An update

I haven’t updated this in ages! I wonder if anyone follows it? I only use it these days to preview privately blog posts I’ve written for APW. *koff*

APW pretty much fulfills my wedding-blogging needs, but here are the boring details I don’t talk about there.

1) P and I have purchased wedding rings. I’ll prolly pay for them, since he paid for my engagement ring. They’re going to be thin yellow gold bands (3mm, 9 ct for him; 2mm, 18 ct for me). Mine’s going to be shaped around the curve of my engagement ring. Apparently people who do this and want to wear the wedding band by itself turn the curvy bit inwards. This revelation by the nice lady at the jewellery shop blew my mind.

I have to say, I am a big fan of the jewellers we are using. They’re really nice, they have a beautiful selection of antique/secondhand jewellery, and the prices seem pretty reasonable (though admittedly we didn’t bother shopping around for the wedding bands).

2) I bought yet another wedding dress! It’s huge and poofy and I haven’t given it a second thought since buying it. I kind of felt guilty when I first bought it, but now I am like, whatever, and am quite relieved not to have to worry that people will think it’s too ~unusual~ — because it isn’t. I’ve also stopped feeling guilty about spending so much on various dresses because a) none of the dresses I’ve bought have been that expensive and b) we can afford it, so whevs.

I’m going to wear the new poofy dress for the English ceremony and my adorable vintage ’50s dress from San Francisco for the Chinese ceremony.

3) I’ve also got a beautiful baju kebaya for the Chinese wedding dinner. It’s pink and green and embroidered with flowers. *___* I love it. When I tried it on in the shop a whole phalanx of admiring aunties turned up and stared at me through the entrance.

I also got matching kasut manik which I have to say are really auntie in style, but very comfy in substance.

4) All music selection duties have been delegated to P (actually planning the whole English wedding has been delegated to P, but, details!). Organ music will consist of Handel, Bach and Widor. Unfortunately, not being a churchgoer myself, my main association with organ music is with vampire movies (the old-fashioned black-and-white Gothic terror kind, not the new-style sparkly bishounen kind). Luckily I did do some classical music lessons growing up, so I recognise the Handel and Bach (although we played it on the clavinova, not the organ), and the Widor is sprightly enough to overcome vampiric associations.

P is going to choose the hymns because I do not know any hymns and er don’t really care. A friend of P’s has very kindly offered to compose music for the wedding, so he’s in discussions with the friend about composing something for the first dance. I had been kind of hoping that we’d forget there was such a tradition as the first dance ….

5) We have pretty much booked the honeymoon! We are going to Italy — the Ligurian coast. P sort of knows the area, as he taught English in Bologna for a while, and it fulfills all our requirements — a short flight from the UK, relatively easy to get around, and has culture as well as good food and good weather. We’ll be there for five days between the weddings and I’m pretty excited about the accommodation we’ve booked.

I was happily telling my sister about the beyootiful B&B we’re gonna stay in, and she was all, “Why didn’t you book a 5-star hotel? That’s where I’d wanna go on my honeymoon!” And I kinda see her point, but I don’t think it would add much to my experience to stay in a 5-star hotel — certainly not enough to justify the expense. I really like small quaint pretty places to stay, and comfort is way more important to me than fanciness.

6) Me to P: What would you say your theme for 2012 is gonna be?

P: “Getting married”.

Me: Mine’s “Transitions”.

P: Aw, yours is more intelligent than mine.

Me: To be fair I had time to think of the answer before I asked you the question.

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6.5 months to go

Feels odd that the wedding is so soon! It’s just at the point where it’s still comfortably far away, but close enough that I have to start getting my head around the fact that it’s actually going to happen.

Couple of weddingy things:

My first post at APW is up! You can read it here: Confessions of an Ex-Weddingphobe. Man, Bride Wars was a bad movie.

We’re going to book a car! I know I said in my previous post on cars that I don’t care about cars, but then I realised there is one type of car for which I have a certain affection, and that is the Volkswagen Beetle. They’re just so cute and round! I suggested it to Cephas, with a link to a family-owned company that drives them around Norfolk and Suffolk, and he and his parents thought it was a good idea: “Special but informal.”

