We met when we were both soccer referees for our local soccer club. We became great friends as we began traveling to referee high level youth games and semi-pro adult games. We've been dating since 1998 and got engaged officially while on a mini-vacation in Las Vegas. He proposed by slipping the ring on my finger while I was still asleep. I woke up and, though it took me a minute to figure out what was going on, he popped the question. Then we went to a buffet.
FI and I live in the Long Beach area, but we're both natives of the Bay Area, so we'll get married there. Plus, both of our parents live there. Since I'm white and my FI is Chinese, we will have a western ceremony and a Chinese banquet reception. The banquet will be at Tin's Tea House Lounge in Walnut Creek.
WARNING! begin shameless plug:
I'm a graphic artist and illustrator and I have over 8 years of experience with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I'm happy to help out any bride who wants to DIY invitations, programs, thank you cards, STDs or whatever. I can also help out with photo restoration and retouching for any of those old photos you'd like to have displayed for your wedding. I was also a professional picture framer and designer for 6 years and I can answer many questions about picture framing and archival products... and, most importantly, how to avoid paying hundreds of dollars for custom picture framing.
Okay, End of shameless plug. Thanks!
Thanks to knottie barnhunter and many others' inspiration, I've included all the pricing information I have so far at the bottom. For the info I don't have yet, I've included what we have budgeted.
We're actually trying to plan a wedding for 160 people with a $12,000 budget. are we crazy? Perhaps. But, I think we can do it. We're getting many items for free thanks to our talented friends and family. My brothers are taking care of the cake and videography, a friend will be the DJ, another friend will be a DOC, and a friend will be our officiant. I'm DIY-ing the invitations, programs and centerpieces. I honestly believe that if we didn't have these wonderful people, our budget would be much closer to $20,000, or we would have eloped. How can other brides follow my example? Make sure your friends with talented people! ;-)
We're back and married! The weekend went beautifully.. We had a few hiccups, but in the end, DH and I had a great time.. Below are vendor reviews. If you would like more information about these vendors, email me at abattyref at yahoo dot com.
Shadelands Ranch Museum
I never dealt with this vendor in the planning process, my mom did everything that had to do with the ceremony site. Based on her comments, they get a B grade.
The site is beautiful and absolutely perfect for a wedding ceremony for up to 250 people. The gazebo is beautiful and the city maintains the lawns and gardens very well. The layout of the park ensured that by the time our 3:30 pm ceremony started, most of the guests and all of the wedding party were in the shade. The patio area directly behind the house was perfect for our lion dancers' performance and for a mini reception with a few tables and some dim sum. There are plenty of electrical outlets in the gazebo for the DJ and a lot of parking. The surrounding gardens made for some lovely photos with just DH and myself.
My mom had a hard time getting a hold of the office employees in the beginning stages. They rarely answered the phones and always took more than a day to return phone calls, if at all. My mom is pretty forward and persistant, so it worked out in the end. When the site was finally reserved, the caretaker apologized for the lack of communication and gave my mom his home number in case we had any questions. Overall the beauty of the site more than made up for the lack of customer service. I would definately recommend Shadelands Ranch Museum.
Tin's Tea House Lounge
Alice did a fabulous job for our banquet. The restaurant looked beautiful and the food (the few bites I was able to eat) was fantastic. Most of our guests had never attended a Chinese banquet before and they were blown away by the wonderful food. There were definately some hiccups, but I have no regrets. Alice had planned to leave enough space in between the head tables for DH and I to have our first dance and for me to dance with my dad. When DH and I made our entrance, we immediately saw that there wasn't any room to dance and nixed the dances completely. I thought I would be upset about not having these important dances, but I really wasn't. And I think my dad was relieved to not have to dance in front of everyone. We took up all of the main dining room along with the side patio with 16 tables. That is pretty much their capacity without getting too cramped or putting some tables in the smaller dining rooms... where they wouldn't be able to see anything. Alice set aside a "VIP" room for us to store our crap and for me to be able to change into my cheongsam. It worked out perfectly because my brother needed some extra time to finish decorating the cake. He finished up in there, where no one could see him, and then wheeled out the cake during dinner. It was awesome, the cake had it's own entrance with our bobble-heads bouncing along at the top.
