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 comments:

  1. I am Indian and married an Indian - so I had the standard giant wedding in India with over 700 guests. My wedding was beautiful - perfect day, venue, feeling. I have the most amazing memories. Still, I think nothing beats a small intimate ceremony, where you KNOW everyone who is present, and who is sharing in your happiness. I was living in America and my wedding was in India - so the planning process was stressful, I really let them handle the most of it.

    I am so happy for you! Hope you enjoy the process. My mantra is usually to care a little less about the small details so when its the day of your wedding - you are OKAY with something not coming the way you wanted - and its more about you, your groom, and your family and friends.



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  2. Thanks for the wonderful pictures and the really interesting post! When I married my first husband we had besides the civil marrige a huge marriage in a romantic Bavarian church. I wore a white Bavarian costume and my former husband wore also a costume. We had nearly 100 guests and the celebration was in an original Bavarian restaurant with Bavarian food and music. My second marriage was in the opposite very small: only my current husband, our children and I attented the civil cermony. But I again wore a traditional Bavarian costume but in this case not in white :) Fortunately I'm still very happy with my second husband although the marriage was much smaller!

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

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  3. Ah! I love seeing the pictures! After also trying to convince my husband to elope and realizing an outdoor wedding in North Carolina would probably make up lose friends we went to the destination wedding of our dreams! We got married on Kauai and with the help of my very industrious mom we got about 50 guests to come without breaking every ones budget! It was perfect, I was relaxed and got to chat with each guest and walked down the aisle twice to double rainbows! Best of luck to you and Nick with the planning!

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    1. I'd love to hear how your mom accomplished that! it sounds so amazing! :)

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  4. Congratulations!! I'm not married, but my best friend is going to be in less than a month! I think the most important thing is to remember that you're celebrating your love. A lot of the time people get caught up in the whole planning to the point where it's not even about the couple anymore, but rather more about what you're offering guests that attend. Obviously you want your guests to have an amazing time, but don't lose sight about what this whole celebration is about. It's about you and your finace, and you guys should celebrate it in the way that bests shares your love :)

    You're going to have a blast!

    Tania

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  5. I seriously can't wait to see what you decide! Love your grandfather's description of his wedding! There can be so much drama attached to wedding planning - I think the most important thing to remember is to make it a fun day for your spouse, family and friends. We opted to have our wedding in Bangladesh - I had spent all my summers there as a child - and my cousins always made me promise that no matter what, I'd get married there. It was a huge wedding with lots of family - and luckily my mother did all of the wedding planning so I only had to enjoy the experience :-)

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  6. We were living in SoCal and wanted something elegant, yet with a laid-back vibe for 100 people. After looking at several properties in the area, we chose the Four Seasons Aviara (Carlsbad-near San Diego) for our venue. Our ceremony and reception were at both at the resort. One thing we knew we would never have to worry about was the weather - it was a perfect April afternoon!

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  7. I love all things weddings so I can't wait to read more about your planning process :) I have a really big family so while I wanted it more intimate of course it was larger than expected however still small compared to many others (I had about 130 people). My husband's family is REALLY small and they had never attended a wedding in 20 + years so I didn't want to overwhelm them. I had a church ceremony (as my family is catholic) then I found a reception venue on a private lake - it used to be a house but when the owner inherited it she turned it into a wedding space. So it was quaint enough that it felt very casual and almost like people were just coming to home rather than a hall :)

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  8. Congratulations!! My husband and I were married in October of 2012 and it was definitely overwhelming to plan, but totally worth it. We nicknamed our wedding the "Jewish-Italian Wedding in Amish Country" which sounds nuts... and it kind of was. We had just over 100 guests and were married at Riverdale Manor in Lancaster, PA (even though neither of us are from there!). Ken is from Long Island and has a gigantic Italian family, and I'm from southern NJ with a tiny family. I'm Jewish, and it was important to me to have a Jewish ceremony, but we made sure that our mostly non-Jewish guests knew what was going on by having lots of explanations in the program. I blogged about it a few times, so you can go check out the pictures. :)

    Also, one of my favorite websites, not only for wedding stuff, but for life in general is A Practical Wedding (http://www.apracticalwedding.com) Our wedding was featured there, which was super fun to be a part of (http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/05/riverdale-manor-jewish-italian-wedding/). The website it a great resource for planning all kinds of different weddings, as well as a great community of smart, funny women. It's really lovely. I used a few vendors that are supported by APW as well, and they were the best people.

