Archive | September, 2013

Two is Better Than One

30 Sep

Hello people! This post will be pretty short, but something I’ve been mulling over since Saturday.

I mentioned in a previous post that my bridesmaids will be carrying parasols down the aisle. I’ll be holding a bouquet, but I’d ideally want a parasol as a “prop” during photo-taking.

They make for fabulous photos:

To the reception! An amazing shot by FS Photography

To the reception! / Image via Wedding Chicks, photography by FS Photography.

Now, originally, I was going to get this beauty:

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Pretty cherry blossom! / Image via Chinatown Online Shopping.

It’s pretty, it’s ivory, it’s got cherry blossoms on it – a feature which has been predominant in our planning and invitations. With this as my parasol, my girls would be holding ivory parasols. The pictures, to me, would look gorgeous!

But then, Mr Big found this baby:

Shiny, innit? / Image via Think Geek.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s Kaylee’s parasol. If you don’t know who Kaylee is, she’s a character off a sci-fi TV show called Firefly.

Firefly had a short, but awesome, run. Each episode was as good as the last, and each episode was filled with witty one-liners and awesome characterisation. This show was also the brainchild of one Mr Joss Whedon – the same guy who directed The Avengers.

Now for those who don’t know Mr Big and I very well, we’re very geeky. So having this parasol as the bridal parasol would just be spectacularly awesome! Not a lot of people will understand it, but my gosh, Mr Big and I will.

After a poll I did with friends, I got a resounding majority saying that I should just have both parasols. I thought about the pros and cons and decided that, yes it was a wee bit excessive, but both of them just suited the look and feel of the wedding: elegant and geeky. I could use the cherry blossom parasol with my girls, and the Kaylee-inspired parasol with Mr Big!

With that, I went in search of the right sort of parasol.

My search for a relatively inexpensive Kaylee-inspired parasol pulled up trumps. There was no one who sold it in Australia or were willing to get it shipped here. The shops in America which sold Kaylee-inspired parasols were eeeeexpensive.

Meanwhile, during my search for a Kaylee-inspired parasol, I stumbled on a much cheaper parasol with a cherry blossom motif. I polled both Mama Bighorn and Mr Big, and both stated that the cheaper parasol was actually much prettier and more fitting to our wedding then the one above. Yay! And so with that, I snatched it up. I also found they sold a plain white paper parasol for about the same price!

What’s with the plain white paper parasol?, I hear you ask.

Well guys, I decided to DIY the Kaylee-inspired parasol! More on that in the next post!

Who else decided that two was better than one when it came time to find props for the wedding? Who else is using, or has used, a parasol for wedding photography?

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Part 2, Of All the Love Stories: The “Inception” of Our Relationship

28 Sep

Last we left off, Mr Big and I had both signed up for OkCupid (OKC). While Mr Big was looking for a relationship, I wasn’t looking for anything. I was happy to be single and was focusing on my studies, and maybe even a career. My sole purpose to joining OKC was messing around on the “compatibility quizzes” on the website (I was a bit of quiz fanatic back then).

The abridged explanation of OKC’s “dating” system is basically this: you answer quizzes examining things about your life – your morals, values, likes, dislikes, personality, etc. – and then it grades your answers against others on the website. It then gives percentage compatibilities between yourself and a potential match.

When Mr Bighorn saw my profile, I was 95% compatible, living in Sydney, and most important of all (according to him!), not blonde. And so, he sent a message to me.

I had gotten previous messages from people all over Sydney, but no one really “interested” me. I was happy enough to communicate with these people, but never to really ‘date’ anyone. I got Mr Big’s message one evening while eating dinner. Curious, I sent one in return.

He then sent one almost 2 minutes after. We had a “private message” conversation and then moved it onto Microsoft Instant Messenger (MSN – oh the days!). We chatted regularly for about a month, from the mundane to the interesting. I liked him – he was funny, friendly, and cute.

Come July, a month or so after he had first contacted me, he wanted to meet up.

Cue freak out moment.

I had never really met anyone online before, so I was a little bit wary about the whole thing. After some avoidance from myself, and some prodding from him, I caved. I gave him a time and place and then, on July 25, a crisp Winter Sunday in 2010, we met for the first time in person at a café in my local shopping mall.