Pyramid Alehouse - Walnut Creek
The Pyramid Alehouse did a great job for our rehearsal dinner. We were in the Diablo Room with 2 other small parties.
The food was fantastic! DH and I chose from their banquet menu and the food was served family style. We shared mixed green salad and a mixed fruit platter. Appetizers were tomato and basil bruschetta and spinach and artichoke dip. The two entrees were grilled halibut with a mango salsa & rice pilaf and bacon-wrapped meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. Everyone ate too much and we took the leftovers home. The beer and sodas were also fabulous... they
an alehouse. The servers were also wonderful and very friendly. The restaurant can definately handle large parties and banquets.
None of us were prepared for the parking situation in Downtown Walnut Creek on a Friday night. I would have appreciated a heads-up from the restaurant about this. When we arrived there was no street parking and the closest parking garages were full. It was a little chaotic getting everyone plarked and I could see that a few WP members were irritated. More than once DH hopped into someone's car as they drove by and directed them to a garage that still had spaces. The parking situation isn't really the fault of the restaurant, hence the A.
Cake Creator - my brother Patrick
My brother Patrick did a wonderful job on our cake. It was beautiful and tasted fabulous! We are still getting raves on how great the cake tasted. Many guests had 2 and 3 slices when they saw that each layer was a different flavor. The bottom layer was dark chocolate, the middle layer was carrot cake (no raisins) and the top layer was lemon cake. He made another bottom layer that was separate from the main cake that was white chiffon with fruit cocktail filling. Everything was coated in buttercream. Our florist gave us some extra burgundy mokara orchid stems that she had leftover, so my brother went to town decorating with the help of one of my MOHs. I'm trying to convince him to create a website and start a side business making cakes... if he agrees, I'll make sure to post his info.
Flowers by Anne
I can't rave about my flowers enough. They were more beautiful than I could have imagined and worked beautifully with the colors for the wedding. Just before the wedding, I added 4 more single wired orchids to the order, so each of my MOHs could have an orchid in their hair like mine. They all looked gorgeous. If I were to do it again, I would only make one change: I would have all of the bouts be 2 orchids instead of one. The single orchid bouts were a little too fragile and most of them had fallen off their stem before the night was over. I HIGHLY recommend Anne for your wedding. You can't go wrong with her.
Shu-Jon Mao Photography
Shu-Jon and his assistant were fabulous on the wedding day. They blended in with everything and I rarely saw them unless I was posing for a picture. As soon as the wedding started, the timeline was shot to hell and Shu-Jon just took it in stride. At the banquet nothing happened when it was supposed to, there were no dances, introductions were done in the wrong order, I didn't get to change gowns until the 4th course (bad luck, I know!), and he didn't know the cake was going to have an entrance (no one did). But he did his best to be there snapping pictures... even if it was between bites during his own meal. I feel bad that the day became so chaotic, but he never seemed to flinch. I do wish we would have had more time to take photos with just DH and myself, but in the end, the few shots we got, I'm really happy with.
Videographer - my brother Michael
My brother is refusing to let me see any of the video footage until it's a finished product. I really shouldn't be reviewing him... he's family!
DJ - our friends Alvin and Carlos
Alvin and Carlos did a great job with the music. They don't DJ for a living, so I'm not giving them a grade. We never got a chance to talk during the rehearsal, so I had to write out the music cues the night before and give them to DH along with my iPod. I made a point to listen for the music when I was walking down the isle and it was timed perfectly. They did a wonderful job with casual reception music and dinner music. Towards the end of the night, Carlos' son was mixing some dance music. He did an awesome job... for a teenager!
My Gown - JCrew (Avery gown in ivory)
Throughout the day my gown was very comfortable and I felt beautiful in it. It wasn't until I put it on that my sister and MOHs got all teary eyed. Dad too. Beause of the way the fabric draped, I couldn't wear any underware. It was a little drafty at first until I got used to it.
My Chinese gown was also very comfortable. It fit wonderfully and I'm still receiving compliments on it. I had only one issue with it, I needed to wear a slip under the skirt. It produced a lof of static electricity and stuck to my legs. Just before we made our entrance, a friend loaned me her slip, but it was only knee length. It helped a lot and thanked her profusely.