    Good luck, take deep breaths, and enjoy the process as much as you can! Sending you lots of love!

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  9. My wedding was in a Japanese restaurant overseeing a small lake in the nearby city where we lived in Southern California. The ceremony was followed by a lunch reception. Although we were on budget, the wedding was still very intimate and sweet as my hubby and I planned everything by ourselves; all my dad's siblings and my mom's were all here with my husband's relatives and a few close friends. We've been married for 11 years now with 2 small children.
    I've been following your blog for a few years now and this is my first time to leave a message. I'm a petite too; your simple and clever style inspires me so much. Look forward to seeing your wedding (no pressure, haha). You will be a beautiful bride. =)

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  10. Congrats! Wedding planning is fun. I really enjoyed my own planning after a friend directed me to the Practical Wedding website (http://apracticalwedding.com). I wrote about our wedding over there too! (http://apracticalwedding.com/2012/02/jennifer-and-wes-colorado-park-sign-language-wedding-with-interpreters/)

    When we got married, both me and my husband are Deaf so it was important to us that we had interpreters at our wedding. We got married in a public park in Colorado because Colorado is where I am from. Middle sized wedding to me, about 100. It was really lovely. I love how weddings become about who you and your spouse are. I hope you enjoy the planning.

    Jennifer

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  12. Jean, I am so excited for you. I celebrated my 7th anniversary not too long ago.I had a small church wedding. Money was tight and my mother was going through chemo at the time so we wanted something simple for money and sanity's sake. I had maybe 75 people attend. It was a lovely little wedding, but cheap and simple; we probably only spend $3,500 on everything, including the dress - that was 2007. We saved a lot of money by having finger foods buffet style afterward, instead of a whole meal for each person and having the whole thing in my mom's church so we didn't have to pay for a venue. We also have a woman from the congregation who was a friend of my mom's take photos (she was a photographer) take the pictures so we didn't pay for that either!

    I guess you have to decide first who you want to be in attendance and what style of wedding you want to have, and what's appropriate for you both at this time in your lives. My sister, for example had very small ceremony with immediate family only over a weekend. Her and her husband are both military and move around a lot, so it didn't make sense to have big wedding.

    I agree with Olive. The most important thing is the marriage, not the wedding, and the lifetime of memories you'll make together. The best advise I think, would be to do what makes sense for you and you guests and use any resources you have to save so money (more for the honey moom lol)

    Prayers and best wishes for you and Nick :)

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  13. Hi Jean, couple weeks ago I read that a couple had their wedding on the farm, I thought it's very nice, sweet and unique, it's a Fall wedding though, so not sure if that's the time for you and Nick, here is the website, there are other weddings summer and winter ones too...

    http://www.newportweddingglam.com/real-weddings/eco-friendly-wedding-mount-hope-farm/

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  14. Sorry for all the typos -__-

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  15. oh, as my own wedding which was over 11yrs ago, we just did it simple, had the service at a beautiful church, then we went to the restaurant for the banquet, it's the end of March, so it's too cold for an outdoor wedding, plus most of my relatives are in China, I only have few friends on my side, we had a small wedding about 30 to 40 people, mostly are close friends and family member, but we had a blast later to rip the dancing floor...depends on how many people you and Nick are going to invite, there are many beautiful places in Boston area for an outdoor wedding...can't wait to see your wedding picture because we know you both will come out something sweet and unique

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  16. Oh, Jean, I'm so happy for you. I have no doubt yours will be the most beautiful wedding Boston has ever seen - you're so gorgeous and classic!

