Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Year of the Dog

I recently read an article in the New York Times about this solar year being a lucky one for weddings. Unlike last year (the Year of the Rooster, which was supposedly really bad for weddings, or big life changes, as I had heard elsewhere also), this Year of the Dog is good. It is especially good b/c this year happens to have two 'lichun,' or beginning of spring. Supposedly this double-spring phenomenon happens every five years and ppl plan nuptials around then (did fiance plan it that way? -- yeah right). I don't really believe this stuff but it is good to know that we're doing something right and that not everything I'm planning has to be an ordeal or has to have ten things wrong with it (or shall I say 450 things wrong w/ it?).

Some other stuff that I have to get done:
- invites
- decide what to do about hair & makeup (I want to check out some dept. store makeup counters)
- get other 2 dresses
- get/make veil (I'm now in the phase of wanting a floor-length one, though I don't know how to sit w/ that on)
1-2 months before (from the Knot Guide)
- try out veil w/ hairstyle
- shape eyebrows
- makeup trial run
- test out at-home masks or pro facial
2 weeks before
- final haircut/trim
- drink lots of water & exercise
- full hair trial
- eat right (eat fruits & veggies; cut out salt & fat -- hope I won't be PMS-ing)
1 week before
- get massage (if can afford it)
- bikini wax and final eyebrow shaping
- final facial (but not day before!)
- final trim for fiance
- avoid salty snacks and alcohol
1 day before
- drink lots of water
- deep-condition hair
- pro manicure & pedicure
- take long, relaxing bath (I'll skip this)

Here's the full article that I mentioned above b/c I know NY Times will archive it and then make you pay to get access (but I put it in tiny print so you can scroll through it if you're not interested and it doesn't make it seem like this post is that long):
Entering the Year of the Wedding

Published: January 29, 2006

WOMEN wishing to marry might try to hurry the process along, slyly dropping hints about rings or blatantly pressuring boyfriends to pop the question. But not Jennifer Chung.

Ms. Chung, who is Chinese-American, held off her wedding plans until just the right moment so she could get married in the Year of the Dog, which begins today, the first day of Chinese New Year.

Her reasoning was based on luck, not logistics. Ms. Chung, 29, an account supervisor at Gigante Vaz Partners, an advertising agency in New York, considers the Year of the Dog to be an auspicious one for weddings. Last year, the Year of the Rooster, was thought to be particularly unlucky for marriages.

The reason many Chinese (and half-Chinese) couples are choosing Dog wedding dates over Rooster ones traces back to the solar calendar. The Year of the Rooster, which began on Feb. 9, 2005, and ended yesterday, did not contain a lichun, or beginning of spring. (Lichun usually falls on Feb. 4, the halfway point between the winter and summer solstices.) A year without a lichun is called a "widow year" or "blind year," explained Theodora Lau, the author of "The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes" (HarperCollins, 2005). "The thinking is that if you get married in a blind year, you didn't look at what you were doing, and you could get divorced next year."

Many couples, both tradition-minded and modern, took notice, postponing wedding plans last year. (According to articles in the Asian press, would-be brides and bridegrooms in China shunned the Rooster in large numbers, often leaving wedding-related businesses there with empty reception halls.)

The Year of the Dog, which will end Feb. 17, 2007, will span two lichun, Ms. Lau said. "It's very lucky to see spring in the beginning of the year and in the end. A lot of people would love to get married in a double-spring year."

In late 2004 Ms. Chung's mother first mentioned the significance of the calendar to her daughter. "It stuck in my mind," Ms. Chung recalled. She then relayed the concern to her boyfriend, Jay Wilkins, who had already asked Ms. Chung's parents for her hand in marriage. Fortunately he was on board for a Year of the Dog wedding. They'll walk the aisle in March.

Ms. Lau said this phenomenon, which occurs every five years, has long drawn couples to the altar. "Ancient matchmakers would tell parents who were paying for the weddings, 'This is a lucky, prosperous year.' " she said. "It was a way to draw in business."

It still is. Albert Chu, manager of the Golden Bridge Restaurant in Chinatown in New York, says "the two springtimes" ought to create a surge in wedding banquets. "We've had a lot of calls asking to reserve the party room," he said.

Johnson Lau, owner of Highlight Studio Wedding Center, a Chinatown wedding planner, said his business has recovered from the 20 percent dip in bookings he experienced last year. "We've already booked 50 for this coming year," he said.

For other Chinese-American fiancées, marrying in the Year of the Dog is not as clear a choice as it might seem. Peggy Pei-Yi Hwan, 32, a research analyst at Standard & Poor's in New York, is also planning a Year of the Dog wedding. Upon reflection, a Rooster date would have been cause for some concern. "My family is superstitious, and I've inherited that to an extent," she said. "Part of me is relieved that I'm not getting married in a year that is considered bad luck."

She and her fiancé, Geordie Hebard, settled on a March wedding, but once a date was determined, the couple was unexpectedly whipsawed by another cultural and religious issue: Lent.

"We had a hard time finding someone who would marry us," said Ms. Hwan, who was raised as a Protestant. "It's considered a sacred time, so a lot of conservative Episcopalian ministers won't perform the service." The couple has secured a willing officiant for their March 4 ceremony, luckily.

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