Lessons Learned From Our Wedding

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of WeddingWire. The opinions and text are all mine.

All photography by  Brant Smith

All photography by Brant Smith

Wow! It’s been almost a month since our wedding, and I feel like a whole new woman. The stress disappeared instantly, and it was all worth it. Not worth doing again, but totally worth it this one and only time. Here are the top 5 lessons I’ve learned from wedding planning.

1. Delegate/Ask for Help

This one seems like a no-brainer. But as a Type A personality, it was hard to let things go. And that was because I thought I had it all figured out! I had planned 75% of my wedding within 3 months, so I had the mentality of, “Duh, I got this.” I was even ahead in my WeddingWire monthly checklist (heck yeah)!

But unexpected things pop up. Parents want to invite 50 more guests. Wedding favors didn’t turn out the way you thought they would. You have too much on your plate to run errands after work. I thought I could provide all the answers, but it turned out Brian and our friends were saviors. Brian was at the front lines dealing with parents’ requests, my creative friend Vivian of Lefty Design volunteered to make us last-minute wedding favors, and, once again, Brian stepped up to purchase all of the alcohol and miscellaneous supplies for the wedding. These tremendously helped me in the last month of the wedding when I was breaking out in stress acne and cried more than I had cried the entire year!

2. Expect the Unexpected

You can’t expect everything to go right at your wedding. I came to terms with that the morning of. I let EVERY expectation go. And I had never felt more calm.

On my way to the venue, Brian called from a friend’s phone to tell me he lost his phone… Okay, no problem. We came up with a game plan for communicating with family.

Our guests drank all of the Hennessy, Jameson, and white wine during cocktail hour, despite us researching alcohol quantities on WeddingWire’s forums and our bartender and coordinator giving us their estimated amounts. Our coordinator said, “I’ve never seen this before.” So proud of our friends, ha! Brian made the call on how much more liquor to buy because the bartenders were willing to go on a liquor store run. Crisis averted.

One of our friends got laid out flat during my bouquet toss! I had to walk over fire ant hills during my ceremony (“as long as you keep moving, they won’t get you”). I went to change in my bridal room and saw a random girl sleeping in a chair. I went again for another outfit change and a GROOMSMAN was sleeping in the room!

I was just going with the flow, so it was all simply amusing! I’m so glad I faced the day with that attitude instead of wanting everything to go 100% smoothly. All of these were so unexpected but made our day SO memorable and a million times more beautiful.


3. Everything Will Work Out

I was talking to someone about my wedding worries, such as details being forgotten (plates, napkins, cutlery, etc.), but they told me that everyone is so willing to help out that I wouldn’t even need to worry about it. Her example was that they forgot to get plates for the cake at their wedding, but a cousin volunteered to go buy some before she even realized there weren’t any plates! Just like the alcohol example in #2, we didn’t even think of the possibility of running out of THE MOST important liquor (Asians love that Henneyyyy) by cocktail hour. But our coordinator notified us right away, and we were able to get more! Just don’t even stress yourself out thinking of worst case scenarios because things will sort themselves out!

4. Spend on What Matters to Both of You

Everyone has their opinion on what weddings should include. Fancy menus. Elaborate seating charts. Videographer. What was most important to us was good food and good alcohol to keep our guests happy! I didn’t spend much on decor at ALL because we wanted a simple venue that was beautiful in itself from the get-go. Floral was a little more expensive but that was to make up for the lack of extra decor.

We didn’t spend a ton on invitations or save the dates either. I’m lucky that I know Photoshop and have design skills to create my own, but this was in addition to us not caring about fancy stationery. We also researched fancy cake ideas on WeddingWire, but we ended up going with something that was truly us: berry Chantilly cake!

I also didn’t care to come up with ideas and material for a seating chart and opted to go with ushers instead. To be honest, I don’t know if they got my list of table seating at all, but everyone was able to find their seats! Another example of “don’t worry too much because everything will sort itself out.”

5. You WILL Go Over Budget

I asked our main vendors for estimates such as food, floral, and alcohol, but you never know until get closer to that final guest count! And we dropped a pretty penny on more alcohol because of our Hennessy debacle. But also, small things really add up. I’m a spreadsheet type of planner, and I still didn’t think to add in menu stands for each table, last minute ideas such as customized coffee sleeves, our last minute wedding favors, the extra hair stylist we needed, and our personal sign-in table decor. You truly can’t think of everything in the beginning phase of planning! So yes, do plan to go over your original budget!

