Wedding Wednesday: Where to Start?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to admit, I never thought about the idea of a wedding growing up. I’m not sure if it’s due to generational or cultural differences (likely a mix of both), but no one in my family has had more than a small civil ceremony. When my sweet grandfather got married he was living in the community workers’ housing in China. I asked him about his special day, to which he responded: “What’s that? Our wedding was me picking up my cot and moving it to the same room as your grandma’s cot!”

Over the past few years many of our friends have tied the knot, so we’ve had a chance to see a range of ceremonies and locations. Quaint backyards, seaside estates, beautiful hotels, big ballrooms, and small churches. Later this summer we’ll even be attending our first city hall wedding and Indian wedding (can’t wait for the colorful sarees and oh, the food!). Getting to see a variety of venues was nice, but more importantly, I loved seeing the different ways each couple chose to celebrate their commitment to one another.

Considering all the options available today, I was largely inspired by both Cee’s beautiful, classically simple wedding (which she orchestrated for an incredible value) and Tam’s romantic, intimate ceremony that had me swooning. I wasn’t successful in convincing Nick to elope with me to the south of France or the tropics of Thailand…thus, we began exploring ideas back home in Boston. He’s a born and raised west coast boy, and wanted to share “the city where we fell in love and built our lives in together” with our friends and family from around the world, which I felt was earnest and something I was happy to be on board with.

Readers who are married – I’d love to hear about the type of wedding you had, large or intimate, near or far, and how that initial decision came to be!
 

87 thoughts on “Wedding Wednesday: Where to Start?

  • Jennifer June 12, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Congratulations on your engagement! Our wedding was small by American (large by European) standards, and we had 50 guests at my Swiss/French husband and my wedding. Our wedding was held in Switzerland, and we ended up doing a religious ceremony first at a Catholic church, then a wine tasting for the guests during our photo session, followed by the full dinner reception. It was the perfect number of people to keep it intimate, and we were still able to include all our closest family and friends. Biggest challenge of an intercultural wedding was seating due to linguistics. Some guests only spoke French, some only German, and some only English so we had one long table and tried to place the bilingual speakers in between monolingual speakers. Ended up being a great experience! Good luck with the planning, and I cannot wait to see you in your beautiful gown(s)!!

  • Janki June 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Congratulations again on the engagement. It's been wonderful to see bits of your life revealed on the blog. You've always been so gracious about responding to me personally too, that I feel like I almost know you.
    I'm much older than you and have been married for almost 12 years this October. Luckily, when I was engaged Pinterest wasn't around. I think it adds a whole new level of insanity especially for planning and gives a false sense of "standards".
    From my experience, the best thing to do is to focus on what is the best for you and your immediate family. We did a local wedding and planned so many things around people who "would come from far away" and, sadly, at the end most of those people didn't show up. We could have saved much expense on the day we chose (Saturday) and time if we knew.

    Here are some general tips:
    1. If you are going to DIY, only do things that you really enjoy. I enjoyed DESIGNING my invites, but didn't like making 75 invites by hand alone.
    2. Remember you can't make everyone happy. Due to restrictions at our church, we chose to marry at 7pm with dinner starting at 8pm. My mom complained that many Americans would be upset to eat dinner that late. Just live with it.
    3. Please don't waste money on favors! My husband is crazy sentimental and wanted all sorts of monogramed favors and even wanted these $10/piece bottle openers. As an attendee of weddings, I hate things that can't be used but I feel bad tossing. Do everyone a favor and limit favors.
    4. Expect all your close friends and family to lose their minds. Weddings bring out the crazy in even the most sane person. I remember my MIL left her car keys in the video camera bag and then gave the camera to a friend to set up in the hall in advance. After we got married, she came scrambling to us needing a ride… not exactly how I expected to arrive at our reception.
    5. Expect glitches. The DJ didn't configure the speakers right and we ate silently at dinner. Half the guests at one table didn't show up, leaving a table very awkward. If you give up your dreams of things being "perfect", you can go with the flow on this.
    6. Ask your caterer to set you a separate plate to eat after. I do this for all my bride friends. You and Nick will be lucky if you eat 4 bites of food all night. You will be starving and will enjoy a plate of the food you paid so much for.
    7. Delegate. Your friends want to help, so give them some things to do. The day before our wedding, my caterer told me that they would not arrange my table decorations. I freaked out. One of my close friends stayed and decorated each table for me. Same with finding friends who can shepherd out of town guests, drive folks, etc.
    8. Remember the real reason for your wedding. It's a celebration, not a competition.

