I knew he liked me...

especially after this day, when we went to Epcot with Michelle (one of my roomies).

I guess he thought it would be cute to let me know that he liked me by running into me and poking me like a first grader. Oh well, clearly, I bought into it. At this point I did wonder if he liked me, but we hadn't really said anything about it. Though, if I remember correctly, it was 3-4 days after this that we went on our first date. Awww memories.


Mission: Finding a Photographer Part III

One of the things that I wanted to book right off the bat was my photographer. I wanted to book someone solid who we both got along with well, especially since he/she would be a huge part of the wedding. I was kind of at a loss for how to start, but I quickly e-mailed my coworker who had Junshien as her photographer. She sent me three names, including Junshien and Sarah K. Chen. The third name was Travis Hoehne.

I jumped on his blog and loved the images. I shot him an inquiry and heard back right away. His easy-going manner (via email) and responsiveness put him high on my list. After checking out his pricing and packages, he was right on par with my budget, even if he is based in Southern California. I researched a couple of other photographers, but something told me that Travis was it.

I had been communicating with him about our unset wedding date and he was very flexible in terms of turning in a deposit in pieces until our dates were firm. I also had asked what would be the best way to take our engagement photos, considering that the groom was in Dallas.
He said that he would be in the Dallas area for a workshop in April and could shoot there if we were available. I jumped at the chance. So we made the arrangements and booked him for the E-shoot.

On a very sweaty and steamy day in Dallas, I was trying to get ready for our session. My fiance was still at the office and we were planning on meeting in downtown. His apartment is closer to the airport, about 30 mins North. To be of help, Travis offered to pick me up, so there wouldn't be so much backtracking. It was so nice of him, and worked out well! We were able to get started right away.

After our engagement session, we knew he was "the one". His easy-going nature from his emails, translated into real life. He was so much fun to work with that we felt it. My fiance even whispered in my ear, "You made a good choice", since I had been maintaining all the contact. We worked out the contract. Travis has mentioned that he was raising his prices, but lucky for us, he held us to his earlier pricing structure.

So without further ado:

Check out our AWESOME photographer's blog!


Take the Cake Thursday: Eva's Exquisite Cakes

Have I mentioned that I love cake? It's probably my weakness in terms of baked desserts. I'm not even all about the fanciness either. Get me a chocolate sheet cake with nice fluffy icing and I'm good.

The next bakery I'm featuring is Eva's Exquisite Cakes in Santa Clara. She has lovely cake designs, all that look incredibly delicious! She blends the finest European tradition of baking with today's tastes and designs. She's a trained European pastry specialist, and brings the richest traditions from the old world of pastry making and blends them with the current trends. None of her creations are ever the same as she believe that the wedding cake is an aspect of the wedding that guests focus their attention to and serves as a lasting impression of the event. Therefore she will design a cake just for you!

Sounds great to me! Here are some of her designs:

The square shape and dots add great personality.

Simple yet elegant.

I like the incorporation of blue.

Scroll work is stunning.

Great combination of flowers and scroll work.

Be sure to visit Eva's Exquisite Cakes!


Mission: Finding THE Venue Part I

For me, finding different reception venues was painless. It was finding THE reception venue that felt like a long and drawn out process. It actually wasn't that bad. We were engage March 1. We booked a venue May 10.

It took me a couple of weeks to weed out which places were potentials. I had emailed and submitted RFPs up the wazoo that I was knee deep in choices. This is probably the quickest road to frustration. I had some choices between hotels and golf courses. Then I had to take into consideration our guest list. What started at about 100 guests, quickly ballooned into 170+ after our parents chimed in with their guest lists. Actually, creating a guest list helped eliminate some of the reception sites right off the bat.