Thank you for reading and following along on our wedding journey! A huge thanks to all of our vendors for making our day so easy. And another huge thank you to WeddingWire for being my resource for the past YEAR!

Here is a beautiful sneak peek of our wedding day by Thy Ngo!

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Coordinator: Love + Sparrows
Floral & Design: Love + Sparrows
Venue: The Venue at Waterstone
Hair & Makeup: AKP Artistry
Hair pieces: Maggie Wu Studio
Wedding Dress: Mockingbird BridalCristiano Lucci
Bridesmaids Dresses: Watters
Suits: The Black Tux
Photography: Brant Smith
Videography: Thy Ngo
DJ: RLF Society
Catering: Andy’s Catering

Multicultural Wedding Planning

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of WeddingWire. The opinions and text are all mine.

Asian weddings. I love them, and I hate them. My hopes on the first few wedding venue options were crushed when I learned it didn't have the capacity to hold all our guests. Why must we have almost 300 guests, with 200 being family and/or people we don't know? How do we pay respect to our elders when we're not fluent in the language? How do we let non-Asian guests know that our culture takes cash as wedding gifts? It's been a tough aspect of our wedding planning.

I'm Chinese, and Brian is Vietnamese. My family is actually from Vietnam, so culturally, I didn't mind doing a Vietnamese tea ceremony. However, the logistics were hard to plan because neither of our parents live in the same city as us. I also asked my mom how to plan for a tea ceremony, and she basically shrugged and said her mom planned it for her. I don't know how to speak about weddings in Cantonese. Cue headache.

I looked into a helpful WeddingWire article on this topic as well: 11 Tips to Help You Plan a Multicultural Wedding. There were some tips I'm used to, like holding two separate ceremonies, but it also gave me ideas I never thought about, like hiring a wedding planner with experience. However, I didn't know where to begin to look for a tea ceremony planner, and we didn't want to spend extra money on a just a tea ceremony.

However much I wanted to wear a pretty ao dai (Vietnamese traditional dress) and have our families meet, it just wasn't coming to fruition. In the end, it seemed like neither of our families would be disappointed if we DIDN'T have a tea ceremony, so we decided not to. However, we are going to wear our traditional gowns during the reception, which I saw was something WeddingWire also suggested! I actually won't be wearing an ao dai but a cheongsam (Chinese traditional dress) instead.

A wedding I helped shoot, with the mother of the bride in a traditional Korean hanbok

A wedding I helped shoot, with the mother of the bride in a traditional Korean hanbok

We're also going to be serving Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine! In the end, we're keeping a lot of our culture, and we're happy enough with that! As for the tradition of receiving cash gifts, the WeddingWire forums have also been very helpful! We just won't set up a registry, but we won't ASK for cash either because it's perceived as rude to ask money. I also learned that in some cultures, it's rude to set up a registry. Ahh traditions.

Wedding Planning Update #2

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of WeddingWire. The opinions and text are all mine.

Photo by  Maribel Morales

I'm back with another update! Only 4 months before the wedding! According to WeddingWire's checklist, I'm overdue on ordering a cake... I've actually been talking to a cake lady, and it hasn't been fully finalized yet! I did think about having a pretty and trendy cake, as most weddings these days seem to have. WeddingWire has a great article on all of the 2018 wedding cake trends! I definitely ooh'd and ahh'd at a few of them, like the hand-painted and gold leaf ones. But in the end, we have our heart set on our favorite flavor: berry chantilly! I actually hate cake and most sweets, but for some reason, I love this type! Brian even got it for me when he threw me a surprise birthday party when we first started dating :) 

Another big thing I got out of the way is floral! We came in right on budget! I've been working closely with Angel from Love & Sparrows, who is extremely amazing at picking floral styles, and pays super close attention to details I like and don't like. She has also given me great ideas based on the random photos I've sent her, and ways to re-use floral so I can stay within budget. I'm so grateful for her! 

The next big thing on my list is to order invitations, set up a wedding website, alter my dress, and finalize some decor and details! I've also been working with my friend Vivian on some handlettered art that I'm super excited about! Can't wait to show you guys her handiwork!  I'll update you guys again in June! 

Photo by  Maddie Tober

Photo by Maddie Tober