Monday, November 20, 2006


A few days ago (if not weeks ago), I looked through our cards again b/c someone mentioned that her check hadn't been cashed yet. And lo and behold, I DID have a brain fart the first time around and I saw that I had left 3 gifts with their cards. I have no idea why but it was good to retrieve these gifts! (And maybe one of these days we'll sit down and actually write thank you notes. :P) It was also nice to look through the cards again b/c when we were opening it, there were so many to go through and I was so busy tracking who gave what that I barely remembered any of the cards nor the sentiments expressed in them. But this time around I noticed some really nice ones with 3-D stuff like ribbons and pearls or cut-outs and pop-ups (I think a lot of them were from Target) and it almost makes me want to make wedding cards for ppl. I also noticed one person removed the seal from our invite and used that to close his envelope, like so:

I'm not sure how I feel about that (desecration! but it's recycling too....)

Anyway, this also made me think about gifts in general. For one thing, some gifts were really surprising (in both good and bad ways). Some ppl were really really generous (thanks!!) and I'll save my rant about the ppl who gave $25 or nothing at all, but WHY do ppl leave price tags on their gifts?! One gift was especially precious: a set of jewelry with the price tag on the bottom (an inflated price I'm sure b/c it reeks of a sale item) and written on the TOP of the box in thick purple marker (so that I can't possibly re-gift it!) is a note to just ME, like Dear doesn't deserve a gift at all, yet the card was addressed to the both of us, not that he could really use a pearl necklace or bracelet.

Well to be somewhat productive instead of ranting all the time, we are trying to figure out who gave us this (no card inside the unmarked bag):
Please let me know so that we can mercilessly mock you, ahem, I mean write a proper thank-you note. No, really, we appreciate this. It has grown on me and I think it's kinda kitschy cute. We could always use olive oil and balsamic vinegar, plus it is pretty good! So lemme know if this is you -- I really want to be able to write a real thank you!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The B list, and an A

To say I was disappointed with the restaurant is an understatement. But before I begin my complaint-fest, let me clarify the reasons why we chose the restaurant (if you haven't been reading from day one): A) we wanted a Chinese banquet, B) we wanted it in Manhattan since my family mostly resides in Brooklyn while Dear's family mostly resides in Queens and to pick a restaurant in either Queens or Brooklyn would be unfair to the other side, C) we didn't really want guests to trek all through NYC to get from the ceremony to the banquet, and D) FIL has a good friend that works there in upper management (not that that helped us much, as you'll read later).

Though I was glad that the restaurant's interior was (almost) completely overhauled, it was all show, no substance. Two weeks before the wedding, we went to talk to the restaurant/banquet manager and he gave us a little tour. He was so proud of everything (pointing out several times how they brought back the gold?/brass? phoenix & dragon wall hanging from China and that it cost a great amount of money) but he neglected to show us the bathrooms downstairs. When I snuck away to check them out at the end, I saw that they were the same dark, dank, slippery cesspools that they were before, a major concern of mine. Alas, there was nothing I could do about it but sulk (which I didn't do!).

And because the renovations were not completed until less than a month before the wedding, we couldn't set anything up ahead of time, like the menu, nor the accompanying menu cards. Thankfully we didn't need additional decorations b/c I really wouldn't be able to handle thinking about that. It was a great touch, though, how the manager casually mentioned on our walk-through that the little room in the back with 2 tables would be "left open" for "special guests." He said it was a possibility that some "special guests" may want to eat at the restaurant that night so if anyone happened to come that night, they couldn't turn them away. That turned out to be a bunch of hogwash b/c there was a planned birthday party going on in there but he was too chicken to tell us that they wanted to maximize their profit for that day and booked the little room for a party too. I wouldn't have minded so much if 1) he was honest about it and 2) the freaks from that party didn't ogle as if they were in a zoo, but seemingly crashed our wedding instead of just quietly making their way to the back.

I was also pissed that the restaurant gave us the wrong info! They said that they'd change their name after the renovation to "Crystal Palace" so that's what was printed on the invitations. But a month before our wedding I walked by and they put up the old name of the restaurant (Grand Harmony) in big red letters outside. When we asked, they said technically the name of the restaurant is "Crystal Palace" b/c that's what they printed on their menus. But I don't give a flying hoot about the menus b/c no one would be looking at it that day but ppl will certainly be looking at the outside of the restaurant to know where to go! To alleviate our fears, they said that they'd put out a big sign outside saying this is Crystal Palace restaurant but they never did.

