diy flowers

March 31, 2010

Don’t worry. I have definitely not decided to do my own flowers :)

There is, however, an interesting discussion going on in the comments section of a post over at 100 Layer Cake. The post itself is a “how to DIY a bouquet of flowers” but the comments have turned into a discussion about the pros and cons of DIY’ing flowers in the first place.

Most brides will agree that flowers are “expensive” and can be a big chunk of the budget, but a lot of the points made in defense of florists resonate with me more. I’ve read other posts about the cost of flowers (like this one and this one) and additional more big-picture feedback from consultants like Sean Low.

A few big names in weddings have chimed in, including Summer from Grey Likes Weddings and Nancy Liu Chin (with some more comments on her own blog). It would be a valuable read for anyone trying to stay relevant and up-to-date in the wedding industry.

My two cents? Honestly, I don’t know enough about the floral world to really give an opinion from the perspective of a vendor. However, as a bride and as a friend/coordinator to many other brides, I can say that flowers are a beautiful, inspiring part of any event–especially one as significant as a wedding. Foliage and floral arrangements add texture, color, and life to venues, outfits, entourages, and photos. I wish I could have allocated thousands more to flowers — but I restrained myself from doing so.

I’ve read (more than a few times) that the best way to control the budget is by reducing the number of invitees and guests. Don’t get me wrong, that’s totally true. The number of people at the wedding can dramatically increase the cost of … well, everything from finding a bigger venue, increased food & beverage costs, needing more centerpieces, invitations, save the dates, favors…

Although I know the principle to be true, I know me, and I know that I want my wedding to be about surrounding myself with people that I know and love — even at the cost of gorgeous flowers or creamy, letterpressed programs and menu cards. I often find myself drooling over those luxuries, but I wouldn’t trade 20 of my guests for bigger, more elaborate floral centerpieces. Nor would I trade another 20 of my guests to letterpress all of my wedding stationery. I just wouldn’t.

With that in mind, I can empathize with brides who try to DIY their flowers and/or ask their amateur friends to step in simply because they can’t afford to hire a florist. It’s a sticky situation, but setting priorities in the very beginning can be a huge help later on, as decisions like this are being made.


my dad’s request

March 26, 2010

My dad has been asking me a lot of questions about what he should wear on the wedding day – a tux or a suit? a bowtie or a tie? Honestly, I didn’t really know what was best. We’re doing everything outdoors so I know that makes things less formal, but I wasn’t sure if all the dads had to discuss and confer and agree on a degree of formality or colors. Anyway, I asked Angel and then did a little big of blog research.

Surprisingly, it was really hard to find pictures of the bride being walked down the aisle. I assumed I could just look through one photographer’s archives in Google Reader, but my archives for Caroline Tran and Bonnie Tsang proved to be less helpful than I had hoped.

Here’s what I found – a few of the nontraditional escorts~

Caroline shot a wedding where the bride was escorted by the mom

A wedding shot in Hawaii by Bonnie where the bride was escorted by her mom

A wedding Caroline shot where the bride walked herself down the aisle

Then here are a few of the traditional dad-walking-bride shots:

From a wedding Caroline shot

From a wedding Bonnie shot

From another wedding Bonnie shot

Unfortunately, a simple size of 3 weddings wasn’t enough. I was hoping for dozens! Hm, hm, hm. I wasn’t sure which over photographers blogs to dig through, but then, I clicked “All Items” for Orange Turtle Photography and BOOM! Jackpot!

Orange Turtle shot my friend Sara’s wedding last fall, and they (and we!) loved them so much that they’ve been roped into shooting another wedding for my friend Kim this year.

When I say jackpot, I mean, JACKPOT. Feast your eyes on TEN beautiful pictures of brides and dads… plenty for my dad to observe and compare with. Thanks Cindy & Dan!

Note: I’m not sure why, but I can’t seem to access any of the actual wedding blog posts! Hopefully they’ll be up and running soon

Final tally: 4 bowties, 8 ties.