Leung's White Crane
Leung's White Crane was awesome! Just as the guests were starting disperse after we took the large group photo their drums began and they put on a great performance. We received a lot of compliments afterwards on how much the guests enjoyed the dancers. Even a lot of the little kids loved it. My cousin's daughter kept waving and saying, "hi doggie!" DH and I tried to take a few pictures while they were dancing, but we didn't get many taken as the lions came over and danced in front of us. Thankfully, DH was prepared with some red envelopes in his pocket. I learned later that they won't leave you alone until you give them a red envelope. ;-) We were so impressed with them and so thankful that they were willing to travel from San Francisco to Walnut Creek, that we gave them all red envelopes. The total, after all of the tips, ended up being around $600. Well worth it.
Elegant Journey Limousines
My parents arranged our wedding day transportation as a surprise. DH and I had no idea what kind of car would be driving us around until the wedding day. They rented a 1927 Stutz Limousine. It actually matched the style of my wedding gown and was a lot of fun (think cars from The Great Gatsby). The driver picked up my Dad and me at the hotel, he gave us a glass of champagne and was really wonderful. There were a lot of guests arriving late so he was more than happy to hang out around the corner from the ceremony so no one would see us. Afterwards he hung around after the ceremony to drive DH and I to the banquet. We were running a little late and he was totally cool with waiting. My mom said that she dealt with the owner George when making the reservations and she said he was wonderful to work with. The total cost was $966 for 3 hours... which is really expensive, I know! But, this included the driver having to drive the car from Santa Clara to Walnut Creek. Since everything was running late, we ended up having the car and drive for close to 4 hours at no extra charge. The car was really comfortable inside and roomy enough to handle a big poofy dress if necessary. I highly recommend this company.
California Skin Care & Day Spa
Two days before the wedding my mom, sister and two of my MOH's all met at the California Skin Care & Day Spa in Newark for some pampering. We all got a 1-hour full body massage and pedicure. It was so much fun and we were all commenting on what a great idea it was. My sister planned the whole thing and said the woman she dealt with on the phone was wonderful and extremely helpful. Even when we had to made some last minute adds and changes... At the last minute one of my MOH's couldn't get the morning off from work. I also added a waxing at the last minute. The ladies were warm and friendly when we arrived, and had a private room set for us with mood lighting, cheese, fruit and champagne. They gave us a discount for coming as a group and the total ended up being $108 per person. My total, which included a wax was $165. I highly recommend them and I will definately be a repeat customer.
Picaboo Photobook/Guestbook - www.picaboo.com
After looking at a number of online retailers I went with Picaboo for our photo guestbook. I'm a big Shutterfly fan for prints, but Picaboo had the layouts and colors I was looking for. I ordered our book a couple of months before the wedding and it arrived pretty quickly. It was a big hit at the wedding with a lot of guests taking their time to write something more than just their name. Best of all, I found a coupon code that was good for 1 free 20-page photobook for new customers. So, I only had to pay for shipping and sales tax. The total was $13!
We ended up going over our $12,000 budget, obviously. But, it really wasn't that bad when you consider that my in-laws paid for a few items, we paid for a few items and my dad paid for the rest. Essentially, the $12,000 budget was one that my Dad set for himself. Plus, my dad ended up splurging on a few items and only went over his spending by $2000. (See how I can rationalize that in my head....?) ;-) My MIL also gave us $3000 to buy a new mattress and bed for home, and a new mattress and bed for her house when we come and visit (which is a lot). It's that Chinese tradition of having a brand new bed when you get married.
Websites that have been really helpful so far (other than TheKnot)
Free STLWed Bio Builder
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The ceremony will be at Shadelands Ranch Museum in Walnut Creek
There are rose bushes on either side of the gazebo.
The everything will look better when the trees have leaves.
These were taken around 1:30pm, hopefully by 3:30pm, all of the guests' chairs will be in the shade. It can get pretty hot in Walnut Creek, even in October.
Off to the side is this beautiful oak tree where we wil have our Chinese tea ceremony.
After the ceremony we will have a mini reception with a couple of tables of dim sum and beverages. Guests can mingle and enjoy the park while we take pictures. As a surprise, we've hired Chinese Lion Dancers from Leung's White Crane in San Francisco to perform just after the ceremony. Hopefully, this will be a surprise to everyone, including our parents and the wedding party.