We were also promised that certain things would be refrigerated (like the wine for the tables) which weren't. After the fact I was also told that all the juice that Dear purchased for the bar went missing and mysteriously reappeared after the manager made one of his workers go get some. Dear also said he saw one of the workers swipe a nearly full bottle of liquor as he casually traversed the length of the room. There were also reports of the restaurant help partaking of the dim sum/appetizers we had for the cocktail hour (which we had to pay for by the piece, btw, so they were essentially stealing from us and our guests b/c the food was gone in a matter of minutes), instead of doing their jobs. One of our guests also said that he wished they didn't clang all the plates so loudly (though I suppose that is one of the "charms" of a Chinese restaurant, kinda like MJ tiles). I'm sure all the leftover stuff (like the favors we labored over!) were swiped too b/c a few of our friends said that when they came back to their seat, it was gone. And I've already complained about the lack of tea for the tea ceremony (we were told a few times that it was going to be brought to us but it never came).

I'd give a lower grade but I really don't expect much from Chinese banquet halls. It's long known that you either sacrifice service/decor for good food or sacrifice good food for the service/decor. Instead of going to one of the restaurants in Midtown, we chose Ctown and got 2 of the 3 aforementioned qualities at GH/CP -- I was pretty satisfied with the food and the decor was alright (sans the bathroom). Every banquet I've ever been to, the fish is overcooked, except at Grand Harmony (or is it Crystal Palace?!). All the other food was good too, with just the right flavors (not too salty, etc.) and there were no complaints (that I heard). Writing this review reminds me of how those Chinese wedding salons were so sneaky (as well as my hairstylist) and it just goes to show how you really can't trust Chinese vendors, but in this instance, we really had no choice since we wanted a Chinese banquet. Let me also add that FIL's friend at the restaurant didn't really do anything for us, though I wonder if we would have been treated worse if we didn't know anyone on the inside. We did however, score an extra lobster for each table when Dear brought over the customary bribe of liquor the Wednesday before, along with the money for half the cost of the banquet. (You read that right, you're supposed to bribe the restaurant staff with stuff the week before so that they'll remember you and treat you well; this is in addition to the tip.)

Another vendor that I was less than satisfied with was the DJ/MC. It's confusing what to call him and his company since he never gave us a straight answer. He supposedly used to work at OUO but struck out on his own and started some weirdly-named company but when he introduced himself to everyone at the wedding, he used some other permutation of that name. In any case, I am very reluctant to actually publish his name/company since he's known Dear for a really long time and I'd like to think that part of the reason why I was quite unsatisfied is b/c we were really bad customers (hardly followed up with him, didn't always get him what he asked for) and I think in some ways he treated us less professionally b/c he was so familiar with us. For example, he said we could get him the song lists 2 weeks before the event (he tells everyone else he needs the lists 1 month ahead). I guess he trusted us to actually get back to him on time (or made a huge exception for us) so he didn't really hound us. What happened instead was just chaos (see what happens when I don't micromanage?! :D). I have to admit, though, I didn't really care about this part (I really just wanted to use an iPod -- and maybe we should have) so I didn't put much effort into it (we didn't do much research, and I kept pushing for the iPod but we also felt a bit guilty for not giving business to the friend). Aside from our dropping the ball, at times, I felt the DJ/MC wasn't really listening to us, like insisting/pleading with us to "pump it up" when we told him we were more mellow people and didn't really want rap and hip-hop. I also wanted a different DJ b/c I had heard less than stellar reviews about him, but the MC convinced us to stick w/ him and I just didn't want to fight it anymore.

On the day of, there were quite a few complaints about the decibel level of the music and each time we told them to bring it down, the MC placated us by saying he would (but didn't really) while the DJ would ignore the request (saying he couldn't turn it down but that if it bothered people so much, he'd turn the speaker to face him only, which is just nonsensical). I think in some ways, the loud music caused everyone to leave early, which was both good and bad (didn't mind the old folk leaving but wouldn't have minded our friends staying behind).

And my biggest complaint, as I've mentioned before, was the MC not relaying the info about the cake. As my MIL put it, he was just too busy dancing and having fun himself that he didn't do his job. I heard that he did make for some good eye candy for some friends though (the flirting went both ways, I think, which is somewhat unprofessional).

A final thought: my cousin told me weeks later that she went to a wedding a week after ours and they used the same MC. She said he had the same exact schtick, including the incredibly loud music. I don't know what their deal is with loudness (they started off at a tolerable level) but I think they think you need loud music to have fun -- get a clue!! I know this particular review was probably not very helpful to anyone, but if you really want to know who the MC is, I can relay it to those interested if you email me at rm47of450 at yahoo. I guess you can also learn from our mistake -- just use an iPod!! :P

But to end on a sweet note, I was happy with the bartender we hired. The restaurant doesn't have a liquor license so if you want a bar, you have to provide it yourself (Dear bought massive quantities of alcohol the week of). They could, however, hire their own bartenders for some exorbitant amount and they suggested having 2. So instead of shelling out that money to someone who would probably be stealing half the liquor as they served it, I turned to my alma mater for their bartending service. They are a bargain at $20/hr (minimum of 3 hours), plus tip and cab fare back uptown. Since they are students, it wasn't always easy to contact them (email seemed best), but I did get info on how much liquor to purchase and they were quite amenable to my demands. They are quite professional too.