    Enjoy this time… I always loved this "fiancé" time… so magical. Just don't get too nuts on the planning, it can take over your life.

  • Col June 12, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    We had a lovely Sunday morning wedding on a beautiful sandy beach overlooking Lake Michigan, surrounded by family and friends. We kept the ceremony short and sweet, and we served brunch and mimosas in a tented reception afterwards.

    A few tips I learned in the planning… make the wedding about you and your fiance. Spend the most money on the things that matter to you most (photos? sumptuous food? special wine?), and economize on things that don't matter (flowers? invitations? favors?). We had lovely live music at our wedding, but no dancing (hubby is not a dancer). Yup– no first dances, no announcer, no "special song". Nobody missed it! It's nice to honor the traditions of your families and/or cultures, but no need to succumb to wedding cliches.

    If you choose an outdoor venue, be sure to have an indoor backup that you can live with, in case of rain.

    Spend time with guests who have traveled to see you. Be a gracious and welcoming host, as the wedding is really a party that you and your families are hosting. It is a lovely coming-together of the people who matter to you both, and also the beginning of a new family. The best compliment to you is if your guests remember it that way!

    Above all, remember that after the party, it's the marriage that matters the most.

  • Ellie Lucash June 12, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Congratulations again! I am not married yet, but I work at the Hotel Marlowe in catering. I would love to help out in any way I can and show you our space if you'd like! ellie.lucash@hotelmarlowe.com

  • A Golden Tulip June 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    These are the most wonderful days which you will cherish forever. My wedding was in India, in our city, as we both are from there, it was a grand occasion like any other indian wedding in India. It was a two day wedding, and we had a whole lot of guests, yummy food, family and friends dressed up in their colorful clothes. It was in a marriage hall. We had the best time, i felt like a princess being loved and cherished by my family and my lovely husband. Good luck in planning yours.

    xo

  • Anonymous June 12, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I'm in the same boat as you. I didn't dream about a big wedding growing up, although my sisters both did. My fiance and I are planning to get our marriage license/small ceremony done at City Hall, and although it isn't officially eloping (since our parents know) we're planning to go to Paris for three weeks and announce that we've married when we come home. We may have a dinner when we come home, but we don't want anyone to feel pressured with what to wear, what to spend, and what to bring. I'm sure that you two will decide what is best for you. A wedding is a day, whereas a marriage is a lifetime.

  • Anonymous June 12, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    My Caucasian husband and I had a full blown Vietnamese wedding. Even though looking back, I probably would've gone for a more simple wedding or even destination wedding to minimize the theatrics of wedding planning, I am still happy that we did the big wedding. Reasons are, his family who are not a tight knit group were able to share in our culture but also feel they were a part of the big day. For my extended family, it was a chance to converge in middle America for a big family reunion. It was a lot of planning but the day of was just so much fun and full of love. We were able to have huge fun reception because you definitely want the people who traveled long or short to feel that they came for something.

  • Paige Ma June 13, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Congratulations, Jean! My husband and I used to live in Boston, and we got married at Park Street Church. It was the perfect location, and allowed for some fantastic pictures walking through the Common afterwards. We had our reception at the Hampshire House, which I would highly recommend. We also were really watching our budget, and saved money by doing a lunch reception with no alcohol. I had my flowers done by Whole Foods, which also saved money and they were so fresh looking. I remember also researching some places up on the North Shore, where I went to college. There is a beautiful church in Manchester-by-the-Sea, which is such a picturesque town. Best of luck to you both!

  • SewPetiteGal June 13, 2014 at 10:02 am

    This is SO exciting! I can't wait to read more Wedding Wednesdays!

