I recently asked a question on my instagram story, and collected many, many wedding inquiries. I summarized the majority of them to create this Q&A, and I hope that the Brides-to-Be that are reading this find it helpful! Our previous wedding post has a full list of our vendors.
I truly wish you all the best during this process! As exhausting as it can be, it is so worth it, because at the end of it, you will see the love of your life, smile, and forget all the blood, sweat and tears from the previous months. I promise.
What advice would you give to other couples leading up to their big day?
R E L A X.
At some point you will get stressed, and you have to remember. You may be planning for wedding, but the most important thing is the marriage. Tommy and I had talked about eloping, but it would not have been the same. Despite the fact that we didn't want to focus solely on the material aspects of the wedding, we knew that we would never have the chance to have all of our favourite people from all parts of our lives gathered together under one roof! For us, it was the feelings that we wanted to evoke which were our priority. We wanted people to be happy to be there, comfortable to enjoy themselves, and not feel pressure to be overly cool or out of character. We treated our day as a day to give recognition to the people who raised us: our families, our friends, our coaches, our teachers, and our mentors. When we kept that in mind, it was easy to maintain perspective.
Did you use a wedding planner?
Nope! I had all the intention to. I had talked to my other friends who were married, and had friends that talked about their friend that got married, and it seemed like everyone had a wedding planner. I was hesitant to get one from the beginning because it seemed like I had planned everything already. In my mind, what would the wedding planner do that I hadn't already done? I mentioned that to people, and the first reactions were shock: "you can't do that! You won't be able to!"
The second you tell me I won't be able to do something I take it as a challenge. So I planned the wedding myself! I did have a day of coordinator who was a friend of the family. She oversaw the flow and timing of the day to make sure that the my mother was not ever stressed. Additionally, I had a lot of guidance from the Fairmont Hotel wedding and events manager, Nicole. She met with me because she knew that I was doing this alone and had a lot of questions. Without her knowledge and care, I wouldn't have been able to be as confident as I was with my decision making. Working with her was truly a blessing!
After you were engaged, how did you go about planning the big day? What were your first steps?
Prior to the engagement, Tommy and I had a talk about the future just after he left Vancouver to start the season in Hong Kong. We knew that we would get married, and we were just deciding on what our next steps in our future were going to be. I knew that our LDR had to end, and I knew that his basketball career would not be complete yet. The only way to amalgamate the two was for me to move -- but that would mean that I would have to quit my job (one that I love!!!) to move to Hong Kong.
Once the proposal happened, everything else flowed. We were able to plan the season we wanted to have our wedding: logistically, it made the most sense to have the 2018/19 school year as my final year of teaching, to have an end of summer wedding, and move to Hong Kong after that. Best of all, Tommy's off season is when we went for our Honeymoon, so we were able to do an "extra long" Honeymoon since I was off of work and it was his offseason.
Throughout the entire wedding planning process, I was the spreadsheet Queen. I had breakdowns of the day --minute by minute! From 7:30am until 1am, everything was detailed and planned. I think I shocked people with my love for spreadsheets.
How did you decide on your bridal party and the number of guests?
Before any of our planning, we made a guest list. We (I) made a spreadsheet and categorized it starting with family, then different friend groups, teammates, coaches, etc. Once we were able to populate all the people from different stages in our lives, we were able to take a look through and really get into the planning. Our final count was just over 300 people. Our initial planning stages were around 330 people, so that eliminated many venues right off the bat. Starting with numbers helps with the logistics and everything else falls into place.
What did you spend the most on?
Venue was not the most important to me in terms of decor and feel, but rather practicality. I wanted to make sure that it was accessible for all of the guests that were coming. We had out of towners, and older family members, I wanted to make sure that it was easy to find, easy to get to, and not inconvenient for any of our guests. The reason the venue was the most expensive was because it included food and beverage and service charges. I however, would NOT change a thing. The food was impeccable, the service was exquisite. You should see the number of "Congratulations" texts I received , followed with: "OMG the FOOD". From our perspective, everything we spent was worth it.
How did you go about sticking to a budget?
Well, thanks to my handy spreadsheet, I was able to create a preliminary budget prior to actually spending. I had help from my father with this as he knew what was realistic to estimate for vendor costs. Once we received quotes for venues, I was able to plan a budget breakdown for all the vendors that I needed to find in order to make the wedding happen. I would spend my lunch hours at work locked in my classroom emailing and/or calling different vendors in order to book for our wedding date.
What advice do you have for what to splurge on and what to save on for a wedding?
Create a mood board or an inspo page. It doesn't have to be fancy or ornate, you don't have to buy the most beautiful notebook or paper. You just need something to plot your ideas! What is your priority? Is your priority for your guests to have fun? Or is it for the aesthetics? Obviously from my point of view, it is possible to do both, but you have to know what you are willing to sacrifice in order to know what to cut. My philosophy was that it was only one day of our lives, and no one will remember the seat covers. Do not blow your bank account over one day. Be reasonable. You will enjoy yourself because that is a mindset. Spending loads of money will not change your mind. You control how you feel.
