Potato sack qua wedding dress

Greetings from Hong Kong!  Today Hot Mama Cocoa, Sister Hot Cocoa, and I went to pick up my qua from Koon Nam Wah.  A qua is the traditional Chinese wedding outfit, which consists of an uber sexy boxy jacket over an uber sexy boxy skirt.  For a while, the qua went out of fashion, as many modern brides preferred to not look like they were wearing a red potato sack on their wedding day.  But in the same way that "vintage" or "retro" wedding aesthetics are increasingly popular in the U.S., the qua is making a come back.  

Although it's definitely not the foxiest outfit I can imagine wearing, I want to wear a qua in honor of my family's Chinese heritage and because it's an amazing work of art -- lavish, three-dimensional embroidery, done entirely by hand by little old Chinese men with no sweat glands. And if these aren't good enough reasons, the happy look on my grandfather's face when I tried on the qua tonight certainly is (particularly when compared with the look of horror he gave when I showed him our purple -- not red -- invitations).
Because of the embroidery, quas are expensive, which means that most brides in Asia rent theirs.  Prices for rentals in Hong Kong range between HK$1000-$7000 (around US$130-900), depending on a) the lavishness of the embroidery and b) whether you are renting a brand new qua or one that has been worn before.  Since rental periods generally range between 3 days to a week, renting was not an option for me.  I decided instead to purchase a qua.  At over HK$10,000 (around US$1250), this hit my wallet hard.  My only solace was that a) I saved some money by getting my "western" wedding gown for cheap at a sample sale, and b) I could always sell the qua after the wedding.  
About ten days ago, we went to Koon Nam Wah, and I selected a piece of embroidered silk (above) and got my measurements taken.  Today, we went to pick up the finished qua.  Easy, right?  Of course not.  I try on the jacket, only to discover that it is totally ill-proportioned for my body.  In the U.S., I'm considered a wee small person. In Hong Kong, I'm freakin' Gulliver amongst the Lilliputians.  My ass, my mom helpfully informs me, is HUGE, which means that the jacket is all funky in the back.  "It's okay," I say optimistically.  "Maybe we won't notice it when I have the skirt on."  Silly, naive Hot Cocoa!  I put on the skirt and realize that it is about two inches too small in the waist.  Oopsies.
I, of course, find this all incredibly funny.  My sister, as you can see from the above photo, was not amused.  Nor was my mom.  Particularly when the elderly clerk with whom we had been working (and who seemed in our previous interactions like he knew what he was doing) tells her that he had a feeling the outfit was going to come out all wrong because the good tailor was on vacation and they had to resort to the bad tailor.  Hahahaha -- it was getting more and more like a bad sitcom by the second, and I was the only one on the laugh track.  Meanwhile, the clerk tsks tsks as he circles me, looking at me skeptically and muttering to himself in Cantonese.  Finally spurred to action by Hot Mama Cocoa's death stare, he orders his minions to take the skirt apart and resew it, and to raise the side vents on the jacket to help the back lay flat against my (apparently) ginormous badonkadonk.

An hour later, the minions emerge with a qua that actually fits.  I mean, it's not a get-up that seductively whispers "let's make sexytime."  But it's lovely in its own way: in it, I feel like a bona fide Chinese bride.  I particularly love how my qua has a modern cut that makes it special -- note the scalloped edging and slightly tapered waist on the jacket.  

And how could Mr. HC resist the hotness that is underneath?
Yes, those are suspenders.  As I said: hotness.

Any of you rocking a special outfit from your culture on your wedding day?  


Pint-sized Cuteness

Hot Mama Cocoa, Sister HC, and I went to Shenzhen, China, today to pick up a few more wedding-related items.  We returned with the most adorable outfits for our flower girls!  Get ready for some mega cuteness, Asian-style:

For Ana and Meira, the two three year olds, we got pink and yellow shirt/short sets.  They are made of a Chinese silk brocade, with floral embroidery and trimming.  The shoes are little silk Mary Janes, with embroidery and beading.  The yellow pair has beaded flowers, and the pink pair has beaded butterflies.  How I wish I could shrinky dink myself to fit in these outfits!!!

