Saturday, November 28, 2009

Be Our Guest

Miss Nachos stole this post title from me a little while ago.  I haven't decided how to make her pay for this transgression, but in the meantime...

There is a theme song I have for our dinner reception.  Some of you may recognize it:

Be...our...GUEST! Be our guest! 
Put our service to the test! 
Tie your napkin 'round your neck, cherie,
And we will do the rest!

Hint:  It's Beauty and the Beast from Disney (I tend to give strong hints)

(I would have posted a frame from Beauty and the Beast, but Disney is, how shall we say, a little "possessive" of its images--jolly waiter with desserts will have to do) 

We want our guests to feel like they're being pampered, as if they're at an elegant, scrumptious, yet comfortable and lively dinner party--like a really lovely restaurant.  To set the mood, I am envisioning lots of candlelight and low lighting.  Low lighting and candlelight are not only romantic, but something about the slight darkness helps people feel a little more inhibited, which could encourage conversation and good times (the wine should help as well).

Here are some photos I came across in trying to find the "mood" that I want (oh look how this post has switched from "We" to "I", huh):


Then I found the photo below, and I am in love.  Candlelight, warmth, light flickering off the wineglasses, enough flatware and dinnerware to make it all feel like a pampering la la...

I realize that creating this look takes a lot of work.  A small table, chiavari chairs, specialty linens and chargers, and I'm sure a lot of other things that I don't know.  Specialty linens, chargers and chairs are out of the budget right now, but creating this atmosphere is part of the reason that we splurged on our venue, so that some of this abundant dinnerware comes with the package, so that guests are served as if they are at a 4-star restaurant, the view will be smashing, etc.  It's also why I bought 100 of these suckers to spread around (and will probably buy more):

They look unattractive like that, to say the least.  But imagine them in frosted votives:


I'm going to think of other ways to luxe up the tables.  Any cost effective tips people have used to dress up the tables that are cost effective?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


After I not only accepted but also started to embrace the fact that we were going to have a more traditional ceremony, it brought a key question, on the minds of many, to smack front and center: Why marriage? 

I am certainly not the first person to think about, mull over, and expound and this question.  So let me do a quick rundown of the common points on each side.

Reasons for marriage: making a solemn commitment; celebration with friends and family, legal benefits; recognition by public of societally and legally accepted form of union; going with the flow; you get a big white dress and it's fun; etc.

Reasons not for marriage: can do most of the above without artificial legal accoutrement created by the government to validate what should already be considered a valid union; participating in institution in which not everyone can choose to participate; etc.

For me, while I believe the "nay" reasons, I also believe the "yay" reasons and am therefore going forward with the marriage.  I am fully aware that I could have a commitment ceremony and celebration, as many people do, without the legal sanctification. So why am I doing the legal marriage?  Am I doing it for the legal benefits? I guess in certain senses getting married does make things easier, both legally and socially.  So I'm doing this just for legal and social convenience?  Really? I mean, why do I truly need to get *legally* married?

The hard truth is that I don't feel it is necessary for me, spiritually or emotionally, to get legally married.  I mean, it would be great--I do think that it makes for a great celebration and I look forward to the sentimental avowal to entwine my life with Kevin's, but again, as a I mentioned, a marriage license is not a necessary component of a great party with friends and family, or to commit my love and life to Kevin.  

One can even argue that getting married isn't all that advantageous.  Many hetero married couples keep their own last names and are just fine, and you can buy homes and open joint checking accounts even if you're not legally married. You can also designate in your will and by other methods as to who will be your beneficiaries.

So, I know the legal act is unnecessary, however, I am choosing to go ahead with it anyway.  Why?  This is tough, and it's going to sound somewhat blithe--because it will make our lives easier in certain senses, and I have the privilege to do so.  

It is very difficult for me to write that, because the key part is that "I have the privilege"--not everyone does.  Not everyone has this privilege for reasons I cannot fathom.  I am knowingly choosing what many see as an advantage even though some of my friends and acquaintances cannot choose the same course, and this creates a permanent contradiction that unfortunately I simply cannot solve for myself.  But that is the nature of injustice.  One can't explain it away.

This is a difficult question, personal and unique to every person and couple.  I don't have an answer for anybody else out there, just for me (and mine wasn't really a satisfactory answer at that).  

I don't have a smooth, nice way to tie this post up.  I'll just end this post with a few small reminders that wedding beauty and inspiration can come from outside the heterosexual paradigm...


