Archive | July, 2012

Enough about the rings!

31 Jul

So, I’ve been yapping on about the rings for way too long. It’s becoming sorta repetitive. I promise I’ll finish the saga soon, but for the meantime, let’s talk ceremony.

After a recent trip attempting (and maybe succeeding?) to get my rings resized (I know I said I wouldn’t talk about them, but there’s a link!), my ma and I decided that it was high time we grab fresh juice and get some dinner for tonight. I was feeling downtrodden and wanted to sulk in the car, but my ma told me that there was a shop which sold nice-looking, authentic tea sets for a relatively good price. She knew I wanted one for the tea ceremony that would be conducted at GP and my wedding (more on that later). So, dragging myself out of the car, I made my way with her to the shop and entered.

It was a little shop – so little, I had to hold my bag to my chest because I didn’t want to accidentally knock anything over. With bare white walls and a lack of shelves, the shop was littered with customary Chinese statues, scrolls and other knickknacks. There were pai shu (Chinese ‘dogs’ which serve to bring good luck), statues of good luck animals (the horse and koi), and even the Chinese good luck cabbage. In a heap, piled on top of each other, were tea sets of all different shapes and sizes. When we perused through them, we found a pamphlet with traditional clay teapots.

“Do you have this?” asked my mum.

“None left,” came the disheartening reply.

Balls.

Well, I thought, the ceramic ones were pretty and colourful. Not very traditional, but still very pretty! Maybe a blue one? No, didn’t match the theme I was going for. Black looked nice. Too plain though, and the cups were huge. There was a white one, but it was pricier. How about the red? It was red and gold, pretty patterns, cups weren’t too big. And the icing on the cake?

They were $30.00.

Do you know what the cherry on top of the icing was?

My mum managed to get them for $25.00.

Chinese tea set? CHECK and MATE.

Now what is the Chinese tea set for, I hear you asking. Well, let me explain.

As a Chinese girl, tradition has long been connected to how I’ve grown up. I’m Buddhist, and though I’m not a huge practitioner of my faith, I still believe in the gods and pray during special occasions. I believe in most of the customs and beliefs that are attached to my religion and culture. For example, I believe in karma, I believe that there is a place on the other side once a person passes, and I believe that to get good things in life, you must treat others with a similar respect and kindness. However, I am not a vegetarian, and I don’t necessarily wish to be so.

My parents are a lot more superstitious than I am, but I want to make them happy while I plan my wedding, and so I’m allowing them to choose the date of the wedding based on the Chinese calender, GP’s birthday and my own. From these, the Chinese soothsayer (or ‘oracle’, as my friend calls them) will be able to choose a date which is ‘auspicious’ – in other words, one that promises a good future. GP, an atheist, is a little bit iffy on the whole belief system, but he knows this will make me (and his in-laws) happy, so he’s being good about it. The date alone has been an uphill struggle for GP and I, but that’s another story for another time.

Another part of my culture is the “Chinese tea ceremony”.

The Chinese tea ceremony, for those who don’t know, is a lot like the traditional ceremony in the more ‘western’ parts. It’s basically a joining of two people and their families. However, instead of a celebrant/officiant/priest ‘making it official’ with vows (or prayers), the soon-to-be husband and wife kneel before their elders and serve them tea, respecting those who came before. As with the traditional wedding ceremony, there are particular things that need to happen during the Chinese tea ceremony. You can read all about it here:http://www.chinese-wedding-guide.com/tea-ceremony.html.

I want to incorporate the Chinese tea ceremony into my wedding as I believe it’s a beautiful tradition. You pay your respects to your elders, you get to drink warm hot green tea, and you get gifts at the very end (hey, I’m a modern girl!). I also get to wear a beautiful cheongsam, the traditional Chinese dress. Some brides choose to wear the white wedding dress, but I want to feel connected to my culture. GP has decided that he wants to wear the silk brocade jacket he bought in China when we were over there.

I’m excited to have this as a part of my wedding. And even more excited that I now have a beautiful tea set for it!

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Part 2, the Lady of the Ring: Shiny!