For Kate, who is eight, we got a matching "big girl's outfit."  It's made of the same fabric as the others, but instead of shorts, it comes with a sassy little skirt.  And the shoes have tres chic criss-crossed elastics, like a real ballerina's.

And the best part of these outfits is their price!  Each top/bottom combo was less than $10, and the shoes were about $5 a pair.  Hot Mama Cocoa is the meanest bargainer in town, and she was unstoppable today!

I'm imagining that the girls will wear their hair in pigtails and will carry little bamboo steamers or Asian-style baskets.  They'll add a bit of Asian flair to our Jewish ceremony.

What will your flower girls be wearing?


Holiday Greetings from Hong Kong

Happy hanukkah!  Tsing dan fai lok!  In whichever language, it's the holiday season, which means that I, along with sister Hot Cocoa and Hot Mama Cocoa, am in Hong Kong, shopping and eating.  Somehow, between all of the shopping and eating, we've managed to fit in a number of wedding-related tasks.  I got fitted for my qua and qi pao, picked up our invitations, found gifts for my bridal party, sourced trimmings for future DIY projects . . . . Details of all of our adventures are to come.

But first I thought I'd share with you what I accomplished today, which is to purchase the "pastry cards" that are included with the invitations we send to friends and family in Hong Kong.  
In the Chinese tradition, it's customary to include with the wedding invitations a gift certificate to a local bakery.  The custom has its roots in an ancient practice in which the groom, in exchange for the hand of the bride, would deliver a roasted pig and pastries to the bride's family and friends.  (Read about Mrs. Eggplant's festive cookie party here.)  That's right, ladies. Don't go thinking you are all that and a bag of chips. All you are really worth is a barbecued snout and a slice of cake.

Few grooms have the wherewithal to hand deliver baked goods nowadays, so the custom has evolved into the present practice of including a gift certificate for pastries, which friends and family can redeem at their leisure.  We won't be distributing the pastry cards to our guests in the States, but since many of our extended family in Asia won't be able to attend our wedding, we will be presenting them with the pastry cards -- sort of like a pre-wedding favor.

I leave you with a photo of me and sister HC getting naughty with a dancing Christmas tree.  At the time, we thought we were grabbing his belly button (the red ornament), but it just occurred to us that this photo might be more X-rated than we intended.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, the poinsettia was also attempting to grab my butt.  Either that, or she was doing "Thriller."

Happy holidays!  May your days off be festive, productive, and memorable.


Vendor Preview: Studio West Video

When I first started wedding planning, I was determined to be a "no video" bride.  Mr. HC and I are among the last of our friends to get married, and at almost every wedding we've been to with videography, I have been annoyed by how distracting the videographers were.  At one otherwise beautiful wedding we went to, the videographers literally stood three feet in front of the couple, completely blocking the audience's view.  At another wedding, the videographer stood in the middle of the dance floor, "interviewing" the, ahem, more well-endowed ladies while forcing other guests off the dance floor or within tripping distance of his cables.  Oy.

But I think wedding videographers have gotten a bad rap.  I mean, they can't be faulted for much of this behavior. Some of their aggressiveness should be attributed to the bride and groom or their families, who either really wanted every single moment of their nuptials to be captured perfectly on film or neglected to communicate with their videographers ahead of time about how conspicuous they ought to be in recording the events.  Some of it can also be credited to culture and custom; many videographers serving Chinese wedding markets, for example, are used to dealing with families for whom documentary evidence of the event is often more important than the experience of the event itself.  (Hence the popularity of uber-cheesy pre-wedding "let's pretend to be marrying!" photos from Hong Kong studios.  Mom, if you're reading this, Mr. HC and are NOT getting those photos done, ok?  :-))

Of course, some of the blame does properly fall on the videographers -- every profession has a few bad eggs, right?  -- the wannabe auteurs who see every wedding as a chance to do channel their inner Steven Spielberg, the preferences of all others be damned.  Don't get me wrong:I think wedding videography is an art, but (for me) part of that art is figuring out how to capture, with honesty and sincerity and style, a moment without intervening in the moment to such an extent that you destroy it.  Sort of like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, minus the complex physics yackety yak that I don't understand.