Our first lunch together was awesome. We chatted about everything and anything as we ate our meal. We then moved on to watch a movie at the local movie theatre. What was the first movie we watched together?

inception

Inception! Image via mynewmovies.net

That’s right folks. Our first movie together was Inception. You could almost say that “Inception” was the inception of our relationship! (Mr Big told me to put that in.)

I still have the ticket stub from that day, framed and displayed on our “photo” shelf.

IMG_1516

Our photo shelf, including the ticket stub from our first date <3. Personal image.

After the awesome movie, we exited, he gave me a big cuddle, and then we parted ways. Three days later, we went on our second date, and from then, we became pretty inseparable. And to think, if not for the bad things that have happened to Mr Bighorn and I (his ex-fiancée having called off the engagement and my Honours candidature coming to an abrupt end), we would never have met.

So what do you guys think? Dumb luck, fate, or both?

I can honestly say though, of all the love stories I’ve ever known, ours is my favourite.

Bouquets, Brollies, and Boutonnieres – Oh My!

25 Sep

I mentioned in a previous post that my bridesmaids won’t be holding bouquets as they walk down the aisle and the groomsmen (and groom) won’t be having boutonnieres. This is because the weather may be what one would call stinking and stupidly hot. For the bridal party, who will be in suits, dresses, heels, and walking, standing, posing and smiling all day, the heat could be potentially horrendous. To add to this, half the bridal party are from the much cooler climes of New Zealand, specifically Christchurch (with one from Auckland).

And so, with that said, we’ve decided that the groom and groomsmen won’t be getting boutonnieres as they’ll, likely, not be wearing their suit jackets for most of the day. In lieu of a lack of boutonnieres, the groom and groomsmen will have custom-made shirts that’ll differentiate them from each other!

As for my girls, they’ll be given parasols to shade them from the heat. This way it’ll act as a twofold item – as an alternative to the bouquet to carry down the aisle, and as a way to shade them from the heat when we’re out and about taking photos and being generally bridal-party-like.

For those who aren’t convinced that parasols for bridesmaids are an awesome idea, look at this!

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Bridesmaids carrying parasols, so dainty! / Image via Martha Stewart Weddings.

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Parasols and blue dresses! / Image via Pinterest, photography by True Photography.

We’ll be purchasing the shirts for the guys from this website as documented in this post. And the girls will be getting their parasols from Chinatown Online, an Australian website which sells relatively inexpensive parasols (as compared to the other websites).

So what do you guys think? Was it a good decision on our part to skip the boutonnieres for the guys and bouquets for the girls?

Part 1, Of All the Love Stories I’ve Ever Known: The Background of our Background

23 Sep

I thought I’d interrupt the “wedding” posts with a “getting to know us” post. I don’t think I’ve really mentioned how I met the wonderful man who I’ll be getting wed to. So I thought I’d share our relatively unabridged story.

Mr Big and I met in possibly one of the most “common” ways in this modern day and age – we met through the Internet. However, our story is filled with both serendipity, and I think, a little bit of fate. It also doesn’t start with us meeting.

It starts almost 8 years ago.

Eight years ago, Mr Big moved from New Zealand to Australia after being promoted within a large Australian company (which has branches in New Zealand). Mr Big is originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, so he had to move overseas for this job. This company moved Mr Big over, gave him a car and temporary lodging, and a pretty good salary.

ChristchurchNZ

Christchurch, New Zealand relative to Australia / Image taken from kids.britannica.com

Mr Big was also engaged to someone at this point in time and at his healthiest ever.

By all accounts, Mr Big should have been happy – a promotion earning him more money, having just lost a lot of weight and being at his healthiest, not to mention engaged – but like all good love stories, things just didn’t work out that way. His engagement ended, abruptly, and he buried himself in work. He also began to lead an unhealthy lifestyle of late nights and takeout dinners.

Fast forward five years to that time, and Mr Big decided he’d been stuck in a rut for far too long. He worked on losing weight and signed up to a dating website: OKCupid.

This was early 2010.

Meanwhile, I was attempting to gain an Honours attachment to my undergraduate degree in the forensic science field. I was doing relatively well, having just gained a High Distinction in my first assignment. However, as it happens, things spiralled downhill. I was effectively bullied out of my candidature and ended up dropping the Honours degree as I had no other supervisor who specialised in what I was attempting to research. No other supervisor was willing to take me on.