Since we had heard that the bar could get quite busy during cocktail hour, we supplemented the bartender with some of Dear's relatives who helped with simpler drink requests like juice and such. After that first hour or so, the lone bartender was fine on her own. We also felt good being able to help out so-called starving students (remember your days scraping by in college?) -- she was sooooo grateful that I asked her whether or not she'd like dinner since the restaurant was providing all vendor meals. And I guess she didn't expect much b/c she seemed thrilled at all the tips she was getting, plus we tipped her 20%. And in the end, we still paid much less than what the restaurant wanted (I think in total, we spent under $150 for about 5 hours).

To hire them, you just have to give at least 2 weeks notice (they actually don't assign someone to you until 2 weeks before but I asked them to book someone for me a month ahead) and sign the one-page form the day of. Of course I was too busy to do so on that day, so our coordinator took care of this for us. I think they also have general party helpers if you need people to pass hors d'oeuvres or anything like that. For more info, check out their website.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

How it all came down: the evening of, part deux

Now back to recapping my wedding. I last left off with doing the tea ceremony before the banquet began so let us continue from there. I have no idea when we finally started the banquet (no watch) but it felt like forever and like a mass of confusion. Everyone was running around and I was trying to rest up and also get makeup retouches (plus snacking on the steaming-fresh-out-of-the-fryolator egg rolls that my BMs smuggled from the reception outside -- though should I have been mingling then?). I think Dear was finalizing details with the MC (yeah, we were so unprepared with that stuff), people were snapping pictures, getting me to pose with them, and there was a whole slew of family portraits AGAIN (so I really really really do NOT understand why someone really wanted the group shots after the ceremony when time could have been better utilized!). People kept disappearing but eventually the necessary people started to line up by the door so that we could be introduced in the proper order and get the whole thing started. I don't know if we didn't start on time because we couldn't line up or because there weren't many people there yet (I heard the MC say that at one point). But eventually, we walked onto the dance floor as Mr. and Mrs. and there was the awkward moment of where do we go b/c we had nixed the idea of forming an arch with the bridal party's extended arms and us walking underneath it. I think we stood by the front with the rest of the bridal party and then went to our first dance from there (Michael Buble's "You and I", which we picked maybe 2 days before) and it felt incredibly long and weird for everyone to be staring at us, fumbling/shuffling along like that. Somehow or other the MC made eye contact with me and he got the idea to end the song, which I was sorta thankful for, but what I really wanted was for him to invite other couples to the dance floor so that we didn't have so much attention on us. Instead, he cut to the parents dance, which was embarassing and I think I would NOT have regretted skipping this part. Though the lead-up to that was extremely hilarious when my mortified MIL learned that she had to dance in public so she forced FIL to take dancing lessons with her and they still haven't really mastered much of anything. :D [Though FIL danced somethin' fierce towards the end with one of Dear's friends (he looked like he was having so much fun!! -- see the pics below).] Anyway, it was extremely awkward for me to dance with my father (since we hardly talk and we're never even standing so physically close to each other, plus he didn't know when he had to go up [and neither did I]) and someone told me he looked really scared, like he was afraid he'd hurt me so he held me by the wrist (which I totally didn't notice). To add to the awkwardness, the parents dance was cut short to bring out the bridal party couples and we were dancing to the Michael Buble song again.

We then finally had the chance to sit down and the first course was served. I was a bit dismayed to have to sit on the head table with the out-laws and some seemingly distant relative of Dear's. But it was OK, I was able to eat (though the jellyfish was so chewy that I almost choked, or was it my nerves?), unlike Dear who went around like the town mayor to make sure the vegetarian ppl were OK and that they had stuff to eat (totally different menu for them).

Just when I started my shark fin soup I was whisked away to do the cake-cutting. Unfortunately we chose a really short song for this (Sarah McLachlan's "Ice Cream") and our photographer wanted to set us up with a million and one different poses. When we finally got to the cake, we had no idea how to cut it (at first we were cutting the cardboard in between the layers) and for some reason I made a very thin slice before Dear said we should cut something bigger, which was a bit of a struggle. We also had issues sliding the piece out onto the plate, but with the help of my fingers, it made it to the plate. :P Somehow or other we finally got a DELICIOUS bite of the cake. I totally wanted to stuff the rest of the slice into my mouth but only made away with a lick of my fingers. [VH1 "Pop Up Video"-like sidenote: I got the cake knife and server 2 days before the wedding because we weren't sure whether the restaurant provided it. We looked high and low (OK, not very high, nor low) for a plain one. There were a lot with frilly patterns or porcelain handles, which I totally didn't want, nor did I want to spend a buttload of money on it. I finally found a plain one at Macy's for about $20 -- woo hoo!]
BEFORE: struggling to take a pic whilst my mouth waters for a bite of the cake

