…Is there a right way to celebrate? Is this my dream wedding?…I didn’t really know the answer until now…
Two pre-wedding celebrations are checked off with one more to go… the one where we finally get to say I DO to each other and officially become husband and wife. 😀 I wasn’t going to write a blog about our whole wedding journey but I thought it would be interesting to look back and read about how I felt one day.
With any newly engaged couple, the soon to be asked question by loved ones is when will the big day be? Growing up, I always wished for a big wedding where everyone watches me wearing a beautiful white long-tailed gown walking down the aisle at a church or a chapel of some sort. I’m not sure when this beautiful big wedding wish no longer seemed appealing. Looking back, it’s kind of amusing to me that what I wished for as my younger self is nowhere near what I want today. So, we are planning for the extreme opposite of what I had imagined earlier: an intimate affair. Everyone has a different definition when it comes to the word “intimate”. Our definition (which I realized not initially, but way after) was that we wanted to remember our wedding as a celebration with all of our families and friends, filled with precious moments where we got to laugh, chat, and cheer with everyone who has attended. But how? It’s hard enough to have a dinner with 8 people and talk to everyone in an evening, how do we manage if we have 40, 50 or 60 people? So, this led us to the decision to split our wedding celebration into three separate events.
It was an easy decision, but it wasn’t an easy process to execute. We decided to have our wedding with our immediate families only and separate the celebrations with our distant families and friends in Toronto and San Francisco before the wedding. When we (except I’m reflecting on solely how I felt, not my fiancé) decided to go with breaking up the wedding celebration to be more intimate, my first thought was that there will be LESS to plan and I won’t be as stressed as I would be if there is just one day to celebrate with everyone. We get to try more venues we like and have more tasty food. I haven’t seen much downs for doing it this way, just the upside.
In reality, the process kicked off with lots of questions coming from families and friends. We all get questioned all the time, and the difference is, when we get questioned by the few people who really matter, it challenges my already made decisions. It made me question myself a bunch. At the same time, I started to realize that there is a whole ton of things to plan for each of these three events. This led to a bunch of heart-to-heart conversations between the two of us, on why we are doing it this way. This is where I realized I had the wrong expectation. I lost track on the key reason, and went down the track of thinking that it was the easier route. Instead, the goal of keeping it small was so our guests can, and we can, appreciate each other’s presence in a much more enjoyable (less rushed) manner, instead of an evening racing by without having a conversation with most people. It is not because there is less planning work involved (he never thought there would be less work as I did). These conversations helped me feel much more at ease… that shaken up feeling was slowly disappearing, not entirely gone since I’m a contemplative person, always wondering about the what if’s…
Next, the planning started. For those who don’t know me well. I’m organized and also impatient. This means I wanted to get everything done in one night. Yea… seriously! For people who have planned any event, you would know that the sequential order to event planning matters. It’s almost impossible to kick off all the conversations and expect a response and decisions to be made immediately. There is always a back and forth. Nope, not in this impatient mind of mine. This led to our planning mainly done by my patient and organized significant other. This doesn’t mean I didn’t stress, it just means he will make sure I know he got the situation under control and I don’t stress about all ten things at a time. So I can BREATHE…
The very first thing was to pick our wedding venue for the event with our families only, then we can work out the dates of the other venues. This was fun as we get to drive around to different venues around the Bay area and made it our weekend getaway. I will save the details of this for a future post as the wedding hasn’t happened yet. 🙂 Our next task was to come up with the guest list for the other two celebrations so we know the size of venue to look for. We both knew to keep it intimate, and we needed to be strategic with the invite list. It was difficult because I felt that if I invite “this” person, I should invite another person, which made it hard to keep it small. Then we went with the rule of “anyone whom we’ve spent time with within last year” and filtered on that. This made the decision much easier and the list much smaller. Also with only our immediate families attending the actual wedding, it also made me feel much more at ease and gave us a lot of flexibility for when and where to schedule the pre-wedding celebrations.
Our first celebration was with our friends and families in Toronto, in July. We researched a dozen of intimate venues, filtering primarily on menu and environment. We didn’t need a lot of space but really preferred dining outdoor especially since the weather should be nice. We decided to go with Auberge Du Pommier. Their seasonal menu looked really interesting and the presentation looked great. (Yeap, we are foodies, so the quality of food really matters A LOT. :)) They also had an outdoor patio, as well as private dining option, so it checked all the major criteria that we had in mind. YES, location confirmed.
Planning is done right? Nope… even for a small intimate (~25 ppl) group, we needed to think about the table and seating arrangements, decor, photographer, makeup artist, menu, speeches… Ahhh… I was stressed just by thinking about all this. Then there is the question of our outfits, which also gave me a headache because I didn’t know what we’ll be wearing. So… of course… the patient one came to the rescue by breaking up all of these tasks into our todo calendar in the coming weeks.
While we are kicking off one conversation after another for the first (Toronto) celebration, we are looking at the venue for the second friends celebration in San Francisco. We have an even smaller group for this celebration, so the options for this one are endless. I did mention that we were foodies right? So I guess it’s not too surprising that we picked Ramekins Culinary School to celebrate this one with our friends. 🙂 The date for this one was tricky as they had absolutely no weekends available except for one Sunday in August. Yeap, took it without thinking twice about it. Now the same questions apply, which vendors to work with, except someone told me NOT to think about it until July event is over and done with.
I learned that picking vendors is only a small part of the work. The actual work is working with each vendor to figure out exactly what is it you want. For the photographer, it would be a list of shots you like. For the florist, it would be the color and the types of arrangement you like. There is also the rentals for tables, chairs, plates, flatware, dinnerware, and decor, which also comes after you know exactly the type of setting you would like. For the menu, this one is probably the easiest part because we both have pretty high standard on food so if we are excited about the menu, then we were pretty sure our guests will most likely be good with it. 😛 For the makeup artist, this one was particularly scary for me because I don’t wear a lot of makeup and I seriously didn’t want to look like a clown. I did a ton of research on what looks natural, and a hairstyle that suits me. Point is, there is a ton of work involved, and I imagined it to be A LOT easier/simpler than what happened in reality.
Looking back, both events turned out MUCH and I mean MUCH better than I anticipated. Ilya (my fiancé) is always optimistic about each event whereas I was more of a realist. I expect most parts to go smoothly, and some parts to not. Maybe that’s my way of preventing possible disappointment. Thinking back now, even if there were hiccups or things didn’t go as we anticipated, both events would have still turned out great. Most important part are the people, whom we are close with, who were all there for us, and neither the pretty floral arrangement NOR the perfectly prepared sous-vide meat mattered much.
Now, with the one and only wedding ceremony/celebration coming up, I’m reflecting on the last 9 months of planning, coordination, and telling myself not to get caught up in the little things. We all think wedding celebration is a ONCE in a lifetime event, and that’s mostly true. But wedding does not equate to marriage, the formality of a wedding can be done in many ways and in some case none at all. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a marriage. Don’t let what other people have done, or spread on social media, drive your own decision on what fits you and your partner. In our case, it was an interesting journey and, I will not lie, an occasional psychological battle for me. I’m glad we did it this way and stood by it. It makes me even more grateful thinking back to the times when I was shaken up, and he was there to remind the reasons why we did it OUR way.
We achieved exactly what we were going for – Intimate, Memorable and Fun! I wish I could say this is what I knew from the start… we chose the right way for us and I am having my dream wedding. I hope our friends and families enjoyed their time with us as much as we did — at the minimum, I hope they enjoyed the dining experiences. 😀