Maybe since Cindy & Dan always shoot together, they’re able to capture this moment, while maybe Caroline and Bonnie shoot alone most of the time and then aren’t in the position to get these shots? I have no idea… but either way, thankful for Google Reader and blog archives!

uh hello, this is us

March 23, 2010

The lovely, fabulous, amazing Jerry Yoon & Ingrid sent me an email this afternoon while I was out at lunch (the ONE day I’m not eating lunch at my desk!!!) and it contained a zip file full our engagement pictures. I think my heart stopped beating temporarily as I nervously waited for it to download and then extract… and then even after it was extracted, I was a little terrified of seeing myself (ourselves) on camera.

But, why should I be nervous? I trust Jerry! I beyond trust Jerry. I recommend him blindly to my friends and their friends and have seen everything he’s posted on his blog for years.

Pictures were taken out in Livermore near… who knows where. I really don’t know- 3G and EDGE both died on us while driving around and so I just gave up trying to figure out where we were.

I love them :) I think there Jerry took a lot more (I can remember posing in weird ways or certain spots that we stood… whatever) but I’m so happy to see these and … yeah, I’m just happy right now :)

We’re probably going to blow up 2-3 of them to display at the wedding… any favorites?

my bouquet

March 22, 2010

My lovely friend Hannah is going to come out of semi-florist-retirement to help me with my wedding flowers. I sent her TONS of images and random commentary about what I did or didn’t like but it turns out that my directions are not very cohesive. Darn!

So, these days, I’ve been skimming through/browsing through weddings to find purple bouquets and to send them to Hannah with my commentary. Here are some of the ones I’ve sent her:

from Heidi & Michael’s wedding, shot by Boutwell Studio

I didn’t like this bouquet very much and Hannah pinpointed why- too much variety (shades, textures, flowers) and not enough uniformity.

from a recent wedding shot by [b]ecker

I also didn’t love this bouquet. I think the color disparity between the two blooms is a little too distinct and if anything, I already knew I didn’t love roses or hydrangeas enough to have them be the primary flowers in my bouquet.

from Nhu & Luv’s wedding, shot by Caroline Tran

This was actually a bridesmaids’ bouquet but what I did like about it was the tulips! Bryan recently sent me flowers at work for our anniversary and he thoughtfully asked them to make it a purple/green arrangement to match our wedding colors. It provoked a lot of thought about which purple flowers I liked, and despite the poor quality of my Blackberry’s camera, I think you can see the pretty, dainty tulips, right?

from a recent wedding featured on Style Me Pretty

I unfortunately can’t see most of this bouquet (this was the best picture I could find even when scouring the websites of the photographer/florist/planner/etc)… but I liked it! I don’t like that maroon flower in the middle (Hannah, is it an orchid??) but I liked the colors of the other flowers that I could see. And if I’m not mistaken, are those carnations? I know carnations… they’re cheap!! (Now watch, I’m completely wrong and purple carnations are incredibly expensive. I should just stop now.)

I am now realizing that I really lack an eye for floral arrangements and decor. I can look at pictures and say that I like or don’t like them, but I’m horrible at articulating why! Maybe I’ll make it a point to learn some more about flowers after the wedding…

bridal salon visit #5

March 20, 2010

Destination #5: Bella Wedding Bridal, Los Angeles (Yelp)

This post ends the bridal salon visit series… woohoo!!! So now you know the ending to my story :)

I had planned a day full of Koreatown wedding salon visits and Bella Wedding was my first stop (which ended up being my last!). A couple of good friends had raved about the owner of the salon (Mrs. Yang) and reviewers on Yelp always said that Bella had the best selection and price… so needless to say, I had pretty high expectations and hopes for Bella Wedding!

For those who aren’t familiar with dress rentals, what typically happens is that they have dresses in the store for you to try on and choose from, and then the salon will order a new dress, alter it, rent it to you, and then either re-rent it or sell it later. Interesting business model, no?

Bella Wedding had a pretty good selection, based on the other places I had seen. It was definitely nowhere near the size of Bay Area Bridal or Trudy’s, but it felt like there was a better selection there than at Glamour Closet, for example. I knew which section of the store I would like (cleaner, a-line, etc) and noticed a few that I liked. I showed Mrs. Yang the ones I had liked and she pulled a couple for me to try on.

Unlike the previous bridal salon visits, because I was in SoCal, I asked some more people to join in on the fun- this time it involved my mom, my aunt, my 10 year old cousin, and Lena, my MOH. Thankfully having more opinions didn’t drive me nuts (as I hear it sometimes can) but what basically happened was I tried on a couple of the dresses I had liked and although I liked the first one a lot, neither one was an overwhelming “Yes!”.