AFTER: the lovely cake mutilated and yummified in my tummy

We sat down for a brief instant and I was called to do the bouquet toss thing. Dear got to finish his shark fin soup while I did this ritual that I was really torn about. On the one hand, I've always hated being singled out (why should you be 'punished' b/c you're single?!) but I also didn't want to exclude anyone in case they really wanted to participate. I once went to a wedding where all the single women were called up (I went reluctantly) but I was pleasantly surprised to see that instead of the embarassing garter toss, etc. the bride gave everyone who went up a mini bouquet. I was thinking of doing the same thing but it was hard to gauge the number of people who would go up, plus I kinda forgot. Anyway, a few women went up and the MC (completely against my wishes -- I explicitly told him I didn't want to make it a big deal and that I didn't care if only a few ppl went up) tried to get me to coax more ppl up, even asking me if I saw anyone sitting who should have been (I barely looked across the room and said I think that's it). When the MC was finally satisfied with the group on the floor, I did my toss and I guess everyone moved away from it (the dance floor was huge so they had a lot of places to run) so I tossed it again... and again. The MC then made all the girls form a circle with their backs turned so that I could choose someone. Great... such pressure!! I looked for my friend who's getting married next year but she wisely chose to remain seated (or hidden) and I thought long and hard about who would enjoy the flowers the most without being embarassed to the heavens. I finally settled on the person who was closest to the bouquet last (it landed by her feet but she refused to pick it up). In pictures, her expression at getting picked was total shock/mortification (classic!) but when she found out there was no garter toss she was all OK (afterwards she said that if she knew there was no garter thing she would have gladly accepted the flowers the first time around).
Watch the crowds scatter

And then watch the chosen's reaction! :)

By this time, my soup was cold and starting to congeal but I had to go change to my red qi pao. I grabbed BM (I normally have no problems changing on my own but I needed someone to add the flowers to my hair) and all the other BMs followed me to my little chamber. It was nice to be waited on (one person fixing my hair, the other two adding on some of the gold jewelry that I received at the tea ceremony). :D I was also very grateful when I had to pee earlier on and one held my dress up and another watched the door. :)) And to continue this TMI stream (no pun intended -- haha!), I forgot to put on my SPANX (to flatten my gargantuan tummy and slim my tree-trunk thighs so that I could sit in the tight-fitting dress) and I had to put it on after the fact. It was no easy task, so word of advice, remember your SPANX ahead of time!!

If my red dress fit better, I'd be more ecstatic about it. But for less than $100, I was satisfied. My mother helped me pick it out and she really liked it (yes, I finally did something she approved of). I also really liked the different look of the keyhole opening in the front and the delicate gold embroidery all over it. Anyway, when I came out, we danced to "The Lady in Red."If I had my druthers, I would have put more effort into choosing a song for this part b/c it just seems so cliche but I've always liked that song, so it wasn't that terrible. After the quick dance (and requisite snapshots), we went around to toast the tables. The restaurant manager had already mixed Coke with Sprite in goblets for us, though I would have enjoyed seeing some ppl do silly drinking games with liquor. :)
One of the things that I appreciated about the MC was his introduction of this toasting by saying that the table who makes the most noise when we come around would get a special treat (don't know if he followed through on this) b/c it got us some really good reactions. Unfortunately we had a schedule to keep and we couldn't chat longer with some ppl and the restaurant manager kept moving us along. He also tried to keep us in the right order -- groom's parents, followed by bride and groom together, then bride's parents, and the rest of the bridal party -- but we wanted to stray at times like when Dear was catching up with his friends but no one else knew the ppl on that table and they wanted to move along.

After the toasting, the banquet was pretty much over. The photographer took off soon after (so it must have been around 9:30), the fried rice and noodles came out, and the cake was put out, along with the ice cream. I'm not sure how many ppl knew about the ice cream but there should not have been an excuse for the cake, except that the MC was remiss and did not mention it at all. I changed into my final dress of the evening (perhaps my favorite) and rested/hid a while as ppl did the conga line outside. Call me a party-pooper but I don't dance and I don't like being forced to, so I may not have partied as much as I should have but it looked like other ppl didn't mind and had fun anyway. The MC did pull us out at the end when everyone formed a circle and cheered us on. We came out and stood in the center of the circle but had no idea what to do (were we supposed to dance? laugh? sing?) and eventually the MC made everyone give us a group hug.
FIL gettin' down
The luscious cake served to the masses

