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Lady in Red

8 Nov

I think I’ve mentioned before that my fiance, Sweets, is ethnically Chinese – his family emigrated from Taiwan when he was six years old. His parents speak some English, though their community in New York is primarily a Chinese-speaking community. Sweets doesn’t identify very much with the Chinese traditions – he goes by his English name, and that’s what appeared on our wedding invitations. But he said to me once, and I didn’t take it lightly, that he thought I’d be beautiful in a red dress at our wedding.

Well, I’m enough of a traditional girl that I really couldn’t see myself getting married in anything other than a white wedding dress. And there’s no way I could wear the traditional Chinese qipao – I’d be like a sausage stuffed inside the long column silk damask.

chinese wedding dressimage source: http://www.cheongsamwholesale.com/custom-made-short-sleeves-qipao-pc-260.html

The dresses are beautiful, and I admire them, but the tight and shiny are not my friends. They readily admit it, too.

As the wedding approaches (just about 50 days now!) we’re talking more about the ceremony, what music and readings, our vows, etc. And I find that my family traditions are the dominant ones. After all, my father, the minister, is marrying us. Sweets is happy with all of our choices so far, and he hasn’t asked to have more Chinese culture involved, so there’s not a lot about our wedding that is very Chinese, except for about 30% of our guests! I began to think recently about what little ways we could add to the familiarity and tradition for the Sweets’ family and their friends. I don’t want to pander, have anything feel insincere or inauthentic. And I don’t want the Chinese ladies at my wedding clucking and shaking their heads at the silly white girl who’s trying too hard.

Some things we’re doing that are “Chinese”:

  • Our rehearsal dinner will be like a traditional Chinese wedding banquet. Sweets’ parents are picking a favorite restaurant in Flushing, where we’ll gather our families (and some extended Sweets family members) for a family style dinner of traditional Chinese dishes.
  • We had a special piece of art made in the style of traditional Chinese paper cut art. It’s top-secret under wraps at the moment, because we want to surprise our families with it. We’ll incorporate that art into our paper goods, favors, and have it on display at the wedding.

I’m still hoping we’ll find more ways to celebrate his family’s culture.

The other thought I had recently was a not an entirely selfless one. I’m worried about spending eight hours in my voluminous, strapless, white wedding gown. I can’t see how I’ll be comfortable, and I’m worried about how I’ll maneuver in tight spaces. And what about when I have to pee? I really don’t want to have to ask anyone to help me in the bathroom. (Do all brides worry about this?) And then I remembered Sweets’ comment about the red dress…  I did a little more research and found that modern Chinese brides often get married in the western style – in white wedding gowns like mine. Sweets’ mother wore white, too! And then change at the banquet into the traditional red dress. As I said before, the qipao is out (I’m sure the Chinese ladies would cluck over that), but maybe I can do it in my own way. So I talked to Sweets about it again this weekend, and he seemed genuinely pleased at the idea: I’m currently on the hunt for a beautiful red party dress to change into after the ceremony. Something fun to dance in, something easy to move in. Something I can handle myself in the bathroom!

I’ll keep you posted on my red party dress search. Let me know if you know any great places to look!

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The addressing has begun

5 Oct

I’m hand writing the address on all of my wedding invitations. No, I’m not a great calligrapher. You all have seen my attempts at mastering the elusive ampersands. I’m not even using a fancy fountain or calligraphy pen. Just a new Sharpie brand pen, fine point, which I’m very fond of and which writes a nice strong (but not marker-thick) and smooth line. Also, it’s PERMANENT, smear-resistant, water proof… qualities we all need in planning for a wedding and for a marriage, I think.

And sure, it would probably be pretty easy to Mail Merge our guest list Excel file into some neat labels. But nevertheless, I like the idea of putting my hand on every invitation. I hand wrote our save the dates on those New York postcards, and no one said a word against them. They were homemade-looking, and I liked it that way. It feels like I’m putting my personal signature on the things I send out, even if we are sending the very same set of invitation, response card, and insert to all of our invited guests. The invitation is coming from us, and not a machine.

Last night I did 45 envelopes, and on some of them I even spelled out Massachusetts and Pennsylvania (even though the Sweets said the Post Office doesn’t like that). I think I spelled them all correctly. I’ll be double-checking my work tonight!

And also, the future in-laws are coming over for dinner and to help us make sure I got all the Chinese names right. Maybe they’ll help us make an insert for our non-English-speaking guests’ invitations? Or use my Sharpie on our inserts to hand-write a note in Chinese?

Pictures and details will be posted soon.

More postage…

2 Oct

With the invitations coming on Monday, and our plan to get them OUT to our guest list as soon as possible, I realized I needed to order more stamps. Somehow I forgot about reply envelopes…

But — oh, no! — when I went to order more stamps, I found that the great ones I bought in July are NO MORE. What up, USPS? So, I’ve selected a second stamp:

Celebrate stamp

festive enough...

I like it just fine, but it definitely doesn’t feel of a piece with my other stamps. So, the question for me is, split the invitations between this and that, or the art stamps on the invites and the Celebrate! stamps on the reply envelopes? Sweets and I are divided on the question (because of course he has an opinion!). Thoughts?

Sweet favor idea

1 Oct

I fell a little bit in love with this idea from Martha Stewart Weddings today. 