The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
-MLK Jr.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Getting Ready for Getting Ready

I think one of the most special parts of the wedding day (yes yes, every part is special but I mean, um, super special) is the bride getting ready.  There is something so serene, magical and blissful about the photos.  Except under the cover of serenity is that amazing sense of excitement building up--the kind of butterflies you feel when your loved one is about to step off a plane from a long trip away, when you were a kid waiting for your birthday...that kind of nervous, fun jitters.

Getting Ready is a time to get prettied up, to put on your best face:

(Mrs. Jasmine)  

To put on that gorgeous dress, with the help of those loved ones surrounding you:

A time for shots like this: 

A time to take a reflective moment: 

(Mrs. Coconut)

 And a time to just smile, giggle and laugh in anticipation of the day:


Is it too confusing to be getting butterflies about getting butterflies on the wedding day?  Because sometimes I kinda do.

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to this part of the day.  I will be with my mom, my sister, my best friend, with other girlfriends dropping by, a glass of bubbly in hand, trying to enjoy the moment and getting ready for the big day ahead.

Watch, I'll be in hives, people will be screaming, the seating chart won't be done, and the room will spontaneously ignite in flames.

Is there any particular part of the day that you are looking forward to (and don't give me that mumbo jumbo about the moment you are married, yes we are all looking forward to that)?

Friday, November 20, 2009

On the Bright Side

Last time, I oh so maturely b*%tched and moaned about having a ceremony.  But on the upside of having a ceremony, this is what I found:

1.  It gives better purpose/focus to the wedding for our guests.   I suppose this is obvious to most people except me. 

2.  In my imagining/dreaming/planning of every wedding aspect until now, none of them has made me tear up the way thinking about our ceremony does.

3.  It'll give my parents a chance to walk down the aisle, which I think will be nice for them.

4.  I will get to have a moment, albeit a short one, where I walk down the aisle and people are looking at me in my EXPENSIVE get-up.

5.  I'll get pictures like this!!!

(ok, maybe not quite like this, but doesn't it look grand?)

from awesome hostess August15bride!

Maybe not exactly like those as our ceremony will take place in a much plainer hotel space, but still, it's a moment of focus that's nice to capture.

What about the ceremony are you most looking forward to? 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Resistance is Futile

I previously wrote about how we're ending up with a more traditional wedding that I had originally anticipated.  To me, what the real hallmark of this more "traditional" wedding was that we are having a "formal" ceremony (as opposed to something like City Hall).  Or the Ceremony, as it likes to be called.

This is my idea of what big scary Ceremony is like
(AP photo via here)

I had a struggle with Ceremony.  We fought, we wrestled, I think we even kicked each other in the gut.  Or butt.  It's been a blur.  But I surrender now.  Just please lift your heel from my larynx, please.

Originally, we didn't want a wedding ceremony.  I thought I was too old and over-the-hill for that kind of stuff (I later realized I was being extremely melodramatic--33 is not over-the-hill, y'all!).  We just wanted cocktails and dinner.  A formal ceremony seemed like too much pomp and circumstance, and getting legally married was something we could do quickly at city hall without a lot of fuss.  Who needs fuss? Who needs an audience for carrying out a legal act?  Plus, who needs the extra responsibility--the script, the officiant, the music, the programs...blech.

Well, that was my original idea until Ceremony challenged me to a battle of will and showed me the wuss that I am.  Ceremony cleverly used my friends to strike the first blow. Several of our guests-to-be flat out told us that we should have a ceremony, that the ceremony was the best part, yada yada.

Fine, I said to myself, we'll have a ceremony.  So okay, we'll take 5 minutes from cocktail hour where everyone stands around with their drinks and we'll do a quickie ceremony with my friend officiating.  Won't that be easy and fun?

I mentioned this to my venue coordinator, and she pretty much gave me the big fat NO...something about trying to get 50 people to pay attention while just standing is like herding cats. I told her, actually I whined, that I wanted it to be easy and not a big deal.

If only guests would gather like this when I want them to (note to self: purchase can opener for wedding)

The more she told me about our options (which included chairs! of all things), the more I whined, even though I knew the inevitable was that we would have a more formal ceremony than I had hoped for.  I mean, she said that people should be able to SIT DOWN. That just took the formality to a whole new level for me.

