Chiweewee's Married Bio
 
Welcome to my married bio! We were married on 8.8.08 in a garden ceremony in Rolling Hills Estates, CA. After exchanging vows and taking photographs on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, we met up with our guests at a friends clubhouse in Rancho Palos Verdes for a fun and intimate reception. We were on a small budget and did many things ourselves, but it still turned out to be the most fabulous day of our lives!!
 
August 8, 2008 was a cool (and quite popular) wedding date but it means more to us than that. We will now share an anniversary with my late grandparents and my brother and sister-in-law (who celebrated their 21st anniversary on our wedding day).
 
My advice to future brides...stop to take it all in and enjoy it because it all goes by waaaayyyyy too fast! When the day arrives, don't fret over what you didn't get done because it won't matter once you walk down that aisle and see the man that you are about to marry! Being the control freak that I am, it was amazing  to me that even I was able to do this! Unfortunately, there are a few things that I regret now, but on that day, nothing else mattered and I didn't have a care in the world. 
 
During my planning, browsing Knot bios and getting referrals was a huge help to me. While I may not have as much to offer as some, I hope that something in here helps future brides.
 
To those on a budget: You can have a meaningful day without going into debt! Sure, I would have loved to have had a lavish venue on the beach but I am the biggest penny pincher you'll ever meet and we didn't have a ton of money to spend. Use whatever resources you have available...mainly family and friends ;). Friends did my hair and makeup as gifts. My wonderful coworker designed all of the paper goods and we assembled them ourselves. My sister officiated our ceremony and had her staff cater the food (we paid for it though!). Our reception space was a gift from my mom's friend. I got my dress in perfect condition off of Ebay for $300. Candles and invitation materials were purchased on clearance. (Total cost of our invitation materials was $6!!). I booked our photographer and florist when they were newer to the business and less expensive. I haunted sales and used a million coupons at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and JoAnn Fabrics. We didn't have favors and not one person mentioned their absence. It got to the point where I was playing a game with myself to see if I could plan a fairly nice event while saving as much as possible. You can do it and let me know if I can help!
 
  
All photos by Sarah K. Chen Photography, except when noted.
(Second shooter: Jonilyn Photography)
 
  
Getting Ready
 
Two of my friends (a makeup artist and a hairdresser) gifted me with their beauty services.

 

 

 

 

 

 
The hair flower that my mother hand made for me. It holds a special place in my heart ;)
 
 
 
 The Marisa 601 that I scored on Ebay for $300 
  
 
 
 
 
 
My boy was with me until the ceremony and even had his own "bout".  
 
 
 Meanwhile the boys got ready...
unfortunately, these are the only photos.
 
 
 
 
 
Pre-Ceremony Details
 
 
 

 

 

My something borrowed...the jewelry that my MOH wore on her wedding day.
 
Bridesmaids bouquets
 
 
 
Our First Look
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pre-Ceremony Bride and Groom Shots
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
Ceremony
 
One of my older sisters officiated our ceremony. It was one of the best decisions we made. Besides saving us money, she did a wonderful job and it made everything more personal. 
 
My dad is a jokester and talked to me all the way down the aisle.
 
 
The handoff...
 
 
We presented our moms with roses during the ceremony (only Kristin from The Treasured Petal basically gave us bouquets for the purpose - for FREE. I love her).
Unfortunately, there is no photo of us with my mom.
 
  
 
I wrote the entire ceremony myself and then we each wrote our own vows. It got many, many compliments.
Guests cried...
 
 ...and then everyone laughed when he vowed to take the dog out, even in the rain and snow, and to never let me go to work hungry.
 
 
Hand ceremony
 
First kiss
 
Yay, we're married!
 
 
After Ceremony Shots
 
 
Me and my girls...
 
 
DH and his guys...
 
 
 
The getaway car
 
It was off to the cliffs to take sunset photos while our guests were enjoying the cocktail hour...
 
Better Photoshopping by my friend to get rid of our hair whispies and freckles.
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Off to the reception!
 
 
 
Reception
 
 Yes, we did a grand entrance...no, there are no photos.
 