    A and I got engaged shortly after graduating college, eloped 2 years later near DC (just the 2 of us in the living room of the civil officiant's house) in Feb, and then had a small (50 ppl) ceremony / reception in May. We paid for the wedding ourselves so DIY'ed all the centerpieces / guest gifts / decorations and got married on campus where we met 🙂

    If we could do it over, I'd have hired a videographer. I was stressed about everything going correctly, so can't say I was thoroughly in the moment. It'd be nice to re-watch it! We handed A's friend a video camera to record part of it. The lesson? Never give a 24-year old male a video camera.

    I can't wait to hear about YOUR experiences / planning!!!

  • Chandi June 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

    We got married in Maui in January… just the 2 of us. I hired a wedding planner (Island Wedding Memories) and she took care of appointments, the location, the cake and everything. So worth it. PERFECT day… A few of the pictures are here: http://www.annakimphotography.com/blog/weddings/10089/ Congratulations on your up and coming wedding and I can't wait to see your amazing photos! You're such an inspiration!

  • Anonymous June 13, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I was so happy when I read this post. I was happy for you and it reminded me of some of the happiest moments in my life. I got married little over a year ago to my best friend, whom I met in college. My wedding came as a surprise as we were on a business retreat/vacation in Maui – paradise on Earth. I have always been a city girl and spent earlier half of life in Beijing and the later half in New York City. When we were driving around the first day in Maui, amongst lush mountains and along the vast ocean, we decided we want to be married there. I had 24 hours to file all appropriate paperwork and plan the wedding. I came upon a local reverend who used to be an entertainer in his youth. He is the most wonderful person and made the experience unforgettable. We got married at a small beach alcove early Saturday morning. We were barefoot and I just so happened to have packed a white sundress. It was just us, the reverend and his wife, who was kind enough to take pictures. We had our first dance on the beach, set to Elvis. I guess it was a very simple ceremony but I am glad that it was just us and I was worry-free. I think it is really important that amidst all the wedding planning, you should always remember that this day is about you and the love of your life. That said, we did promise our families that we would have another "more inclusive" wedding but it's more than a year and no date has been set. I am hoping that we can just slide by 😉

    Jean, I wish you and Nick a life of happiness.

  • Anonymous June 13, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Congratulations on your engagement! Truthfully I felt overwhelmed with the possibilities of what weddings are like that I actually put off planning for months. There were literally tons of books and magazines out there on how to do it on a budget, how to plan without a budget, how to do it DYI, how to do it based on your wedding colors…. Etc. There is a reason why the bridal industry is worth billions… Anyway the first thing I would recommend is:
    1) Budget. This usually will dictate everything else. Whether is $5,000-$250,000 when you know this magical number it makes a lot of the decisions for you.
    2) Date. Note that winter weddings (November – January) are generally more affordable than summer. Though I’m not sure how that would work out in Boston…
    3) Head count. This is very important to do since this will dictate your venue and directly hit your budget– hard. Keep in mind the average cost per person at a wedding is around $100 and more with liquor at a hotel venue.
    4) Location. This is actually more complicated than it seems. Do you want your wedding and reception in the same place? Or do you want it to be in two places (church/ reception & court/ reception etc)? You’d be surprised how this can cost not just financially but in time. Renting out both locations, printing out maps to find the secondary location, coordinating everyone to be on time, people getting lost etc. My husband and I elected to have our wedding in a place that could accommodate the wedding and the reception because we have a lot of family on my mom’s side (I’m half Chinese) so we thought it would be more efficient and cost effective to have one place.
    I hope this is of some help and I can’t wait to see your future posts on the BIG DAY!

  • Diana June 13, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    My husband and I has a small civil wedding. I haven't given up my hope for a big wedding yet either. I always tell him to prepare for our 10 yr anniversary! 🙂

  • Anonymous June 13, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    We kept ours true to ourselves, even though our parents increased the size from 80 (with us paying) to 180 (they paid for the additional). From the hymns to the music to the biblical passage, everything had enormous meaning for us.