By this point, it was mid-2010, and I was unhappy with the fastball Life has just thrown at me. Lost and confused, I spent most of my days trying to figure out what to do. It was at that point that a friend of mine suggested I join a dating website: OkCupid.

Flower Porn! … well ok, maybe not.

21 Sep

When Mr Big and I began this whole wedding planning thing, I knew we’d have flowers at the wedding. I didn’t know much about flowers, but I knew we’d have them because that’s “just what you did”. Mr Big didn’t care any which way, so he left me with the task of deciding on flowers. The only thing he mentioned was that he did not want to use boutonnieres. I also didn’t want to use fresh flowers for the reception because of the cost and preferred to give my bridesmaids corsages instead of bouquets.

When I began to look at types of flowers, I found myself gravitating towards these:

flowers_montage

From left to right, top row: white hydrangea, freesia, red roses and hypericum berries by Flowers by Pat; cascading ribbons on a bouquet of garden roses, fuchsias, hydrangeas, phalaenopsis orchids, and foxglove, image via Martha Stewart Weddings, arrangement by Ariella Chazar, and photography by Belathee Photography. Bottom row: bouquet of orchids, image via Martha Stewart Weddings; bouquet of blue Singapore orchids and white roses, image via Kylie Meyer Flowers.

It seemed I liked orchids, roses, hydrangeas, and berries, and I liked the bouquet to look sort of “thrown together”, but in a nice way. With this in mind, I looked up what flowers were available during summer in Australia, specifically around the month of January. According to this website, orchids, roses, and hydrangeas all seemed to be available during the summer months of Australia. YAY!

I found myself drawn to flowers which – according to The Knot – are “hand tied” (you know, the “thrown together” look?).

knot_flowers

A classic hand-tied bouquet. / Image via The Knot, photography by Jules Bianchi Photography.

It’s simple and doesn’t look too “neat”.

So, armed with this information, I searched around for a florist. I basically took a punt and went for the florist who seemed to be the most popular: Yeng Tan Floral Designer. Yeng was recommended by our reception coordinator Lou and our event decorator Kellie (more on Kellie later guys!). When I followed Yeng on Facebook and stalked visited her website, I loved the look of her designs:

yeng_tan

From left to right, top row: a bouquet of Talea roses, white lisianthus, and white freesias; a bouquet of Calla lillies with roses and lisianthus; bridesmaid bouquet of white David Austen roses, white lisianthus with a few sprays of blue Singapore orchids; Bottom row: Rustic bouquet of Cymbidium orchids, roses, hydrangeas, and bouvardi; bridesmaid bouquet of sweet avalanche, white freesias, peach pink sweet peas; and a bouquet of hydrangea, succulents and peppercone. / All flowers and images by Yeng Tan.

Her work speaks volumes.

I made a consultation with her in May of this year. Mr Big came along with me, but spent most of the time looking through the Smelly Cheese Shop next door (Mr Big loves his cheese!). Meanwhile, Yeng and I discussed flowers, the wedding, and even my dress. She’s a very awesome individual and really knows what she’s talking about. When we went through what I wanted for the wedding flowers, I made sure to emphasise roses and orchids. I also mentioned hydrangeas, but she suggested the flower lisianthus instead and showed me pictures:

pink lisianthus

Pink lisianthus – so fluffy! / Image via Oasis Horticulture.

They were fluffy like hydrangea, but had a sort of quality that just made them charming – almost rose-like.

I also mentioned I loved the idea of foliage and berries, and I wanted pops of red. The flowers chosen for the bridal bouquet also dictated what was to be brought through with the boutonnieres chosen for the father-ofs and the corsages for the mother-ofs and bridesmaids.

In the end, this is what we ended up with:

  • For the Bride: a natural hand tied round bouquet of cream bounty roses with mini red roses, light pink lisianthus, white Singapore orchids with green berries and foliage. Stems to be tied with off-white satin ribbon.
  • For the Bridesmaids: 5 sets of wristlets with white Singapore orchids and red mini roses and foliage
  • For the Mother-ofs: 2 sets of corsages with white Singapore orchids and red mini roses
  • For the Father-ofs: 2 sets of boutonnieres with white Singapore orchids with foliage

It was important to me that I have orchids for the mother-ofs, as both of them love growing orchids and have a huge collection of them. It’s Spring right now, and my ma’s orchids are looking absolutely gorgeous!

