceremony. There is a lot of bowing, kneeling, and serving of tea by the couple. The tea is served to the parents. As a sign of approval or blessing of the union, the parental units take a sip of the tea and shower the couple of gifts. These gifts are presented in small red envelopes called "li-see" or lucky envelopes. The envelopes usually contain cash in 8's* ($8, $88, $888, etc). In addition to cash, jewelry (gold and jade) is also gifted. After serving the parents, the bride and groom serve the remaining married family members in order of seniority. 
*8 is a REALLY lucky number as is sounds most closely to the word for prosperity in Chinese. To contrast, the number 4 is the worst number as it sounds like the word for die or death.

Two Teacups

Just like western weddings, there is a banquet thrown to celebrate the union. There are a couple of differences. One major one is that the guestlist is open to EVERYONE. I'm not kidding. Anyone your parents know, past or present, are invited. The woman that babysat you when you were 1 year old for 3 months? Yea, she and her entire household are also invited. The guy your dad does business with? Yea, him too, and his wife, and his grown children, AND their children. The theory behind this is that being able to marry you off (if you are the bride) or find you a wife (if you are the groom) is a HUGE milestone. It is a proud moment for your parents and they want to share it with the world. Also, Chinese people, while they are generally tight fisted with their money, are very generous when it comes to wedding presents. It is usually cash and a lot of it. Another difference is the food. Chinese wedding banquets are a feast full of food and drink. A multi-course meal is served family style and can last hours. Each course represents something or other. If you walk away hungry or sober, then the host (groom's parents) have not done their job.

- Theme and decor. There is only one color theme: red and gold. End of discussion. There are no flowers for boutinoueres or bouquets. There are no flowers for center pieces. BUT, there is signage. Double happiness, phoenix and dragon symbols galore. Where ever there is room, they will be place.

via china-cart

There is probably a whole slew of stuff that I don't know about or have forgotten to mention. Are you tired of reading yet? Because I'm tired of typing this up (it's taken me an entire day). Next up, I'll talk about modern Chinese weddings.

36 days.

Friday, July 8, 2011

My first tornado

I'm interrupting the constant stream of wedding updates to talk about something bigger and hopefully selfless. On June 1st, multiple tornadoes touched down and tore the western part of the state into shreds. I didn't even know that it was in the forecast. I was completely self absorbed in wedding crap or one of my other many first world problems. I don't think I even knew about the aftermath until DAYS after when I finally turned on the tv to hear about the devastation. 

Members of my company banded together and gave back to the community. We rolled up our sleeves. We revved up chainsaws. We brought in front loaders (yes, one person brought their front loader, thank goodness). We spread out in teams across different locations. And we made a difference.

It was a great afternoon out of the office. We built connections with folks that we don't normally work with. We applied teamwork We helped people.

Photos from a backyard in Southbridge, MA.

That pile of rubbish used to be a shed.
Before the devastation, the trees were so thick that you
couldn't see the neighbors on the other side of the creek.

*All photos taken by me*

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We have a package?

Items that come in either a box or an envelope that are larger than our 4"x4" mailbox are delivered to the main office of our complex. The concierge (whom tends to be quite flaky) will then place a post-it note on our mailbox to let us know we have something to pick up.

Me: Hey, we have a package. What'd you order? I didn't order anything.
Jake: I don't know. I don't remember ordering something.
Me: Go get it.
*Jake returns with GIANT box*
Me: I seriously don't remember ordering anything. What did you order?
Jake: I don't know.
Me: Oh maybe it's something off of our registery from one of your aunts. I don't know anyone else that would just send us stuff.
Jake: Maybe.
Me: I bet it is. Hand me my knife.
*I carefully slices through the tape to open the box*
Me: Oooh, it's from Crate & Barrel. Definitely, didn't order anything.
Jake: Oh boy!
*I open the note attached (a super, cute, and sweet note)*
Me: IT'S FROM VAL AND MATT!!!! We got a present from Val and Matt!!

"Quick, snap a picture for the blog. Do you know what you are doing?"
Viv Martini Glass via Crate & Barrel
They match the existing set of wine and champagne glasses that Jake purchased awhile back.
Classic Margarita Glass via Crate & Barrel
Jake's Our margarita collection just doubled! We won't have
to use my our martini glasses at our next margarita party.

Thank you for the wonderful surprise Val and Matt! It was a sweet ending to a long day. We will put these to good use for sure.

43 days. The counter on our registery says 44 days. I'm going to go with the previous just to apply more pressure on myself.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Invitations: Cost

Anyone want to take a guess as to how much our invitations cost? Lower. Lower. Still lower. You'll never guess.

Design: $0.00
 - Designed it ourselves
 - I can't even begin to guess how much it would cost for a graphic designer.

Labor: $0.00
 - Did it ourselves myself, mostly
 - You don't even want to know how many hours have gone into printing, cutting, punch, gluing, etc. went into this. I would be rich if I even charged myself minimum wage.

Postage: $107.55 (rsvp - $0.44/each, domestic - $0.88/each, 3 international, 5 sent in one package to be hand delivered to family, 4 hand delivered locally, and one for a keepsake)
 - I already knew that because of the shape (square), our invites would be slightly more. But I was crossing my fingers in hopes that they didn't tip the scales. Thank god they didn't!