Oh, did I forget the toasts? I don't remember at all when they took place (after the cake cutting? after the bouquet toss?) but all three were really nice and full of sweet sentiments. It was good that none of them were really embarassing (my poor BM seemed extremely nervous!!) but had humor nevertheless. The only bad thing was that ppl are crazy RUDE and continued to talk as the toasts were given so some ppl said they could barely hear anything. I also somewhat regret not giving a toast of our own, thanking everyone for coming. We were so busy (and such slackers w/ the MC) that it completely slipped our mind. :T

And before we knew it, ppl started leaving and we were saying good bye to them by the door as they left. At one point, the aunt and uncle that came too late for the tea ceremony rushed over and put the necklace they bought on me. It was a bit weird but I remember their gift most clearly. :) As the restaurant cleared of people, our wonderful helpers cleaned everything up and packed stuff away. I sat like the little diva that I am, resting my aching feet until almost everyone was gone. At the end, some of my friends stayed behind to keep me company and it was good to chat with them. When my parents were leaving, my brother gave a little speech to Dear welcoming him to the family and said some mushy stuff to me too. He then gave me a bear hug (even lifting me off the floor), causing me to leave a smear of runny makeup on his rented tux.

Eventually Dear and I drove to the church where we dropped off a whole bunch of stuff at FIL's office and we went to Pathmark to get some drinks (completely parched and someone had packed away all the leftover drinks by then) so that we could properly chow down on the leftovers from our table. :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Here's a cool alternative to the petal toss that I came across: colored bubbles! Not just regular bubbles but colored ones, called Zubbles. Imagine the red ones floating and falling against the backdrop of a white dress (don't worry, they don't stain). Or other bright colors like orange or blue being blown around to match a color scheme -- the possibilities are endless! They won't be available until in Spring 2007 so even if I knew about these earlier I wouldn't have been able to use it. :T

Monday, November 13, 2006

Flamboyancy makes the world go 'round

As this is a wedding blog, I feel it is my duty to share all things wedding, including the one that I attended this weekend. Wow is all I can say about it. The couple has uh... very flamboyant tastes and I'll try to just describe the wedding rather than to impart any kind of judgment since it was definitely very different from anything I would do. There were also a bunch of things that I've never seen/experienced before so it was definitely an interesting experience.

The bride wore a large ballgown dress at the ceremony, with many layers in the skirt. Within these layers someone stuck silk flower petals to give the dress some color I guess, or to give it a "just ran through a meadow" kind of look. She also had flowers (purple dendrobiums) draped around her hair to continue the theme. She also wore fingerless gloves (reminded me of what ninjas would wear to protect their knuckles) and a veil with a lace-like trim. Her bouquet had darkish flowers that I didn't recognize and was accented with grayish feathers (she may have had a different one during the day). There must be Chinese symbolism with ivy because she had that flowing from the bouquet (as I've seen in the pics from a HK wedding). Because the ceremony was in a small church with very narrow aisles, the bride's dress almost took up the entire aisle.
The groom wore a white tux with a silver-sequinned vest and long tie, and even permed his hair for the occasion. Even though I barely understood any of the ceremony (all in Cantonese), my favorite part of the wedding was when both the bride and groom took a few moments at the end to thank their parents. It was already an emotional experience (the groom cried as he read his personalized vows) and when they were speaking, you could tell they really were thankful. They also presented their mothers with flowers, which was nice.

For their programs, they had a blue plaid card printed with the order of events (all in English, even though most of the people there probably couldn't read it), topped with a vellum overlay and tied with a baby blue ribbon and a silverish charm. I still don't get why the charm was a pair of shoes.

The processional was a bit odd because only one bridesmaid (presumably the maid of honor) walked down the aisle (unlike at the banquet entrance, where at least 4 couples were introduced and walked onto the dance floor). The other BM had a similar beige-colored dress, but was lacy instead of sequinned. I think it had a bow around the waist too.

the ringbearer (but where's the ring/pillow?)

the flower girls (it took a while for me to see this, but I think the color scheme included baby blue)

Notice also the MOH didn't carry a bouquet but had a corsage

One thing that I really didn't care for was the use of silly string (in case anyone ever thinks they want to have this component in their wedding). While it may be fun for guests to spray around, I think it's not a good idea for pictures. At the end, the couple was covered in a web-like mass, all over their head (quite unflattering) and then to try to remove it without messing up your hair is just not worth the risk.