The thing I like best about it — besides its roundness — is that the one we’re probably going to book is cream on the outside and red on the inside, like red velvet cake. I do like it when connections just happen.

Progress report

I ought to post more hor. We’ve been mad busy here at Casa de Hobbits (or Jobbits, as I s’pose it should be spelt for linguistic consistency). I’m wrapping up work stuff before going on a period of unpaid leave, P is trying to get a move on with jobs, and we’re both trying to figure out wedding logistics.

The crib

I’ve been entrusted with the task of booking a self-catering crib in England for my parents and their entourage. Cue days of staring soberly at eccentrically punctuated reviews on travel websites. Pro: my familiarity with London rents and recent experience of booking accommodation in San Francisco has made all the prices look affordable. Con: my parents are probably used to a higher standard of living than I am. Will, e.g., broken door handles and dodgy blinds make a serious impact on their enjoyment of the trip?

The wheels

P’s mum thought it would be nice to book a vintage car to cart P and me around on the day of the wedding, so P has been dispatched to sort this out.

I have discovered that I really don’t care about cars. They fall into two categories for me: sort of square, and sort of round. Rolls Royces are square, and Proton Wiras are round. So I have, as much as I am able to, excused myself from the process of automobile selection.

The entz

This was really P’s idea — I had nothing to do with it. P thought it would work with the venue to have a silent disco. I’d never heard of this, but apparently you just get a load of headphones and then people dance with the headphones on, never knowing if their fellow dancers are listening to the same music or not.

The friends we surveyed thought this was hilarious. It is a bit of a novelty thing, but my friends are not really dancey people anyway, so anything that gets them on the dance floor is OK in my book. Of course, it has the added advantage of being a bit cheaper than a real live DJ.

The getaway

My dream honeymoon destination was Hokkaido. Hokkaido of the fields of lavender and the creamy ice cream! I envisioned a ryokan where we’d sleep on tatami and soak in wooden Japanese baths and have exquisitely arranged local food at meals.

Well, that’s probably out of the question, for reasons of both money and time. Most likely we’d take any honeymoon we were having in the two weeks between the weddings, and the best flight we’ve found stops over in Frankfurt and Tokyo, and takes 18 hours. Not really the sort of trek you want to take a week and a half before a second wedding! So we’ve agreed to go away and think about it again, selecting destinations that are no more than a few hours’ travel away from either England or Malaysia.

The cake

P’s aunt has offered to make this! After some hmm-ing, I requested a red velvet cake. Everyone likes red velvet cake, right? It is a bit of a departure from my original vision of pandan chiffon cake and Japanese cotton cheesecake, but those are fiddlier to make and I wasn’t sure how we’d manage getting them from a Chinatown patisserie to a reception venue in a whole ‘nother town. It’s nice to have a cake from a relative of P’s instead of from a professional bakery, and the detail about the red velvet cake that I sort of liked was how it’s white on the outside and red on the inside. Secretly Asian!

So everything is ticking over! There’s not as much being done on the Malaysian wedding at the moment, but there are fewer pieces to line up there — accommodation for P’s relatives will be an issue, but we’ll just use our own car, the entertainment has been booked, and we’re not even having cake. We’re going to have enough food as it is!

Nyonya Baba A-Go-Go

I visited the Malaysian reception venue for the first time this week, so it feels like great strides have been made in wedmin, though nothing new has really been done. (Wedmin is my new word! It is a portmanteau of wedding and admin, but its meaning is not immediately obvious to the non-wedding-obsessed — I’ve had to explain it to several people when I used it.)

Having seen the venue I’ve got a clearer idea of what sort of feel the event is likely to have. I’m not a big fan of sticking rigidly to themes (MY NAPKINS MUST BE BURNT OCHRE WITH SEAFOAM ACCENTS!!), but I could see as well, going around the place, that there were things that would look ridiculous in that space. It is not, for example, the correct location for an English garden party. It does not provide the appropriate architectural backdrop for a Disney heroine floating in a cloud of golden satin and blue tweety birds towards her prince.