Reusable materials: approximately $100 (after discounts and taxes, but not rolling this into the final cost)
 - White gel pen used for the "please recycle" message
 - Stamps of our graphic (Purchased from Paper Source. We have both the large and the small one (two for whatever reason my bridal brain came up with back in December of 2009!)
 - ColorBox Pigment Stamp pads in black and scarlett
 - VersaMarkStamp pad
 - Clear embossing powder
 - Paper punches (border and corner)
 - Embossing heat gun
 - PVA glue (left over from lord only knows what project)
 - Printer and ink. I got this printer at 50% off waaaaay back when.
 - Font

Raw Materials: $76.11!!!!
 - This amount does not include shipping as other paper products were also ordered at this time. All paper was ordered from Paper and More. I highly reccommend them!
 - 12x12 100# cardstock in black for the enclosure
 - 8.5x11 100# cardstock in cherry red for the invitation and name card backing
 - 8.5x11 80# cardstock in bright white for the invitation, information card, rsvp card, and name card
 - 4 bar envelopes in bright white
 - 6x6 square envelopes in bright white
 - 96.75 yards of twine. Barely made a dent in my giant spool of twine.

Grand total: $183.66
 - Each invitation suite cost just over $0.88!!! $0.885 to be exact!!!
 - $2.20 including all postage for invites shipped within the USA. Can you believe that?!?!  The postage was the bulk of it!
 - Paula told me that our invites could have easily run $1300 if we had a real staionary vendor do them.

45 days.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


We started ring shopping almost a year ago. I knew exactly what I wanted, but was having trouble finding it. 6 months later, we returned to Oregon. We tried visiting the original ring that I had identified as a potential, but was dissappointed. It's a good thing we double checked!. However, we did find it on this trip.

Enough jabber.

My precious! Not an eternity band.

2.6 mm band, just like I wanted.

Don't they look fabulous together?

Ignore my outgrown/chipping polish.

Low profile as to not rub against the prongs of the e-ring.

Look, the back of the bands match!

Jake's ring has a different story. His idea for what he wanted changed quite a bit from start to finish. At first, he wanted a plain band with a shiny finish. But in the end he wanted a band with a brushed finish (matte). In addition, Jake wanted it engraved with my Chinese last name.

Around Christmas, I decided to get him his own engagement ring. My reasoning was that it took me a year to become used to wearing mine (inconsistently). I thought he might want to practice wearing a ring. I purchased a tungsten ring from Overstock.

When it came time look for his ring, he knew what he wanted, but couldn't find it. A brushed finished would "dull" and begin to look like a worn polished finish over time. I can see this occuring if you do lots of manual labor with your hands, but it's probably a non-issue with Jake. While white gold and platinum rings are engravable, none of them came in a plain brushed finished. There was always extra embellishments, like a polished edge. Tungsten was the only type of ring that came in the right finish we wanted, but it's not engravable. 

Rather than face dissappointment and having to make decisions (he hates make decisions, especially when pressured), he chose to keep is practice band as his wedding band. We discussed upgrading his ring in a couple of years.

Close up shot, the brushed finish was hard to capture.

Even with the brushed finish, the surface is highly reflective.

47 days. 2 posts in one day...guess I'm trying to make up for the past couple of days.

*all photos by me!*

Accessories: Flower girl

Did you get your fill of cuteness after seeing our flower girl's ensemble? Well, make some more room! Here is her basket:

It's hard to believe that it started off purple. Sorry, bad blogger, I completely forgot to take "before" photo. Jake's mom gave us cute Easter baskets two Easter's ago. I decided to hang on to them. Good thing, one of them came in handy.

I painted the basket white, hand wrapped the handle with satin ribbon, lined it with a layer of tulle, and added a re-engineered silk peony. Note to DIYers. DO NOT FOLLOW IN MY FOOTSTEPS. JUST GO AND BUY A WHITE BASKET.

I spent entirely way too much time on this basket. First I started off with the wrong paint. I wanted a slightly shiny tinge to the paint, so I bought glossy acrylic paint. Glossy acrylic does not stick to basket material very well. After two coats of the gloss, I finally went with a coat of regular acrylic. Finally the purple was gone. However, now I was left with a coarse texture, so another coat of the gloss. 4, maybe 5 coats of paint later, I had a white basket.

I got lazy with the paint job, so I tried to hide the imperfections with a couple layers of tulle on the inside of the basket. Hot glue + tulle = ouch.

Also, ribbon wrapping a curved handle is not an easy task. After awhile I had to tell myself "screw it, no one will notice, just get it done."

Not long after we started planning our wedding, I became smitten with hair flowers. I wanted a big one in my hair, a statement piece if you will. I went out and purchased a silk peony, feathers, and a hair clip. That material sat around for months and months. About a year later, I completely scrapped the idea, but couldn't return the flower as I had already tore it apart (oops).

I proceeded to re-engineer the flower. Layers of tulle were hot glued in to create a fuller flower. The flower was then hot glued to layers of felt to create a base. I wanted the flower to be usable for multiple things, not just a basket. I added two ways to thread ribbon through the base.

Maybe M will want to wear the flower as a belt after the ceremony. Although, this flower is probably as big as her head!

The ends of the ribbon were sealed over a candle flame to keep them from fraying.

I'm contemplating getting her a floral headband...
via Pretty Little Things

47 days.

*personal photos unless noted*