    We were married in my church with my minister and his priest co-officiating, and we had the reception about 10 minutes away. It was lovely. I wanted a sit-down luncheon, and I was insistent that we eat! so I didn't care about throwing the bouquet, and we cut the cake so quickly most people didn't notice. I refused to let the band play any group dancing songs (I hate 'em) like the Makarena or the chicken dance, and we did no announcements (which I thought is unnecessary and stupid). As for bridesmaids dresses – I hit Macy's right before Christmas (we had an April wedding) so everyone could find something similar that fit them and they could wear again. Considering I had a size 4 and a size 14 and an 8 month pregnant sister, it was a great move. We kept the bar to wine & beer only, no hard alcohol even though it was a fixed fee. I prefer everyone sober!

    The best advice though is plan the marriage, not the wedding. By doing so, we were 100% in sync with what we wanted and how the wedding fit into that. Also we had a day-after brunch at my dad's (catered) which was a blast and a fun way to say goodbye to everyone, and then we didn't leave for our honeymoon until Tuesday so we had plenty of time to recover and pack.

    Lastly, don't get your hopes up for a true wedding night. Even though our wedding was at 11, we were exhausted that night! We had our wedding night the next night 😉

    Enjoy!

  • Anonymous June 13, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    I completely agree with no favors – they are so silly and a waste of money and time! I did insist on a sit-down luncheon so DH and I did eat, but I didn't care about throwing the bouquet, and because I wouldn't let the band do any announcements, our cake-cutting was quick and to the point!

    Also a friend of my mom's (who died about 10 years before) offered to coordinate the wedding day. She had a sewing kit, extra pantyhose, bandaids, snacks, everything – and she helped get everyone in place for the photos before the ceremony. Five years ago, I was MOH for my best friend and put together a "kit" of emergency stuff and it was awesome. Highly recommend!

  • Marlo M June 14, 2014 at 5:19 am

    I had a fairly traditional church wedding ceremony, and the reception was held at a private clubhouse on the beach. The clubhouse belongs to a neighborhood of upscale homes along the beach in the Seattle area, and they rent it out very cheap! It was perfect, had a full kitchen, ballroom with tables/chairs, etc. The scenery was lovely, and I was able to get some great sunset photos on the beach & on a little bridge crossing over a stream. I wanted to have live music so badly, I found an amateur big band group that was amazing – and cheap! They really livened things up and the 12 piece band seemed so grand! Looking back, the things I loved the most about the day were my dress, the band, the reception location, and our awesome photos! But if I had to do it all over again, I'd forgo the entire thing, have a simple private ceremony, and get some beautiful photos taken.

  • Michela de Filippo June 14, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I love the pictures, they are so soft! Kesses
    http://chocolateglass.blogspot.it/

  • Oona June 15, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Our wedding was a second-time-around for both, and very few family could attend. However, we both had local friends and loving support at our local Quaker meetinghouse, where we had both ceremony and reception. A friend played fiddle for us to enter the space. At Quaker weddings, all participants are considered to be witnesses and officiants, though for the sake of state law one member signs the state marriage certificate. In the actual ceremony, there may be readings (I chose two biblical favorites) but then the congregation sits in meditation until someone feels moved to speak. In our case, the overwhelming affirmations of our friends are a memory I will always treasure. When the two of us felt ready, we stood before the congregation and made our vows… again, a lasting memory. Following the ceremony, all present signed a traditional Quaker marriage certificate, which we have framed in our home. We had a buffet of foods the two of us had prepared (we both love to cook, so putting that together for our friends was fun), and a member of the Quaker meeting made us a fabulous carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I found a wonderful tea-length celery green dress from Nordy's that fit off the rack (astonishing! I'm your size, Jean!). My husband is a casual guy, and we wanted to be "in character," so he wore a new pair of chinos and his favorite dress shirt and vest. The simplicity of the meeting house, which was set in the woods, fit our style and that of our friends, who were decked out in whatever counted for "celebration" clothes for them. The things that made the day most joyous for us were: incorporating our own personalities and traditions and making sure all of our friends could participate comfortably. Choosing a simple setting also enabled us to maintain simplicity throughout. That meant we could truly enjoy our day and focus on our happiness together.

