We're married! We just had our wedding over the weekend and overall it was an incredible, wonderful day. I feel like I am coming down from a high right now, and I keep looking at pictures and texting my friends and family to relive it. Even my now husband, who is a very practical and non-sentimental person, said that it went really smoothly and that it was everything we could have hoped for.
However, the wedding planning process itself was incredibly stressful. This was something I did not expect, as I am a low-maintenance person. I never grew up dreaming about my wedding or having a clear vision for the day. Most of my wedding vision came from the last year of planning looking at blogs, Instagram/FB, Reddit, and listening to podcasts. Even the week/weekend leading up to the wedding, I was anxious and uptight. I feel like I had butterflies in my stomach and didn't have an appetite. It wasn't until I arrived at the wedding venue, the sun shining on a gorgeous Southern California day, with my bridesmaids and saw my makeup artist that I was able to let out a huge sigh of relief and think, there's literally nothing I can do to change things from now on!
As it will be months before we get professional photo and video back, I wanted to document some of the behind the scenes images from our wedding weekend and share some tidbits from the planning process which consumed our lives for the past few months. I am sure the professional photos and video will make things look absolutely perfect and beautiful, however they didn't capture some of the un-perfect but equally memorable parts of the day!
I wanted to have a Welcome Party to welcome all of our guests who flew in and travelled to our wedding. We held our wedding in Orange County and nearly all of our guests had to travel to join us. The welcome party was held at my uncle's clubhouse in Irvine, CA which provided a naturally beautiful setting however was entirely a blank slate. It did come with a great lawn, tables, chairs, and a kitchen however no tablecloths/table ware, catering, or staffing so I decided to DIY the party to save money as we were already spending a pretty penny the following day. I realized later that this basically required me and my family to plan a 2nd backyard wedding. My mom and I disagreed on the degree of decorations for the party as well, as I wanted to keep things casual to save on stress and expenses. In the end, our families rallied and got to the venue 6 hour early to set up the tables, chairs, and my mom Amazon-ed tablecloths, and fancy serving dishes and utensils to make a beautiful party. I rented additional cocktail and bar tables, we bought all the alcohol from Costco, and family and friends rallied to go pick up take-out food and we set up a full Chinese buffet. I even made an Aperol Spritz bar, my one DIY element. Everyone was remarking how nice the welcome party was and definitely enjoyed themselves. We even ended up with a bunch of leftover food and alcohol even though I thought I underordered!
We had the wedding rehearsal at the welcome party, which was a fun way for enjoy the start of the party as we had a bunch of people arrive early and watch.
My nieces and nephew watching Miso!
Our Chinese buffet
My mom's dessert table
J mixing some Aperol Spritzes
New cousins (and niece)!
The entire wedding weekend I slept well because we did so much every day and I was so exhausted every night. The morning of my wedding I was actually able to sleep in an extra 30 minutes (I naturally wake up at 7 every day). But I was feeling a bit stressed as we had to rush through breakfast and figure out the carpool situation. However as soon as we started driving, we passed through beautiful mountains, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the excitement finally began setting in. As soon as we pulled into the venue, I spotted my makeup artist who greeted me like an old friend, my other bridesmaids pulled up, and then I truly began to feel excited.
My beautiful wedding venue, Rancho Las Lomas. Everyone asked me how I picked it--whether it was proximity to family, but the honest answer was that I wanted a Spanish style venue and it was beautiful on the day I toured it. It ended up being a great choice--some people told me it was the most beautiful wedding venue they've been to!
The bridesmaids "before"
I loved my MUA Vianne from Kelly Zhang studios! She was so sweet and such a calming presence on my wedding morning.
Writing my vows 30 minutes before everything starts
Filming the final look
Transforming from "witch" to golden glam in 10 minutes!
My bridesmaids protecting me during lunch
The final look! Loved my hair, makeup and dress
My SIL and the flower girl!
The florists setting up the installation
Portraits before the ceremony
Snapped by another guest
My sister's hilarious MOH speech
We fully had time to enjoy our dinner, which was delicious. Our catering company is known to be a good one so we were excited to see if they lived up to their reputation. They made sure we got pieces of all of our appetizers (bahn mi sliders, kalbi beef taco, shiso leaf beef, chicken takitori, dim sum), congratulatory champagne, and served us our main dishes (beef short rib, szechuan swordfish, mushroom risotto, green beans). We had plenty of uninterrupted time to finish our meal and enjoy some alone time.