Finally, I also requested mixed colour rose petals for the ceremony.

scattered petals

Sprinkled rose petal aisle. / Image via Country Bouquets Maui, LLC.

All of that, for just over $500. I think I did pretty well for myself! I can’t wait to see what Yeng designs! Next up, I’ll explain why the bridesmaids won’t be carrying bouquets and why the groomsmen won’t be having any bouts!

What do you guys think of the choices? I’m not a flower enthusiast, unlike my ma, so fingers crossed it all works out!

 

Being Wed in a Land Down Under

20 Sep
“Living in a land Down Under
Where women glow and men plunder
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
You better run, and take cover.”
– Down Under by Men At Work

I come from a land Down Under. For those of you who don’t know where that is, it’s a little-known place called Australia, across the Pacific Ocean on the other side of the world (from America anyway!).

australia

Australia from a global perspective / Image via Wikipedia.org

The reason people call it the “Land Down Under” is not just because of that song by Men At Work quoted earlier, but because, relative to the rest of the world, Australia is located “Down Under”.

Unless of course you use my fiancé, Mr Bighorn’s, favourite map ever:

upsde-down-map

The “Upside Down World Map” – Down Under is now Up Over! / Image via culturalintelligenceblog.com

But with silliness aside, let’s continue!

Specifically, I live in Sydney which is located in the state of New South Wales. But my wonderful fiancé Mr Bighorn and I will be getting married in the Hunter Valley, which is a 2-hour-drive from there. For you visual learners:

map_NSW_Syd_HV

A map drawn showing New South Wales (inset, right) and the locations of both Sydney and Hunter Valley (inset, left) / Personal image transcribed using Google Maps and designed through Photoshop

 Now the thing with Australian weddings that one should know is the difficulty in communicating unique ideas across and planning a “unique” wedding. Unlike America, where trends are accepted quickly and spread just as rapidly, Australia is only really starting to grasp the “rustic”, “vintage”, and “quirky”.  Melbourne, which is located in the state of Victoria south of New South Wales,  accepts these more readily as the “crowd” there are very much into trends taken from high-end fashion and the like, be it bridal or no.

vintage_melbourne_PDB

A Vintage Melbourne Wedding / Image via polkadotbride.com, photography by Julia Jane Photography

Unfortunately, New South Wales – and more specifically, the Hunter Valley – does not fit the same sort of “lifestyle”. This is because the Hunter Valley is “country” New South Wales and things such as Pinterest aren’t grasped as greatly.

Mr Bighorn and I are, and always were, a “quirky” couple and also incredibly nerdy. So it’s been rather difficult planning a wedding while trying to infuse our personalities into it.

For example, I recall mentioning that my Maid of Honour will be dressing in a different shade of blue from my bridesmaids and got a, ‘GASP – that is so original, I’ve never heard of that before!’

Cue nervous laughter here.

I’ve also found it incredibly hard to find a wine box for the “wine box and love letter” ceremony we want to do and had to search high and low for parasols for my bridesmaids!

So for those Hunter Valley brides out there don’t be disheartened, because I have tips:

  • Make sure you have a clear “direction” in mind. Mr Bighorn and I don’t necessarily have a theme, but as we knew what we wanted, we were able to give our vendors direction on what we wanted and how we wanted it done.
  • Be patient. Sometimes you get frustrated because they don’t “understand XYZ” but it’s not their fault! With the world of the Internet, Pinterest and Instagram, information is taken on quickly by the younger generation and most of the vendors you’ll find in country towns (at least in the Hunter Valley) are used to a different way of thinking. So you city brides, be patient! It’s not their fault. Just stick with the first point and it’ll be aaaall good.
  • Make sure you get it in writing. This is one of those ‘duh’ things, but sometimes it happens that a bride or groom will forget to get it in writing. During times when Mr Bighorn and I weren’t too sure that they understood what we wanted, we got it in writing to read over and ensure that our ideas were understood.
  • Search around, compare, and search s’more. In Australia, in general, and pretty much anywhere in the world, the word “wedding” inflates prices. Therefore, wine boxes are expensive, cake toppers are expensive, wedding parasols are expensive. But with my good friend Mr Google I was able to find places that sold relatively well-priced merchandise for a fraction of the price! So it’s good to search, search, and search s’more! And don’t forget to compare prices too!
  • And finally, try to enjoy the experience! It feels good to share my ideas and inspirations to those who’ve never heard of them before. A part of me does feel bad for “taking” those ideas as my own, but that’s just what wedding planning is, taking an idea and adapting it to either your theme or vision! And of course, I never state that the idea is my own – I’d never be able to come up with something as imaginative or as beautiful as the ideas I’ve seen.