A Lollipop tree — and it looks very Christmas appropriate, no? A few color changes for our wedding, some kind of a star topper instead of the pendant, and PERFECTION. 

DIY wedding favor sweets

Sweetness.

 

I may just have to do it. Now to find all the supplies! The tutorial is here.

please celebrate with us!

28 Sep

The sweets and I ordered wedding invitations this past weekend! It’s so real now, right?  We ordered from Wedding Paper Divas (a friend who is getting married NEXT WEEKEND — Congrats, Yasmine! — raved about them) and I was really pleased by their reasonable prices and customizable designs. And the Sweets and I had very different points of view about what our invitations should look like, and this design made us both very happy — it’s our wedding!

winter berries wedding invitation

The red berries on the branch are much like the winter berries ideas I had a few months ago, and so I think it will help us to get started with a florist. What do you think — the invite is beautiful next to these flowers, right?

white flowers and winter berries

And of course the branches also tie into the birds — the cardinals I previously called my “singing little details.” It’s all coming together! Just in time for three months from tomorrow!

FOUR MONTHS!

29 Aug

Until the Sweets and I are married!

“to make visible and real your love for each other”

20 Aug

Alright, I admit it. I watch some of the wedding tv shows — Say Yes to the Dress, My Fair Wedding, Four Weddings, Plan My Wedding, and the ancillary shows that might as well be wedding tv, like Cake Boss. Pretty cakes, pretty parties, character, you know. (But NO BRIDEZILLAS. Never again. I find that show horrifying in the most despicable ways. Those women, whether it’s for show or not, are not allowing themselves a true celebration of love, and they are not putting their relationship and love first in their weddings.)

My mother has taken to watching Say Yes to the Dress too, and I must say it amused me to no end when she asked me (after I had bought my dress) whether it was definitely “THE” dress. As I’m sure most of you know, the show espouses this idea that there is one perfect and wonderful dress for every bride, but I’m not sure that’s an idea I completely buy in to. Some of us are never going to find a magical dress that takes away all body insecurities and transforms us into a glowing vision of bridal perfection. But I do believe that I found a dress that is wonderfully in keeping with the wedding I’m planning, and I know, because I’ll be wearing it in front of all my closest friends and family, there to support me, I’ll feel happy and comfortable and “bridal” and my Sweets will think I look beautiful on our wedding day. I said yes to that dress.

Of all these shows, I think Plan My Wedding had the most practical effect on me. Those three competing wedding planners, all with designs to give the bride and groom the best wedding on their limited budget, made me stop and think: wedding planners know a lot of tricks. They have experience, expertise, and best of all, relationships. They are absolutely worth their fee if they get you more wedding (and less stress!) for your budget. Sweets and I were swayed by this thought, and we found some wonderful professionals to help us handle some of the bigger aspects of our wedding, like finding a venue with great food and appropriate space within our budget. And we’re sure we would have had to pay much more for the wedding we’re going to have without their help. Their advice and support is invaluable, too — I’ll give those ladies some more public love down the road, when more plans are in place and I can praise them appropriately. 

But the rest of the wedding shows, as much as I enjoy them, don’t always seem like they’re at all related to MY wedding.  For example, David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding, wonderfully intentioned as it seems, takes a bride’s very personal (if slightly misguided) vision for her day and turns it into a six-figure blowout that is unrecognizable to that bride and groom — the dream wedding they never even dreamed to dream, really. And if the title of the show is referencing “My Fair Lady,” then I think that’s further evidence that it’s only breeding more discontent — how can you ever go back to normal life after the day someone swoops in and makes you someone else? As Eliza Doolittle says, “I sold flowers; I didn’t sell myself. Now you’ve made a lady of me, I’m not fit to sell anything else.” (Huh. Not sure that makes my point. Does it make sense?) 

Well, even if David could swoop in and help me make my wedding into a huge event, I’m not sure I’d say yes to that, since all of our work and investment, humble as it is, is how Sweets and I are best able and happiest to represent our love and joy to our family and friends. The fact that we made it, that we made every choice together with our life and our loved ones in mind — that’s what our wedding should be. And a glamorous and extravagant wedding is not at all related to our lives.

A moment on My Fair Wedding did make a real impact on me this past week, though. The bride and groom were wonderfully tattooed and morbid-ish people who wanted a Day of the Dead themed wedding, and to have their rings tattooed on their fingers during the ceremony. David talked them out of that, of course, but it did strike me that with tattoos they were putting something on their bodies that signified their love and committment. Somehow, that seems real and wonderful to me. I hope they did it after the wedding, underneath the fancy platinum rings David’s sponsors provided. And then, during their admittedly beautiful wedding ceremony, the tattooed priest uttered the words that are the title of this post, when the couple was ready to take their vows. He said, “you’ve come here today to make visible and real your love for each other.” I don’t know if that’ a typical phrase in vows, but I love it. I stopped and rewound my dvr and listened again so I could write it down, because that’s exactly what a wedding should be, in my mind. And that’s why I believe that weddings should not be cookie-cutter, that they should be personal and related to the couples’ lives and loves, because each wedding, for each couple, is the visible and real expression of their love for each other. I hope our friends and families can see that on December 29th.

And as for my other vows, I vow never to be a contender for Bridezillas. Don’t even mention it to me.(And if you have a problem with that you can stick it where the sun don’t shine!)