My face when taking shots
My MVP's! My bridesmaids (and their SO's) stayed until the very end to help clean up the bridal suite and pack up the cars. So much love for them!
Some final thoughts as my wedding week vacation is coming to an end and I go back to work tomorrow. It was a great weekend and I'll cherish the memories forever but I am SO happy and relieved it's over. Wedding planning was like a second job--after working my 8-5pm and commuting 45 min each way, I would have to come home, answer wedding emails, take phone calls with vendors, field wedding questions from my mom and relatives throughout the day, travel to LA for fittings, appointments, and tastings. I don't think my husband recognized how much working planning was until the end and he thought it would be enjoyable for me. He definitely put in the manpower and physical labor at the end however I still had to deal with a year of booking and communicating with vendors, mental planning and strategizing to make it to the big day which took a toll on me. Everyone thinks wedding planning is supposed to be so "fun" but somehow having a wedding brings out all sorts of family dynamics and expectations that I did not expect. I am also the oldest child in my family so my parents had high expectations for the wedding as well. In the end, I'm happy we had such a great day and great celebration however my husband and I both agree that we would never have another wedding 😂
I wanted to share some of the best tips and trips I heard that worked out for me. My favorite resources for wedding planning were the subtle Asian weddings FB group, Weddit (r/weddingplanning), and the Put a Ring On It podcast.
1. The wedding is your party for every one else. Even though you and your partner are getting married, the wedding is an excuse for everyone else to get together and have a great time. I did not know maybe 20-25% of the guests at our wedding, and I accepted it. As soon as you recognize this and accept it, it will be less disappointing when you don't get your way. Contrary to traditional Western beliefs, I was not under the impression that this day was "my day" or "just for us." We had to satisfy many different family members or risk ruining that relationship, and for me, it was not worth the fight.
2. Be on the same page with your partner. As soon as you announce your engagement, everyone will have an opinion on how you should have your wedding. Decide with your partner what your overall vision is--do you want a big or small wedding, destination or local, cultural or traditional and be careful what you share with others. My hubby and I talked about what size guest list we would want, decided against having any cultural elements like a tea ceremony, and discussed the budget before we told anyone else our plans. We stuck to our guns even though we made some waves (i.e the no tea ceremony decision) which was the right choice for our sanity.
3. Information diet. Do not overshare details of your wedding if you do not want someone else to insert their opinion. When someone says "you should just do this," just smile and nod, smile and nod.
1. Stay at the same hotel as all of your guests. I loved staying at the same hotel as all of our guests as I would bump into people in the lobby, in the elevator, in the parking lot, and there was a free continental breakfast everyday that I met so many people at. Even if I wasn't able to spend time with people during the actual wedding day, I was able to catch up with so many people at our hotel.
2. Designate someone to hold your phone during the wedding. As the bride, you generally won't have any pockets or free hands for a bag as you'll be holding drinks, flowers, your train, etc. I had one of my bridesmaids hold my phone for the entire day, snap some photos for me, and it was great. It allowed me to be completely present the entire day, even though it was funny not to know the time the entire day.
3. Create a shared Google photo album and post the QR code around the wedding for people to upload their photos. Since we will not have professional photo and video for months after the wedding (my photographer doesn't even give us sneak peeks), I loved having my guests' photos and videos to look back on to relive the day. And it was fun to see things from others' perspectives!
4. My number one tip of the day: DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL. This will be a personal choice, but for me, I am a lightweight. I love drinking but I will get tipsy after 1 drink and drunk after 2-3 drinks. I also run the risk of turning red if I don't take pepsid exactly 1 hour before I drink (I know, I'm ridiculous). I did not want to get red OR drunk and risk not remembering anything on my wedding day, so I tried my best to avoid drinking until after all of the scheduled events were complete (i.e. speeches, dances, cake cutting). I took sips of champagne here and there and I think I ultimately had maybe 1-2 shots (couldn't avoid it!) but I didn't get tipsy until after I already returned home. It was a shame to not utilize our bar but it was the right decision as it allowed me to fully enjoy everything and remember everything that night!