    My husband and I got married with a $10,000 budget, which was perhaps higher than really necessary, but which we don't regret. Half was the food/venue - an historic Victorian mansion nestled in the mountains near Colorado Springs, CO. While I ended up not being thrilled with the woman who worked directly with us, the certainty of not having to handle the hassles involved - and of being assured of delicious food and a remarkably "us" location - was well worth it. We did get married in November, the "off" season, so we saved a good amount over what we would have spent in the same location in May or June.

    Most of the rest, we did ourselves. It ended up being a very intimate affair (around 30, all told), and I absolutely loved the custom ceremony we designed with our minister/officient, complete with string quartet move-theme arrangements my husband wrote that underscored key moments (very appropriate for two actor/singers!). Our photos were one of our favorite results, so I'm glad we didn't scrimp on the photographer. (I wish I'd talked my sister out of doing just that for her wedding! Oh, the regrets they have.)

    The only part I regretted doing "by ourselves" was the invitations, as my mother- and sister-in-law had promised to do them, being creative stationery-making types. In the end, I had to do all of them myself, with minimal help from them, and as I had no clue what I was doing, I was both disappointed and exhausted with the effort. (We had already bought all the supplies and were over budget due to their choices anyway....) So many simple, cost-effective ways to do invitations out there - don't make them by hand unless you're a pro and can guarantee the time.

    I spoke early on with my then-fiance to ask him what parts he wanted to be involved in planning-wise, which was great. I then delegated certain sections of the event to him and just checked in. It was a great way to reduce my load AND to make sure he felt involved and that the whole day reflected him and us, not just me.

    Someone told us during the planning phase (which really was minimal, compared to what people told me to expect - I guess because I'm organized but trusting that it all will unfold in God's time) that the reception is for your guests, but the ceremony is for you. If you keep that in mind as you're planning, it makes a lot of decisions easier, I think.

    Lots of love and joy to you, and happy planning! I know you'll have the perfect wedding for you both.

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  17. At first, I was dreaming about a beach wedding or a rustic wedding or anything with natural backdrop and surroundings, but our main idea has stayed the same: a small intimate ceremony to celebrate with our close family. In the end, we chose to have the civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall with our close family members. It couldn't be better. I agree with all the fellow people here. The most important thing is to enjoy the day and celebrate with each other! :)

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  18. I was the same way as you. Never had any big dream of fancy, large, over the top weddings growing up. So when we got engaged, I was so confused on where to start, where to even start dreaming of a wedding I could possibly want. Do I want to elope or have a small wedding back home? Or do we go all out and invite everyone we know? I think you just have to focus on what's important to you and your fiancé... and your families and find the perfect balance. Everything will come together and you will have an amazing wedding. We had the most stress free wedding planning and wedding - and I think that is because we didn't worry about the small things and focused on the fact that we were celebrating that we were becoming a family of our own. I can't wait to read about your planning (hopefully you'll share : ] ). Have fun with it!

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  19. So interesting how many commenters here had small, intimate weddings! I'm getting married in DC next March at a fun boutique hotel downtown, where we had our first date. My fiancee and I feel the same way about DC as Nick does about Boston -- we love living here and want to share it; also, we've been here long enough to have lots of friends in the area who will be local guests. It's definitely going to be on the larger side -- we're inviting 210 and expecting ~180. Both of us and our parents started with a list of who we wanted to invite, and we just couldn't cut it any smaller than that. My parents come from large families and have lots of friends (who are like family to me), and we really wanted them to be there to share it with us. So it's all about who you want to share your day with! I think you have to start from that question and then find a venue that holds that many people.

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  20. congratulations and i'm sure your wedding will be beautiful!

    xo, Liz
    http://oyouclassy.com
    http://oyouclassy.com

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  21. I'm so happy to hear you were inspired by my wedding! We loved how romantic and intimate it was, but we are also planning a casual reception this summer to celebrate with some of our family and friends--best of both worlds :).

    Boston is a gorgeous city, and I'm sure that you and Nick will have a lovely wedding there. I think it's important to remember that it will be perfect no matter what because it is yours. It doesn't matter at all if things don't shape up exactly according to plan--you will end up married to your best friend. Happy planning to you both!