Then, Mrs. Yang brought out a different dress- one that I hadn’t pulled and one that I probably wouldn’t have chosen for myself. It was lacey and had a lot of beading, but because I had learned my lesson before, I tried it on. And… well, it was the dress! Everyone I came with liked it and just to make sure, I re-tried on the first two dresses that I had liked… which reinforced how much everyone had liked the lace dress.

It was at this point that Mrs. Yang brought up budget (whoops!) and I didn’t realize that lace type dresses always came with a higher pricetag! We talked about it and went back and forth, and I ended up getting the dress for a good price (which was at the very high end of what I wanted to spend). Yay! My mom and I loved Mrs. Yang- she was so kind, honest, and knew dresses really well. I’ve called and stopped by the salon since choosing the dress to get the alterations fitted and to make random requests or ask questions and I’ve never had any regrets about choosing to rent from Mrs. Yang & Bella (and therefore cancelling all my other appointments… aha).

I have reservations about posting the dress here, but I’ll say that it’s a Pronovias brand and it’s a couple of years older. In fact, a week or so after finding the dress, I found out that a friend who got married in 08 actually wore the same dress! What a small world! I didn’t realize it was the same dress because she had altered/modified it a little more (neckline, beading, etc) but I don’t mind one bit :)

Wedding dress, check!

b’maids part 2

March 19, 2010

Apologies, dear readers, as this post is long overdue! When I have time to blog, I’m always torn between catching up on older decisions/purchases and blogging whatever’s currently on my mind. In theory a disciplined blogger wouldn’t have this problem… so, hopefully/eventually, I’ll become a more disciplined blogger and keep you all up to date with everything that’s going on.

I had last mentioned the Target dresses and shoes I had liked, but then alluded to how I ended up not needing them. The dresses arrived and looked a little more casual than I had liked, so when I went down to LA a few weeks back, I considered renting bridesmaid dresses from the same salon that I rented my dress.

I don’t think I’ve really talked about Bella Wedding and how it was the last stop on my wedding-dress-search, but I will… I promise! Anyway, I was early to my appointment and took time to browse through the racks of dresses- both for me and my b’maids. There were a handful of purple dresses, maybe 2 long and 2 short? I only really liked one style, but thankfully, I only needed to choose one! An added bonus, I had wanted to do long dresses (they just look nicer, I think) but was hesitant since two of my bridesmaids are on the shorter side. BUT!! Rentals include alterations! Woohoo!

Here’s what I chose:

Say hello to the chiffon Bari Jay style #641 in raspberry! I think it looks a little more purple and less pink in person, but regardless, this is it! Bella Wedding had 3 of the dresses in stock but because of the way the sizes worked out, we had to “super-rush-order” one more.

For me, renting bridesmaid dresses seemed to be the best option given the look I wanted and all of the inventory I’d already looked through. It ended up costing less to rent than to buy bridesmaid dresses from David’s Bridal (or any store like that) but more than it would have cost to buy dresses from Target or places like that. Fair, no?

Unfortunately Bella Wedding’s in SoCal and my bridesmaids are not (two in NorCal and one in Taiwan) so they won’t get to try on their altered dresses until the right before the wedding. I’m not too worried because I’ve been getting updated measurements from the b’maids, so trusting that all will be well.

For shoes, I loved the purple Target pumps but because the colors were slightly off, I was deeeeelighted to find the same shoe in ivory (or champagne, as Target calls it):

All in all very happy with my purchases/rentals and hopefully the bridesmaids will look beeeeeeeeyootiful in them!

It arrived!!! I love when things get done!

After a four day weekend in SoCal, Bryan and I came back and found a USPS box waiting for me from lovely Etsy seller, RomancingJuliet. I had been searching madly and kind of brainstorming ideas, but then happened upon this super cute burlap set! It worked out perfectly because I hadn’t wanted something satiny or shiny, and with 2 and a half year old twins (hopefully) walking down the aisle, I was afraid of something that might end up being too fragile. We’re incorporating burlap into the wedding a few different ways, so this worked out perfectly. Not to mention, burlap starts with… you got it, B!