It was like magic. As soon as I had provided my phone number over the Internet to perfect strangers at different locations as well as my email, I had people contacting me. In general, I'm a shy person and prefer email to phone interaction. I started avoiding phone calls if I didn't recognize the number altogether. Basically I told the event managers my general specs: an estimated guest count and it was to be a Saturday evening reception. Luckily, at the time that I was speaking to potential vendors, I did not have date nailed down. At the time I didn't think it was so lucky, but I think now it worked out to my advantage. Event managers couldn't rope me in because I didn't have a set date in mind. It frustrated me because I didn't want to just say, "well maybe this date" but it also gave me an out.

At the same time, receptions sites hit me with their minimums. Followed by a big gulp on my part, I was able to pare down more reception sites based on their fees. One location asked for a $12,000 site fee! No joke. And for me, where $12,000 is about half my budget, that location was definitely no dice. That didn't include catering or alcohol. Simply the space and tables and chairs. By my standards, I'd rather invest in something else.

Finally, I had to decide which places I wanted to visit and tour. I wasn't even sure of all the questions I should be asking, but luckily there are a ton of resources on the Web from the Knot to WeddingBee to bride blogs that it wasn't too hard to come up with some basic questions. After discussions with my fiance and parents, we narrowed it down to about five locations...

To be continued...


Tealight ≠ Votive

I just learned/figured out today that a votive tealight. I guess I never realized that there was a difference. I thought the words could be used interchangeable. I suppose they still could, but this is my one learning tidbit of the day.

Voila Votives:



Where to Begin: Choosing your Bridal Party

Picking my bridal party proved harder than I expected. I didn't want to play favorites (although let's face it, that's what it is) or hurt anyone's feelings. Let's just say that it was definitely an involved process and a lot of thinking involved. I don't know what etiquette says about asking your bridesmaids to take the job, but with the engagement, I was so excited, I asked when I announced that he had popped the question.

I had some of my friends in mind and my sister was already my MOH, so it was just a few other spots I had to fill.

My two BFFs, who interestingly enough have never met, were natural choices. My first BFF, has been my best friend since probably the 6th grade. We've known each other since second, but it wasn't until we were in high school that we got really tight. The day after I had announced the news via email, she called me all the way from Italy where she is stationed for the Air Force (nice post!). I asked her on the spot and I think she was more excited than me. Of course, her enthusiasm has always shown through more than mine.

My other BFF, friends since college, and having dubbed with fun nicknames is my other bridesmaid. When I called her back about the engagement, I wanted to lock her in as well. She said that she hadn't been in a wedding since she was a flower girl once, and that she'd "love to!"

When I had initially discussed the wedding party with my fiance, we had decided on the honor attendants plus four bridesmaids/groomsmen. I thought, easy enough to figure out two more of my friends to stand by my side. I had another friend in mind as well as my cousin.

My friend was honored saying that she had never been in a wedding before, even her sister's. She agreed and was really excited about the prospect. When I asked my cousin, she accepted as well, excited and saying, "of course I'd want to be in your wedding."

Well fast-forward a few months later. I come home from the airport after taking our engagement photos in Dallas. My sister tries to tell me about my cousin. At first, I was thinking, should I be worried? Then she finally told me that my cousin would be going to Australia after graduation and didn't want to commit to being a bridesmaid if that meant she would be a flaky one. Basically, she wanted to prevent herself from being flaky. I get that. It wasn't like she was saying that she didn't like me or something.

At the same time my fiance remembered that he wanted to add another groomsman. He had hesitated at first because this guy is in Korea on Military duty, and he wasn't sure if he would be back in time for the wedding. I guess this friend is returning in May 2009, and should be around for the wedding, which is great for him, but that also meant that I had to fill two spots!

Luckily, I had another friend in mind who I wanted to be in my wedding, but since we were originally only having 4 BMs/GMs, I hadn't asked her right away. Thankfully, she was touched that I asked her, even after the fact of knowing that I had "my girls" picked out.

However, now I'm still trying to figure out who will be my fifth. And I didn't think that it would be this difficult. Four bridesmaids worked out well because I was able to equally pick from each of my friend groups. Had my cousin not dropped out, I would have been okay with five. Now, I'm at a loss. I guess I could just have 4 BMs and my fiance could have 5 GMs. But I'm a girl who likes symmetry. Hmmm. Oh the decision...