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  22. Our wedding(s) was fairly ornate in terms of location, but very simple in terms of actual components (no crazy decor / flowers since the hotel was gorgeous already, no 12 bridesmaids/groomsmen). So we saved a lot of headache that way.

    If you like the luxe feel but don't want a giant circus, I'd recommend picking a location that is naturally quite grand/ decked out already (like a really gorgeous fancy hotel, or a private versailles-esque park etc), then have a simple ceremony.

    Also, I think it's really crucial to have an event planner/ wedding assistant. Whether it's a professional (if you can afford the extra budget) or a trusted bestie/ mum. Someone to handle all the technical details like being on-site to receive the chairs/ deco/ tents/flowers, chase up stuff, and making sure on the day stuff is happening when they are supposed to (most important part!). We were very fortunate to have a event planner that was included in the venue we went with, and in retrospect it was the "best" thing in the carrying out of the wedding. As she was behind the scenes making sure the flowers made it in, dinner got prepped, tables got moved etc... and all we had to do was actually get dressed and get married! I was so dazed/ excited at my wedding, I think it would've been a big shame if all I remember was being frazzled on my wedding day at trying to make sure everything was going off on time.

    All the best, Jean!

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  23. Don't stress. My husband of 8 years and I selected the most romantic venue. A lovely Victorian mansion on the water in City Island (a lovely seaside community in the Bronx near where we lived and I grew up). 2 1/2 months out from our wedding day - the venue burned to the ground!! I kid you not. I had to redo invitations and scramble to find a place and pray I could get our date, since people had already booked travel from around the world. While we found a place and it was in the Bronx and on the water, so we got the same boaty feeling with a NYC skyline. But it was a cookie-cutter catering hall. Everything was lovely, but nothing was unique - but what can you do? At least we had good music, right? My hubby selected a cool ska band that was going to do a fun oldies set and an hour of tradditional Jewish music. Perfect. Well 2 weeks out, the band leader has a heart attack and passed away. How could I be upset? A poor man died. I found a crappy last minute DJ. Put our must have songs on a CD and said make sure you play these. Was it still the best day of my life? Well, tied with the day I met my hubby and the birth of our kids. Bottom line, don't stress. It's the marriage that matters.

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    1. What luck! But it does all work out in the end. You have an enviably easy going and positive attitude about it all.

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  24. I am in a very similar situation where both my parents and fiance's parents never had a true wedding. My parents claimed it was like a drive-thru marriage. Needless to say, we find it kind of odd to have a huge wedding when our parents never did. So far we're thinking about a very small destination wedding ceremony (probably family only) and then a local reception in St. Louis for friends and family that has all of our favorite comfort foods from the city we grew up in. We want to pay for the wedding ourselves, so it'll be a long engagement and worth the wait. We also plan to have weddings for both of our parents in the future so that they can have a real wedding too. Good luck Jean and I hope you can share your tips and wisdom with all of us!

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  25. Elizabeth GreeneWednesday, June 11, 2014

    My husband and I had a small wedding according to my family's standards: 60 invitees, with 55 actually showing up. That included the bridal party! We had a tight budget, with wiggle room of course, since I have a terrible time keeping to budgets. We got married in Phoenix, AZ at one of the only venues (golf club) that didn't charge an arm and a leg to rent the space (no charge!) as long as you used their in house catering. This cost also included the wedding cake! BARGIN! We had a short engagement (5 months) since we dated all through college (5 years!) so I ended up doing a lot of the decorations myself or using my florist's keen design eye to stretch me vision. It was a vintage theme wedding, colors were ivory with latte and soft blue accents. (want to see? http://www.dkimphotography.com/blog/elizabethgraham-wedding/) We accomplished our dream day while maintaining our budget, only going over by about $2000, which is great if you ask me. We loved the smaller, intimate feeling with our guest list. Somehow, smaller is always less chaotic. I'm a control freak, so I liked that I didn't feel stressed out, and everything went smoothly. Thankfully, I had my two sisters as my bridesmaid and maid of honor to remember the things I forgot. I only wish I could wear my dress again...