29 Jul

Hi Hive-sters!

When we left off, the Bighorns were just told that the rings were exactly within our budget. Not just that, but we hadn’t seen the rings at all! We were a little bit on edge to say the least. A few weeks after the drama behind the pricing, we were told that the rings were ready and in the hands of my family in Indonesia.

Despite the drama leading up to that point, I was excited! These rings would be the outward symbol of Mr Big and my relationship for years (and years, and years!) to come. I wanted to see the rings before they hit Australian shores. But, how?

Easy – have my cousin take a picture of them on her mobile phone and send them to us over Facebook. I was initially told that it wasn’t possible to see the rings, but either my mum pulled some strings or my cousin is psychic, because she sent a text message to my mum.

The photos were in my inbox on Facebook.

Excited, I raced to my laptop, clicked on Facebook and viewed the images.

My first thought?

“What am I looking at?”

I’ll be 100% with you, Hive. My engagement ring looked hideous in those photos.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

My engagement ring, taken in very bad fluorescent lighting. / Personal image.

The heart looked nothing like a heart. To me it looked like the bulbous head of an ant or an alien with one red eye. The ring from the side looked even more hideous. I was devastated. Where was the gorgeous claddagh ring that I was promised?

I texted Mr Big, who was over in Adelaide for business, and then shipped the pictures over to him over FB. He was equally, if not more, devastated. I called him several times and we had a serious talk about what to do. We viewed the wedding rings too. Those looked ok; though Mr Bighorn was worried his wedding band had a crooked heart and Celtic knot and that my nesting band wouldn’t fit with the engagement ring.

When I tried to ask my parents if we could possibly return it to get it fixed, they were uncomfortable with the idea. I realised that plan was flawed anyway.  By this time the rings were in the hands of the man we had entrusted to bring them over to Australia. How would we get in contact with the guy we had asked to courier the rings over? We had no contact number.

And so, we were stuck with these rings. Mr Big and I were sad, to say the least, but we would somehow figure it out, like we always did.

Anxious, we waited until our rings were in Sydney, in the hands of a family friend. Upon retrieving our rings, we were worried to say the least. It was night when we went to our family friends’ apartment, retrieved the rings, thanked him, and then retreated back into the car. It was winter over here, a chilly July night. We sat in Mr Big’s faithful ‘Zoe’ (the mechanical love of his life), staring at the package in hand.

Dare we open them and see what they looked like in real life?

We resolved that it would be ok, that we’d find a solution if we didn’t like it, and that no matter what, the rings weren’t the important part of the wedding.

Tentatively, gingerly, we opened up the package. There were two rings boxes – one which held my engagement ring and the other which held our wedding rings. Mr Bighorn wanted to check my engagement ring first and I anxiously agreed. I plucked the box up and opened it up. It was dark, but under the streetlight it gleamed. It didn’t look too bad in the darkness. I worried what it would look like in the light.

But I had to get a closer look.

Turning on the car light, I finally caught a glimpse of this ring which I would wear almost every day of my engaged life, and hopefully, every day after that.

Hive, it was beautiful.

The ruby in the centre – though not heart-shaped like what we wanted – was absolutely stunning. It was a deep red, but under different lights, the ruby shone different colours. The diamonds were equally as beautiful, glinting blue whenever light reflected off the surface.

And my wedding ring!

It curved perfectly along the bottom of my engagement ring. On my finger, the rings looked gorgeous. All anxiety, fear and worry melted away as I put that ring on my finger for the first time. And it hit me – I was engaged! I was getting married! To the most awesome man on this planet (I may be biased here)!!

I didn’t cry (thank God!) but I was definitely teary. I wanted to see Mr Big’s ring, I wanted to get married, and I was so, so very happy that we got these rings.

Now Mr Big’s ring – his ring was perfect. The Celtic knot was exactly as we had wanted it, the claddagh in the middle was spot on and it was both white and yellow gold as Mr Bighorn had wanted. He was so happy with it, that he wanted to wear it straight away. Unfortunately, we aren’t married yet, so he begrudgingly put the ring back into its case. We tucked the rings away and put them safely back in their packaging.