So those are my tips! Hopefully they’re helpful for those brides planning a “non-traditional” Hunter Valley wedding. For Sydney and Melbourne brides, I also recommend going to at least one session of One Fine Day, a wedding expo with a difference. They give great inspiration for brides looking for unique venues, vendors, and the like! For other brides in Australia, if you can make the trip to One Fine Day, I recommend it too. They have great photographers and videographers there who are wiling to travel, so take a punt! You may get lucky. For international brides who are planning on getting married in Australia, One Fine Day has an awesome website (linked above) with a list of the vendors. I recommend checking that out 🙂

Did or does anyone else have trouble communicating ideas to vendors? Did anyone have a hard time finding things for their wedding?

Part 2, Wedding Traditions: Something, Something.

20 Sep

Hi Hive!

In a previous post, I talked to you guys about Chinese wedding traditions that we’ll be including in the wedding. I also talked about the Chinese tea ceremony and it’s importance (and I may have overused the Jared Leto gif, just a bit).

In this post, I’ll talk about the “Western” wedding traditions that we’ll have at the wedding.

Unlike the Chinese traditions, we’ll only have a few key “Western” traditions for our wedding. Mr Big’s parents are too traditional and Mumma/MIL Bighorn doesn’t have any Dutch traditions that she wanted doing.

This post isn’t necessarily for those wanting to know about Western traditions, but more for those interested in knowing, as these traditions are pretty ‘common’ in “Western” weddings:

The “It’s Bad Luck for the Groom to See the Bride Before the Ceremony” Tradition

This is a quintessentially Western tradition and originated during the time when arranged marriages were common.

The betrothed couple weren’t allowed to see each other as marriages during this period (read: the Medieval land-owning period) were mostly seen as a “business deal”. The father of the bride wanted his daughter to marry a rich man, but feared that the groom would annul the marriage if he saw the bride before the wedding because he thought she was too unattractive. The veil that a bride wears served a similar purpose.

Nowadays, this tradition is less about the fear that the groom wouldn’t want to marry the bride, and more about the fact that it’s a “tradition you must have”. There’s also the belief that it’s bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony (and my parents are all about luck). It’s also believed to add to some sort of excitement leading up to the ceremony.

However, more and more couples are doing a “first look”, or seeing each other pre-ceremony to take formal bridegroom portraits.

Bamboo for Two: A Twirl and a First Look :  wedding boston pictures pro pics recap Twirlin01 twirlin01

Mrs Panda’s First Look. I love that twirl! Photography via Lisa Rigby Photography.

The reason we’re keeping with this tradition is because Mumma/MIL Bighorn really wanted it. It’s basically the only tradition she seems to want to use, so I’m more than happy to oblige!

This is why Mr Big will be blindfolded during the ‘auspicious time’ tradition mentioned in my previous post, so he can’t see me before the ceremony. We’ll also, hopefully, be getting pretty pictures of a blindfolded and suited up Mr Big and dolled up Miss Big in her white wedding dress.

An example of the “Not First Look”. So pretty. Image via Emmaline Bride. Photography via Dianne Personett Photography

The “Something” Tradition

This is a tradition which I’ve been struggling with and have only recently figured out. Let me explain more…

So, everyone has heard the rhyme:

Something old
Something new
Something borrowed
Something blue
And a sixpence in her shoe

I won’t be bothering with the last line, since it’s not a common part of the poem that most people know of, but I’ve been trying to think of my “somethings”.

“Something new” is an easy one – my dress, my veil, my shoes, and more. In Chinese weddings, it’s customary to buy “new” things, so most of my attire will be brand-spanking new! My ‘something new’ was therefore a no-brainer.

My “something borrowed” is a necklace belonging to my ma, Mama Bighorn. It’s a silver necklace which has an almost yellow sheen to it, to match the yellow gold of my ring.

Here’s a picture:

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My “something borrowed”, my ma’s silver necklace. You guys also get to see my earrings and bracelet! Personal image.