My nemesis. I don't care what it looks like, I just didn't want them.  Source

Some excerpts from our conversation:

HER:  I know you're looking for a simple and easy ceremony, but we have to do something that works. 
ME:  Well maybe we just won't do it! (pout)

HER:  After all, you want people to pay attention during the ceremony, and this only happens once in your life...
ME: (snorting with laughter) Maybe.
HER: (a little shocked moment of silence, followed by a nervous giggle)

I wasn't as bratty as all that.  In any case, I have gradually let the juggernaut of Ceremony roll over me but you know what?  I've revived myself from a flattened state and I'm ready to embrace Ceremony.  I'm actually even excited about it.  However, it now added this whole other aspect to the day that I hadn't even thought of until a few months before the wedding. Fine. FINE. grrr...

Did you consider having a small separate ceremony or no public ceremony at all? 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Once Upon a Time...

When we first got engaged, I wanted to do something "different," partly because I felt that at being post-30, I should be over the frills and chills of a traditional wedding.  Well guess what folks? Not a chance.

After going through countless scenarios and considerations, I found myself at a place that resembled much more the traditional wedding than the I'm-so-over-the-wedding-industry celebration that I ever so presumptuously thought I would have.  And you know what? No crying over spilled milk here.  It's all good.  I'm inclined to say that it'll be great.  Because we chose it to be that way and we're gonna embrace it.

In the meantime, though, let me share with you a few of the possibilities that I had previously conjured and then reluctantly surrendered.

Once upon a time, I thought of having a simple no-frills ceremony at a place with signs like this:

(City Hall)

And having a little moment like this, where I get to treasure something really special while still in the everyday world, with people around me going about their business, but me and Kevin knowing and sharing something so happy that it makes things surreal:

Source (Ananda Lima)

However, this option was not going to fly, for several reasons, and they are called: (1) my mom; and (2) my sister.  They were, to put it very mildly, not into this idea.

Once upon another time, when I was still thinking about keeping the ceremony private and just sharing it with immediate family, I thought of just getting married during the winter holidays in my family's living room:

(yeah I with my parents' living room were this grand!
This is an inn or something, not a regular old living room, but you get the idea)

With this plan, we would have a bigger celebration with friends and relatives later, because I couldn't let go of the idea of celebrating with friends.  However, to coordinate once with our immediate family members for the ceremony and then again for the reception seemed like too much.

Once upon yet another time, I thought of having a small, 20-person ceremony in Central Park, a 5 minute walk from our apartment, like this:


Cute, no?  But again, if we were going to plan a ceremony in New York that involved more than just the two of us, it seemed like a lot to ask family members to not only travel to the small ceremony, but also to a bigger reception as well.

In addition, during our venue search, we found ourselves in California as opposed to NYC, so Central Park was not in the game plan anymore.  I'm glad we even had the choice of having the wedding in either spot (many of our friends live in California), but there's a part of me that feels a little wistful about not having an NYC wedding.

That wistfulness caused me to gasp a little when I saw this picture:

This is in Central Park, and I know EXACTLY where this is.  It's nowhere special or landmarked.  As you see it's just an asphalt road, but I know this road.  It's one of the routes for walking my dog.  Plus I have this irrational fondness for the notion of walking around NYC in my wedding dress (damn you, Mrs. Star, damn you! [shaking fist]...go see her awesome pictures!).

But la, I don't regret the choice we made to get married in California, or that we're having a larger, more formal celebration than we originally envisioned--sometimes you just gotta roll with it and love it, you know?

What kind of iterations did you go through in terms of the size/vision of your wedding?  Feeling wistful about any of them?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hair and Makeup Trial II: I am Putty in Your Hands

I admit it--I am totally excited about getting all dressed up on the wedding day, powdered and primped to perfection (or at least, just better than I look when I try to do my own makeup and dress myself).  Yes, the whole marriage thing is nice, but let's be honest, as the bride, we are kind of the star of the party, right?  I mean, that whole aisle and grand entrance thing? This is one day where I can spend otherwise embarrassing amounts of time and money on my appearance, and totally feel *justified* about the whole thing.  Woohoo!

So after my disappointment with my first hair and makeup trial, I decided that wedding-day narcissism, at least for me, had no bounds and I searched for another person to work with.  I eventually found Aimee Lam through yelp, and set up an appointment with her for a trial (if Aimee's name sounds familiar, that's because Miss Cola is using her as well!).

The results?  Aimee was amazing. Like, an artist, and very sweet and professional to boot. I had no idea you could do all that with makeup and hair. This is what I had wanted, a person in the bridal suite helping me to get ready who was a pleasure to work with, calming, and made me bee-yoo-tee-ful. Aimee even gave me a choice of three different facial washes when I first arrived! You had me at facial washes, Aimee!