  • Unknown June 15, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Congratulations again Jean and Nick! How exciting! I can't wait to read about your journey together as you plan your wedding. The planning itself really reflects how your partnership will be as you make decisions together, so we learned a lot about ourselves during that process (we've been together for 13 years and there's still always things to learn!).

    We took more of your original idea as a destination wedding just 2 Sundays ago, we got married on a glacier in Alaska with my cousin (our cousin?) as the officiant and 8 other friends and family along for the adventure. Then the majority of us continued the adventure with a week long cruise down to Vancouver, BC.

    No matter what happens, as long as you and Nick are happy, then the world will follow suit: ) Congrats again!

    A pic from our photographer: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=667087956673696&set;=pb.102834153099082.-2207520000.1402866497.&type;=3

  • Michelle S June 16, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Congratulations on your engagement, Jean + Nick! When I read this post, I could have sworn it was an excerpt from my journal at the start of my wedding planning adventure! My husband and I also met and fell in love in Boston; many of our dates consisted of wandering the city streets for hours, discussing everything from Nintendo games to our hopes and dreams for the future. By the time we got engaged, we had thought and talked a lot about what was important to us in marriage, but we had never thought about what we wanted our wedding day to look like. I, too, was unsuccessful in convincing him to elope with me to an exotic destination. 😉 It was very important to him to share our love for each other and our city with our closest friends and family, which was an idea I found myself on board with pretty quickly. We decided on a sort of Jazz lunch at Taj Boston. We had the ceremony with our pastor officiating in one of the event spaces on the second floor. After that, we all went up to the roof deck, which is a sort of rustic space with windows overlooking the city. We kept the decor simple–just candles and white flowers–as we were surrounded by the city of Boston, bright blue skies, and trees just starting to turn for fall! It was beautiful. We had just under 100 guests, which was the perfect size for the space. The food was amazing, as was the jazz (we hired some incredibly talented students from Berkeley). It was also a great location in the city for picture taking and for guests to explore when the festivities were over. It was a sweet day in the perfect spot with our favorite people. The Taj does a nice brunch on the roof every Sunday, so if you want to get an idea of the space or just treat yourselves when you need a break, you should check it out. Best wishes to you both as you continue this journey!

  • BUA SANDWICH June 16, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Remember that it's your and Nick's day to celebrate the love. Don't try to make sure that if everyone else's ok. Sleep well the night before your wedding day 🙂 Enjoy the moment.

  • little random happiness June 17, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Awww I love this post. I love weddings. It's so beautiful to witness and celebrate the love that two people have for each other 🙂 We had a simple and traditional Chinese/Vietnamese wedding. Tea ceremony at my parents' house, church ceremony at a church where I grew up going, and a traditional banquet at a local Chinese restaurant. We only invited close friends and family. It was really nice to just spend time with the people we love. It was intimate and that was what we wanted.

    Weddings are best when they reflect the couple's personalities and styles. I can't wait to see yours. I know it'll be beautiful, simple, and elegant…just like you! Good luck with all the planning and congrats again! 🙂

  • LF June 18, 2014 at 12:52 am

    We planned our wedding but then decided to elope at SF City Hall and still have the big wedding..
    We got featured in Style me Pretty! http://www.stylemepretty.com/california-weddings/san-francisco/2014/03/20/san-francisco-city-hall-elopement-2/

  • Canadianpetite June 18, 2014 at 1:32 am

    I haven't read blogs in a while so I may be a bit late in responding.