 
During toasts
 

 

Father/Daughter Dance
 
 He decided the week of the wedding that he was going to teach me how to waltz., along with everything else I had to do...but I wouldn't have traded it for the world.
 
 
Mother/Son Dance 
 
Cake cutting
 
 
 ...and the most fabulous evening was sealed with a kiss!
 
 
Reception Details
 
Welcome table set up
 
DIY escort cards
 
Signature mat later in the evening
 
Table menus (they were pretty and had little crystal embellishments-which you can't see)
 
 Placecards were green apples with name tags printed and cut out by yours truly (I don't recommend it ;))
 
Our version of a heritage table set up along the fireplace, with candles mixed in. We included many family photos, not just those of people who weren't with us on our wedding day.
 
The centerpieces by the amazing and sweet Kristin at The Treasured Petal.
 
 I made VIP signs for us and our parents (Why didn't anyone remember to trim the ribbon ends properly??!!)
 
Each table had a different picture of our pup on the back of the table numbers.
 
Close up of our "heritage table" display.
 
Crystal cake topper and Torrance Bakery cake. I heard it was delicious!
 
Cake topper bought on Ebay. Gold candles purchased on clearance after Xmas last year. Votives bought from another Knottie. We made the cake stand ourselves. Cake server set was gifted to us. I love to save money and recycle!!
 
 
The following is a collection of photos that I've started taking, trying to recreate ones that were not captured on our wedding day. More to come as I get more comfy with this thing called a camera. If only I could get everyone back into their attire too...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vendor Reviews
 

DOC- Just Chic Events-Paola Spagnoletti- http://justchicevents.com/

What else can I say? Paola is fabulous! We were so fortunate to be able to hire her. I felt that it was very pretentious of me to hire a coordinator, especially because I was on a budget, but she was worth her weight in gold and turned out to be one of the best investments that we made in our wedding. She was so supportive and right there whenever I needed her, always providing great suggestions on designs or how to handle a situation. I wrote her novel-like emails and she always responded extremely quickly and in great detail. Unfortunately, there were a few snafus on our wedding day that I wish could have been avoided but I truly believe that they were not her fault. She worked her butt off for us, especially the day-of (because we didn’t have a conventional reception location with a staff and set-up included), and we couldn’t have done it without her! She takes a genuine interest in her brides and goes above and beyond what her contract provides for. We are still in contact to this day and she's always been willing to answer my questions even though she has no obligation to do so. She's one special lady!

 

DJ- Cal Sounds/Tom Chandler-http://calsounds.com/

I originally only corresponded with Tom by email and phone because I was planning from out-of-state. When I unexpectedly got to make a short trip home, he was very willing to work around my hectic schedule in order to meet me at my venue and scope everything out in order to give me a firm quote. He also agreed to hold my date and inform me if anyone else inquired while I made my decision. At the reception, he played great music and worked wonderfully with our DOC to keep things on schedule, all while being very non-intrusive. Tom was just all around great to work with. Honest, patient, not cheesy in the least, and obviously loves what he does. You won’t regret hiring him.

 

Florist- The Treasured Petal/Kristin Brancaleone-http://thetreasuredpetal.com/

Kristin was one of my favorite wedding vendors. I just can’t rave about her enough. I hired her when her business was fairly new but I could tell by looking at her website and conversing by email that she wasn’t new to floral design. After sending her an inquiry about her availability on our date, I received an email back with several questions about our vision for the wedding and a genuine interest in winning our business. Then she sent over a complete set of sketches showcasing her ideas. She was another vendor that was very understanding of my planning constraints and was willing to hold my date until I could either get home to meet her or hire her without a face-to-face. What she produced on our wedding day with our small budget was nothing short of amazing. All of the flowers were fresh, lush, and beautiful. I was so attached to my bouquet that I carried it home with me on the airplane. It made the trip AND lasted for almost a week! Kristin has gotten popular and I hear that she now has a minimum, but if you can afford her, book her! She is such a sweetheart and you will love working with her!