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  26. I really enjoyed planning my wedding and hope you do too. I really liked weddingbycolor.com and offbeatbride.com for planning and "wedding porn" photos. I disliked how catty some comments were on theknot.com, and would not recommend it as a resource to anyone who wishes to maintain a positive outlook while planning a wedding.

    As for the venue, my cousin, years ago, had the most beautiful wedding I've been to at a country club on lake Erie in Cleveland. Being by the water was so marvelous that we found a location with a similar feel on the south coast of Long Island since my husband and I both grew up in the tri-state area and most of our parents lived there at the time. The ocean breeze was perfect in July, and we could not have found a better place. Whatever or wherever you choose, it should be true to you! Of course, having lobster rolls at a New England wedding would icing on the cake :-)

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  27. It wasn't our original plan (ahem, surprise pregnancy!) but my husband and I had a very small civil ceremony in a garden with just our parents in September. I bought a dress from BHLDN, he bought a tie from Nordstrom and it was done. We are getting the marriage blessed by the Catholic Church this summer and having a party afterwards with all our friends and family. To be honest, it was kind of deflating to plan a wedding in our area (Washington, DC). The relaxed outdoor wedding that we dreamt of having was outrageously expensive and really made us reconsider what was important and how much we wanted to spend on a 6 hour event. In the end, as long as you're husband and wife, nothing else matters. Good luck!

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  28. I suggest thinking about which aspects of a wedding are most meaningful to you and not compromising on those. Also, it seems luxurious to hire a wedding planner but honestly it makes the process go so much more smoothly. A good wedding planner will introduce you to amazing vendors you'd otherwise not find and they will troubleshoot any and all issues that arise on the big day, without you knowing!

    In planning our wedding, we found that what mattered to us most was designing a ceremony that reflected our values and traditions and kick ass music. We hired the best DJ in town and the dance floor was packed the entire night. It was the most fun we have ever had surrounded by our family and friends.

    Congrats! Enjoy the process. I felt very "stressed" throughout the planning. Now that I have a 10 month-old baby, I look back on that time and laugh at what I thought was stressful. Enjoy the process together!

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  29. Hello Jean..congratulations on your wedding...I am an Indian and Hindu. We had a small wedding ceremony in a small temple town in India. It was my dream to get married there as I feel very connected to the place and blessed every time I am there. This was the only thing me and my husband chose. Everything else was decided by my and his parents as they were the one's who made arrangements back in India. After the wedding, there were two receptions, one in my city and one in his...with more than thousand people attending...I am quite an introvert and I was so exhausted towards the end that I really wanted it to get over..

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  30. I'm getting married in September. My fiance is Jamaican/Irish and I'm Indian. I really wanted to elope but wasn't able to 100% convince my fiance (and my family). Ultimately, I decided against the usual big Indian wedding and am instead having 80 of our closest friends/family for a short fusion ceremony and dinner/drinks/dancing reception in Dallas (my hometown... I live in Austin).

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  31. Congratulations! :) We wanted something smaller (about 50 guests) and classically us. We are both from other parts of the US but we met and live in Seattle, so that is where we wanted to get married - it's a city that we love and are so comfortable in. We did everything in a restaurant with a beautiful, modern banquet loft space, and we focused more on food and tailoring our ceremony to our needs (short and sweet!) than with some of the more "traditional" aspects of weddings. It only has to be everything you and your partner need - nothing more, nothing less.

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  32. Hi Jean,
    I (like several other commenters) had a large Indian wedding, though mine was in the US. I loved the size and felt blessed by the amount of people who came from all over the country.

    I got great advice from a good friend during the planning process: Just remember, the wedding is not about you. Everyone wants to make the bride and groom happy, but your families will have expectations of what THEY want in the wedding as well. Letting go of the small stuff (chair sashes?!?!) really helped me out. That said, the day of was really beautiful!!