What it is, is a great place to throw a party grounded in local mores and a traditional sense of the charming — but also modern, quirky and relaxed. But to satisfy my sense of the appropriate I realised I had to give up some things. For example, my dream — one of those silly, tender dreams a girl has as she approaches this epochal life event — that I should walk into the venue to the strains of Katamari March Damacy.

If you did not start bobbing your head at 0:18 I can only reluctantly conclude that you have no soul.

But it doesn’t work. It’s candy-coloured deadpan-humorous Japanese whimsy, and the venue is essentially fancy tropical. Our nyonya theme — selected because my grandmother is nyonya, kebayas are fun to wear, and Peranakan food is awesome — is perfect for the venue, but Katamari Damacy is not.

Fortunately I had a back-up!

I played it to my mother (my “self-appointed wedding planner”) and she started beaming and bopping. “I remember this song!” she said. “Your dad knows the lyrics. Go look them up and see if they have a good meaning or not.”

So began the search for meaning. Singaporean band the Quests played the instrumental version of the song, which clicking around proved to be a “beloved Chinese humorous novelty song” entitled New Malay Love Song, all about a boy meeting a girl. In the immortal words of the poet: could I make things any more obvious?

I read out the enormously helpful Questing Bandstand entry on Wu Meiling to my mother.

“It’s a silly song using the tune of an Indonesian folk song, it says here,” I said.

“What are the lyrics of the Indonesian version?” my mother wanted to know. More Googling ensued, but I was stumped.

“It’s super bizarre!” I said. “The lyrics make no sense. They’re all about, like, this person gets bitten by a snake and then they press the wound and blood comes out and they freak out but somebody tells them don’t worry, it’s just a dream, the blossoming flower in the garden is plucked, that is the meaning.”

“Oh,” said my mother promptly. “So the dream means the girl is going to get married.”

“Har? How do you know that?”

“The lyrics explain it what,” said my mom. “Girls are flowers. When they’re plucked means they’re gonna get married.”

“What? But how do you know it doesn’t mean, I dunno, they fall in love, or their garden is gonna do well, or what?”

“Google ‘Indonesian dream meaning get bitten by snake’,” said my mother before returning to my sewing.

Sure enough, it seems the Javanese believe that dreaming of being bitten by a snake means you’re gonna get married. So it seems, really, an entirely suitable song for the wedding, on all kinds of levels.

What I learnt from this was:

1) I guess you should always listen to your mom (except when she wants you to engage in pointless expensive pre-wedding photoshoots).

2) When you start searching for meaning, you never know where the search is going to lead you.

3) ’60s Asian pop is awesome.

Wedding wobbles

This has been a busy weekend for getting wedding-related stuff done!

The end of the save the date saga

I received the save the dates from Moo last week and P and I sat down and addressed a bunch of them on Saturday. I’m pleased to say that they came out fantastically – we were both impressed by the quality of the cardstock and how professional they looked.

I had a couple of wobbles over the guest list while doing the cards. It requires some mental juggling as we want to keep the English wedding small – family and close friends only – whereas I have been actively encouraged to come up with as many guests as possible for the Malaysian wedding. Confusing! Situation further complicated by the fact that certain relatives on my side who I’d assumed wouldn’t bother coming all the way to England to attend the church wedding have apparently decided that a UK holiday sounds quite good fun. Perhaps they might come!

I am like, you gotta let me know these things, relatives! The church has plenty of space, that’s not the problem. It just might be an issue if they want dinner afterwards …

Where there is any doubt I have decided not to send a save the date. This covers people I probably would invite to the Malaysian wedding – I figure when it’s closer to the time I can always just send them an invitation and if they can make it, good, and if they can’t, oh well.

Deedle deedle deedle

I’ve given my mom the go-ahead to book a three-person Chinese band. You get the erhu, the guzheng and that Chinese flute whose name I do not know. My mother warned me that if we didn’t specify we might get WOMEN MUSICIANS. “For wedding some people prefer all men because if women, they might outshine the bride.”