    My first husband and I had a very small wedding – an elopement really – just me, him, my sister and her boyfriend. With my second husband, we bought our place and our neighbours kept calling me "your wife" when speaking to my then-boyfriend. One day in September, he was laughing that they assumed we were married. I told him I would prefer that they knew we were not married. That's when he revealed that he was planning to propose on Christmas. I told him to be prepared for a long engagement as my cousin was planning a March wedding the following year and told all of us that no one else can marry the same year. He said "well then, we'll get married this year". The soonest date we could arrange everything was the first week in December. I had a Finance course exam to write two days before so he arranged everything but my dress. I managed to go to the florist with him to order as many white flowers that I could get (no red and green as suggested as I didn't want a Christmas theme) for around the house and for my bouquet. Luckily, here in the West Coast, the day was sunny and warmer than normal. There is a greenbelt across from our house with fall leaves on the ground. The photographer captured a magical setting I could not have imagined possible. My white dress and my husband's suit stood out on the lush setting. It was warm enough that I was able to skip the sweater I had on hand in order to show off the pretty bodice and details of my dress. The photographer also insisted on including my husband's vintage 1960 Impala in the pictures with us in and around it so that was unique. Since we had not had an open house for our new place (too busy replacing the roof and building a double garage), we decided to hire a caterer and have the party at home. It was perfect since people could move around to chat and visit instead of stuck in designated seats. We were also free to invite children who had a blast in our reading room while parents could still view them through the French doors. We even included our beloved Miniature American Eskimo who knew all the guests. We could have spent a lot but in keeping it low-key, we were able to relax and enjoy everything. It's not for everybody but it was just the right amount of casual and formal that represents me and my husband. I wouldn't change a thing. Yours will turn out beautifully…I can tell.

  • Anonymous June 18, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Hi Jean – Congrats on your engagement! I think the wedding, whether big or small, should depend on your own preference and needs. Having been raised in traditional Chinese families, my husband and I had a relatively sizeable wedding with the ceremony by the poolside followed by a banquet in the evening. I am lucky that my husband did not throw me a tight budget and so I could do what I wanted with deco and everything as I wanted. My ceremony was more close-knit and warm in a sun-lit glasshouse by the pool and we were surrounded by plenty of greeneries. I walked down the aisle lined with flower petals and exchanged vows with blessings from our closest family / friends.

    For the evening banquet, we had a golden / cooper / bronze themed decoration with mirror tables, candelabra, orchid petals and some floating candles on every table. And we had a live band performing songs and light music in the background so all the guests could be entertained while we were away/busy.

  • Ale Bellaire June 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm

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  • Anonymous June 19, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Congratulations on your engagement! Whatever you two choose it will be beautiful, I am sure!

    I have been married twice now and both were elopements. I haven'thad a full wedding yet, nor have any family witnessed my wedding either. That's odd, I know! My fist time it was quick (he needed health insurance).

    However, for my second time (we are still newlyweds!) we WERE planning a big wedding in Jackson Hole. This time was going to be better all around! We don't live near anyone and we frequent JH often so that is where we had planned it. Something for everyone in JH. Then my dad was given a few month to live and it coincided with the wedding. Like 4 months to live and wedding was in 5. Very sad. We cancelled it all, I flew home four times over that four month period.

    After he had passed (4 months later – docs were right), I mourned. Then life seemed to be back to normal a couple months later. We still had to get married. Some may wonder why we didn't do a quick ceremony for my dad's sake? Well no one wanted that, it was clear. "Don't make us put on fake happy smiles just for your wedding!" Dad didn't want us to change our vision on account of him (he wanted the JH wedding to continue – but I just couldn't).

    So about 3 months after he had passed we had a private destination wedding in another country and said forget everyone else! I used the same dress I already had planned for JH. I guess it was an elopement but it was all planned and people knew – nothing secret about it. In hindsight, a private destination wedding was easier on EVERYONE and it turned out spectacular for us. Plan B can be just as good if not even better! If you have family that reallllly want to be there (I cannot relate to this), then that might need to be taken into consideration. In our case our immediate families were just relieved that they did not have to travel, use vacation days, buy tickets, hotels and cars. Really, it's a PITA to everyone else if you look at it. So we picked the most spectacular mountain vista we could find and got married there.

    I'd suggest picking both of your top 3-5 priorities. Anytime you get derailed or lost, ask yourself does this fit my priorities? Ours were 1. mountain views (no indoor wedding for us!), 2. intimate (aka no big shindig), 3. somewhere special to us. Well now it is special to us! Previously neither of us had ever been to this area.