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  33. Congrats Jean ! When husband and I were planning our wedding, the best thing we did was to pick TWO things we were to spur on and spend time on. We didn't want the wedding day itself to overtake enjoying the engagement (it can easily be the center of everything). I picked photography as my top importance and my husband picked food. Everything else we kept to a minimum and didn't fuss about it. Enjoy the engagement, Jean!

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  34. Jean!

    I feel like it was just a little while ago that you were congratulating me on my nuptials. And here you are! :) I love weddings and am looking forward to "Wedding Wednesdays!"

    First, Al and I had an spreadsheet with our budget that included estimates, percentage of total budget, and actual. (Forever an Oxford comma girl!) It was really helpful so as to not go crazy with "it's once in a lifetime" thoughts. Although this is true, debt can also last a lifetime, which was something we did not want to start our marriage on!

    We thought about what was important to us: an intimate ceremony, food, and our honeymoon in Sicily! We chose Elephant Walk- yummy and also palatable to family members who are more used to Asian flavors. Choosing a restaurant with a private function room took out the cost of renting a venue like one would at a hotel or estate. There were also things I didn't care for and didn't do like favors and flowers (my sister made the bouquets from TJ and Stop & Shop!).

    I think people in your life will want to get involved. Find ways for them to do so while also balancing what you want. For instance, our neighbor is a baker and made our cake for us as our gift. It was delicious!

    I am also really into logistics. So instead of having a day-of-coordinator, I made a cue-to-cue that had times, what was happening, and what people needed to do. I also picked one of the bridesmaids and groomsmen to be the "executors." There's a really sweet picture of the guys looking over the cue sheet before heading to the ceremony!

    Enjoy everything! And please don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything! I love weddings and think you are a gem. Happy to help!

    xo,
    MyHanh

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  35. Like MyHanh, it was an easy and quick decision to do a restaurant with a private function room. We knew it was going to be family members and a VERY select few friends, becauwse I've never wanted a huge hullaballoo and would rather have spent on our honeymoon and (eventual) house. So we narrowed it down to a few restaurants where we knew we liked the food, because we wanted to treat everyone to an awesome dinner. We did trial run dinners at each of them, and based on that, we chose to pay more to get married at Eleven Madison Park, because they took SUCH good care of us and we knew we could trust them with anything. (They totally lived up to it, btw. Money well spent IMO!) I booked the savings on my gown -- I knew I didn't want to spend thousands and thousands on a polyester dress I'd wear once, so I shopped vintage, and found a lovely tea-length satin brocade 60s dress for $98! It didn't even need alterations! We agreed it made sense for Ben to spend money on a good suit he could wear repeatedly, so he paid $2500 for a custom suit that he has worn many times since. The suit and the meal were our big expenditures -- we saved on a lot of little things that I didn't care about, such as not having a veil or bouquet, bringing in our own centerpieces from a local florist instead of paying the restaurant to do it, not having a wedding cake (there was already dessert and people were stuffed, it was the right call) or personalized wedding favors (people just end up throwing those away and many guests who are travelling in have limited luggage space to take tchotchkes back with them). I think I was happy with almost all the decisions on hindsight -- if I could redo anything differently, I would have done a photography session -- Ben didn't want it, so I didn't force the issue, but somehow with Nick's interests I don't think you'll be missing out on that! Good luck and we're all looking forward to hearing more about your wedding planning!

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  36. Enjoy the wedding planning process. Honestly it will get overwhelming at times but before you know it you are married and might even experience a little bit of planning withdrawal, LOL (I did). I am Filipino-American and my husband is from the Midwest, but we chose to have our wedding in SF Bay Area where we both lived for work, met, grew a relationship, and fell in love. I wanted a whimsy fall-themed wedding, and hiring a wedding planner certainly helped us execute our vision. We were blessed to nail down beautiful Kohl Mansion as our venue after our original booked location fell through, and it all worked out in the end for us, and I had the wedding I dreamed of after plenty of planning and styling for the event. I would advise to have a clear vision of what you want, be it intimate or big, simple or elaborate, what theme or motif, etc., then plan from there but be open and flexible when kinks happen :-) hugs, Kat