Crisis averted!

Now at the time we got the rings, they both needed resizing. Mine was too big and Mr Big’s was too small. We haven’t resized Mr Bighorn’s ring (he’s hoping to lose more weight) but mine has been resized to my finger. It fits perfectly and I wear it every day!

Now for those of you who are curious, here is my ring!

199

Taken in the bathroom… I’m a classy broad. / Personal image.

It’s not to everyone’s taste, but it’s unique and I love it! Mr Bighorn’s wedding ring and my own are equally as beautiful. My nesting ring looks similar to this:

claddagh_claddaghjewellers

Nesting wedding band on the Ashford Claddagh Ring / Image via thecladdagh.com.

And Mr Big’s band looks similar to the one I previously placed up, though in both white and yellow gold. Overall, we’re both super excited to have these rings, even despite the drama of it all!

Part 1, the Lady of the Ring: Woes and Worries

27 Jul

Hello Hive!

(Warning: some ring porn ahead.)

If you’ve been following me so far, you may remember that I posted about the symbolism of the claddagh in Mr Big and my relationship. We ultimately decided that we would use this symbol as our wedding rings and my engagement ring. However, we didn’t know how hard it was going to be to get our hands on something we both wanted. It ended up being a long saga of waiting, grief, excitement, and finally, relief. It is for this reason I’m calling this post, “The Lady of the Ring” (a play on ‘The Lord of the Rings’, for those who don’t know).

It was back in late April to early May when we returned from New Zealand (NZ), newly engaged. Excited to get the rings, we had previously went online to search for ideas. For my engagement ring, we knew we wanted a gold ring, preferably yellow gold, a ruby in lieu of a diamond, and it needed to be in the shape of the claddagh. Mr Big wanted a wedding set, with a nesting wedding band.

By searching through Google, we had found a claddagh ring with a ruby heart and diamond encrusted crown and cuffs from a website, Linda Clifford.

linda clifford ring

Ruby Claddagh Ring in White Gold. / Image via Linda Clifford.

‘That’s what I wanted to get you,’ said Mr Bighorn.

I was excited. ‘Ok. Let’s definitely get that. It’s beautiful!’, I replied. We both knew that Mr Big wouldn’t have the money to immediately get the ring after the NZ holiday so we waited for a little bit longer. I would constantly go back to those rings, admiring them and imagining the day I would be wearing it on my finger. At the same time, we figured out what to get for Mr Bighorn:

linda clifford mens ring

Men’s Claddagh Wedding Band in White Gold. / Image via Linda Clifford.

When the time came close to buy the rings, I found another website which had equally as beautiful rings. After showing them to Mr Big, he agreed they were just as good as the other one – if not better. They had better diamonds and higher grade gold. Unfortunately, the clasps for the ruby made it look like an alien or ant’s head.

the claddagh ring

The Ashford Claddagh Ring in Yellow Gold with Ruby / Image via thecladdagh.com.

So we were stuck – musing what we could do.

And then, after a visit to my parents’, we were told we could get our rings made at a jeweller in Indonesia. Not only were all the materials of a very good quality, he could also do it within our budget. The jeweller was also someone who my parents regularly visited during our trips over, so he knew the family well. Since I have family over in Indonesia, we didn’t have to travel to the jeweller to get the rings made. All we had to do was enlist an artist (my older sister, MoH M&Ms) and a translator (my mother, Ma Bighorn) to ensure that we had all the attributes we wanted on our rings written down and illustrated.

We had a pretty clear idea on what we wanted. My dad, Pa Bighorn, said that they could deliver exactly what we wanted at a good price. Mr Big and I were ecstatic. And so, we sent the illustrations off to my family in Indonesia and waited anxiously for words on the ring.

What we got back was mostly good.

The cost was within our budget and they had all the diamonds and high-quality gold we needed. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the ruby we wanted. The ruby they had was circular. We sent back the message that we wanted one in the shape of a heart. We added that if they could at least make the shape of a heart on the ring surrounding the ruby, we would also be ok with that.