I said I felt OK about taking this risk! I also feel OK about the fact that a “pure” Chinese band will only play Chinese songs. (The service also provides an option of a “fusion” band which plays both Chinese and Western instruments, and does instrumental versions of popular Western songs.) I think I can live without hearing a rendition of “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” on the pipa.

I did have a wobble here, though a retrospective one. I’m having a wobble about cost – a live band, as nice as it is to have, is not necessary, and I’ve built up quite a cool playlist of retro Asian pop. Should I have told my mom not to bother? It was her idea, though, and she seems quite excited about it, and feels the cost is reasonable. I feel a bit guilty because IIRC my brother only had one musician at his wedding, playing the guzheng. But maybe it’s silly to compare.

My friend, fashion is danger

I bought a dress for the Malaysian wedding! Currently I’m thinking: 1 dress for the English wedding, 1 dress for the Malaysian ceremony and 1 outfit (possibly a kebaya) for the Malaysian reception. I don’t know if my mom or anyone else will think it necessary for me to have another outfit change during the dinner, as some brides do, but I hope not! I looove dresses but even I think 3 of them is quite enough for 2 weddings.

(I did initially consider having just 2 dresses – one for the English wedding and the Malaysian ceremony, and an outfit change for the Malaysian dinner, but I decided it would be too much faff to sort out cleaning etc. for the dress in time for the Malaysian wedding. And if I did that I’d probably have less fun at the English one because I’d be busy trying to make sure I didn’t spill anything on it or step on it.)

I’m gonna put the rest of this under a cut in the unlikely event that P reads this, as I wish to rabbit on about dress details!

Continue reading

Wedding stationery is so much harder than you think

When I last posted about my save the dates saga, I was simmering with frustration over the problem peculiar to weddings of TOO MUCH HELPFULNESS. If only everyone could stop being helpful! I would tell them when they were required and precisely to what extent they were called upon to be helpful! At all other times, everyone needed to sit down and NOT DO ANYTHING.

So I had a set of save the dates with a design I really loved and implementation about which I was meh shading to very disappointed. There were a few different ways I could have gone from there, but I talked to P, whose two primary roles as my fiance and boyfriend are:

1) To like me best

2) To talk me off the ledge on a regular basis

Most of my friends think I’m pretty laidback. This is because they are neither my parents nor dating me.

My chat with P really helped. I decided that damn it, maybe save the dates are a stupid thing to get stressed about, but it was too late for me not to care about them. I already cared! I just had to accept I cared and get on with it.

So I decided to have the save the date design redone. To clarify — the Architect had produced a delightful ink drawing based on the vision I’d described to her. She’d modified it as a sop to my parents’ sensibilities.

(I’ve talked about my parents’ objection to its being in black & white, but their other, funnier objection was that the design displayed prominently the fact that I was born in the year of the Tiger and P is an Ox.

“Tiger will eat the ox!” said my mom.

Essentially she was worried people would think I was bossy and wore the trousers in the relationship, because the Ox is obviously a milder animal than the Tiger. Well, I am bossy and I do occasionally wear trousers, but neither of those things have anything to do with the year I was born in. I’d be bossy and occasionally-trouser-wearing if I was a Rabbit.)

The modification needed to deal with this concern was minor and quite cute, so that was fine. But then the drawing passed out of the Architect’s control. My mom, with the best of intentions, arranged for it to be coloured by somebody else, and printed off several sets of cards.

I think the somebody else did a good job, but it wasn’t quite what I’d been hoping for. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the cards my mom used for printing are pretty flimsy and probably wouldn’t survive being tossed about in a mail bag full of other post. So I had a perfectly practical excuse for having the design redone, and I went for it.

The long-suffering, ever-obliging Architect agreed to recolour the card. I gnawed on my fingernails and tried not to worry about timing. (P essentially thought there would be no point to sending out save the dates once Christmas came around, since the cards would be lost in the deluge of Christmas post.)

After some confusion the Architect sent her coloured version of the design through. And it is PERFECT. I’d say it is even better than I’d hoped for, but to be honest I know how good the Architect is and I hoped for a lot. And I got it!