At the banquet, the family went all out on the menu. I think they chose the highest (and most expensive) tier of goods for the tables -- each setting had a charger (blue with gold rim) and there were chair covers all around. The menu had stuff like large chunks of shark fin in the soup (presented in a very wide & shallow bowl to show this off), a whole piece of abalone for each person (very hard to finish), sushi (not sure how the old folk received this), and half a small stuffed lobster per guest. There was also a reception at the beginning with various dim sum like shumai, shrimp balls coated in almond slivers, and Peking Duck. Unfortunately there was no bar (hence it was not called a "cocktail hour" on the invitation). :( In fact, I don't think there was any alcohol except for the bottles of merlot and chardonnay at each table. This was supplemented by a waiter occasionally walking around, brandishing a bottle of Hennessey, asking if anyone wanted any. Everyone declined on our table, so maybe that was a good way to save and not waste (we still have more alcohol than we'll ever need for the next 20 years!).
For favors, everyone got a picture holder (not a frame, but one of those things with an alligator clip) in the shape of what I think is a lucky Chinese animal/person (like a cutesy anthropomorphic cat wearing a hat or something) holding a red sign/balloon with some Chinese characters I don't recognize (see middle of the above pic; it's next to the tea cup). There was also a wrapped square of Ghiradelli chocolate with caramel on the chargers.

It was interesting that the two head tables were not up on the stage but mixed in on the main level (they were distinguished by their red tablecloths & napkins), flanking the sides of the dance floor. Instead, they had this white corrugated cardboard structure in front of the stage with tall columns holding the cardboard gates in between, and this third castle-like column on the left with blue cellophane flowing out of a hole cut into the side. I think there was some faux water underneath the castle thing too. However, on the other side was an ice sculpture of a pair of kissing swans that created a puddle that was definitely not faux. Next to the block of ice was the cake (a typical Chinese type with the tiers spread across like steps, with a few rose petals sprinkled on top of each). For some reason the couple didn't cut the cake but the MC lobbed off a piece for them and they fed it to each other. At one point there was also a huge firecracker-like thing that was triggered and released a bunch of confetti (also not a good idea to do this over the cake, since a few pieces were stuck to the frosting on my slice).

Another thing that I've never experienced is the MC going around to each table with his mike and asking if anyone on the table would like to share a few words with the couple while the videographer followed him around to capture the sentiments. It was nice to see that some people actually were courageous enough to stand up and say something on the spot like that (too bad I couldn't understand what anyone was saying).

The bride's hair was pretty nice at the banquet (I think at one point she wore a hair piece with curls that flowed down her back) and each time she changed her dress, she had something to match in her hair, along with a slightly different hairstyle. Her first change was a very full pink ball gown (my favorite of the night) with delicate fluffs in the skirt and she had some pink feathery things in her hair. Then she changed into a teal ball gown with a teal headpiece (this one had a hoop skirt) and finally a red-sequinned evening gown with fettucine (not spaghetti) straps.
Is this the same as the ceremony gown or is it banquet dress #1?

banquet dress #1 (or is it #2?)

banquet dress #2/3

So concludes all the weddings that I have for this year. Also this was the first time I didn't get singled out for the bouquet toss -- I was "saved by the ring!" :)

Friday, November 10, 2006

No thank you!

I thought the arguments about the wedding would be over... but the consequences of the guests live on! So for those unaware of the Chinese tradition of old folk giving gifts to the parents, that's what happens. It is just a side benefit that their kids happen to have gotten married -- they get all these gifts as if they had a great big, old birthday party for themselves. While I am extremely grateful for being raised by such great parents, and the out-laws have been quite generous, I am/was a little miffed that I put in all this effort so that my parents could reap loads of cash. But I've gotten over that. Yesterday, a HUGE argument ensued with the out-laws b/c they are too DAMN lazy to write their own thank you cards.

I was beginning to sort out the cards that I had begun to write when they walk over and ask if they can some cards. After some vague comments, I counted out 30 of them so that they could get started writing theirs. Imagine their shock when she looked inside the card and it was BLANK! It wasn't enough that there was a simple "Thank you" printed in fancy lettering on the front, she wanted words on the inside as if she expected us to write notes to people we don't know thanking them for gifts we didn't receive. I can see writing a note to someone thanking them for coming, but there is no way I will write a note thanking someone for someone else's gift. Can I write this: "Thank you for coming. It was great seeing unfamiliar faces on our very special day. We're glad you were able to bring your uninvited child to the wedding and we're just ecstatic that you gave our parents a generous gift. It will be come in very handy for their upcoming retirement party or when they go crazy buying tchotkes at the garden center."

There was screaming and much offense. I kept hearing "But it's YOUR wedding!" when we'd say something like they were YOUR guests (never mind that we don't know their names or that they may not even be able to read English, the only language we can comfortably write). They thought we were selfish bastards for not wanting to thank people who didn't give us a gift (which may be true, I am a selfish bastard after all, but I find it odd to send someone 2 different thank you notes -- one from us thanking them for coming, and one from the gift-recipient thanking them for the gift and thanking them for coming. Why not just send one?!). They were very disheartened that they had to hear this. So they propositioned us to take a survey of everyone we know that has gotten married to see who writes the thank you note. So here's my survey. What's been your experience? (For the record, my co-workers all find this strange that the parents even get a gift, and hence, because the newlyweds got the gift in those cases, they wrote the thank yous.)