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  37. I married the man of my dreams, we knew each other when we friends and we were 18. At 36 we met again by chance and within 12 weeks we were married and now have a beautiful son. My dress fitted me wonderfully, I'm very small and felt so lovely in a beautiful, French very reasonably prices outfit, about 300 dollars. It was a quiet affair by wedding standards. I only invited people who had helped me in my life, who supported me through the tough times and I made a speech and told each person what they had done and how they had affected my life from child to adult. Many people were not invited! It was a simple affair. Nothing huge, simple good food and plenty of it, wine overflowed, I did not pay for a venue, just looked for something convenient where we could all meet and arranged it with the managers of the venue and they were just fantastic. They saw it just he way I did. Funnily enough the celebration went on until 4am back at our place in front of a huge fire with more food and vino. What more can I say, I had everything I needed to say goodbye to the past and to welcome the future. We all enjoyed a very simple, not expensive affair and it was a joy! Good luck Jean, there are so many people who don't get married because they cannot afford it. We married because we wanted to and didn't listen to the great expectations of others. Have the fun the way you want it and thank you for your blog it has been most beneficial to me. Lots of love, Sandra xx

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  38. Just wanted to say.. happy to host you in Thailand! Of course, I'm in rural Phichit, not exactly a tourist mecca :) Super happy to read this happy news though, and you're making me miss Boston very much while I'm over here for the next two years! (Peace Corps volunteer :))

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  39. I think the thing to take from all these comments is that no matter what kind of wedding someone had, it ended up being perfect for them. That includes me...I'm a Bostonian and we opted to get married in Salem, at the Peabody Essex Museum. It was beautiful and we love that we can go back and visit it in the future. Congrats again.

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  40. Congrats! I had a vintage (yellow, grey, and hint of navy blue) wedding. First thing I would suggest is look for venue and dress because venues go fast and they have vendor restrictions so without a venue booked, it's hard to get everything else done. As for the dress, shall you buy brand new, it will take 6 months to make, another 4-6 wks to tailor because you'll have multiple fittings. I suggest trying on different dresses. I posted my findings on dresses for petites ( I eventually went with Vera Wang Fawn ). THat would be where I start. As for what type of weddings to go with, I would say it actually depends on the family. Getting a guest count from parents and considering what they want narrowed down to only a few places for me. (for ex, I married into a huge family so I couldn't have a patio wedding. It had to be a venue that could accommodate 200+ people. Or Winter wedding - older guests would not like outdoor wedding, etc.) I just had my wedding in May, I'm happy to ask me any questions.

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  41. Love your blog! I have my own petite fashionista who recently started her blog. Is there a possibility you and I could e-mail?

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  42. Congratulations, Jean. As somebody else said there above, the most important thing is that your wedding is what you two want it to be. Your grandfather was a wise man :) I'd say: keep it simple. I had a wonderful, small wedding with six guests. We had a little party at home and the went dancing in a restaurant. After 33 years I still remember everything and we still are together. Here you can see our style in my blog http://anucca.blogspot.fi/ Love -- Anu from Finland

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  43. Congrats Jean! I live in Boston, but my dream was a "wedding" at City Hall in NYC with just me and my husband; my mom got married in someone's apartment so she wanted a nice wedding for me. So we had both! My husband and I did our civil marriage/license thing at City Hall in New York City - just the two of us and my best friend as our witness - then we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for dinner. I wore an Ann Taylor sheath that I had bought years before (shopping my closet: ;)

    Then we had a religious ceremony and buffet lunch in my parent's backyard on Memorial Day weekend. I think our budget was $5000 for 50 people. I bought all of the beer, wine, and soft drinks from Trader Joe's in Cambridge. Lot of folks say they loved our little wedding. It was very low-key. Great weather helped. And now every time my mom looks out of her kitchen window she remembers that day.

    I was reading Elle magazine last night - the June issue - and a bride in there wrote about her decision to wear red. I wore red at my religious ceremony (I'm South Asian). I believe that may be an option for you too - consider it!