I came armed with photos, including these: 


Source (Mrs. Coconut!)


(this link goes to a phe-NAH-me-nal makeup post by Mrs. Plumeria)

I don't usually wear makeup so it was kind of a shock to see the makeup and the dramatic hair--however, two things happened. One, I was so friggin amazed with how Aimee made me look and, to be honest, how gorgeous I felt that I didn't care what she did, I just wanted her to work her magic. Second, the makeup settled down a little after a few hours and became more subtle.

This is me before:

Aaaannnddd....this is my makeup afterwards (pay no attention to the half-done hair, focus on the face).

(see half open mouth? I am clearly stunned)

I know it's a bit dramatic especially considering how I normally look, but I care not. I love it. I got airbrush foundation and false eyelashes. For someone who doesn't wear makeup, I really decided to go big.

I like this next pic because it shows all the fun STUFF that a makeup artist uses.  While I don't wear much makeup on a regular basis, seeing all this makeup makes me giddy.

And here' again! From the front, just for good measure.

I have what is called jjak jae gee noon in Korean--my eyes are uneven. I like to think it's charming. In an annoying way.

As for my hair, here's Aimee furiously curling my too-long hair.  And see why I like her? She's laughing at something I said which was clearly very very funny.

Here's the back of my hair:

Wow, that's a whole lotta curls

This is the overall style that I'm going for--hair pulled back in curls still with some texture up front, although in this pic there are a hella lotta curls.  That is absolutely the result of my false belief that I needed to have Rapunzel hair in order to have an updo, not Aimee's doing.  I caught the drift when Aimee subtly asked, "Sooo, do you always keep your hair... *this* long?" Yeah, so I'm going to chill out on the length a bit.

Here's how my eye makeup held up by the end of the day (and check out those false eyelashes!):

And finally, in case I want to let my hair down at the tail-end of the wedding and have a Pantene moment:

Sassy! Hehe.

In the end, this was much, much more money than I had anticipated spending on hair and makeup.  But I really don't care.  This was important to me.  After seeing how I felt after the first and failed trial, to know I was in good hands made the budget explosion worth it (I believe that many a bride has repeated this mantra in justifying unforeseen wedding expenses).

Anyone fall in love with a vendor's skill and just let them do as they please?

Friday, November 13, 2009

For the Love of Dogs

I know I've previously posted about our pugs and the wedding, but I am posting again because I love dogs (and I'm not alone, if you look through Weddingbee archives).  All of 'em. Big, small, furry, fur-less (yes, even those), rescue, mutt, purebred--you name it, I love them. Kevin gets so tired of me fawning after every dog we see on the street that he grabs my hand and pulls me forward in order to save ourselves some embarrassment.  Dogs just make me happy.

Okay, there was *one* dog that I hated, and I use that word understanding the full force and extremity behind it.  I dogsat for this small, obnoxious, ill-trained, super-alpha dog once and we had a battle of wills.

(not the actual dog, but the attitude is spot-on)

I lost.

Moving on (because clearly I have)...We have five pugs amongst the family members.  I know I previously mentioned 4 pugs, but we got another in December.  Here they all are (mine are the two fawn ones on the right):

Choosing a venue that allowed dogs was an absolute must.  At the Ritz, while we can bring the dogs with us to the hotel, there's something called the "department of health" which generally doesn't allow dogs in eating/drinking places, so we can't involve the pugs in the ceremony or reception.  Instead, we will have to ham it up with the pups in photographs taken before the ceremony.  I LOVE seeing wedding pics with dogs, and searched for some to see how other couples incorporated dogs into their weddings.

For example, maybe you can have your dog in the bridal suite?

Include them in your couple portraits?

Source  (We'll have five pugs, towing us like reindeer on Christmas.)
Have them walk down the aisle with you (or as a ring bearer)?


Or if they're unruly, you could carry them down the aisle?


Have your pet be a witness to the ceremony?

(this couple reported that the dog had lost its flower collar before the wedding, and then proceeded to chew through its leash so it could gallop along the beach unfettered)

Invite them to the reception?


Oops, maybe not. Well how about making a nod to them at the reception?

Source (see? see the little boxer on the cake to the right??)

Are you involving your dogs in the wedding?  I'm kind of sad that we can't have our dogs at the ceremony or reception, so I'd love to live vicariously and hear what other people are doing.