We opened up the box and it was exactly what I had hoped. The flower girl basket is the perfect size for Lauren and while the pillow’s a little bigger than I imagined, I think it’ll do just fine.

Around the same time, I also found cute kids’ Converse on sale (thank you Wise Bread!):

As with most good sales, they didn’t have every style in every size, but I thought it worked out well given that I could find shoes for both Lauren and Davey in purple. Hopefully the sizes match!


March 4, 2010

Everyone has a different experience registering, it seems. Some of my friends have lots of fun (like my friend Hanna) while others completely opt out and either do it 100% online or ask for only gift cards/cash (Asian culture, what can you say!).

I had hoped that registering would be fun and simple, but it really wasn’t. Instead of having fun running around, I was trying to make sure we got everything we needed and the checklists that the store provided (in addition to the ones we found online) were way too detailed and elaborate for me. We were both a little tired when we got to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and so I’m sure that didn’t help either. The first big mistake was that we walked toward the towels and had no idea what colors we wanted. We haven’t signed a lease for our future place yet and so I don’t really know what it looks like. Doh. We ended up going with a pretty neutral color scheme and just hoped it would work out. Worst case scenario is that we’ll have to deal with a lot of exchanges and returns later on.

BB&B was a little exhausting, but we started fresh the next morning at a Crate and Barrel wedding party event (it perfectly matched our schedule- score!). This was a lot more fun because they opened the store early for couples to register and had a cute photo booth, demonstrations, tastings (panini press, crepes, drinks, breakfast pastries), and they gave us a cute thank you gift (we got a pair of champagne flutes). I think it was also fun because Crate and Barrel just isn’t as overwhelming as BB&B in terms of the store layout and such.

After both events, I ended up on the computer at home for a few hours, creating a registry for Williams Sonoma (because they had the perfect Le Ceruset color and great dish towels/kitchen linens) and Amazon (who has a good mix of everything and the perfect Kitchenaid mixer color!).

I then spent a few hours combing through the BB&B and Crate+Barrel websites trying to make sure we were registering for the best items, adjusting quantities, shuffling things here and there, reading reviews, etcetcetc. For example, Bryan originally wanted a Grind and Brew but apparently a LOT of people dislike it for dozens of different reasons. We then looked around and around and ended up settling on a taking my parents’ grinder (they have a Grind and Brew now) and adding the Coffee on Demand to our registry.

I had a lot more fun playing with the registries at home on my own and finalized all the registries before sending out our invitations :)

Here are some of my favorite items on our registries:

  • Le Ceruset (above)
  • Stand Mixer (above)
  • Wusthof bread knife (I decided against registering for a knife block and instead just chose some knives that are well-received/reviewed/necessary)
  • Our bed linens– we didn’t like anything at BB&B, but this set from Crate+Barrel I liked a lot!
  • Tons of bamboo items from Crate+Barrel- serving utensils, cutting boards, trivets… wahoo!
  • The Magic Bullet (instead of a traditional blender… hehe)
  • Simplehuman trash cans (seriously the best)
  • Fun stuff- a new camera (we seriously don’t take any pictures after my camera was stolen back in August), board games, tools for Bryan

I don’t expect everything we requested to be fulfilled, but hopefully there’s a big enough variety of items for people who want to buy/bring gifts. Plus, most registry services will send you a coupon after the wedding so that you can buy anything that wasn’t gifted at a discount. Cool, huh? Something else I learned- some companies will give you gifts just for registering for a certain amount of their products! Weird, huh? I think they’re called “registry incentives”… make sure to take note of that for the next time you have to register for gifts.

Having attended plenty of weddings and organizing the gift-buying on behalf of many friends, it puts me in a kind of confusing position because I know that as a gift-purchaser, I love Amazon for it’s prices and free shipping. However, as a gift-receiver, I know that returns through Amazon are going to be a lot more work than returning something to BB&B. Even looking through my registries now, it looks like almost all of the gifts purchased so far have been through Amazon. Hopefully those BB&B coupons everyone has laying around will be put to good use and our guests won’t get ripped off with these ridonkulous shipping charges.

    our invitations

    March 4, 2010

    Janet over at Whimsical Thumb very thoroughly blogged about the invitation process and then the final result… here are some images and lots of links to her blog entries.

    We had an overwhelmingly positive response to our invitations- even Bryan’s parents said that they weren’t very traditional, but they liked them anyway. Wooooohoo!