And then nothing for a little bit.

When we finally heard back from the jewellers we were told that the ruby they procured was of good quality… but not a heart shape. It was explained to us that they were afraid that cutting the ruby into the shape we wanted would be a bad idea but that they would make sure that the heart-shape we wanted on the ring would be there. Apprehensive but having already committed to this enterprise, we said yes. We also wanted the rings before August 10, when Mr Big’s parents were coming in from NZ. That meant that the rings needed to be made before mid-July when we could get someone to bring the rings back to Australia.

And so, the deposit was handed to the jewellers and the ring-making commenced.

For a few months, we would hear small things here and there: how many diamonds were needed altogether, the specific weight of gold being used for each ring, the sizing issues that the jewellers came across due to international sizing differences, etc. But no pictures ever came through. We weren’t exactly sure what was happening nor did we know the specific cost of the ring.

It was about a month after we agreed to go ahead that the price came in. Our jaws dropped. I’m not going to be specific on pricing here, but it was much, much more than what we wanted. Mr Bighorn freaked a little but had to face it as it was – the rings were already being made. There wasn’t much that we could do at this point. A little disappointed and upset, we just let it go.

We just hoped that nothing else would come up.

Did anyone else face dramas getting their rings?

Ideas…

26 Jul

In order to avoid reading my texts for my Masters course, I’ve been trawling through ideas. I’ve come across a few cute things, but nothing that really struck out to me. This, however, has been something GP and I have been discussing for some time…

“You may now update your Facebook status.”

Yep. You guessed it. We want this done at the ceremony. Question is: should we?

I also found a cute place that tells you how to DIY packages for sparklers. Another idea that I think would be pretty awesome. Also, who doesn’t love sparklers? …well, I might know someone who doesn’t… but most people do!

The Claddagh Ring: Part II

26 Jul

Hello again! On a previous post I mentioned the claddagh ring and it’s significance to my fiance and I. Well today, my fiance mentioned something that I should have  mentioned previously: the connection between my name and the ring.

Now for those of you who haven’t read the previous post (link above!), the claddagh ring is the symbol of love, loyalty and friendship – three traits both GP and I value. My middle name is derived from my Chinese name and has the Chinese word, “AI” in it. Ai, for those who don’t know, means ‘love’ in Chinese, the character of which looks something like this:

“AI” – the Chinese word for ‘love’

This was taken from my iPhone (hence the blue borders), so excuse the crappy quality.

My character is a little bit altered, but getting past that. So, my Chinese name mean ‘love’.

My last name is a popular Indonesian last name. However, according to my trusty friend, Professor Wikipedia, the name allegedly derived from a Malaysian town known as Sitiawan. This name is a portmanteau of the two words: ‘Setia’ and ‘Kawan’. The meaning?

You guessed it. Loyal Friend. You can learn more about the town of Sitiawan here.

And there we have it.

Let’s take a small break…

26 Jul

Hello all,

I’m taking a small break from wedding planning to say one thing:

I NEED TO WATCH THE GREENDAY MUSICAL.

The fiance and I are listening to the Broadway recording of the Greenday musical and it’s (excuse the French) F*CKING FANTASTIC. It’s musical bliss to my ears! I want to go to New York now…

Ok – nerdgasm over.

Also – I looked at all of my results for my Masters course and I’ve got an HD for ALL of my subjects. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn but… I am quite proud of myself. Then again, I turn into a neurotic with neurosis to the neurotic max when assessment times come around. Even ask GP – I become a stressful mess. I literally can only think about my assignments.

Then again, I think that applies to me and the wedding on a much bigger scale…

DAMNIT. There I go with the wedding again…

Happy Anniversary!

25 Jul

My previous post got kind of… depressing towards the end. Hence, I’m going to rectify that with this one.

Today is July 25 2012 which effectively means GP and I have been together for two years! He came home about 15-30 minutes ago and is having a shower to get clean and ready for our dinner together. We’ll be eating at a restaurant that was recommended to us buy the NAD’s Laser Clinic people. And for those who just read that, yes, we both get ourselves lasered.