  • Ale Bellaire June 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm

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  • Anonymous June 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I'm in the middle of wrapping up my wedding planning. It's less than a month away. We decided to have our wedding near us, since we both work full time and wanted to plan everything ourselves. We really wanted to have the wedding outdoors and we wanted to tailor it to us. So, we ended up picking a local park that had an old mansion and rented the mansion and accompanying rose garden for the day. Since I'm Chinese I wanted to have the ability to have some sort of a Chinese style banquet. The kind with 10-12 courses. Since my fiance is not Chinese and we were worried about his family being able to eat some of the traditional dishes, we ended up finding a caterer that was willing to work with us and create a fusion style banquet of 5 courses. Everything started to fall into place for us after that. It looks like our wedding will be around 100 people. It's definitely been a challenge planning it all ourselves but we're thrilled with all our vendors. We do have a wedding planner to help out with setting up appointments and day of coordination too. We planned ours in a little less than a year and I think if I were at the start of the whole process the only thing I would want to change is more time for planning. Good luck with the planning! I'm so excited to see how yours turns out!

  • FoodieNextDoor June 20, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    I'm a little late in commenting, but I thought I'd share my wedding stories since I had both the experience of a small intimate civil wedding ceremony and the experience of a large wedding reception.
    I have never been the type of girl who dreamed about her wedding, so I seriously considered eloping. I knew it would save money, and I didn't care a lot about the showiness of a big reception. I ended up being convinced to not elope because I realized that weddings are a very important event where family and friends come together. My high school and college friends are spread out around the country now and I don't live near a lot of family, so I knew that if I had a wedding, I could bring together these people who meant so much to me.

    First thing's first though: we needed to legally tie the knot, and since my husband is French, it was actually easier for us to get married there than here. I also have some family there, so my mother and I ended up flying to France. Ultimately 12 people – his family and my family only – attended our afternoon civil ceremony, and then afterwards we drove back to his house where he had hired two chefs to cater a small dinner party for us. We had plenty of small plates passed around, some drinks, and a raspberry & passionfruit mousse cake plus a traditional French choux tower from a bakery. It was perfect. I loved how intimate it was. Pictures were taken by family (my mom and his dad, mostly). I wore my mom's old traditional Vietnamese dress, and he wore his favorite suit. I did my own make up and my mom did my hair. We had no flowers except for some roses his mom bought to decorate the house.
    A few months later we had our US wedding. Because I am Asian, there is a tradition of needing to invite the whole family to weddings, as well as close family friends. It was very important to my parents that we do this and we struggled to keep the list short. In the end, about 85 family members attended (mostly mine) and 15 friends (both his and mine). We had our wedding at a hotel in DC where the food is catered by one of my favorite restaurants. We had a DJ, videographer, and photographer. My sister was our officiant. It was a wonderful event — I loved our ceremony, the food, the dancing, the photos from it all — and we had a lot of fun, but it was a lot of work.
    The day after, we had a post-wedding brunch hosted by the hotel with my friends and family (we needed to meet a minimum food expense!). About 30 people, all fairly close to us, attended. I really enjoyed this.
    I think you really have to think about the kind of person you are when you are planning a wedding. As an more introverted romantic, if I had to do it all again, I would probably pick just doing it the small way at city hall, with a little family dinner party and a little celebratory meal with friends. I regret nothing, but I do know that I was strongly influenced by others when I was planning my wedding, and I think if I had stayed more true to myself, it would have felt like less work and more celebration.

  • gourmetstylegirl June 24, 2014 at 11:53 am

    We are getting married in September, in a simple (but large) mountain ceremony in Colorado! The key for us has been to prioritize what's truly important and let the rest go. We felt like photography/videography was most important because when it's all over, that's all you have left! We also wanted a mountain venue that was big enough to accommodate our 200 guests. Everything else is just details. A close friend is doing flowers, we're serving donuts in lieu of cake (because who doesn't like donuts?!) and honeymooning a year from now when we have all our vacation days restocked and won't have to stress.

    There have been times during this process when I want to throw it all away and elope, but I believe (and am hoping actively!) that this will have been money well spent for memories we cherish.

    Best of luck to you as you plan!