Oh and the sorta-solution will be for us to print a very generic "Thank you for celebrating our special day with us" on their cards and perhaps they will add a line or two and sign it. So if you receive a hand-written card from one of us, know you are special. But if you receive a pre-printed card with a generic message, know that the out-laws think you're (kinda) special.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

How it all came down: the evening of

Before the banquet began in the evening, we cut the picture-taking short (cutting out the SI Ferry option) and headed back to Ctown so that we could get the tea ceremony started. There was a bit of traffic, especially on the street leading to the restaurant. Our photographer got out of the car so that he could capture shots of us arriving and I think he must've waited at least 15 minutes for those few paces. The bridal party, behind us, decided to just walk and they got there way before we did.

When we got to the restaurant, Judy, our fantabulous baker, had just finished setting up the cake. It was so nice, exactly the way I wanted and yet way beyond my expectations. I think we were still communicating about flowers a few days before the wedding and I just gave her free reign because indecisive me couldn't decide on a lot of things. She ended up creating a bunch of yellowish-orange sugarpaste orchids for the cake-topper and at first I thought they were real! Everything that I could decide on and asked for was created exactly the way I wanted, down to the same shade of red that I love from the invitations. From the flowers to the double happiness monogram in royal icing, to the cherry blossom texture on the middle tier, to the red bands stamped with an image of a Chinese knot I found on an envelope, I really loved how the cake turned out and to try to describe how beautiful it was would just ruin it.

So here are some pics.
Do you see how she even piped the cherry blossom design onto the board that the cake is sitting on?

close-up of the flowers on top of the cake

close-up of the double happiness

Someone captured this moment while Judy was setting up -- look at the deep concentration!

I love Judy's work and I think she was the best vendor we dealt with, coming up with exactly what I wanted. She has a lot of good ideas and her work is exquisite! And her pricing is a lot more affordable than other bakers that we checked with for the type of cake we wanted. She is also very accessible -- we met with her several times to discuss the design and flavors, plus we communicated regularly through email. At the tasting, we couldn't decide which flavor we liked more so we chose both the mocha cake with raspberry filling and the lemon cake with strawberry filling as different tiers. I think the mocha turned out a LOT better than the lemon (though the lemon wasn't bad either) and I even had guests ask for more of it when only the lemon was left. Someone also said that he doesn't usually like that type of cake (chocolate with fruity flavors) but he still really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, a lot of guests also said that they didn't partake of any of the scrumptiousness b/c the MC neglected to mention that there was cake to the side (more on THAT some other time -- hrmph!!). But can I really complain, since we got all the leftovers?! :D We cut a section to freeze for our one-month anniversary (yesterday, btw, but we totally forgot!) and we also had slices here and there for the first two weeks when I allowed myself to eat with reckless abandon again. But I digress, I HIGHLY recommend Silk Cakes!

I don't know who exactly set stuff up at the restaurant, but the favors and bottles of wine (or at least most of them) eventually made it to the tables, as did the table/menu cards. The cake table was also made gorgeous by BM's sister, who set up the buckets of flowers from the ceremony in a line across the back of the table. Such a simple presentation that did just the trick! She also propped up the floral monograms so that they flanked either side of the cake, and spread leftover petals on the table. I was so pleasantly surprised at how romantically lush it came out!
BEFORE: the cake table

AFTER: the cake table (with us in the background doing the tea ceremony)

While everything was set up, we did the tea ceremony thing on the stage at the front of the restaurant. It took forever to get things ready (to round everyone up and to get the tea) so it totally threw our schedule out the window, even though we showed up early (and sacrificed going to all the places we wanted to for pics). Finally, Dear went and got the tea and we got started. It was weird to address all these people as if we were related (like addressing Dear's aunts as if they were my aunts, since I am now considered part of that family). At times I found it comical when we didn't know how to address certain relatives (I am somewhat disrespectful and I don't always correctly address my relatives by their proper rank and title, plus I thought my parents called some ppl various terms of endearment). And when I forgot what Dear just called his relatives, thankfully BM was paying attention and mouthed it to me. That garnered me at least one brownie point with Dear's aunt, who called me smart since I normally don't talk to her under the guise of not understanding her Cantonese dialect. ;)