Our reception will be at Tin's Tea House Lounge in Walnut Creek. One of these days I'll remember to take some photos when I'm there. I like that their decor is a little more modern than your typical Chinese restaurant with a lot of wood trim, good looking chairs (yay!) and no pink linens. FI's cousin owns it, so it was a given that we would have our reception there. In my opinion, they have the BEST dim sum in the East Bay... totally worth the drive from my parent's house in Newark.
I had originally planned to make my dress from this pattern with some beautiful ivory Thai silk my mom got for me while on vacation in Thailand last year. Later, reality hit me and I realized I was getting in over my head. I could probably make the gown and it would probably look fine. But I would be overly critical of every little thing. Plus, buying a gown would save me from some potentially crappy stress.
Then I found this gown online and it's fabulous price. When it arrived and it put it on, it was unbelieveably comfortable and I felt so beautiful in it. It's simple and elegant and exactly the kind of gown I always wanted.
I ordered my veil from Occansey Designs (or www.OBridal.com). It's chapel length, with a pencil edge, and a narrower width at the top so it's more sheer. I will be tucking it under my hair instead of on top and didn't want too much gathering. They do custom veils, at great prices, and the woman who runs the company, Kathy, was incredibly helpful. I emailed her a photo of my gown and the kind of veil I had in mind. She made some recommendations on what would look right in her experience and it's going to be fantastic!
These are the shoes I bought for $65 from Nordstrom. I needed flats because I can't make my gown any longer and I finally found a pair that were very comfortable. At first I wasn't too keen on the patent leather, but it's growing on me. I love the peep toe and I'm pretty sure no one will notice my shoes anyway.
This is the hairstyle I'm going for. My stylist will do her best to interpret it with my very straight hair. I will put a few small, burgundy orchids it and my veil will sit under neath.
Inspiration for the Chinese dress my FMIL had made for me in China. I like the maroon dress but with the floral embroidery instead of the phoenix. I'm also asking to have a slightly fuller A-line skirt. I don't have nice and narrow hips, so it'll be much more comfortable and flattering. FMIL was pretty successful in getting a dress made close to these photos. It has embroidered roses on the chest and again at the bottom. The color is exactly what I wanted, but hte gown is too short. I guess they made it as wide as the fabric came. But they also made a shawl with some leftover fabric that I will use to lengthen the gown. The length isn't horrible, if I was a shorter person. But being 5'9", the gown ends at my ankles, it just looks too short. I'll post photos when it's done... if it doesn't look ridiculous.
My seamstress and I tried many different options to make the Chinese gown longer, but it just looked silly. It looked like I had a slip on that was too long, and the short length made my feet look HUGE. So, we shortened the dress to knee length. FMIL wasn't happy with that. I guess it goes against tradition for me to wear a short dress, which she could have told me
I made the alterations. So, she had me order a new gown from www.EastStore.com. The fully custom gown was made exactly how I wanted it. A combination of the two gowns pictured above, a burgundy gown with the floral embroidery. The gown fits beautifully and it arrived from Shanghai in just 4 days! They didn't even charge me for shipping. Sadly, I don't know if I'll ever wear the dress she had made for me. It looks fabulous as a knee lenth dress, but I'm not the kind of girl who would wear a Chinese-style dress out. I would feel like a poser... only movie stars can get away with it.
These are the shoes I'll wear with my Chinese dress. $65 from zappos.com. I completely lucked out that the color is really close to the color of the dress. I was getting desperate and thinking about... gulp... dyeables. No offense to anyone who uses them, but I've had bad luck with dyeables being horribly uncomfortable and bleeding dye all over my feet. I didn't want to deal with that.
I ordered four of these beautiful pashminas for my bridesmaids from eBay seller rickirainbow. I only ordered one at first to see how they looked. They are 65% pashmina and 35% silk, so they won't be too warm. They're lovely and very affordable.
On our guestbook table we will have our parent's wedding photos framed on display. I wanted to do my grandparents' wedding photos too, but I learned it's bad luck to have images of the deceased displayed at a weddng.
I ordered a photobook from Picaboo.com that guests will sign. It includes pictures of FI and I as kids, when we were first dating, and our goofy e-pics.