Anyway, all of this yapping is a prelude to explaining that when Mr. HC and I thought about all the people who were going to be at our wedding -- our aging grandparents, our extended families who were rarely in one place, our network of friends who have now scattered across the country -- we really wanted a record of their presence.  We imagined one day showing our children the video of their great-grandpa being served tea at the Chinese tea ceremony or of their great-bubbe, all shikkered up and kicking up her heels mid-hora.  We thought about asking a friend with steady hands to film the day, but we decided against it, since we wanted all of our friends to enjoy themselves.  But since our budget is stretched pretty tight, we also didn't have a lot of money to throw at the problem.

Enter Dirk of Studio West Video.  He came with excellent recommendations (a 2008 Best of the Knot pick).  The videos posted on his blog are lovely: simple, yet artful; carefully edited, and (for the lactose intolerant like me) non-cheesy.  And -- gasp -- he was affordable.  I researched a number of talented and well-regarded videographers, including LuvBug Films, DVArtistry, and Living Cinema, but all were out of our price range.  Dirk, unbelievably, was offering a special package that includes 2-camera ceremony coverage, 1-camera reception coverage, six hours of videography, wireless microphones, personalized dvd covers, an online-trailer within 1 week, complete editing of the footage with a 10-12 week dvd completion time, and 4 copies for . . . wait for it . . . $1250 (probably not that awesome anywhere outside of L.A. and N.Y., but pretty flippin fab in those markets).  Plus when I spoke with him and communicated to him our desire for non-obtrusive coverage (no awkward interviews, please!), he was totally reassuring and on board.

Check out Dirk's highlight video from a recent wedding:

I don't know this couple, but I would have loved to be at their fun, festive, and beautiful wedding! 

I'm pretty psyched to have found Dirk.  One more item off my check list.  One more awesome vendor on our team.  And one more reason to ply bubbe with extra liquor.

Are you hiring a videographer?  What affected your decision?  And, b/c I'm all about spreading the love, any other recommendations for affordable, classic videography (wherever you may be marrying)?


Vendor Preview: Kate Baker Florals

Since my last few posts have been on flowers, I thought I'd shine a little spotlight on the fabulous Kate Baker, who will be taking my inarticulate ideas about floral design and making them a beautiful reality.  On an icky Boston day like this one (we had our first snow today -- blech), just seeing pictures of Kate's arrangements makes me smile.
[Photo by Ira Lippke]

I met Kate through planner extraordinaire and Weddingbee Pro Angel Swanson.  Kate has a home studio in L.A., which means that she not only provides a comfy environment for her clients, but also keeps her overhead costs low.  The instant I sat down with her, I knew I was in capable hands.  She both understood my anxiety about staying within budget and totally got my "vision" for the decor.  (As an aside, let me say that I never had any "visions" up until I started wedding planning, and now, much to Mr. HC's chagrin, I wield that term like I'm Miss Cleo.)