I’m super-excited to be going out and I’m all dressed up for the occasion. We’ll also be getting the aforementioned rings from my (kind of) cousin.

So, happy anniversary to us! Two years and going strong.

The Claddagh Ring: Love, Loyalty, Friendship.

25 Jul

Disclaimer: I’m not too sure about the nuances of the actual claddagh ring, so what I’m about to explain may not be 100% accurate. If you do have a better idea, please feel free to comment!

(All images personal unless otherwise stated.)

Pre-engagement, on a normal, average day, Mr Big and I were out grocery shopping. So it was sort of surprising when he pulled me to the side and said, ‘I want to get you something, it’s called a claddagh’. I was puzzled, intrigued and confused. ‘What’s that?’, I asked. He then explained it to me:

‘It’s an Irish symbol of two hands holding a heart with a crown on it.’ After he saw my confused expression, he added: ‘It’s a symbol of love, friendship, and loyalty. The heart is love, the hands are friendship, and the crown is loyalty’.

Guys, whatever walls I had around my heart melted right there and then.

You see, Mr Big isn’t Irish but he has some Irish blood in him (he calls himself an English-bred mongrel). Combine that with his romantic idea of our relationship and his love for Joss Whedon’s ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel’ (fans will get the reference!), and well, the claddagh becomes a lot more than an Irish tradition.

The claddagh ring: the symbol of love, friendship and loyalty. / Image via uniquesilverjewellery.net

So for those who don’t know what the claddagh is? Let me introduce you to Professor Google:

An original symbol of the Galway town of Claddagh, Ireland, (pronounced “cla” as in “class” and “ddagh” pronounced “da” as in “dad”) was first fashioned into the traditional ring back in the 17th Century during the reign of Mary II.

Legend has it that an Irish young man, Richard Joyce, bound for the West Indian slave plantations – no doubt the Irish Caribbean island of Montserrat – was kidnapped himself in rough seas by a band of Mediterranean pirates and sold to a Moorish goldsmith who over the many long years of his exile helped him perfect the skills of a master craftsman.

When in 1689 King William III negotiated the return of the slaves, Joyce returned to Galway – despite, it said, the Moor’s offer of the daughter’s hand in marriage and a princely dowry of half of all his wealth.

Back in Ireland, a young woman had never stopped faithfully waiting for her true love to return. Upon which time when he presented her with the now famous Royal Claddagh gold ring – a symbol of their enduring love. Two hands to represent their friendship, the crown to signify their loyalty and lasting fidelity, and the sign of the heart to symbolise their eternal love for each other.

They soon married, never to be separated again.

(Taken from claddagh.com; edited by yours truly.)

I hear the resounding ‘AWW!’ from all the girls (or the, ‘OMG he’s so cheesy’, either one works).

On my 23rd birthday I was given a claddagh ring. It’s a simple 9k gold ring which I wore pretty much every day (shown in the pictures below!) until we were engaged. Apparently, not only is the heart, hands and crown symbolic, but the way the ring is worn is symbolic too.

On the right hand, when the ring is worn with the crown facing towards your body (or towards your heart), it means that you are available, as seen below:

claddagh_right hand_heart out

I should be a hand model. Not.

However, turn it the other way, with the crown facing away from your body, and you’re officially in a relationship:

claddagh_right hand_heart in

When the ring is on the left hand with crown facing away from the body, your status officially changes to having found your true love (which is how I wear my engagement ring):

claddagh_left hand

You can think of it as a Facebook status: “single” is crown facing in towards the body; “in a relationship” is crown facing away from the body on the right hand; and “engaged” and “married” is crown facing away from the body on the left hand. As for the status, “it’s complicated”, the only way I can think to wear the ring is… on your thumb? Any other suggestions?

Another reason why we think, and more importantly Mr Bighorn thinks, that the claddagh is significant to our relationship is the connection between my name and the ring.