I tried on the necklace and it’s gorgeous. It complements my skin tone, as it has a soft yellow sheen to it, and will look perfect with my dress! I can’t wait to wear it on the Day.

Now the last two were the difficult ones.

As my mother was wed in Indonesia, and her wedding was mostly controlled by an overzealous mother-in-law, she didn’t get to buy a wedding dress or anything that could be considered sentimental. As a result, I don’t have anything from her wedding but the pictures. So my “something old” was difficult to pinpoint.

As for my “something blue”, I had no idea what to use! The ideas ranged from a garter, to a Portal charm to hang off my bouquet, to an earring for my second piercing on my left lobe. All of those meant I had to buy stuff though, and I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on those ideas.

Today, however, after chatting with Mama Bighorn about different traditions, she mentioned that she may have something which might prove useful.

Enter this beauty:

somethingoldandblue

Isn’t it pretty? ❤ Pardon the bad nails! Also, that’s Mr Big’s leg! Personal image.

It’s not what most would consider “old” (it’s only 15 years) but it’s gorgeous and blue and belongs to Mama Bighorn. She’s bequeathing it to me since she has another sapphire ring which my papa gave to her five years ago.

So there you have it – my something old, new, borrowed and blue!

What do you guys think? 🙂 Are there any traditions which people have or will include when they get married? Still think I could make it as a hand model?  (double not.)

Part 1, Wedding Traditions: Culture Shock!

18 Sep

Ever since I became engaged, I’ve been thinking about certain traditions which I would like to incorporate into mine and Mr Big’s wedding. Mr Big is quintessentially a Kiwi with some Dutch in him, and so didn’t really have anything to put forward. When I asked his parents, they were also very easy-going about traditions as well, and didn’t have much to put forward either (except for one, which will be talked about in more detail in the next post!).

As an atheist, Mr Bighorn also doesn’t have any spiritual or religious traditions that were significant to him. As a Buddhist myself, I also didn’t really have any religious traditions for the wedding (although, funnily, a lot of people assumed we’d get married in a temple). As I was born and raised in Australia, despite my Chinese heritage, and my parents having originated from Indonesia, I wouldn’t necessarily call myself traditional.

However, my parents definitely are, and during the early (and much later) parts of our planning, have pushed particular traditions onto both Mr Big and myself.

Because of this, Mr Bighorn and I suffered from what one could call ‘culture shock’. Urban Dictionary defines ‘culture shock’ as ‘the shock of moving from one culture to another, often associated with laws, traditions, food, music and general lifestyle choices‘.

We couldn’t believe the amount of traditions we needed to do! It baffled us, but after doing some research, I’ve come to find that Chinese wedding traditions are filled with symbolism, all to do with either respecting Elders or bringing some form of happiness (joy, luck, prosperity) to the newlywed couple.

For those Chinese brides beginning to plan their wedding, or in the midst of navigating the traditions thrown at you from every which way, here’s a list of the wedding traditions Mr Big and I came up against. It’s definitely not all of them, but it’s the ones which, to my parents, were the most important:

The Auspicious Date

The word “auspicious” means “promising success”, and therefore, the auspicious date promises the couple success in their marriage. Therefore, by being married on the auspicious date, the couple will have a good marriage.

In Chinese culture, the bride and groom’s birthdays (time and date of birth) were typically used to find a date that would be considered the most “auspicious” – bringing them good luck and prosperity in their union. Unfortunately, the date needs to be figured out by a Chinese “soothsayer”, and the only two who ‘serve’ my family live in Indonesia and Thailand. That meant constant International conversations through 5 million grapevines (I may be exaggerating here). This tradition gave both Mr Big and I stress and constant headaches, but we stuck it out, as we both knew how important it was to my parents.

The whole process took approximately 6 months, as the soothsayers told us that, as we got engaged so “early” we couldn’t get a date in 2013/2014 until much later in the year. The only dates they were giving us were late 2012, and Mr Big and I wanted a long engagement. So waiting we did.

We finally got our date in September 2012 and the date ended up being close enough to a February 2014 wedding that we were ok with it. For those brides out there whose parents are wanting them to get auspicious date, try to stay patient and stick to your guns. I gave my parents an ultimatum at 6 months – if we DIDN’T get a date by 6 months, we would either: a) try to find our own soothsayer, or b) try to calculate the date ourselves (there’s a great app that does it for you!).