    Anu

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  44. I had a very standard issue Japanese wedding, with a Shinto ceremony and a reception in a hotel banquet hall with 100+ guests. My husband and I decided it would be easier to have a standard issue wedding than to explain to everyone why we didn't have a wedding ("no, we can afford it, no, she's not pregnant, no, our families are super happy for us, etc…) For the wedding, I wore a long black kimono and changed to a white lace wedding dress during the reception. I felt really lucky to have all these people wishing us well, but other than that, the wedding has never really meant that much to me (although to this day, I think avoiding all the questions about NOT having the wedding was a good idea). The life you have after the wedding is far more important. So far, so good. He gave me diamond earrings for our 10th anniversary :)

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  45. My husband and I got married in Boston – we had the same goal as you: to show off our beautiful city to family and friends from around the world! We got married at Emmanuel Church (an awesome, progressive, and ecumenical church) in their small Lindsey Chapel and had the reception at the Union Club of Boston on Park Street. I can't recommend either venue enough. It was a relatively small (80 people), very intimate wedding, and, even though I run events for a living and was very organized, the folks at Emmanuel and the Union Club really made it happen.

    There are so many options in Boston. I've coordinated weddings at venues ranging from the Omni to the Artists for Humanity Epicenter to the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, and they've all been beautiful and special. Good luck planning!!

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  46. OMG Jean, I'm so happy for you…Congratulations to you and Nick! It has been a while since I read your posts since I'm very much pre-occupied taking care of my baby daughter. I had a simple wedding-- civil ceremony at our local city hall and a buffet reception for 30 people. Since my husband and I are both teachers, our wedding took place during our spring break. :) The most stressful part of preparing for a civil wedding is making reservations for the reception based on our budget and finalizing our guest list. (We wanted to save most of our money for our summer vacation/honeymoon trip to the Philippines..El Nido is highly recommended!) I DIY'ed tokens for our guests, which was the fun part. :) Please feel free to PM me if you have questions. I'm hoping to meet you in person someday soon.

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  47. Congrats on your engagement! (My fellow petite friends and I love your blog.) My husband and I made the decision to get married in Houston, even though we met and were engaged in Austin (which is where we met in college). My family is Bangladeshi, and my husband is from a very small town in Texas, so we knew we were going to have an interesting culturally mixed wedding. I wanted a cross between a traditional "Big Fat Indian Wedding" and something modern, American, and sophisticated. In the end, we found a gorgeous venue in Houston that looked like a giant villa/castle, had a chapel-esque room inside (to appease my husband who is quite Christian), and gorgeous dual ballrooms with a grand staircase. It helped that the venue was built recently and also specifically for weddings, so everything was tailor made for our needs. After lots of drama with a custom-made "hybrid" gown that arrived too late and too ugly, I ended up getting an emergency white dress from David's Bridal (much to my horror) as well as an Indian bridal lehenga (skirt/top) just 1 day before the wedding! In the end, everything turned out just fine--all that mattered was our vows and who was there to share the moment!

    You can see how it all turned out here:
    http://www.sunny16photos.com/2013/08/05/muneezeh-kyle-houston-wedding-at-the-bell-tower-on-34th/

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  48. All of my family members have had small civil ceremonies as well. My parents got married in a courthouse - then my grandparents hosted a dinner for their friends. I've never even seen pictures from that day (if there are any).

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  49. 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)!!

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  50. 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.


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    1. 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!

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  51. 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.


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  52. 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

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  53. 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

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  54. 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.

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  55. 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.

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  56. 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!

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  57. 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!!!

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  58. 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!

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  59. 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.

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  60. 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!

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  61. 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! :)

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  62. 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!

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  63. 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.

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

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  65. 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.

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  66. 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&theater

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  67. 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!

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  68. 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.

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  69. 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! :)

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  70. 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/

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  71. 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.

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  72. 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.

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  74. 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.

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  76. 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!

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  77. 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.

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  78. 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!


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  79. 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.

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  80. Shelby DickinsonFriday, July 04, 2014

    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.

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  81. 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!!

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  82. 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.

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  83. 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.

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  84. 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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