How did you plan a Chinese style and Western wedding?
It was the first wedding in our family to have so many "Western" elements. Traditionally, weddings on my side of the family would take place at a Chinese restaurant with traditional Chinese banquet food. I nixed that right away. I value food, and food makes my mood good. I knew that with our diverse guest list, not all pallets would be acquired to that style, and we needed to make sure that all of our guests could leave feeling full. That was a priority to me.
Aside from the food, I was keen to include all the Chinese traditions my family wanted to have. I knew that it was important to them, and since I was the first one in my family to get married, I knew it was important to continue with them.
I was honoured to wear the exact traditional qua that my grandmother wore when she got married. It made her so happy when I put it on... it made her laugh because she was able to reminisce when she wore it, but she mostly laughed because she is 5"1 and I am 5"8, and the skirt was ridiculously short and not the way it was supposed to be worn. She had it extended just for me. The traditional weaving and embroidery is something that you cannot get made these days. Most of the embroidery is not made with the same skill as back then. I was honoured to wear it.
Local wedding vs. Destination wedding?
I knew that I wanted a local wedding given the number of our family and friends that we wanted to have. We were lucky enough that our friends and family from abroad made the trip over. So many of Tommy's teammates and their partners made the trip over, and it was such a wonderful moment. We were so touched and it meant a lot to have them here. Our family members also came over from all parts of the world. It was really meaningful to truly have all that support and love under one roof.
Did you do the Chinese Tea Ceremony and Gate Crash door games?
We did the Chinese Tea Ceremony, but did not do the door games. Given the timeline of our day, I did not want to create more stress than was needed, and in my eyes, I didn't see the door games as necessary given the philosophy of the day. I know Tommy loves me, he doesn't need to be embarrassed to prove it, and we don't need to throw money around. I knew that we would have fun with friends in other ways on our wedding day!
What was your beauty and fitness prep leading up to the wedding?
I really did not have any. I was too busy planning and I didn't prioritize losing weight or anything. I would go for a run whenever I felt stressed, but I did not make weight loss or toning up a priority-- there was too much other stuff to do!
Did you buy or rent your dresses? Did you have to travel far to do that?
I bought my wedding dresses. I plan to keep them for my future daughter, or even just as a keepsake. Both dresses are truly pieces of art. One was made in Spain, and one was custom made by OM Couture. They're magnificent in their own way, and I wanted to make sure that it was a forever piece. I did not have to travel far to find my dresses -- in fact they were both in Gastown and within a 10 block radius of each other! I know that many brides stress about finding that "perfect" dress, but don't. Once you find a dress that makes you look and feel good, find comfort in that. And do not say no to dresses that the sales associates show you. Try everything on! You never know!
What was your favourite part about wedding planning?
My favourite part was seeing it all come together, and how silly it was that I was so worried over the smallest details. When I walked down the aisle, did I notice the flowers that lined the pews? No! When I looked at Tommy, did I even take a second look at his navy blue tuxedo that I got for him? No! Under my dress, did anyone ever notice that I only spent $60 on my wedding shoes? No!
It made me laugh that all these little aspects that people put so much stress on were truly insignificant in the moment of the actual day. I read so many wedding blogs and fawned over these glamorous and over the top productions, fearing that mine would pale in comparison... but no one is comparing. Everyone that was there with us was smiling, happy, and that was all I ever wanted. Seeing everyone enjoy themselves was all I ever wanted.
Our moms and our bridal party walked in to Pachelbel's "Canon", and I walked in to an acoustic string quartet version of "The Prayer" by Andrea Bocelli.
"Because You Loved Me" - Celine Dion
DJ or band and why?
DJ because we know our friends. We know the music that they want to listen to, and we wanted to jam out. We were so lucky to have the DJ from one of the clubs we (and all our friends) go to, and so we knew the music was going to be amazing.
What were your wedding favours?
We made gummy bear candy boxes with a custom label of our faces on it. It was important to me that the favour was useful without being costly. Everyone ate their gummies. We had friends ask for extras.
Is there anything you would have changed in hindsight?
I would have told myself to calm down more. Especially the week before the wedding. I was so concerned with making sure that everything was perfect that I became snappy and cried all the time. I suddenly became stressed over the smallest things, and it made me a different person. Looking back, I would have told myself to stop, and just take a step back and enjoy the process... cause I lost it -- a lot, that last week!
As always, thank you for reading! And for those of you who were dedicated to read this whole post, tomorrow I will be doing a giveaway for the exact same headpiece that I wore for my own wedding from Olivia the Wolf. This giveaway is open to everyone, and will close on November 11th, 2019 (midnight, PACIFIC TIME ZONE). Contest rules will be posted on my instagram page on November 4th, 2019, so for those dedicated followers --I wanted to reward you, because I truly, truly love and appreciate all of you!! Thank you for sticking with me, for your continued engagement on my content. It means so much to me to have your support and friendship!