At the beginning I really didn't want to do the tea ceremony thing b/c I thought it would take up too much time and in some instances I don't really want to pay respect to ppl that I don't really know (like some 'aunt' who I still don't quite understand the relation of). But it was kinda cool to have that time with each set of relatives, sorta talk to them, and to serve them tea, kinda like a receiving line on steroids (only they were sitting and we standing). Originally we were supposed to kneel to the elders but Dear adamantly refused. I thought he was being picky but then I learned this was some sort of pagan ritual so I fought for it too. I felt a bit guilty about this since my mother had already purchased the pillows and the specially embroidered pillowcases but in the end she understood (or got so tired of fighting me on every little thing that she gave up). However, either my parents didn't communicate with each other (highly likely) or my father forgot, but when it came their turn to be served tea, my father kept saying "Aren't they supposed to kneel?" I found that kinda funny too. Besides a bunch of gold bracelets and stuff, my mother also gave me a pair of gold screwpost earrings with diamonds -- the posts were so thick it hurt to stick it in my ears, but everyone said I had to wear everything to show respect. After a while, I started to look like the female (and Chinese) version of Mr. T. And Dear's tux pocket was stuffed with envelope after envelope that we each received from each set of elders. I wish we kept better track of these. :( Also, I still think that my older brother should have been included in this lineup but my family insisted that he shouldn't be because he's not yet married. What irked me more is that later on, when our families were introduced, he was excluded yet again, as if I don't have a brother. Even Dear's younger brother was introduced then! Friggin' distant aunts were mentioned but not my brother -- how much closer of a relation can you get than siblings?!

Anyway, on to other criticisms.... Just a few more posts about the banquet and I'll be done recapping! (Maybe we'll then have time/patience to do all the million other things that need to be done, like going through pro pics [if we ever get them], writing thank you notes, etc.)

Ceremony detail: music

I barely noticed the presence of the string trio since I was so out of it, but for those interested, we asked a friend who books classical musicians do this for us. He said that he works only with top-notch players (both pros and non-pros) and that he could work with any budget b/c it is a buyer's market. At first he suggested a quartet headed by a guy who regularly plays at the Met, all for $1000 for a few hours. But we gave him a budget of only $300 and he eventually came up with 3 ppl that would play for 1.5 hours. He then found the appropriate sheet music for what we wanted (arrangements for strings) and we were set! If only I were a guest at the wedding, so that I could hear all the beautiful music (ranging from Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" [the 3rd movement, "Autumn," which fit in with our seasonal theme :P]). From the people that I asked, they said the trio did a good job (or at least they didn't notice any mistakes -- anyone want to add their opinion?).

I have no idea how much he charges since he is a friend, but he has mentioned his work with weddings. I just discovered his website online: and I see that he represents vocalists, as well as jazz musicians. If we had a bigger budget, I'd have asked him about music at the banquet and/or cocktail hour as well. *sigh*

And just for fun, here's one of my floral monograms in action:

Thursday, November 2, 2006


As a newlywed, I never thought that I'd really be starting a 'new life.' But that's totally what happens. And with that 'new life' there are some things (OK ppl) that I miss.

The other day (just a few days after the wedding) the BM that used to be my neighbor told me how she was taking the subway home and she thought to herself how she may run into me at the bus stop. Then she realized that that wouldn't happen b/c I no longer live there. As she told me her thought process, I got a little verklempt. We now live miles apart and there won't be any more of those chance encounters -- we'll actually have to make appointments (ack! plan?!) to see each other. :(

I actually miss my parents. As crazy as they drove me during the wedding planning, I miss their presence. I'm getting a little teary-eyed as I write this. I regret not having better communication with them before because now it is awkward for me to express emotion in front of them. :P I wonder what it is like for them to come home and see my empty room, knowing I won't sleep there that night.

I also miss my weird, amusingly irreverent brother (I also want to be able to keep an eye on him). :) There were times I found his blasting music annoying, but as the years went by, his taste mellowed out and some stuff were actually quite decent. It was a great compliment to have him say that the music I chose for the wedding banquet was pretty good (though I have gripes about that -- my review yet to come, I know). But does the fool (an affectionate term between us) know that I was able to narrow down a lot of choices by sifting through his massive collection of mp3s (a suitcase full of burned CDs and DVDs)? I've always looked up to him for his opinion on computers and other gadgets. I'll miss how we can say just one word or phrase that only means something ridiculously funny to the both of us and that'll keep us amused for at least 5 minutes (like "walnut meats"). There's more to say about the nugget but so hard to sum up (with less than a year difference between us, we've grown up together practically as twins). I wonder if we'll ever really see each other now, especially with his busyness on the weekends. I just hope he'll be able to find someone who can bring out his good qualities (believe it or not, there are some :P And no, I'm not trying to pimp him out).

Despite all that is missing, there's a lot of good stuff happening too. With the move to Queens, I live closer to a lot of friends too. It's easier to see these groups of people and be able to hang out with them without having to worry about getting home hours later. Now if only we could (afford to) live in Manhattan and be able to bridge the two worlds (or would that just alienate us from both groups?).

NOTE: It's taken me a while to complete this entry (I started it last week) because I have had to pause every so often to prevent the puffy eyes (how sappy am I?!).