Cutting the Ribbon

This tradition will take place on the morning of the wedding and is symbolic of my family, and more specifically, my eldest sister, MoH M&Ms, “letting me go”. This is because, in Chinese culture, it’s customary to ‘get married in order’, so M&Ms is supposed to be married before I, however, as this isn’t 16th Century China, that just didn’t happen. I’m the second-born of three daughters in my family, making me the middle child. My eldest sister, MoH M&Ms, has a boyfriend, but she isn’t married. To counteract the fact that I’ll be getting married first, I have to be “let go” by the unmarried eldest.

To do this, a red ribbon is strung along the front door and M&Ms cuts it, therefore allowing me out. I then present her with a gift and am let out of the house. In our wedding, this is then immediately followed by the next tradition:

The Auspicious Time

This tradition, like the auspicious date, is meant to give the bridegroom couple good fortune. With this tradition, a certain time is appointed to the bridegroom couple in which the groom must pick up the bride from her parents’ house and take her to his parents’ house. This tradition has given us the most grief, as it was only brought up later into planning, and therefore, became something of a logistical nightmare.

The three things that made it difficult for us was: the fact that our wedding was in the Hunter Valley, and therefore, nowhere near my parents’ house (in Sydney) and Mr Big’s parent’s house (in Christchurch, New Zealand); we wanted to keep the tradition where Mr Big and I don’t see each other until the ceremony; and finally, our ceremony is supposed to be starting at 11AM in the Gardens, and that was the exact time that we were given to enact the traditional “picking-up-of-the-bride”.

We were able to get around these problems, but to say it didn’t cause Mr Big and me grief would be lying. My tip to those who need to do the auspicious time tradition would be to get a clear idea early into wedding planning so that you know what you need to do. If you have to pester and prod, pester and prod!

As for how Mr Big and I navigated through this logistical nightmare, this is what we did:

Problem: Our wedding is in the Hunter Valley, my parents’ house is in Sydney, and Mr Bighorn’s parents’ house is in Christchurch, New Zealand – how do we do this tradition?

Solution: Because we were having a “destination” wedding, my parents compromised with this. Instead of Mr Big picking me up from my parents’ house in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and (literally) flying to Christchurch, New Zealand, Mr Big would pick me up at the place of accommodation where my parents would be staying. The most important part of the tradition was that Mr Big would take me away, so all he really has to do is take me over the threshold of the villa to the outside.

Problem: The time the tradition needs to be performed is at 11AM – our ceremony starts at 11AM!

Solution: We’ve been told by a gazillion married couples already that it’s ok for the bridegroom couple to be late to their own wedding, as long as both of them are late at the same time. We’re approximating we’ll be about 15 minutes late to the ceremony, so it’ll officially start at 11:15AM. I’ve asked the venue if we’re allowed to push our timing back 15 minutes and they were very accommodating. We’re also going to ask our celebrant to also announce that we’ll be late if it so happens that we are.

Problem: We’ve agreed to not see each other before the ceremony – or at least, Mr Bighorn is not meant to see me before the ceremony. But the tradition means we have to see each other before the ceremony!

Solution: Not necessarily. Mr Big is going to be blindfolded as he steps up to the villa. When he answers, I’ll be able to see him, but he can’t see me. This means, though we’re with each pre-ceremony, he won’t have technically seen me. Also, we’re hoping there’s enough time for photos like this:

Not-First-Look

What people have dubbed the “Not First Look”. Sigh, so pretty… / Image courtesy of thebridaldetective.com, photography by Jill Lauren Photography.

 Though this has given us the most grief, we’ve made our peace with it, and are even taking advantage of it! Hopefully it all works out.

The Chinese Tea Ceremony

I’ve mentioned that we’ll be having a Chinese tea ceremony in a previous post and I’ll be explaining what this is in some detail in another post.

Logistically, this is giving Mr Big and I the most grief, as it’s dependent on certain key members and we’re having a hard time pinning the timing of these guys down. Otherwise, Mr Big and I were more than happy to include this. We love the tradition behind it, and being from a Dutch and Chinese family respectively, it was important we celebrate our connections with our elders as much as the connection between ourselves. Again, I’ll be explaining these in more detail, but it’s a beautiful ceremony!

Toucan Recaps: The Ceremony :  wedding boston Teaceremony

Mrs Toucan’s beautiful Chinese tea ceremony. Photography by Robert Mirani.