[Photo by Kate Baker]
[Photo by David Michael]

My intuitions were confirmed when I got Kate's estimate.  She took detailed notes on our meeting and translated it all into fluent "floral speak."  Here's an example:
Romantic , “vintage Asian” design scheme, focusing on soft palette of dusky mauve, amethyst (gray-ish subdued purple), aubergine, and with accents of silver. Bride prefers a romantic, vintage-inspired style in arrangements and bouquets – with a slight mix of textures and delicate mixed foliages/herbs, and the use of flowering and other seasonal branches (such as cherry blossoms, willow, birch, etc). Bride shows particular preference for: ranunclus, peonies, garden or cabbage Roses (ruffly/fully open…NO hothouse roses), dahlias, cherry blossoms and other flowering branches, orchids, anemones, calla lilies, hibiscus, gladiolus, dusty miller. Also may utilize to a lesser extent, other seasonal flowers such as: lisianthus, hydrangea, lilacs, mums, etc.
From my vague mutterings -- replete with exceedingly helpful directions like "no heinous arrangements" -- Kate somehow got exactly what I was looking for.  What I appreciated most about Kate's estimate, though, was that she gave us lots of options and ways to keep the budget under control.  For instance, in her estimate for tall manzanita centerpieces, she provided the following choices, each with a different price point:
  • Trees’ branches decorated with individual and/or petite clusters of pink Cymbidium orchids, ranunclus, spray roses, stock, etc.
  • Trees’ branches decorated with flowering Branches (cherry, dogwood, etc.)
  • Tree’s branches draped with several strands of strung dendrobium Orchids
She also gave some "add-on" options:
  • Clear or soft pink crystal strands, to hang from branches (5-9 per tree)
  • Glass Votives with tealight candles, hung from tree branches (3-5 per) 
With a veritable buffet of options, we could make a considered judgment about which elements we really wanted and how much we were willing to spend on them.  And what's not to love about buffets?

[Photo by Christine Marie Photography]
[Photo by Kate Baker]

I can't wait to share with you what Kate puts together for our shindig; I know it's going to be lovely.  In the meantime, if you're searching for non-heinous arrangements in the L.A. area, check out Kate.

How did you know that your vendors were "right" for you?  And how good have your vendors been in translating ordinary language into wedding decor reality?


Chinatown Chic

As you might remember from my last post, our floral design for the personal bouquets and the reception decor consisted of lush, romantic, fresh-from-the-garden-like arrangements of big blooms.    But I also wanted to bring in some eastern elements as a nod to my Chinese heritage and save some cash by cutting down the number of fresh flowers needed, because, let's face it, saving money is the ultimate nod to my Chinese heritage.

One day I was scanning celebrity wedding planner Michelle Rago's blog and found the perfect way of doing Chinatown chic on the cheap.  Behold the gorgeousness she assembled for a Chinoiserie-themed wedding:

Brilliant!  A bamboo bird cage enclosing a few blooms.  I'm planning on sourcing a few of these from China when I'm there later this month, but one could just as easily get them from Pearl River Mart or from Chinatown on the relatively cheap.
And here's another vignette from Michelle Rago:

She did this with what looks to be fancy gourd-shaped vases, but I'm thinking a few loose blooms in bamboo steamers would look just as chic.  Pearl River has these steamers for less than $5, and I'm willing to bet that local Chinese restaurant supply stores or Chinese grocery stores would have them for even cheaper.

I'm going to keep these Asian decorative elements to just the cocktail area, so I'm only going to need maybe two bird cages and five bamboo steamers.  I want to allude to Chinese culture, not make it a themed wedding, so I have to force myself to, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, "edit, edit, edit."  If I get overly exuberant, the area will go from Chinese chic to Chinese restaurant reject in less time than it'll take me to say "me rove you rong time."

How are you integrating your culture into your wedding?  Any other ideas about how to keep a floral budget within reasonable bounds?


Floral Inspirations

Yesterday, I posted the floral checklist that I used when interviewing florists.  Since it's dreary, wintry, and barren outside (Boston winters are so . . . blech), I thought I'd bring in a little virtual spring by sharing some of the inspiration photos I brought to my florist meetings.

In general, I love the romantic, vintage, fresh-from-the-garden feel of the work of Ariella Chezar, Livia Cetti (the Green Vase), and Saipua.  Their floral designs tend to involve lush, big blooms, and while the flowers are artfully styled, they retain a trace of wildness.  Below are my inspiration photos for my bouquet:

And I love the idea of mismatched bridesmaid bouquets.  I was thinking that each of my six sisters/friends of honor could carry a small posy made of a single type of bloom from my bouquet.