Favorite Blogs: Snippet & Ink

What can I say about Snippet & Ink? It's another one of my daily inspirations. I don't know how Kathryn does it, but I'm so glad she does. She is so talented in assembling gorgeous combinations of flowers, dresses, venues, and details. Her daily inspiration boards generate ideas in my head for my own wedding. One day, while in between meetings, I clicked through every single board created. There's such a huge range and so many beautiful colors, it would be hard NOT to find your colors!

If you haven't been to Snippet & Ink, you are missing out! I found Kathryn's blog while reading another blog. Since that day, I added it to my Google Reader, and drool daily over all the beautiful and lovely ideas. It's inspired me to come up with my own board, which is still in progress.

On a whim, several weeks ago, I e-mailed Kathryn about inspiration boards in my colors. While she no longer comes up with boards for free, she generously sent me the links to two boards that she had created that would fit in my color scheme. Thanks so much! I really appreciate it!

Board #88: Jess's Garden Wedding

Board #79: Landra's Jamaican Wedding

Be sure to check out Snippet & Ink!!


Our First Date....

Leading up to the first date, we did the typical college student form of communication: AIM. For those not in the "know", that's AOL Instant Messenger. Yes, we lived about 20 feet away from each other, and yet, for the first couple of weeks before the first "official" date, we chatted and flirted online. I suppose it's because it felt easier and safer because it wasn't in person. Less intimidating perhaps?

Eventually several online conversations later, I received a text message asking if I wanted to go to dinner after work. At that point, I wasn't sure if it was a "date" or a "friend thing". I was hoping it was a date. I'd never been on a real date and the prospect gave me butterflies in my stomach. There was just something about him; I knew he was special.

After work on September 23, 2005, I got ready to go to dinner. He didn't tell me where, but I was prepared for anything. Considering we earned the pitiful minimum wage in the state of Florida, I wasn't expecting a three-course candlelit dinner. From what I remember now, when he came to pick me up across the hall, I couldn't help but smile. He didn't show up with any friends, and it was just us in the car... I thought, well, I guess it's a date. I figured that if he offered to pay, that would seal the deal.

We drove for a little bit and pulled into the parking lot of our destination: TGI Friday's. The one thing I remember vividly while we were ordering off the menu, was that he ordered a "cheeseburger without cheese". I thought that was a weird way of putting it, but I thought it was cute. Personally I would have asked for a hamburger, but whatever. When I asked him why he ordered it that way, he pointed to the menu where it said Cheeseburger, then under it in fine print it said Without Cheese.

I was a little nervous that our conversation would have the dreaded awkward pauses. But my mind was put at ease when it just flowed. We talked about our families and where we lived and where we went to college. It was an ideal first date conversation. And the rest, is history. I met my best friend and now I get to marry him and spend the rest of my life with him. I feel so lucky and blessed!


Take the Cake Thursday: Jen's Cakes

I'm starting a feature about something I love dearly: Cake! I'm always amazed at the creations that talented bakers and pastry chefs can come up with. I love watching the Food Network Challenges, especially when they pertain to cake. The Ace of Cakes is one of my favorite reality TV series.

One of my coworkers who was married last October told me about her fabulous cake creator Jen, of Jen's Cakes. They are a wife and husband team who run their business out of Los Gatos, CA. All cakes are made to order. Since their space lacks a storefront, all of their business has been generated through bridal shows, local events, and word of mouth. I'm glad I heard about them! Jen designs and executes the cakes and Anthony runs the business side. My coworker raved about them after they completed her cake and said they were a pleasure to work with!

For my own wedding cake, I envision something simple with flowers. I'm not much of a fondant girl, but I do love the buttercream frosting.

Here are some of their designs:

This is the cake my coworker modeled her wedding cake after, except it was all chocolate!