FI's boutonniere will be two red mokara orchids. All the others boutonnieres will be a single orchid.
Inspiration for my bridal bouquet. Substitute pink gerbera daisies for burgandy. Substitute the burgandy cymbidium orchid for many redmokara orchids. No coffee berries and we'll use lemon leaf instead of the variegated leaf.
Inspiration for bridesmaids' bouquets: red roses instead of red/yellow roses. No eucalyptus or coffee berries.
Our DIY Invitations:
I wanted a pocketfold invitation, but it had to have two panels for English and Chinese. After a few prototypes and some frustration, I came up with this. The pocket holds a map, hotel information and the RSVP card. Fonts used: Zapfino and Copperplate Gothic Light.
Created in Adobe Illustrator and printed on ivory cardstock.
Created in Adobe Illustrator and printed on ivory cardstock.
I had a hard time finding paper in a red-toned Asian pattern that really caught my eye. But, I had seen plenty of designs I liked in Chinese brocaded fabrics. So, I bought a piece of fabric (it happened to be fushia) that had a fabulous pattern with peonies and spider mums. I scanned it and created it in Illustrator. I was able to make changes to suit me and to incorporate exactly the colors we were using.
It's the most complicated pattern I've ever made in Illustrator and I'm really proud of it. When we made the invitations, I just printed these pages with a laser printer.
This cheesyness will adorn our take-out boxes that will be filled with custom fortune cookies. I had originally planned to do the traditional take-out box art with the red pagoda and fake restaurant name. But I thought it was a little boring and lacked the goofiness that FI and I share. I then thought that cartoons of FI and I on the box would be funny. So I used the Itchy & Scratchy Catroon logo as inspiration and went to work. This is what the finished product will look like.
Here's the label up close:
Cost: $70 total for 100 programs
Using leftover cardstock from our invitations, I designed a simple program for our guests. We had the printing done on ivory paper at Kinkos. My mom has a great relationship with the Kinkos she uses for work, so she uploaded the .PDF file to them and they printed everything perfectly. The printing cost was $60 with Mom using her Girl Scout discount. The ribbon used for hte binding was that really cheap 1/8" ribbon you can get at Michaels for $.50 per spool. The information inside the program includes ceremony info, a list of all members of the wedding party and their relationship to FI and me, explanations of the Chinese Tea Ceremony, explanations of the symbolism behind the banquet food, a couple of sudoku puzzles, a personalized crossword puzzle about FI, me and random wedding lore, and an info page letting guests know where they can upload their digital images of the wedding for everyone to see. Here are a couple of pics of the finished program:
Our crossword puzzle:
Since we're doing the Chinese banqet thing, the centerpieces have to be minimal because the food will take up a lot of space. Here's our centerpiece, a 4-panel lantern-type thing. Made out of the same cardstock and patterned paper I've used throughout. One panel lists everyone seated at that table. One panel lists the table number. The other two panels are pictured below. The "kisses" panel was copied from another knottie. I can't remember who I copied it from, if you'd like credit, please let me know. Thanks!
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Ceremony Location - Shadelands Ranch Museum
We were also required to provide libility insurance up to $1M. My dad just added this to their homeowner's insurance. Mandy has been great so far. The set fee gives you a block of 4 hours. They provide up to 250 chairs and up to 5 large round tables that they set up and take down at no extra charge. They only schedule one event per day and the park is closed to the public during the ceremony. There is a lot of parking, public restrooms, and we can take photos anywhere in the park, including the porch of the beautiful colonial house.
Officiant - our friend Lou
He was a mentor to both my FI and I when we were teenagers and he was a role model to us when we were first dating. Plus, he's a great speaker and will do a fabulous job.
Reception Location -
Tin's Tea House Lounge
Fee: $388 per table for the banquet. We're estimating that after alcohol, gratuity, dim sum reception and food, the total will be around $9000
So far Alice has been wonderful in helping us plan. We've set our menu keeping in mind that some of our white friends and family will be tasting some Chinese dishes for the first time. We even chose a couple of wines that, in our opinions, pair well with Chinese food. I like the restaurant because the decor is warm and more modern than your typical Chinese restaurant.