As previously mentioned, the claddagh ring is the symbol of love, loyalty and friendship – three traits both Mr Big and I value. My middle name is derived from my Chinese name and has the Chinese character “AI” in it. “AI”, for those who don’t know, means ‘love’ in Chinese, the character of which looks something like this:

chinese character_love

“AI” – the Chinese word for ‘love’ – it’s even in a heart love! / Image via okiWoki

My last name, on the other hand, is a relatively popular Indonesian and Malaysian last name. However, according to my trusty friend, Mr Wikipedia, the name allegedly derived from a Malaysian town known as Sitiawan. This name is a portmanteau of the two words: ‘Setia’ and ‘Kawan’. And what do these two mean?

You guessed it: loyal friend.

And there we have it. Parts of my name mean love, loyalty, and friendship. So, according to Mr Big, ‘you are the ring!’.

Anyone else been called an inanimate object? 🙂 Who else thinks I’d make an awesome hand model? (not.)

Facebook dilemma!

24 Jul

After my last three posts I decided to browse through my Facebook, only to realise that, “Hey, wtf, my blog posts aren’t appearing”. Now this can be a good thing and a bad thing. Good because, yay! Readers. Bad because, boo! Readers. I will admit to being the girl who is all, “social life? what is that?” (now before you judge me, I have friends! So what if a majority of them are online…)

Anywho!

I think I fixed it. This is my ‘checking’ post.

The Wedding Theme: Geek Chic?

24 Jul

Hello all!

It suddenly occured to me today that I don’t have a coherent theme to the wedding (notice the use of the ‘the’ – it’s not just my wedding after all!). This little factoid didn’t make me panic, because well – after you’ve gone through the hell I have trying to secure a date, get both rings, talk to all your bridesmaids without turning into a screaming raging Bridezilla, and attempting to keep your parents happy at the same time – well, you learn to kind of ride the wave…

Anyway.

The wedding theme.

Though it’s not exactly important (weddings do not need themes. I’m just anal-retentive), my fiance and I have been trying to think of ways to incorporate the traditions from my culture (Chinese tea ceremony), from his culture (white wedding dress, toasts, etc) and our love of all things geek. We’ve thought of little things here and there like: the colours red and gold being our wedding colours, a photo booth with geeky photo booth props, badges as wedding favours with names of each guests and witty remarks on who they are (or who we know them as), and there was even talk of a zombie-theme cake topper with us FIGHTING THE HORDE!!

Now all that is well and good, but I want to unify the theme. I am not just a gamer geek, I also love board games, anime, sci-fi and supernatural tv shows and movies, and I’m also a total Disnerd (a Disney nerd). My fiance is a TOTAL gamer geek, loves tech, has a HUGE collection of tv shows from all genre walks (sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural), loves board games and is also something of a Disnerd. Our love for all things geeky, nerdy and dorky is only as big as our love for music.

I want very much to have an underlying Beauty and the Beast feel (that is both his and my favourite Disney Princess film – I know. How the eff did I get this guy!?), while also adding in geeky elements and giving a nice, solid nod towards the cultural and traditional. I will be wearing a white dress, we’ll be performing the Chinese Tea Ceremony (actually something I REALLY WANT TO DO), and we’re going to have a night-time reception. That’s pretty much all I have. Our guest book will be photo-booth’d so we don’t have to worry too much about it. I want to make the props on my own but I’m not too sure how that little project will go (I’m not the craftiest person, you see). Our cake will be a cupcake stand with a nice cake on top. As for other details? Well, hm, what do we do?

How does a couple like us have a classy wedding while adding in elements that define us? Apparently the term the Internets has coined it is: Geek Chic.

The term ‘geek chic’ is a combination of all things chic and all things geek. It means you can have those elegant and delicious wedding cupcakes and the zombie-fighting cake toppers. You can have gorgeous floral arrangements in conical flasks (for those science nerds), cute heart-shaped USBs as wedding favours, and a banner with an ASCII heart to the man of my dreams (this = <3, for those who don’t know). And it also means I have an excuse to shop on Etsy to make sure I find just the right amount of chic and just the right amount of geek (alas, window shopping. But it’s better than nothing!).

I think I might be on to a winner…