I really like the simple design of this cake.

Jen's Cakes also specializes in "not-so-traditional" cakes.

This bamboo cake looks delicious!

Look at this 6-tiered cake!

I have yet to start contacting bakeries, but I think that Jen's Cakes will definitely be on my list!

All images from Jen's Cakes.


Where to Begin: Choosing a Venue

This is the BIGGEST decision to be made, since the bulk of the budget gets sucked out here. And when you think about it, the choices are endless. Choosing a venue comes down to what you want based on your priorities.

After the engagement buzzed calmed, I started checking out possible reception venues in the area. My initial thought was "this is the Bay Area, this should be easy." It was actually much tougher than I expected. There were a few things that I knew I wanted: able to accommodate our large party, an elegant space, and "affordable" for the Bay Area.

When we decided that we would be getting married in July, I also considered that I did not want an outdoor reception. The Bay Area can be hot in July, especially inland. I didn't want the older folks in the family to suffer heatstroke or something like that. This helped to narrow down the choices.

My co-worker immediately turned me to Here Comes the Guide, a great resource for initial venue hunting, tailored to all of California. It's broken down by geographical area and has links out to all the venues. It's great for browsing before you inquire via email or phone.

I may live in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I don't live in San Francisco. I live in the East Bay and wanted to keep the ceremony and reception in the East Bay or South Bay at the farthest. Again, this allowed more narrowing of choices.

We're getting married at my church, so a ceremony on-site was not necessary. We just needed a location to get the party started. With the location of the ceremony, we didn't want travel time to be more than half an hour to the reception site, for ease of guest travel.

With these options in mind, I started emailing. I emailed golf courses and hotels, mainly. I liked the idea that guests could attend the reception, then go upstairs to catch some ZZzz's. Then again, I also loved the idea of being at a golf course. My dad and my future father-in-law love golf. I thought it would be a great activity for the men to hang out pre-wedding day. A golf course also provided a lush background for photos and pretty scenery.

Since I have never planned a wedding or watched anyone plan one recently, I had no idea what the pricing would be like. I assumed that there would be a price to rent the space and a price per head if the catering was in house. There would possibly be a cake cutting fee depending on the venue as well as a minimum for the bar sales.

And so the search began...


My Latest Obsession...

...has been figuring out what to do with my invitations.

When I emailed a mock up of a possible invitation to my mom, she said, "Wow, so you really don't want anything traditional!" I'm not sure what that was supposed to mean, but it's true. I wouldn't call myself ultra modern or country chic by any means, but I also don't want cookie cutter invitations from a catalog. I like a lot of invitations on Wedding Paper Divas -- the colors and styles are great! However, I still wanted another personal touch.

I've been skimming through different posts on Wedding Bee, checking out the pocketfold route, looking at some of the bees' letterpress designs, and other custom/DIY/fabulous ideas.

Here's some of my inspiration:

Wedding Paper Divas - Canna

Wedding Paper Divas - Floral Flurry

Wedding Paper Divas - Branch of Flowers


Miss Pineapple - Invitation Concepts

Since I'm pretty sure that our colors will be chocolate brown and pool blue, I'm really digging the Canna invite from Wedding Paper Divas. There's just something missing from it though, for me. I'm no graphic designer, but I've become pretty adept at Illustrator and Photoshop, which I coincidentally have been taking at a Community College before I knew we'd be getting hitched. Everything's still on the drawing board...


Inspiring Colors: Blue

I love the color blue. A couple summers ago, on a whim, I went to Lowe's and purchased a gallon of Caribbean Blue paint. I painted two and a half of my walls. I knew that blue was definitely a color I wanted incorporated into my wedding scheme. Luckily for me, my fiance was on-board with the blue color. One time I saw girl wearing a scarf in the perfect shade of pool blue. I pointed it out to him and he said that was the color he was thinking of! It's like we have a psychic connection.