1. Take 2-3 days off after the wedding if you can. Our wedding was on a Sunday, and Monday was spent saying goodbye to our remaining guests, packing up the car, picking up our dog, spending time with my immediate family, and then driving 2 hours back to our house. I had 0 time or energy to unpack or go through our gifts until day 2 after the wedding. We spent another 1-2 days going through all of our gifts, taking our clothes to the dry cleaners, tallying things up and going to the bank to deposit money. The last thing you want to do is go to work 1-2 days after your wedding so plan accordingly! We did not go on a honeymoon immediately either, which worked for us. I think it would have been stressful to deal with large amounts of cash after the wedding, packing up our stuff, traveling to and from the wedding, if we went straight on our honeymoon. Having a later honeymoon means we will have more time to prolong the marriage festivities and have something to look forward to next year!
1. Not spending enough time with my immediate family. This was one of the biggest conflicts I had with my mother regarding the wedding. She invited a large group of her friends that she felt like she had to host and take care of during my wedding. I knew most of her friends, but never met others. I wanted to spend more time with my immediate family, however she wanted to spend more time with her friends who had traveled considerable distances to attend my wedding. As a result, I didn't see much of my parents at the wedding or after the wedding because they were busy entertaining their friends. Ultimately they were happy and their friends all had a great time. It is what it is.
2. Not being more specific with my floral designer about my florals. I hired a highly recommended, popular, and expensive floral company with beautiful designs, but to be honest I was disappointed with my florals the day of. They weren't cheap either at around 7k! I'm not sure what happened, as I did add on some features about 2 weeks prior to the wedding and so I don't know if they had already ordered everything for my wedding and then had to last minute add on more features, but I felt like the bouquets and centerpieces were not what I wanted. It might have been my fault for not being more specific about what I wanted--but I thought since I hired a solid floral designer they would have default amazing designs. They did give me additional florals that I did not ask for, so maybe this was the last minute add on? To make it worse, the owner was extremely nice and so I feel bad that I didn't love my flowers.
3. Not exchanging personal vows in time for videographer. My husband is a man of few words and hates the spotlight, so I knew it was going to be a challenge for him to write any sort of public vows. However, I was finally able to convince him to write me a "letter" that we would read to each other on our wedding morning and the videographer could film it for the video. In the busyness of the wedding morning, he forgot his letter at the hotel so had to rush back to get it. Because of this, we missed the window for the videographer to film the letter reading so we never got to read each other's letters. I didn't get his letter until the end of the night after the wedding was already over. It was so touching and I actually cried! I really wish the videographer got it on video, but alas no.
Things I loved from my wedding:
1. Spending the morning getting ready with my bridesmaids, and my bridesmaids in general. They made sure I ate/drank, saw me naked while changing, touched up my makeup multiple times throughout the night, gave me pepsid to prevent me from getting red at the exact right time, and helped clean up at the end of the night, packing up our car to send us off to the hotel. They truly showed up for me and I could not have asked for better friends!
2. My photographer. She was the one of the only vendors who "knew" us from the engagement shoot, so we had an extra level of familiarity with her that helped during the wedding day. She was extremely efficient and professional, and kept things moving so we didn't waste any time. I can't wait to see her photos!
3. My MUA. I also knew her from my makeup trial, and she was so easy to talk to. She did an amazing job and gave it to me straight when I tried to ask her questions about the makeup ("Can I smack my lips?" No. "Can I move my hair to the side?" No.)
4. Walking down the aisle. As I was walking down the aisle with my parents on either side, people applauded us! I locked eyes with multiple friends and family members while walking down the aisle. That was the closest I got to crying during the day.
5. Seeing both our families come together, and seeing our loved ones from all walks of life meet and hang out. One of my favorite memories of the night was our last dance, when my new brother-in-law and his family, and another sister-in-law, joined us in a dance circle with all of my high school friends and bridesmaids!
I had seen so many comments and posts saying that the wedding day goes by so fast and it's all a blur, but I did not feel like that. Because I didn't have my phone and my husband and I stuck together most of the night (except when I was on the dance floor and he was helping drunk people get to their cars lol) I truly feel like I was able to take in and savor each moment and create such strong memories. I wrote this post just 3 days after so I could record all of my reflections from the weekend too. I'm sure I'll write another post when the professional photos and video come back, but for now I will be saying good riddance to the world of wedding planning!
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