 

Photographer- Sarah K. Chen Photography (second shooter: Jonilyn Photography)-http://sarahkchen.com/

 

Cake- Torrance Bakery-http://torrancebakery.com/

I visited four bakeries on my whirlwind trip home. Tip: Don’t ever schedule 4 tastings in one day! After a horrible experience with Mayer’s Bakery (review below), I went back to Torrance Bakery about a month before our wedding. Their customer service was top notch, which was really important to me, and everything turned out just as I requested. Indrea and Melissa were extremely professional and always happily answered my many questions and some changes by email or phone. I heard that the cake tasted great but I never had a chance to taste it on our wedding night. We carefully wrapped and froze the top (then FedEx'd it home from CA), which we ate a month later to celebrate our 1 month anniversary and DH's birthday. It tasted quite yummy, which means it was probably even better when it was fresh!

 

Mayer’s Bakery-

Run!!! As fast as you can! They are supposedly a family run business and have been around for a while but I’m still baffled as to why. Their customer service is so bad that I wouldn’t use them if someone paid me to. Luckily, their true colors came through before I signed on the dotted line and put down a deposit. I must have called and emailed them 20 times, practically begging them to take my order and deposit. They kept telling me that it wasn’t necessary until 2-3 weeks before my wedding. When I finally insisted at the 4 week mark, I was told that all of the prices had gone up due to the economy and they wouldn’t honor what I had been quoted 6 months prior-even though I tried to pay them numerous times! Then the owner had the audacity to get into a yelling match with me on the phone, where he spewed insults at me and suggested that I had no idea what was going on in the world. It was like I was arguing with a 4 year old. Unbelievable! Luckily, I contacted Torrance Bakery and they were more than happy to honor the prices that they had quoted me earlier and were thankful to have my business.

 

Hair- Personal friend

 

Makeup- Personal friend (Makeup artist and brow guru)

Email me for info.

 

Invitations, Programs, Escort Cards, Thank You Cards, Menus, Table Numbers, etc.- Personal friend

These were all designed by my dear friend and co-worker as our wedding gift and we printed them out and assembled on our home printer. I loved starting from scratch and seeing everything come together after many brainstorming sessions.

 

Officiant- My sister

I wrote our whole ceremony and one of my older sisters officiated. It was one of the best decisions we made for our wedding. She got ordained through the Universal Life Church (http://www.themonastery.org/). In California, a person may also get deputized for the day in order to perform a wedding ceremony (http://www.lavote.net/clerk/marriages.cfm). If this is an option for you, I highly recommend it!

 

Ceremony Music-

http://www.longbeachschoolofmusic.com/

http://markfitchett.net/

Our ceremony location would not allow us to have amplified music or any kind of equipment set up, so we couldn’t have our DJ provide the ceremony music. A friend of the family recommended contacting her children’s guitar teacher. We hired Mark Fitchett and Stephanie to play live music and it turned out beautifully. They have several musicians available and a choice of instrument combos but we were on a budget and could only afford 2 people. It was perfect for our 70 person ceremony. Being out-of-state, I didn’t have a chance to meet with him prior to our wedding day (except by email and phone) but they showed up early, got ready to play, and provided beautiful music. I only specified my processional music and left everything else up to them. They did a great job!

 

Linens- Cloth Connection-http://www.clothconnection.com/

After a very disturbing experience at Dress My Chair, I was really sad that I wouldn’t be able to afford the pintuck linens that I wanted so badly. My DOC came to the rescue and suggested Cloth Connection. I’ve heard from other brides that their prices are on the higher side but if you have a DOC, they can get you great discounts. Everything is sent to your doorstep with a bag for returning the rentals and a pre-paid label. The transaction was smooth and I was very happy with the quality of our linens.

 

Rentals- Pico Party Rents-http://picopartyrents.com/

They were by far the least expensive rental company that I contacted. I made several inquiries and they were always willing to help. They were another company that didn’t want to take my order until closer to the wedding date but they still honored the prices that they had originally quoted me, as it should be. Towards the end, my DOC and caterers did most of the correspondence with Pico but I believe everything went smoothly and I didn’t hear any complaints.

 

Caterer’s- My sister’s staff.

Email me if you want info.

 

Reception Location- A friend’s community clubhouse.