Cold Cut Platter with beef and pork shank
Scallops and Chicken with Emerald Greens
Honey Glazed Walnt Prawns
Braised Shark Fin Soup with Chicken
Golden Crispy Chicken with Roasted Garlic
Braised Abalone with Bailing Mushrooms and Greens
Steamed Maine Lobster in Garlic Sauce
Steamed Whole Black Bass with Ginger & Scallions
BBQ Pork Fried Rice
Braised Longevity Noodles
Note: FI's cousin owns the restaurant, so The restthey're giving us a discount because we're family.
Rehearsal Dinner -
Pyramid Alehouse - Walnut Creek
Cost: around $30 per person
Their Diablo Room is perfect for a rehearsal dinner. It's large enough to seat 50 people and very private. They have a room minimum of $1500 to have the room exclusively. Since that's outside our budget, we'll have the room but they'll seat other patrons in there too. No worries, I feel sorry for the patrons who have to sit near us.
Cake Creator - My brother Patrick
Patrick is an aspiring pastry chef. Our cake will be his 5th major cake. Three very tall tiers decorated in ivory buttercream. The bottom layer will be a white chiffon cake with fresh fruit filling. Middle layer will be dark chocolate cake with a rasberry puree filling. The top layer will be a lemon cake with a cream filling. It will be decorated with burgundy mokara orchids and our custom bobble-head cake topper. It's going to be beautiful and, most importantly, taste wonderful.
This is the inspiration for the cake. Three layers instead of four and decorated with burgundy mokara orchids.
Flowers by Anne
Fee: $517 plus tax for:
1 bride's bouquet
4 BM bouquets
1 groom's bout
9 addit'l bouts
5 wired orchids for my hair
10 orchid stems (around 12 blosoms per stem) to decorate the cake
Anne has been wonderful. She had a ton of photo reference and made some great recommendations. We ended up getting better flowers than I thought we could afford and we still came in under budget. She's been such a relief because we had originally planned ot DIY all of the flowers, but decided not to when we got a quote from Anne that was over $100 cheaper than our DIY estimate. Thanks for all the advice on this from the Nor Cal message board!
oh yeah, we're saving some money and picking up the flowers ourselves.
Shu-Jon Mao Photography
Fee: $1200 plus tax
He's been wonderful and totally understanding of our measly budget. We'll receive a DVD will all of our retouched images plus an additional DVD of RAW images so I can mess with them in Photoshop. He's bringing an assistant and will be there all day, from the getting dressed parts to the last dance. He doesn't charge per hour.
Videographer - My brother Michael
Michael has filmed 2 of my friend's weddings and has done a fabulous job. Being a film student, he gets really creative with the post production process and editing.
Disc Jockey - my friends Alvin and Carlos
Carlos is a DJ and Alvin used to be one. They'll do a fantastic job. They'd better... I know where they live.
Invitations - Me!
Cost: $160 for 75 invitations.
We're getting away pretty cheap with our invitations because of my mom and her friends being avid scrapbookers. That combined with my skills as a graphic artist, there was no question in my mind that we would DIY our invitations. I've made a prototype pocketfold invitation that has one panel in english and one in chinese. The invitation is held shut by a wax seal stamped with the chinese double happiness character.
I ordered envelopes, cardstock and paper from
They had the best prices for what I wanted. I was expecting to pay $100 just on cardstock, instead I got my envelopes, cardstock and paper for just under $100 including shipping. And since this website only sells in bulk, I'll have enough paper and cardstock to make signs and table numbers and I'll have enough envelopes for my thank-you notes.
Fauxwax and Stamp were ordered from
. They were quick and affordable. I know traditional wax looks cooler, but I'm using the fauxwax so the seals won't get cracked and crumbly in the mail. The fauxwax is basically pigmented hot glue, so it will remain flexible.
Cost: $250 plus tax and shipping.
My kind of gown. Comfortable, elegant and a little bit sexy. Oh, and a great price too. I was sad to see that JCrew has discontinued this gown.
My Chinese Gown
Cost: $193 total
Four weeks before the wedding I ordered a new gown from EastStore.com. It's completely custom made to fit my curvy measurements. They were incredible with their quick response customer service. They shipped the gown from Shanghai in just a few days and I had the gown in my hands in under a week. It's beautiful and fits beautifully. They shipped it 2-day UPS for free. I HIGHLY recommend this company!