  • Anonymous June 25, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Autumn is my favorite time of year so I picked the month of October. I didn't care for having only one or two colors for the wedding theme, so I picked multiple – ruby red, plum, ivy green, gold and burnt orange. All of the flowers and centerpieces were autumn themed – bare tree branches, mums, etc. The country club had just decorated (tastefully) for Halloween too, so we lucked out as they had fall decorations at the entrance. I didn't go all out because I didn't want to spend a fortune, but it turned out beautiful. Also, I had a bagpiper greet the guests at the ceremony because of my Scottish and Irish heritage. AND had an opera singer instead of string instruments.

  • Shelby Dickinson July 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I wanted a small civil ceremony or to elope, my family didn't care, and his family wanted to huge traditional wedding. The compromise we came up with what to have our wedding in our favorite restaurant, with the ceremony and dancing on the restaurant's balcony. We had 80 guests, and was still more "wedding-ish" than I would have liked, but having a "dinner party with a wedding in the middle" was an acceptable middle ground.

    This also meant that we only had two vendors for the whole thing – the restaurant and the photographer; our cakes were made by the wife of one of the groomsmen who is a baker. A friend who is a professional musician played the ceremony music and first/parent's dances, and our iPod in the restaurant's speaker system took care of the rest.

    I bought three J.Crew wedding gowns and took a few months to decided which was my favorite, and wore it with Kate Spade heels and a simple J.Crew veil. I was super comfortable and couldn't have been happier with my look. My bridesmaids each picked out their own black cocktail style dress, so they were all happy with what they were wearing and able to decide their own budget; and my bridesman wore a custom black suit with matching vest and the same shirt and tie as the groomsmen.

  • gigiwellness28 October 27, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Jean, congratulations to you & Nick!

    I was your blog subscribers but left a long while ago, cos I thought I'm too old to read your posts. Then after I watched Wendy's new video (I've also left her blog for the same reason but somehow stayed with her YouTube channels) I decided to watch her old videos, which one of them was with you and that led me back to your blog and found this news.

    Anyway, this comment is to share with you about my wedding (25+ years ago) – we got married in Hong Kong, it was mid March, it was raining and it was cold 🙁 Our wedding was in a church, since my parents were two of the church's lay preachers, most of the church members attended the service, together with our family and guests, I'd say there were 400+ people. It followed with reception at the other floor of the church. At night we had the standard Chinese banquet, which was held in a 5-star hotel. I think we had about 300+ guests…

    If Internet existed and we knew more about Wedding options back then, we would rather to have a much smaller/intimate wedding, which my eldest nephew had and his brother is going to follow in June 2015. With this in mind, I would not object whatever scale of wedding our daughters would want to have 🙂

    Weddings are for the bride and groom, not the guests. My then boyfriend had to go for a 2-year overseas assignment to save up money for the event (we maintained our relationship via lots of letters writing and once-a-month phone call!)… so we were able to invite that many people to the banquet, whom most of them were my parents' friends and my sibling's in-laws!!

  • Somerset Wedding Gal December 18, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Ah *goes all misty eyed* my wedding was in the countryside, very stereotypically English, I had the meringue dress and everything! I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

  • benilhalk May 7, 2015 at 2:52 am

    When it comes to weddings I completely agree that you need to start from somewhere. The best part is that if you start early you can make arrangements as you want. My cousin who is going to get married next year has already started seeking options for San Diego Wedding venues which I think is great.

  • Eve May 30, 2015 at 5:04 am

    hi Jean!!

    I'm a new reader-just discovered your Instagram last night! I've spent literally hours today scouring your blog. I love your style, and thank you for being sparklets of inspiration to so many fashion-challenged peeps (like myself). I've purchased many items today thanks to all your helpful links!

    My husband and I just got married this past November in Maui, at a venue called Haiku Mill. I saw a picture of the venue on Pinterest and knew I had to get married there! It is show-stopping-beautiful. I live in Southern California and never thought I'd have a destination wedding-it just seemed so unfeasible, logistics and all. But it turned out fabulously, and I'm so happy with how everything turned out. You've probably picked out a wedding venue by now…I hope all the planning is going well!

    xoxo
    Eve

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