We are almost there. THERE is so close I can almost smell it. @_@ I ordered a set of postcards from Moo after discussing the text with P — a surprisingly thorny issue, as we have two weddings and two overlapping but not identical sets of guests, and we need to keep numbers at the English wedding in particular under control.

So all that remains is for the cards to arrive and for us to address them and send them off. I’m crossing my fingers that the cards are OK. On the one hand, I feel an overly optimistic “woohoo, it’s all sorted now!” attitude might jinx it and the cards might not be quite as awesome as I envisage. OTOH, I don’t think I’m so super demanding — I mean, I totally was demanding here, but that was mostly because I was edged out of control with certain parts of the process. As long as it’s an imperfection that happened under my watch, I feel I can handle it.

I feel a bit guilty as — not counting the set I dumped which probably cost my parents nothing in real terms — the cards themselves, without counting postage etc., cost only £7 short of the budget P estimated for the wedding invitations including save the dates. But it’s not a huge amount of money and it will, I hope, be worth it. We shall see.

Venue sorted!

We’ve booked the Malaysian venue! Pretty much. It’s a Chinese restaurant (hah!*) in a country club, and we’re also planning to book up a section of the club — sort of a verandah/deck area — for hanging around and nomming on mocktails/finger food before dinner, plus coffee and nyonya kuih after dinner. My parents have paid the deposit for the Chinese restaurant since the date is geomantically approved and therefore very popular. I’m told we don’t need to pay a deposit for the verandah/deck till January, when I’ll be back home and able to have a look in person.

So that is good! My mom has all sorts of ideas for the dinner — she’s really taken up my tentative nyonya theme and is totally running with it — so I guess I’ll just sit back and let her do what she wants. The thing is with my mom you do have to push for restraint if you want it — she is a bit of a force of nature once unleashed, and she loves being creative and design flourishes and all that sort of thing. And I’m sure she’ll do a good job of stuff, and we’re more or less at the same place with the sort of aesthetic I would prefer — we agreed that we ought to have local flowers, orchids and the like (but only if they weren’t too expensive, I added).

So I’m going to keep my powder dry for pushing back on the things that really matter to me. We had the following discussion, f’rex:

Mom: And I’m looking for a professional make-up artist and hairstylist for you —
Me: Do I have to have a professional make-up artist?
Mom: Everybody has for their wedding! So you’ll look nice mah!
Me: I’m OK with having a hairstylist, but I don’t want a professional make-up artist.**
Mom: But who ever heard of somebody getting married and not having a professional make-up artist?
Me: We could be pioneers! 😀
Mom: They’re very clever one. You can just ask them to do natural style if you want to look natural.
Me: How about I don’t wear make-up at all? That’s the most natural!
Mom: Let’s discuss this when you’re back in January. (Read: “I’m sure you’ll come around by then!”)

Then, of course, there was also the discussion about money …

Me: How much will it cost then?
Mom: All together, less than hotel.
Me: Good! But how much will it cost? I want to pay!
Dad: We won’t know how much it costs until we finish opening all the ang pow.
Me: But don’t you have a ballpark estimate of the total upfront costs?
Dad: Don’t worry about all that. We can talk about it in January.

HMM. This may be an explosive January!

I can tell I’m going to have to do some amount of fighting er I mean negotiating if I want this to be a laidback, fuss-free affair. Hah!

Pictures of the just-booked venue below. I actually really like the look of the verandah/deck — it’s open air and looks laidback — but my dad doesn’t like the idea of having a meal basically in the corridor. Fair enough, Dad!

*I was pushing for a Chinese restaurant all along on the principle that the food is better and less expensive than that provided by the usual (for my family’s socioeconomic milieu) hotel ballroom. I got a surprising amount of pushback on this — I think people felt it wouldn’t be romantic/glamorous/special enough.

**I have realised that hair makes a huge difference to looking nice. I look pretty cute on good hair days and just kind of funny on bad hair days. But I very rarely wear make-up and don’t always find it makes people more attractive — it gives people a certain kind of look, but it’s just different from an unmade-up look, IMO. It’s not always prettier.