Alterations - Seams to Me - 510-793-3100
Cost: $20 per hour: $70 for wedding gown, $80 for Chinese gown
Betty and Mary were recommended from the Project Wedding message boards as I wanted a pro in the Newark/Fremont area who was more than just a dry cleaner who happened to do alterations too. They were really friendly and wonderful to work with. For my wedding gown, it was taken in at the waist and a 1-point bustle was added to pick up the chapel-length train. For my Chinese gown, it was taken in at the waist and the gown was shortened to knee lenth. I HIGHLY recommend them.
Bridesmaid Dresses - Whatever black dress they decide on...
Everyone of my bridesmaids has a different body type, so they will pick their dress from any retailer. My only requirements are that it be black, just-below-the-knee length, and something they will wear again. I will provide a pashmina shawl.
Other Vendor -
Occansey Designs - Custom Veils
Cost: $48.98 including shipping.
I was unsure what size veil to order. All I had was an idea in my head, so I emailed my vision and a photo of my gown to Kathy at Occansey Designs and she responded with some great recommendations. All of their veils are custom made and such reasonable prices. My veil arrived in about ten days and it's perfect. And much better than I could have made myself. Highly recommended.
Other Vendor -
Cost: $14.99 each plus shipping.
I ordered 4 lovely reversible pashminas from this eBay store. They are a pashmina wool and silk blend and I was really impressed with them. They have a huge selection of colors and I'll probably order a couple for myself after the wedding.
Other Vendor -
WhoopAss Enterprises - Custom Bobble Head Cake Topper
Cost: $153.00 including shipping.
FI and I loved the idea of having these custom bobble heads as our cake topper. We needed to add some more goofiness to the day. We were first turned off by the price. But in the end we were able to justify the expense because our cake will be free. I've heard some not-so-great reviews for this vendor before, but everything has been going great so far. I did have a lot of changes to make at the beginning, especially to FI's face. It seems their sculptor has a hard time with Asian faces. After the faces were baked and painted, I wished I had more time to make more changes. FI's face just looks like a white version of himself. The finished product looks hilarious and I know our guests will get a kick out of it. But, take very good photos of your faces and beware if you need them to sculpt an asian face. Overall I would recommend this vendor with reservations.
Entertainment - Chinese Lion Dancers
Leung's White Crane
Cost: $400 including tip. We will probably give them an additional tip if their performance kicks ass.
FI had only a couple of things he
wanted to have at our wedding. One of these was Chinese lion dancers. We surfed the web and I looked at some knot bios and we decided that Leung's White Crane was one of the best in the Bay Area. My FMIL contacted them over the phone and was quoted a price that was outside our budget. Afterwards I emailed them and asked if they would work with in our budget and they said yes! They will begin their 20 minute performance just as our ceremony ends. We're hoping to include them in a large group photo after the performance.
Other Vendor -
Cost: $90 total
I ordered a custom embroidered hankerchief for my dad and 2 pairs of custom embroidered lace panties. The hanky is uber sappy and says: "Dad, Today I'm a Bride, Tomorrow a Wife. Always your Daughter. I love you, Alex" I originally saw a photo of one like this on a knottie's bio when I first started planning. I think my dad will like it. The two pairs of panties are for the wedding day. The first pair are light pink lace boy shorts wtih "Bill's Girl" embroidered on them. The second pair are for when I change into my Chinese gown at the reception. They're red and say Mrs. MyNewLastName. The panties are costing way more than I wanted to spend on underware, but they'll be fun to have even after the wedding. And I think FI will really like them.
The items arrived in about a week and look great. The panties are a little smaller than I'd like. But I had to guess on the size because there was no size chart on the website. Otherwise, all the products look great.
Other Vendor -
Cost: $30 total
Since our ring bearer is so young, (only 15 months) we got him a "ring bear" to carry down the isle instead of a ring pillow. He loves this one very soft, plush bunny and carries it around with him all the time. So I picked the softest teddy bear I could find and put a tuxedo on him. We'll attach two fake rings to his paw and voile! A ring bear for the ring bearer.
Websites that have been really helpful so far (other than TheKnot)
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Here Comes The Guide
The Paper Mill Store
For help with your own bio try:
For help with Signatures go to: