Our Wedding Album!

We got married eons ago, but look at the gorgeous surprise that arrived at our door this week: our wedding album!

Our wonderful photographer, Leigh Miller, created so many beautiful images of our wedding weekend that it took Mr. ADD and Ms. Procrastinator forever to choose the photos for the album.  I must say, though, that it's actually kind of fun to have the album come so many months after the wedding.  Not only were we wedding'd out for a while, we were also so saturated with media from the weekend that I don't think we would have appreciated the album quite as much.  Now that some time has passed, it's lovely to have a chance to reminisce about the wedding itself (and to curse the pounds we've put on since).

Leigh uses Cypress for her albums.  The company's bookbinding and matting work is meticulous, and their album designs are timeless and beautiful.

We ordered the "Cypress Album," which is a ribbon- or library-bound album in a presentation box.

Cypress has an array of sumptuous fabric and ribbon colors.  We chose to go with a monochromatic palette that reflects our wedding colors.  The album cover is in "light plum," the silk ribbon is "plum," and the box is covered in "plum brocade."  My photos don't do the fabrics justice: the album cover has the shine and texture of silk shantung.

Leigh designed the layout, and Cypress individually mounted each photo onto matted pages.  Of course, for a paperphile like me, the deckled edges and thick, luxurious feel of the album pages are totally swoon-worthy.

Over all, we're really excited about how the album turned out; it's a special heirloom that we hope we and our kids and grandkids will enjoy long after 3D holograms replace digital photography.

The only downside to using Cypress is that their albums don't come cheap.  I'm not sure we would have splurged on such an extravagant keepsake, but we were lucky to have been given the album as a wedding present by a group of very generous wedding guests.

Did you end up getting a wedding album?  And where do you keep it in your house?  I feel like we need to build some museum-quality showcase for something this pretty!  Our place is so not worthy of housing such a lovely item.


Bridal sale at Rue La La!

Popping out of blog retirement to say that Rue La La is having a wedding-themed sale today.

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A number of gorgeous Nicole Miller dresses are on steep discount, including this Grecian number, which I will be wearing in the fantasy wedding in my dreams:

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Click here for an invite if you need one.


Celebrating the "we" in wedding

Even though I'm a decrepit old bee, every once in a while a kind reader indulges me by pm-ing me a question.  Recently, someone asked me how I went about "honoring relatives" at our wedding. Relatedly, a current post on the Judaism board asks for ways to involve more people in the ceremony.  I'm sure many brides and grooms have this question, so I thought it'd be fun to invite the whole Weddingbee community, even those who aren't Jewish, to share their suggestions.

I'll kick it off by sharing what we did to involve our friends and family in our crazy Chewish wedding:

First of all, we had large, coed wedding parties, which allowed us to have our siblings and our dearest friends from all stages of our lives be at our beck and call hang out with us all day.

My lovely "friends of honor" helped me into my wedding get-up.  But if you have a small bridal party or no bridal party at all, you could invite friends to the bridal suite to help you get dressed.  The very creative Mrs. Lovebug (my bee crush) even made adorable "backstage bridal passes" for the friends who were invited to be "bridal chamber maids."

Our wedding parties took part in the Chinese groom's games on the morning of the wedding.  I'd imagine that even if you didn't have a big wedding party, groom's games (or any kind of pre-wedding hijinks, such as a tisch for a Jewish wedding or a barat for a Hindu wedding) would be a fun way to involve friends.  

(Relatedly, other pre-ceremony events, such as a rehearsal dinner, might be a good time to recognize or involve friends and family.  All our out-of-town guests were invited to give a roast or toast at our welcome dinner, and I've been to weddings where instead of having multiple speeches at the wedding reception, close friends or siblings were invited to toast the couple at the rehearsal dinner instead.)

The bonus of having an intercultural or interfaith wedding is that you often get multiple ceremonies in which you can ask friends and family to participate.  For our afternoon tea ceremony, we served tea to both our families.  Although the ceremony had the most formal significance for our Chinese relatives, it was really lovely to have both families involved: not only did it mean that our ceremonies felt more cohesive (and less like a Chinese ceremony followed by a Jewish ceremony), it also gave our families an opportunity to interact with us in a more intimate, less "ceremonial" way.  We sent out explanatory "programs" to our non-Chinese family ahead of time, so they'd know what to expect and would feel more comfortable participating.

For the sake of time, we kept our tea ceremony to our immediate family, but you could do much more elaborate, lengthy ceremony in which elders of all types (incl. distant relatives, employers, friends of family, etc.) are involved.

We asked our sisters to sign our civil marriage license.

Two of Mr. HC's oldest male friends -- both Jewish -- signed the ketubah.  But we also asked our grandmothers, only one of whom is Jewish, to sign.  Who can act as ketubah witnesses depends on the particular flavor of Judaism you subscribe to and on your rabbi's preferences.  Some rabbis, for example, require the two male witnesses to be fairly observant Jews (shomer shabbas); others have no preference as to the gender of the witnesses, so long as all are Jewish; and still others say that you can have anyone sign, regardless of gender or religion.  For our purposes, our ketubah was "kosher" so long as at least two male Jews signed.  For good measure, in addition to our grandmothers, our rabbi and the two of us signed as well.  The more the merrier!

Mr. HC and I ended up reading our ketubah aloud to each other, as vows.  But you could also involve one or two people in the ceremony as ketubah readers.  At a friend's wedding, I was asked to select and perform a reading that explained the significance of the intertwining tree motif on their ketubah, while another friend was asked to read the text of the ketubah itself.

We asked our guests to write wishes to us and hang them on our chuppah.  But I could imagine your asking a small selection of friends and family to do so, or perhaps to help create the chuppah (or mandap or similar structure) by autographing or decorating small squares of cloth or the like.  (We used Mr. HC's late maternal grandmother's tablecloth for the roof of our chuppah.)  And while our chuppah was stationary, many Jewish couples ask four special people to hold the chuppah poles.  I love the symbolism of having friends and family be a part of the "home" that the chuppah represents.

For our ceremony, we were able to involve an additional fourteen(!) of our friends and family by asking them to read the seven blessings (sheva brachot) in English and Hebrew.  At other Jewish ceremonies, I've seen couples include friends and family by having them act as additional readers or singers -- one of our friends asked her cousin, an opera singer, to sing "dodi li" during the processional.  

And here's another ceremony idea I love but didn't get to use myself: Instead of walking down the aisle with a pre-made bouquet, how about giving a select group of friends and family single flowers that they would hand to you as you made your way to the altar or chuppah?  Another person could have the honor of tying the flowers together into a bouquet.

After the ceremony, it's customary for Jewish couples to spend some time with each other in seclusion (yihud) before rejoining their guests for the party.  Traditionally, two or more people would guard the door to the yihud room, making sure that nobody else got in the room and that the couple spent the requisite amount of time in yihud.  This could be a "fun" role for two rule-loving friends (lawyers? police officers? grammarians?).

During the reception, aside from speeches, you can have close friends or family members participate by leading the blessings over the wine (kiddush) and bread (hamotze) -- or the equivalent in a non-Jewish wedding.  At our wedding, Mr. HC's uncles (my MIL's brother and FIL's brother) had the honor of making kiddush and hamotze.

We also involved close friends in our hora.  Two of Mr. HC's good friends from their Hebrew School days coordinated a schtick -- a performance to entertain the bride and groom during the hora -- in which they hula-hooped, chugged pomegranate juice(!?), and organized our friends to do a med school v. law school v. business school v. grad school dance off.  

Turns out our nerd friends have moves.  It was a riot.

Finally, how about some select photo ops?  It's customary among alums of my college to take a group shot for the alumni magazine, so we gathered for the "Locomotive" (our dorky alumni cheer) and a photo.  We took similar group shots with friends from our various graduate programs and work places. Asking a friend to coordinate the group shots or just having a small group of friends pose for a special picture could be a way to make their presence feel especially welcomed.


That was a much longer post than I expected!  Though I guess it makes sense, since it was important to us that our wedding be as much about our getting married as about celebrating and honoring the wonderful group of family and friends whose support made "us" possible.

Ok, now it's your turn.  How will you make -- or how have you made -- your friends and family a part of your wedding?  


Floral perfection

Don't get me wrong: I loved our wedding flowers.  But every once in a while, I happen upon an arrangement on Saipua's blog that takes my breath away, and I get just a little bit jealous of the New York brides and grooms that have access to all this beauty:

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Am I the only one who tortures herself with vendor crushes that are geographically and temporally incapable of being requited?


If the shoe fits . . .

Hi all! Haute Cocoa dropping by for another bargain fashion announcement: Guiseppe Zanotti's are on sale for 3 days only at Ruelala.

Giuseppe Zanotti Ivory Satin Peep-Toe Pump ($299 from $795)

Giuseppe Zanotti Ivory Satin Open-Toe Dress Pump ($329 from $805)

Am thinking about the open toe pumps in silver -- I need them, you know, in case some very special occasion comes up, like having to go buy milk at the corner store.

Happy bargain hunting!  Toodles.


Style I Do!

Don't blink or you'll miss another Haute Cocoa cameo: Just breezing by the hive with the news that Rue La La is having a wedding-themed sale today.  There are items for brides, grooms, and guests.  From my quick scan, the sweetest bargains seem to be Nicole Miller wedding dresses, at 1/2 to 3/4 of the retail price.

Nicole Miller Antique White Silk Gown ($499)

Like Gilt Groupe, Rue La La is invitation only.  If you're not a member, you can get your invitation here.

Oh, the sale is only through Friday, so go now!

Ok, I gotta get back to retirement.  See you!


愛-Vey! One Year Ago . . .

One year ago, on this date, we had a pretty awesome Chewish wedding.

In the last 364 days, we bought a house and moved in together after almost fifteen years of long-distance dating; one of us started an exhausting medical residency, while the other had on-again, off-again relationship with a Ph.D. from hell; our families celebrated weddings and reconciliations and survived difficult illnesses and hospitalizations . . . .

With so many changes and crises, it's been a challenging year in so many ways.  But somehow we laugh . . . a lot.  And even when there are tears, we manage not to feel alone.

We're not always capable of being our most charming selves with one another.  But somehow we love each other, even when there are occasions when we might not like each other.

One year ago, on this date, we had a pretty awesome Chewish wedding.  But somehow even if that day had sucked, what's important now is that we have a pretty good Chewish marriage.

Because that's really what matters, right?

Happy anniversary to my husband!  And happy anniversary to all the other 3/28/09 couples!  One year down, a lifetime more to go . . . .


Don't blink or I'll be gone!

Hello!  Just popping by because I saw that Gilt Groupe is pairing up with Martha Stewart Weddings for a Wedding Weekend.

From their announcement:

Love is in the air … and so is the flutter of show-stopping bridal gowns, bridesmaids’ dresses, wedding gifts and so much more. As part of Gilt’s Wedding Weekend with Martha Stewart Weddings, from March 12-14, we'll be bringing you everything you need, want and can’t imagine walking down the aisle without — from beribboned silk heels to the perfect topaz necklace. (Something blue? Done.) We’ll also have sharp suits for the groom, get-pretty prep packages for the bridal party, dreamily decadent lingerie, and stuff-of-dreams honeymoon packages courtesy of Jetsetter. And if your head’s spinning with the task at hand, chin up — wedding editor Darcy Miller is on hand to offer her expert advice. This is your weekend to sit back, sign in to Gilt, and create a wonderful wedding at jaw-dropping prices. Enjoy the calm before the storm.
Join the party! Shop sales from Thread, Amsale, Carolina Herrera, Temperley London, Prive Salons, Judith Leiber, Tara Pearls, BluePrint Cleanse and more.
Gilt's Wedding Weekend starts Friday, March 12, at noon ET.
I can't believe they didn't have this back when I was wedding planning.  Oh how I would have fawned and drooled over a Temperley wedding dress!

If you're not yet a member, here's an invitation. Buy something fabulous on the cheap so that Haute Cocoa can live vicariously.  (Oh, and just remember that if you want to get your hands on something great, you'd probably want to click on right at noon.  It's going to be a virtual Running of the Brides.)

Ok, I'm going back into retirement now.  Feel free to come visit me at the old age home.  I'll keep a few Werther's Originals in my pocket for you youngsters.

P.S. And in related news, did you hear that Anthropologie is also coming out with a wedding line? Oh how I wish I were a summer 2010 bride!


Ring Pillow Giveaway on Doubly Happy

Guess what?!  Etsy seller and crafter extraordinaire BusyButtons and I are doing a giveaway of a fabulous ring pillow on my personal blog, Doubly Happy.

Visit Doubly Happy and click on the giveaway post for instructions on how to win this charming pillow!


愛-Vey! 愛-Revoir!

Alas, I finally have to write the post I've been putting off for weeks, the one where Mr. HC and I take a little bow and wave goodbye to the hive.

Our wedding whooshed by so quickly, in such a blur. So it has been especially amazing to have the chance to reexperience it through these recaps. Your warm, generous comments have made us feel like we had a large group of friends celebrating our wedding with us virtually.

Thank you for laughing with us during those moments when we laughed so hard, so uproariously our pants almost burst,

for helping us appreciate the special details . . .

especially the ones I spent way too much time on and probably no one else noticed,

for celebrating with us . . . wildly and unabashedly,

for reveling in those moments that surprised and touched us,

and for being thoughtful and supportive during the contemplative times too.

Our wedding has never been about just one day.  It's been about learning to negotiate between two cultures, two families, and multiple identities without losing a sense of self; about my converting to Judaism, our becoming Chewish, and creating a multicultural household; and about grappling with an institution that while beautiful, is also deeply normativepolitical, and exclusionary.  It's also been about far less weighty things, like finding a luxe look despite my compulsive bargainphilia, or getting the details just so.

And through all of this, the Weddingbee community has been there to support, challenge, and advise us. How lucky are we?  And how awesome are you?

I'll pop by occasionally to post on any wedding-related items that come my way.  In the interim, please drop by to say hello at my blog, Doubly Happy, where I dream about food and fashion and kvetch about dissertation and writing woes. If I know you're coming by, I'll post early and often. ;-)



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