I've been scouring the internet for weddings with blue as their theme. I found a wonderful blue inspiration board on Lucky Me! blog for Lucky Designs. Thanks for featuring this one! It's just the right shade of blue that I'm looking for.

(all images courtesy of eluckydesigns.blogspot.com)


Favorite Blogs: The Bride's Cafe

Since becoming a "Bride-to-Be" a couple of months ago, I've been scouring the Net for ideas. My good friend Google Reader suggested The Brides Cafe, a blog by Janie Medley of JM Flora Design. She features wonderful floral and reception decoration ideas, as well as beautiful Real Weddings. I find Real Weddings especially inspiring because, as the name indicates, it's real. Someone made those dreams and ideas come true.

I've been really excited about creating the "look" of my wedding. I've been considering chocolate and a blue/turquoise/aqua color. I like the look of low centerpieces. I like the look of candles. I'm really looking for a lovely, cohesive look.

Janie has featured so many lovely ideas. I put together some of the reception ideas that I found while browsing The Bride's Cafe. Thanks Janie for posting such great inspiration!

Don't forget to check out the latest Real Wedding!


How We Met

People often ask me how we met. We have a unique story. We're not childhood sweethearts. We're not college friends. We didn't even live in the same state. When people ask, "Where did you meet?" I often answer with, "Well, we met in Florida". No, it wasn't on Spring Break. I get a puzzled look from the other person, because I'm a California girl. The place that brought us together is often known as the "Happiest Place on Earth"'s Florida cousin, Walt Disney World.

We met as interns for the College Program. I had traveled across the country to delay "the real world" after I graduated from college. He drove down south since he hadn't found a full time job after graduation. Little did we know that we would meet. We were placed in the Disney subsidized housing, in apartment across from each other. I was in 1801. He was in 1802. A couple of days after we moved into our respective "homes away from home" for the next four months, one of his roommates knocked on our door. At first, we were a little suspicious, since he was trying very hard to be smooth. Considering it was the first couple of days, and part of the point was to make new friends, we accepted his invitation.

The 10-second walk across the hall brought us (me and 3 roommates) to a carbon copy apartment. I happened to sit on the side of the couch closest to the door, next to a guy who was surfing the net. I met him, shook his hand, smiled, and chatted in idle conversation. We stayed for maybe two hours. He was an army brat, currently from Georgia, a recent graduate, and had been placed at Epcot in Parking Services. I told him a little about me and just hung out. After my roommates and I left, they all made a big deal about us talking. "Ooooh! You guys are going to get married and have babies!" I was totally incredulous thinking that all we did was talk. And we happened to talk because we were in closest proximity to each other.

Little did I know that it would be the start of the most precious and special friendship.


Weddings + Single Friends?

I saw the cutest idea for getting your single friends to mingle on Elizabeth Anne Designs (I love their blog!). Basically, you purchase (or build!) two birdhouses to display. Write table numbers and seating numbers on a skinny roll of paper, and insert inside each birdhouse. Use one birdhouse for the single guys and the other the single ladies. And voila, instant intermingling!
The full story can be found here. Thanks ladies!


Where to Begin: Creating a Budget

I've never been one of those girls who had their weddings planned from start to finish from age 9. I've been to a total of five weddings in my life, three of which I was under the age of 5 and the other two I was under age 16. I'm pretty green when it comes to weddings. However, this doesn't mean I've never dreamed about getting married or was ever against it. I think it's a very exciting event. My parents have been married for 29 years and still love each other.

Before we got engaged, I would watch various wedding shows on weTV -- Bridezillas, Rich Bride, Poor Bride, and Platinum Weddings. I would have it on in the background, and on an episode of Platinum Weddings, I heard the announcer say that the Mother of the Bride spend $14,000 on her dress. Not the Bride's gown, the MOB dress! I quickly realized that weddings are an expensive and lucrative business (depending on which side of the fence you sit), regardless of a $14,000 dress.