    Overview of the Invitation (front/back) map & envelope:

    The laborious (not really) process:

    We printed the envelopes at home on Bryan’s printer and it was basically a huge finger-crossing, trial & error experiment. After digging around on Yelp and through WeddingBee and such, I found out it was very expensive to get envelopes printed. Janet documented this sad predicament here.

    We printed the invitations using our church’s printer (but it required a trip to Kinko’s) and then had Kinko’s exacto-cut the paper so that we’d get cleaner lines and even proportions. It only costs $1.50 for them to make 1 cut through up to 250 pages… why would anyone EVER try to use a paper cutter themselves? No way!

    Folding (not so easy, huh?? explanation here)

    Stamping (stamp ordered/purchased from Berkeley Stamp Co)

    Stuffing and stamping of the envelopes (the king/queen stamps purchased through the good ol’ USPS)

    We got a couple of invitations sent back to us (sad!) but for the most part, everyone should have received their invitations. It’s exciting to see the RSVP’s slowly roll in… thank you Janet!!!

    accommodations & hotels

    March 3, 2010

    After reading and learning about weddings over the past few years, I knew that accommodations were potentially something I had to add to my to-do list. Very often friends and relatives are flying in from all over the country and will need recommendations for where to stay, etc. Plus, if you’re going to have lots of people wanting accommodations, it’s practical and courteous to reserve “blocks” of rooms at nearby hotels so that 1) everyone will be able to find somewhere to stay and 2) you can reserve rooms at a discount.

    It turns out that we won’t have very many out of town guests, so we’re not reserving room blocks or anything like that. However, we did want to reserve rooms for the bridal party the night before and for us to get ready the morning of the wedding.

    I haven’t actually had to book hotel reservations very many times in my lifetime, so I started researching on my favorite website for everything & anything: Yelp. I searched for Temecula hotels and just read a ton of reviews and then started comparing prices and options. Since we’d be spending a good amount of time getting ready in these rooms, I wanted to make sure there’d be enough room and so I looked for suites.

    There were some really, really nice resort type hotels near my venue (South Coast Winery, Inn at Churon Winery, Temecula Creek Inn), but they were a little too pricey- like $200+/night. I’m sure they’re goooorgeous, but no can do. I also saw a couple of Bed & Breakfasts (b&bs! like Loma Vista or The Castle) but I think they were more quaint/cottage-y and most of them didn’t have multiple rooms with more than one bed.

    Sooo, I ended up looking at these hotels:

    The Marriott Springhill Suites (Yelp)

    The Marriott was new (+1) and got good reviews… plus the pictures were nice! But… as I was researching, it didn’t seem like they had the rooms we needed available. Boo.

    Embassy Suites (Yelp)

    The Embassy Suites were another that came up on the reviews/travel sites. The prices were reasonable, but the pictures are kind of … well, I didn’t really want my getting ready pictures in them. Aha… next!

    Hampton Inn (Yelp)

    I ended up making my decision based on what was available and started the process of booking rooms at the Hampton Inn and Suites. I initially had a not-so-favorable opinion of them because I called on a Sunday and the person at the front desk told me that there was no way to ensure a later check out (we needed this to get ready). I completely understand that she can’t predict room availability since it’s so far out, but since I’m looking for rooms for my BRIDAL PARTY to get ready on my WEDDING DAY, I was almost 100% sure that a manager would have made an exception.

    She told me to call back the next day, and I had a much better, happier experience. Sadly, the two two-queen suites weren’t available anymore (things change so fast!), but the representative was very knowledgeable and made suggestions for alternative plans. We ended up booking two rooms- one two-queen suite for the guys and then one king suite for the girls. Both have queen size pullouts so everyone should fit nicely. Yay!

    So, a few lessons learned:

    1. Availability changes on a day-to-day basis
    2. If you can’t get what you want (and it’s a reasonable request), talk to a manager. Oftentimes they’ll accommodate!
    3. Every hotel I talked to gave a small discount for AAA. If you already have AAA, why not take advantage of it?
    4. At least for me, booking rooms thru it’s website didn’t seem to yield different rates than an search (and Expedia was hard to navigate for me).

    We also had to find a hotel for some of our vendors that will be sleeping over in Temecula… part II coming up!