My baby shot me down :(

It’s not really my baby who shot me down — it’s everyone else! A while ago I was pondering the hen do and wondering what I’d like to do for it. And a lightbulb went off over my head:

 A Lord of the Rings marathon!

It was perfect. It was something we could do at home, in our living room. We’d’ve all watched the movies before, so we could chat while it was playing if we felt like it. We could cook! And bake! And just generally hang out! It would be like a slumber party, with extra geek. It would be cheap.

And The Lord of the Rings — as you can kind of guess from my journal name — has a lot of emotional significance for me. LOTR fannishness was a major component of my bond with my two closest friends, who are my bridesmaids — my maid of honour M and I cosplayed for the release of The Two Towers, walking airily around a shopping mall dressed as a hobbit and an elf respectively, and I first bonded with S when she noticed that I wore a Burger King replica of the One Ring on a chain around my neck. (Yes, I did actually do that as a 17 year old. What can I sayI’m a dork.)

My sister also loves LOTR, and when I floated the idea her jaw dropped.

“That’s amazing!” she said. “It would be so great!” We basically high-fived over the genius of the idea.

Emboldened, I floated the idea to all the other friends who are likely to attend my hen do.

Silence descended on the table.

No,” said everyone, pretty much simultaneously.

I was taken aback. “But — S, I thought you liked LOTR!”

“If even S is rejecting the idea, you know it’s not a good idea,” said another friend firmly.

“You can do a LOTR marathon any time,” said S.

I just didn’t get it. I still don’t get it! Everyone then said, “Ooh, how about an afternoon tea party, that would be nice” and you can do an afternoon tea party ANY TIME!

The girls have decided that I need to be surprised about the hen do, and it sounds like they might be planning a whole weekend event. And it’s just a bit weird! Part of the reason I thought the marathon would be a great idea was because it would be inexpensive, and from wedding forums and the like I’ve heard the gripes about brides demanding extravagant hen dos. It’s not that I’m expecting tea at the Ritz now, but I s’pose it will be something fancier than a marathon. I guess it’s because I’m pretty much the first of my peer group to get married, so nobody’s had the time to get jaded about wedding fripperies yet.

I have emphasised that the option of the marathon is always there. If their afternoon tea party or whatever never gets off the ground, I’ll be there with the DVDs and a bag of Doritos.

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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.

The inevitable occurs

I am back in England after a dizzying two weeks in Malaysia! I found it pretty intense, but it was probably even intenser for P. He’s been to Malaysia before, but that was only for a week, and only as a boyfriend, and we mostly stayed in PJ and made eyes at each other.

This time he was returning practically as a prodigal son, it was Chinese New Year, and “my self-appointed wedding planner” (in my mom’s own words) had all kinds of ideas for what we needed to be doing while we were home in the way of wedmin. Cue P being dragged around innumerable houses to get acquainted with the fourth sister of my maternal grandmother, being told exactly how to apply kaya to his toast, and being shanghaied into a pre-wedding photo shoot.

Engagement photography sessions are getting more popular now in the West, but they have reached their apogee in Asia. It is in Asia that you find the outrageous, creative engagement photographs that take the blog world by storm – the zombie attack engagement, f’rex – and it is in Asia that the custom is so developed that it is quite common for couples who can afford it to fly to whole other countries for the sole purpose of taking pretty pictures.

Pre-wedding photo shoots have developed a format, and even the basic ones differ in key points from Western engagement photography sessions. There are always multiple outfit changes. It is standard for the bride to wear at least one white wedding dress, rented from the photography studio. The studio provides various costumes (and I use the word “costumes” advisedly), as well as make-up and hairstyling services on the day. All of this will happen months in advance of the actual wedding.

Neither P nor I had planned on doing any of this. We’d previously agreed that it might be nice to have engagement photos, if only because we had no nice pictures of just us together. But we’d also agreed that it was probably not necessary to hire a professional to do this – my brother is a talented photographer who’s actually done friends’ weddings and engagement photos before, and we figured we could go to a park and get my brother to take some pictures of us. Simple!