The same lush, English garden look would carry over to the reception centerpieces, which would include low arrangements in silver, pewter, or mercury glass vases.
[Ariella Chezar via The Bride's Cafe]

As you can see, I have champagne taste and a Martinelli budget.  I hope they sell mercury glass at Ikea . . . .

What's your floral aesthetic?  Do you have any favorite floral artists?


A Floral Checklist

While I was in LA during Thanksgiving, despite a very hectic schedule of gorging on In 'n Out burgers (everything tastes better when it's done "animal style") and Pinkberry, I managed to get together with Angel Swanson (planner extraordinaire and WeddingbeePro) and to meet with some florists.  Since I'm uber-type A, I put together a floral inspiration packet to give the florists a sense of the look I was envisioning for the wedding.  The photos included in that packet definitely helped me communicate my vision, but the part of the packet that was most helpful was a floral checklist, on which the florists could rely in putting together an estimate.

I thought I'd share the checklist here.  Hopefully, this will be useful for some of you!  (Oh, and I added a few other common elements in brackets that weren't on my checklist.)

Floral Checklist
Personal Flowers
  • Bridal bouquet (1)
  • [Bride's toss bouquet (1), breakaway or whole]
  • Groom’s boutonniere (1)
  • Bridesmaid bouquets (6 total)
  • Groomsperson boutonnieres (7 total) + grandpa & dad boutonnieres (2 total)
  • Small nosegays for mothers and grandmas (4 total)
  • [Flower girl pomander or bouquet]
  • [Ringbearer boutonniere]
Ceremony Flowers and Décor
  • Chuppah [or altar arrangement for the goyim]
  • Aisle decor (8-10 luminarias, hurricanes with floating candles, or lanterns on shepherd hooks)
  • [Rose petals for aisle or for flower girl]
  • [Pew decor]
Cocktail and Entrance Flowers and Décor
  • Guest book table
  • Gift table
  • Escort card table
  • Small florals for bars and food stations (6 total)
  • Small arrangements for cocktail tables (8 total)
  • Mix of low/tall centerpieces for guest tables (25-30 total)
  • Arrangements for wedding party "feasting table" (table seats 16]
  • Dessert buffet table
  • [Cake]
  • [Favor table]

Photo 1 Source.  Photo 2 Source.

In addition to the above checklist, I also included a list of my favorite and least favorite flowers:

Favorite flowers (no particular order):
  • Ranunculus
  • Peonies
  • Orchids
  • Camelias
  • Dahlias
  • Hibiscus
  • Amaryllis
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Zinnias
  • Lisianthus
  • Mums
  • Cherry blossoms & flowering branches
Least favorite flowers:
  • White flowers (okay in small quantities, but generally to be avoided b/c they are funereal in Chinese culture)
  • Roses (except cabbage or garden roses that resemble ranunculus)
Yeah, I hate roses.  I know, it's like hating rainbows or puppies or babies.  Sorry!

Anything missing off the checklist?  Anyone else dislike a flower everyone else gushes over?


A beautiful Boston day! continued

In yesterday's post, I chronicled our romp through Cambridge, MA, with our infinitely patient, fun, and creative photographer Leigh Miller.  We had such a good time -- okay, Leigh and I had a great time, and Mr. HC amicably tolerated our wedding-related gabbing -- that by the time we were done traipsing through Harvard, the sun was rapidly descending, and we had to scurry to our final location. To conclude our shoot, Mr. HC and I thought we'd take Leigh to the most picturesque of Boston neighborhoods: Beacon Hill.

Hotness ensued.Beacon Hill is so gorgeous, even the parking spots are photo-worthy.  Leigh saw this great fence in an alleyway, and we plopped down in front of it.  It's possible that I'm smiling apologetically at a resident as she was waiting for us to get our plump rear-ends out of her parking space.