A couple of days following our engagement, I started researching pricing in the San Francisco Bay Area. We had decided to have the wedding in California, near my family, since my side is proportionately much larger than his. My eyes widened as I received pricing quotes from venues. One location nonchalantly told me that they would offer the rental to me for $10,000 instead of the usual $12,000. That's just the space! No food, no drinks, just the room!

When my fiance and I had first started talking about our wedding, we didn't want to go overboard with the spending. We thought maybe $10,000 would do it. Sure, if we were only going to invite 50 people. But with our families, just the family would total over 50 people. As we saw quotes for locations trickle in, we figured that between the two of us, we could make $16,000 happen. With help from our parents, we could definitely come in under our final budget of $22,000. I know he was shocked when he saw this number, but I explained that in the long run, it actually comes out reasonable considering the number of guests we want to invite - 200+.

Excel spreadsheets became my best friend. After finding a couple of templates on WeddingBee (Thanks Miss Canary!), I started pouring in the information to compare each location. So far, with the location we've chosen, we're on-track with our budget. We considered what was most important to us; for me it was photography, for him it was the music/DJ, and decided to spend in those areas and trim elsewhere.

My biggest piece of advice: Talk to your fiance! Hopefully you've had "the talk" about finances before the big question. This would just be an extension of that conversation. Be honest about what you can afford and what you're willing to spend. That includes being honest about what you want your wedding to be. You don't want to do something you don't feel comfortable with. Make sure you are on the same page, remember you are throwing this party to celebrate starting your lives together. It's an event you both want to enjoy and be proud of.


Getting Started

So what do you do after the question gets popped? After spreading the news to family and friends and coworkers and such?

You get real. Keep yourself in check.

As much as we all love watching shows like "Platinum Weddings", a lavish, gigantic budget event is usually not in the stars. That, however, does not mean that you cannot have a gorgeous, fabulous, and personalized day(s) of your life. The wedding of your dreams is within reach. It's all about working with what you have and prioritizing what you want.

What's important to you? Photography? Ultra-luxe invitations? Fantastic food? Decide what means the most to you and spend in those areas. Cut back where it is not as much of a priority. For example, our venue has nice chairs, albeit not Chiavari chairs, but non-ugly chairs. Chair covers are available, but at $7 a chair x 150+ guests = an unnecessary expense.

Determine the budget for your wedding. What do you think you can afford? What can you really afford? Who's paying? Statistics show that the average cost of a wedding is about $27,000. Since planning my own wedding, I've seen how quickly everything adds up. Decide what your threshold of pain is in terms of saving, and start doing so. Living within a budget in order to plan the wedding you want is totally feasible. Just make sure what you're doing won't make you destitute. No one wants to start a life together in debt. There's enough to worry about with old student loans and credit card bills.

Another way to save is the guest list. If you're paying out of your pockets, you make the call. If parental units are paying, there will have to be more compromise about inviting old Mrs. Studebaker and Aunt Mildred twice removed. Decide if you want a big wedding or a smaller, more intimate one where only closest family and friends get a ticket in. If that's the case, you could throw another brunch or BBQ later down the line to celebrate with EVERYONE.

The choices "sky" is the limit, it's just a matter of making them. Weddings are incredibly personal events. Let your personality and sense of style shine through. Don't let what you've seen elsewhere or on TV dictate what you "should" be doing. There is no "should". Sure there are traditions, but none of it is set in stone. Make your wedding what it is, YOURS.

A great article to get you started planning can be found here from talented Elizabeth Anne Designs.


Why another wedding blog?

I'm planning my own wedding for July of 2009. With a little over a year to go, I know there will be months and months of inspiration and ideas. I want to be able to share these ideas with friends and family as well as with all the other brides-to-be and wedding planners out there. In the short time since the engagement, I've sifted through a deluge of photos and ideas and inspiration. I can't wait to see what my wedding will employ!

A blue and brown inspiration board for a Friday:

All images from The Knot.



My first venture into the wedblog world!