My mom disagreed. I won’t go into the basis of her disagreement – both my mom and I had good reasons for wanting or not wanting a professional pre-wedding shoot to be done, but at the end of the day it wasn’t really about reasons. You don’t have reasons when you want a shiny new iPhone; you just do. My mom thought a pre-wedding shoot would be nice to have and that RM2,000 wasn’t too much to pay for a day’s worth of photographs. I wasn’t bothered and didn’t want the money wasted.

“It’s a waiting game,” I told my friends. “We’re only here for two weeks and the bridal studios are all closed for CNY. So long as P and I manage to last out the second week, my mom won’t be able to do anything, ‘cos P’s only coming back to Malaysia for the wedding after this.”

I thought our chances were pretty good. CNY celebrations had taken up the first week of our holiday, and P and I were going down to Singapore for a few days in the second week. By the time we returned to KL there would only be a couple of days before our flight back to the UK. Who knew if the bridal studios would even be open by then? CNY technically lasts for 15 days.

“So how was Singapore?” said my dad when he picked us up at the airport.

I told him we’d had a nice time. “My handphone wasn’t working, though.”

“Yah, it’s not roaming,” said my dad. “Oh, Mom has booked a bridal studio for you all.”

“What?”

“We would have called you, but couldn’t get through,” said my dad airily.

When I expressed my outrage to P, he said, “Well, I didn’t really think we were going to get out of doing it.” My mom is a very determined kind of person.

So we spent our last two days in Malaysia not visiting the Islamic Arts Museum or eating chilli pan mee, but prancing around in front of a photographer. It was quite an interesting experience (which I shall blog about in more detail anon), but I’m still unconvinced. I feel uneasily as if I should have stood my ground, but then again …

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the album,” said my mom contentedly at the end of the day.

My mom will maintain forever that she made us do it for our own sake, but really she was the one who wanted the pre-wedding photo shoot. Her reasons remain mysterious to me, but since it made her happy, I guess there was no harm in it. (It may be worth mentioning that my parents paid for it, and it wasn’t that expensive as these things go – we tried to keep things simple.) P and I do now have a bunch of good photos of the two of us, which is nice. I’d be a bit more wary about what the episode suggests the rest of the Malaysian wedding will be like, but oh well. If I wanted a wedding that was a dream of simplicity and restraint, I shouldn’t have been born into my family!

Health risks of wedding inspiration

I’m usually pretty good with so-called wedding inspiration. Though there are occasional exceptions, generally my eye passes over inspirational pictures of centerpieces and flags with “yay!” on them without sticking. I don’t eat my heart out wishing to look like model-beautiful white ladies on wedding blogs because I realise I am not a white lady, much less a model-beautiful one.

(Of course there are sometimes model-beautiful East Asian ladies on wedding blogs also, but they are easy to dismiss. I wave my hand and say, “Aha, but I don’t live in California” or “But I was born with a differently shaped face.” Sorted!)

But today I saw something which made me sit up and stretch my eyes. It is the sort of thing for which my Things you’d only have at a wedding tag was created.

 Via Clockwork Events

It’s an elephant made of flowers. Had you ever imagined anything so beautiful in your life? I want one desperately. This really truly is the first time I have seriously considered that 9 months’ conscientious DIYing might be worth doing. Alternatively, I suppose, I could ask a florist to provide a quote for how much it would cost for them to do it, but I can do the quote myself: THREE BAZILLION.

If you would like to do an absurd, completely pointless elephant topiary DIY for your wedding, you can buy an elephant topiary frame here. You are meant to weight the legs and use floral foam to stick the flowers in.

You are wondering whether I am actually going to rush off and construct an elephant made of flowers for my wedding. Of course not. I shall discuss it with my fiance first.