While it wasn’t my dream space, this is what saved us the most money on our budget wedding and I am very grateful to my mom’s friend for offering it to us. It meant that we could do whatever we wanted and use the vendors of our choice. If you’re a bride on a budget, don’t ever underestimate the power of friends and family resources. Creativity and resourcefulness is key!

 

BM Dresses- Ann Taylor Celebrations-http://www.anntaylor.com/catalog/department.jsp?N=1200042&categoryId=193

I didn’t do a lot of shopping around for BM dresses because I was out of state and the girls were spread out as well. We were able to snag dresses from the Ann Taylor Celebrations line on clearance, bringing the price to just below $50 each. Score! The four sizes that I needed were not all available at one store or online so their customer service department helped me locate what I needed and sent them to my doorstep. After I passed out the dresses, I realized that I needed to match the fabric to something so I called them and they sent out a color swatch immediately. Their customer service rated right up there with Nordstrom…and that, I love!

 

BM Jewelry- Monique’s Boutique-http://moniquesboutique.us/

I believe that she’s a former Knottie who started making jewelry as a side business. I contacted her shortly before my wedding after not finding anything that I wanted my girls to wear in a decent price range. She was friendly, eager to help with suggestions (by email), and supplied a quality product with super quick turnaround time. I loved the detail of her cute packaging and hand-written thank you/congrats note included with my order. Highly recommend!

 

Cake Topper- Ebay

I purchased my crystal "S" cake topper from seller Bella-Tiara. Very smooth transaction, great communication, and item arrived quickly and as described. She had the best prices that I could find without making it myself. Recommended seller! bella-tiara@earthlink.net

 

Veil-Crowning Glory Designs

Since I was in another state, all of my dealings with Candi Merle (candi@cgveils.com) were by email but I hear that she's really sweet and I wish that I could have met her. I sent her inspiration photos and she produced a beautiful veil at a great price! It arrived extremely quickly and was packaged with care. All I had to do was unwrap it and hang it up for a few days and it was ready to wear. Specs: 1 tier , 40" (fingertip), ivory, cascade/waterfall, rounded point, 1/8" flat satin trim. Total cost: $29.50 + shipping (since I couldn't pick it up).

 

Dress-Ebay (snappyauctions.com)-Holly Barrett

I purchased my Marisa 601 on Ebay through snappyauctions.com. It was in perfect condition and Holly was a wonderful seller to deal with. The ridiculously low price was perfect for my low budget!

 

Gown Alterations- Mahtab- http://www.weddingalterations.com/

I purchased my dress from another bride on Ebay for a steal of a deal. It was pretty and I liked it very much but

I was kind of indifferent to it at the same time. When Mahtab was done altering it, I was in LOVE! So much so that I decided not to sell it as I had planned. She is very talented and has a great eye for making your gown fit you like it was made just for you. Don’t let her dated website scare you. She rocks...and that's coming from someone who is probably the pickiest person about how my clothes fit that you'll ever meet!

 

Engagement Shoot Makeup- Carina Lindgren- http://flawlessfacesinc.com/carina/index.html

I’ve heard mixed reviews on her lately, but Carina did a great job on my engagement shoot makeup. It really boosted my confidence and made the photos look so much better. My nephew didn’t even recognize me later that evening. (Not sure if that’s good or bad, but we’ll pretend it’s good)!

 

Wedding Night Hotel- Ritz Carlton Laguna

My brother gifted us with two nights at the Ritz before we headed home (because he's awesome and because we weren't able to take a honeymoon). One word: AMAZING! I wish I could live there. We stayed on the "club" level where you have to have a special key for the elevator to even stop on that floor and they do 5 food presentations each day with unlimited alcohol. It gets a little over the top though when they drive you down to the beach, then walk you out to a spot and set up your chairs and towels. It made me uncomfortable ;).

 

We also got permission to take our E-Pics there a few days prior to our stay. Other than the snarky security guard who tried to kick us out (until I told her that I had already spoken to her boss) it was a truly pleasant stay and I would go back in a heartbeat.  

 

 
 
 Thanks for visiting! Feel free to page me on the LA boards or email me at kt8.8.08@gmail.com with any questions. Good luck to the future brides!