I wonder what Mr. HC was thinking here?  I'd like to think it was, "I'm so in love with my fiance."  More like it was, "Hmm, what totally inappropriate thing can I say next to make her crack up?"

Here we are in front of my favorite building in Beacon Hill.  There's a corner apartment on the second floor of this building that has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that I covet.  Not that I'm stalking this apartment or anything.  But if you live here, you might want to keep the curtains drawn.

This is our "let's rub noses" and be cute look.  Miss Jay would be flipping out about my left hand, which seems to be have gone rogue, Cousin It style.

Mr. HC: "Hey, hot stuff, come here often?"
Me: "Why, yes.  I often hang out at random sign posts."
Pumpkin: "These idiots are blocking my shot!"

We dated for fifteen years.  Could that sign be any more appropriate?

We were initially a bit nervous about the prospect of being photographed, but Leigh made it really low-stress and enjoyable.  The experience was helpful in getting us comfortable in front of the camera.  I figured out that I have Bugs Bunny teeth from certain angles and that Mr. HC smiles the most naturally if I whisper naughty things in his ear.  And while we probably could have been a bit more prepared for the shoot -- Leigh, I swear I'm going to practice my "sassy" pose for the wedding -- we love the results.

How did you prepare for your engagement photos?  Did you learn anything about your camera face from the session?  And did you find a sure-fire way to coax a photogenic smile out of you or your fiance?


A beautiful Boston day!

November 4th was a good day for the Hot Cocoas.  After two heartbreaking presidential elections, we finally voted for a winner.  And we got to spend a few hours in the company of one very fabulous photographer, the incomparable Leigh Miller.  We showed Leigh around Boston, and in return, she made two usually disheveled, unphotogenic Cocoas look Hot.

We started off at Harvard, where we made out in front of a group of perplexed Chinese dudes.  This is our wedding in a nutshell.

"Hey, mister, eyes up!"  ;-)

How cute is Mr. HC? 

Here's the library, a place the two of us usually avoid.  I think Mr. HC is giving me the "stop being naughty" face after I just said something lascivious to him.  Poor Leigh had to deal with our shenanigans all afternoon.

I'm giving Mr. HC the crazy eye here, but I love Leigh's use of shadow and light.

I'm smiling with my eyes, Tyra.

I think Leigh told me to be "sassy" here.  I gave her demure instead.  I think Mr. HC is thinking wistfully about the time he whizzed on John Harvard's statute.

Here I am forcing a smooch after Mr. HC said, "Ew.  No more kissing!" 

The above are my two favorite pictures.  Mr. HC loves old encyclopedias, and after we took these shots, he made a certain Harvard Square bookseller very happy by taking that dilapidated volume off her hands.

I thought I'd end the Cambridge-area series with this shot, which is just so us.  I'm trying to look stylish and composed, Mr. HC is squeezing me and making a weird face, and Jellyby the shih tzu is having none of it.

Tomorrow, our Beacon Hill shots!

Did you take your engagement photos at a site that's important to the two of you?  And do you have a photo that captures your personalities to the "T"?


You're Invited!

There are two elements of our wedding that have my fiance all hyped up: the band and the invitations.  The band, I totally get.  He's a music geek, and it's crucial to him that we get a fabulous ensemble that can do Springsteen and Beyonce as well as the "Hava Nagila."  But the invitation interest caught me by surprise.  Sure, I'm a paper-phile, but I was more than willing to scrimp on invitations, since I am convinced that most people will toss their invitation into the trash soon after the wedding.  Mr. HC, however, keeps all of his wedding invitations . . . in an air-tight box.  It's rather cute, no?

Well, given that Mr. HC is as persuasive as he is sentimental, the invitation has been our big project over the last month or so.  I'm keeping the outside of the design a mystery for now (a girl's gotta have some secrets), but I thought I'd give the hive a special sneak peek of the inside. 