#

On the same subject of “what the hell why would you even spend money on that”, here are a couple of things from the Monsoon sale that you can purchase if you are planning a vintage shabby chic event.

LOVE letters, £29.99

You can put them somewhere in one of your venues! They are probably more relevant than the one that says HOME. The fact that I am actually considering buying them says a lot about my state of mind at the moment. Mostly it says, “Stop looking at Style Me Pretty.”

There’s also bunting, if you’d like some. They have cute print bunting (above) and plain multi-coloured bunting. You get 350cm for £10.50. I think bunting is nice, but feel, as with fruitcake, that you probably have to have grown up with it to care much.

Wedding must-have: telepathy

Wedding planning is something of an exercise in mind-reading, which is a problem since I’m, you know, not a telepath.

It’s because nothing is ever just itself. The food isn’t just food; it’s how hospitable you are, how much you care about your guests, how much you or your parents can afford, whether you’re Look East or Westernised. The dress isn’t just a dress — it’s a lifelong dream or it’s something simple you’ll wear again. Everything says something, in languages I don’t even understand.

These engagement photos, for example. I had in mind that we would have simple engagement photos and we’d get them done by my brother, who’s a talented photographer and has even done a number of friends’ weddings. Will and Kate’s formal but simple photos seemed a decent reference point, though we probably wouldn’t have as fancy a room to take them in.

Also, P has more hair. Not that Will isn't a very charming young man!

But my mother wants us to have an engagement session done with a professional photo studio. They provide the attire, do your hair and make-up, and haul you out to a beach where you can take the old piggyback picture.

Put Robin Hood in a wedding gown and Friar Tuck in a tux and you'll have a photograph to be found in every Asian wedding album throughout the land.

I suppose packages vary, but as I understand it, part of the photography package is a number of dresses you can wear on the actual wedding day.

And I don’t get it. Why can’t my brother just do these? I suppose he doesn’t have a Swiss maid outfit and lederhosen lying around for me and P to dress up in, but that’s hardly compulsory. Is it???

My mother said, “Don’t you want a set of photos you can look at and say, ‘Oh, I used to be so thin!’ And in future if P becomes botak he can look at them and go, ‘Oh, that’s what I looked like when I used to have hair!'” But we can do that just as well with a bunch of photos of P in Bermuda shorts and me in a day dress in the nearest park.

So what is this about? A professionally-shot engagement session wouldn’t be for me and P. Is it that my parents want an album of formal pictures they can frame and keep? Or is it just that my mother thinks I’d regret not having this?

If the only reason I have for doing or having something at this wedding is “I might regret not having done it”, then my inclination is to skip it. Future me will just need to man up and stand by the decisions she made in the present.

My mother also thinks I should hire the services of an “image-maker”. “She’ll look at your face type and your dress and she’ll tell you what kind of make-up you should wear, how to style your hair.”

I pointed out that the one thing I’ve been trying to prevent is having people tell me how I should look.

“She’ll listen to your opinions, of course,” my mom said airily. “She’s very good! She’ll help you decide whether to have your hair up or down … ”

“It’s got to be down, hasn’t it? I don’t have enough hair to put it up.”

“Oh, that one very easy! They got fake hair so they can do any style.”

An image of me on my wedding day.

This is gonna be great.

Pinteresting

I have a Pinterest! I’m not entirely sure what it’s for, but it’s already afforded me rich entertainment in the deliciously silly things it is suggested you should have at your wedding. E.g.:

Lemon flowers! Why of course. And when the guests are thirsty presumably they can remove the flowers and have some delicious lemon juice. With decor like this, who needs a bar?

Oh the bodohity

This is quite pretty, but it’s so SILLY. I mean aren’t you saying to yourself: what a waste of artichoke. You could have eaten that!

The addition of the pink rose really brings it to the next level of absurdity. Consider the other options available to you: Savoy cabbage and chrysanthemum; asparagus and lilies of the valley; bok choy and bunga raya ….