Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The ceremony details: programs

Our ceremony program was a last-minute rush job with SO MANY issues. The first problem was the complicated layout that I thought of -- I wanted it to be longer than it is wide, similar to our invitations, and I somehow figured out how to fit everything on 11x17 paper (with the intention of later cutting it). The layout had sections of upside down text, sideways text, etc. and it was difficult to format it all. To add to it, it was really not ideal to print on 11x17 paper b/c not many printers can print this large size. Someone also planted the idea of a tabbed program in my head 2 weeks prior, even though I told myself it'd be too complicated. I ended up convincing myself that it would only take an extra 2 cuts to make it a tabbed program, which I thought would significantly up the 'wow' factor, but which increased the agita 8-fold.

I also wanted a bi-lingual (another complication I should have done without) program where it's English on one side and Chinese when you flip it to the other side (complete with Chinese tabs). It took forever to get the Chinese translation of everything -- I asked at least 3 different ppl for their help and they each had different ideas about stuff (and one person even made mistakes that someone else had to catch). I couldn't ask my parents about this b/c they've never been to a church service, much less a wedding ceremony, other than the tea variety (not that it stopped them from giving input about the wrong word being used on someone else's program). And I didn't want to ask the resident church secretary b/c he's quite annoying and I was under the impression that we'd have to pay him, which I was set against b/c I knew that even though he was invited to the wedding, he wouldn't give a gift (and I was right). I think I got all the wording just 1 week before the wedding -- talk about last minute!

Yet another mistake was desiring ivory-colored paper to not only match the invites but also b/c white isn't a good Chinese wedding color. I ordered the paper from OfficeDepot (only place that seems to carry 11x17 ivory paper -- other places have canary or blue, but no ivory!) and it took forever to get to me (from the incompetent out-sourced ppl who took the order to the slow delivery, it was a nailbiting experience whether I'd get the paper in time).

Aside from the planning, there was also a PRINTING SOAP OPERA! Like with the invites, I had issues printing the Chinese, so I had to lay everything out in Illustrator. However, b/c I am just a novice, I couldn't set the margins to print correctly and my friend offered to set up the layout using tables in Word. So I had to re-input everything into Word (and different Word versions give different results) and eventually print it out at work after-hours. The printer though, did not completely cooperate and I couldn't print all the double-sided pages. So I printed out the 2 separate pages and double-sided it at Dear's workplace, only to discover that we hadn't printed it correctly (some stuff didn't line up so when we went to cut it, things were cut off). So we printed the stuff all over again the next night and brought it to Kinko's to cut the next morning (they charge about $2/cut, though we got differing prices when we called different locations, which we were fine with, rather than cutting each one with a paper cutter at home as we did with the invites) . However, the MORON didn't listen to my instructions and ended up making the cut in the wrong place, cutting all the tabs off! So she re-made the copies using my last original but it not only came out ugly (it had all the lines that I had drawn on it to signify where to cut), but was missing Chinese text (which I didn't know until MIL started folding the programs). Totally frustrated, I decided to make the margins really wide on all the pages so that there wouldn't be a chance of cutting things off. This kinda made things a bit ugly but we finished printing it all out that night and rushed to Kinko's before it closed to explain how the person totally screwed everything up. This time, the guy actually very carefully cut everything up (he even stacked pieces of cardboard on top of the paper so that the blade wouldn't rip the top layers of paper) and things came out OK (nothing cut off, though some things came really close to the edge). He apologized for his dumb and barely educated cohorts who don't have any hopes of advancing in life and wished us well for the wedding. Then I went home and my mother and cousin volunteered to fold all the programs that night. :)

And of course, we ran into more problems when tying the programs together with ribbon. I bought 3 rolls of ivory satin ribbon from AC Moore a while ago, thinking that would be enough. And I have leftovers from the invitations (not satin, but would match) for "just in case." But when assembling everything, I didn't bring the extra ribbon and we ended up cutting up strips of leftover tulle and using that to tie everything together. The tulle gave the programs a different look (kinda airy and fluffy) but it did the job. When in a bind (no pun intended), remember that tulle can be versatile and cheap!

But alas, everything was done by Thursday (albeit less than perfectly) and I could focus on other things for Friday. If I had to do it over again, I would have allotted a full month to the program and I would have either cut out the Chinese part or asked for translations a lot sooner.
An imperfect picture of an imperfect program

When flipped over, the Chinese side

My favorite part of all was the centerfold, which I thought of just 2 days before we were to go to print. At first we were going to put the words of the musical interlude in the middle ("The Water Is Wide," sung by many artists through the years, including Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, & the Indigo Girls at the Lilith Fair in the late 90s) but then we weren't sure whether or not we'd be able to get the sheet music for the trio to play it and upon closer inspection the words had a negative slant to it. Then I read on someone's blog about including a timeline of your relationship and I kept thinking in my head how there were times where our lives intersected but we either didn't see or notice it until much later. I imagined this as 2 ropes intertwining back and forth and to make it more romantic, I decided to draw it as a ribbon. And the cherry on top of it all was when I thought of using the old saying "tie the knot" and illustrating that with the 2 ribbons being tied together and forming one wider ribbon. If I had more time, I would have made the ribbon illustration a lot neater and nicer (like drawing it better in Illustrator and making the heart wider so that the ribbon used to bind all the sheets together would fit within the heart, instead of seemingly cutting it off).
(click on image to enlarge)

programs in basket (after everything was over but before we cleaned up the dining area from all the DIY)

You can see the wicker basket when full of all the programs (including the tulle-topped ones) in this picture (never mind the somewhat f'ugly tablecloth that we got at the last minute from the 99-cent store -- it's still 10 times better than the naked table by itself):

Another part that I liked about the ceremony/program was one of the readings that I chose, "Passionate Shepherd to His Love" by Christopher Marlowe. I like the theme of love and Christian imagery that it incorporates and I thought it'd be cool to actually use something that I learned in college (English major geek speaking). It was surprisingly a lot easier to find the Chinese translation of this than to translate the other stuff. Besides the help of BM in locating translations on the Web, I factchecked the translation by going to the Donnell Library on 53rd Street, which carries a lot of foreign language books (the biggest collection in the NYPL system). Then I had a reader do this in Mandarin (since I think that dialect sounds nicer, is more formal, and that's what a lot of my side of the family speaks) while the other Chinese readings were in Cantonese (for Dear's side of the family).


Sam K. said...

I loved the "Passionate Shepherd to His Love" reading. It was very beautiful. Many people were very happily surprised by your program. I heard a lot of oohs and aaahs. My MIL thought the part in the middle represented the red string that the Moon man (traditional Chinese matchmaker) used to tie people's hearts together. The string drawing closer as they reached their true love.

Anonymous said...

After reading your journey from beginning to end (six years year later!), the timeline brought a little tear to my eye. I love that idea and I just may have to do something similar! Great for guests to look at and know your story.