Because we wanted to give our guests a flavor of the wedding, which will represent the fusion of Jewish, Chinese, and American cultures, we decided on a trifold invitation, with Hebrew on the left, English in the middle, and Chinese on the right.  Here's a close up of the individual panels, with some whited-out areas for privacy:

The Chinese panel text was created by our Hong Kong-based printers, WedImage (unfortunately, they don't have a website), in Adobe Illustrator.  It's a fairly conventional Chinese text, and I like the fact that it gives the date of the wedding according to both the Chinese and the western calendar. To Mr. HC's chagrin, my mom wouldn't allow him to use the Chinese name that my grandmother gave him when he visited her in Hong Kong because it wasn't, in her words, "his real name."  So he unfortunately had to make do with his English name.  I,  however, got to use my Chinese name, which means "great beauty" . . . but sounds like "large rear end."  Seriously.
I put together the English panel in Illustrator, using a combination of Zapfino and Perpetua Titling fonts.  I asked the Chinese typesetter to use Perpetua Titling for the English in the Chinese panel as well, so hopefully the panels won't look completely unrelated to one another.
Our favorite panel is the Hebrew.  Since I didn't own any Hebrew fonts that I liked, I asked Cohen Printing, a printer in New Jersey, to typeset the Hebrew panel for us.  We chose a traditional banner motif to amp up the invitation. The banner text, "kol sasson ve-kol simha, kol hatan ve-kol kalah" ("the voice of mirth and gladness, the voice of groom and bride"), is from the Sheva Berachot (the seven blessings said at a Jewish wedding) and echoes my Hebrew name, Ahava Kolia.  

Ruth Cohen, my contact at Cohen Printing, couldn't have been more responsive or easier to work with. She transliterated or translated all of the English text into Hebrew, and worked with us to find the phrasing, format, and font that we liked. And once we were settled on the text and look of the invitation, Ruth had it typeset for us almost immediately; I think we sent Ruth the text on Friday and the first draft was done by Monday.

Creating a trilingual invitation was definitely a challenge, but we're pleased with the end result, and hopefully our guests will appreciate the symbolism of the three languages united onto one document.

Are you putting together a bilingual or trilingual invitation?  Are you a post-wedding invitation keeper or shredder?


Site Seeing

By the time we got through the debacle that was setting a date for the wedding, it was already less than 10 months until said date.  That put a lot of pressure on us to reserve a wedding location, stat.  Since I was planning a wedding in L.A. from Boston, our expedited schedule meant that I had to book a venue, sight unseen.  Well, this week I finally got a chance to visit our venue with wedding planner extraordinaire Angel Swanson, and we were giddy to discover that it's lovely.  Check out this postcard-worthy view of Marina del Rey:

The only part of the venue that's kind of blah is the ceremony space.  Since our wedding is large (about 300 people), we couldn't use the venue's usual ceremony location, which is a beautiful and intimate garden area.  Instead, our ceremony will take place in "Marina Court," which is an euphemism for a converted tennis court facing the marina.  

The space is basically a blank canvas, which is both exciting and scary, especially when one is worried about budget.  Luckily, our wedding is after sunset, so we'll be able to use lighting to direct attention to the items worth focusing on (the chuppah) and away from the ugly bits (the adjacent tennis court and anyone practicing his or her backhand at 6:30 on a Saturday evening).

My thought upon seeing the space was to have the ceremony in the round, which focuses attention on the chuppah and brings an intimate, surrounded-by-friends-and-family feel to the event.  Plus there's nice symbolism behind circular configurations, right?  I haven't attended a wedding in the round before, but I'm guessing it'd be charming for the guests to be able to get a different vantage point on the ceremony.  And it'd also reduce the number of persons staring at my badonkadonk -- I got big butt and I cannot lie -- for half an hour.

I leave you with a photo of Angel and me with our "this venue kind of rocks" face on.

Did you book your venue without visiting it in person?  Does your space require an unusual configuration or creative jiggling?


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