And those are the Chinese wedding traditions! We’re excited about some, like the Tea Ceremony, and a little bit anxious about others, like the auspicious time tradition. But we’re both hoping it’ll all work out in the end. With enough planning and contingencies, Mr Big and I have made sure that anything that can go awry will be handled.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the more “Westernised” wedding traditions we’ll be having!

What do you guys think of these traditions? Strange, fascinating, both? 🙂

A Drink of the Gods!

16 Sep

So, last post I chatted to y’all about the food.

The spread we’re putting on gives everyone a chance to eat something we think they’d enjoy, so we’re pretty happy with our choice!

Another thing Mr Big and I needed to mull over was the beverages, and this task was a lot easier for us than the catering. At Tamburlaine, the packages include wine, sparkling wine, beer, soft drinks, and juice. They probably have water there as well (it’s just not stated on the package). We’ve also requested sparkling grape juice for the pre-teens who want something sparkly to drink during toasts (or just during the party).

The wine to be drunk will be either from the Wine Lovers Range or the Members Reserve from Tamburlaine Wines. The wines are said to be organic, and therefore, the hangover is meant to be less severe. We’ll be going for the Wine Lovers Range and over the course of the planning year-and-a-half, have sampled the wines.

Like the food, there were several things we needed to consider for our guests:

  1. My family and friends aren’t big wine drinkers. The wine I do manage to get them to drink are mostly the sweeter wines – Moscato, late harvest Rieslings, and botrytis.
  2. Mr Big is a BIG red wine drinker, which is ironic since he’s a Kiwi, and the Kiwi climate is better suited for white wines and milder reds, like the Pinot Noir. His favourite red drink is the Shiraz.
  3. I’m a white wine drinker. I love my sweeter wines, but really don’t mind anything else. I like my wines to be milder, and can drink red wines with a softer character.
  4. There will be Kiwis there, so we need to accommodate for them too. New Zealand is known for their white wines, specifically Sauvignon Blanc and Rieslings. That means we need a good range of white wines which will please the Kiwi palette.
  5. Not everyone is a wine drinker, so we needed some alcoholic beverages which weren’t wine. Enter my dad, who knows his beers
  6. There will be kids there and teenagers under 18! We needed to ensure they were happy with their drinks too. (The legal drinking age is 18 in Australia, as opposed to 21.)

With all of that said, here is what we’ll be drinking:

White Wines:

Red Wines:

Sparkling:

Light beer: Hahn Light

Standard beers: (choice of 2)

  • Tooheys New
  • Pure Blonde

Spirits: On a per consumption basis of $7 / nip

Non-alcoholic Drinks:

  • Orange juice
  • Water
  • Soft drinks
  • Sparkling grape juice

First off, let’s go through why we chose those particular wines.

Basically, these are the wines that showcased the flavours of Tamburlaine, and particularly, of Australia. I’m not patriotic (although I do like Australia), but we thought it would be pretty bad form to give Kiwis Sauv Blancs and Rieslings from an Australian winery. Hunter Valley is known for their Verdelhos, so we wanted to showcase this by using the Verdelho as a wine. The Marsanne was chosen because it was unique – it was mild, flavoursome, and easy-drinking. The Late Harvest Riesling was chosen for my family and friends – it’s not too heavy, it’s mildly sweet, and so, good to drink for those who aren’t really into wine but wanted to drink something alcoholic other than beer.

The red wines were easy to choose. Shiraz was chosen because Mr Big loves it, and it’s his wedding. He felt bad for wanting to choose it, since not everyone is a Shiraz-drinker, but I told him that, if we were going to have a wedding, the Shiraz needed to be present. The GSM is similar to the Marsanne – it’s unique, mild and easy to drink. I love drinking the GSM because it makes me feel classy, without the heaviness of the Shiraz. The Rose was again, another easy choice. It’s a red drink, but it’s not heavy like most reds. It’s a good one for my friends and family who don’t drink too much and want something mild.

Both sparkling wines were chosen simply because they’re awesome. Who doesn’t love drinking a bubbly beverage? What’s even better is Tamburlaine will be adding splashes of fruit juices to their Vintage Blanc de Blanc during cocktail hour to add some extra flavour. The Scarlett Bubbles is the closest thing Tamburlaine have to a Moscato, so I know my friends will be chugging that one down.

The rest of the drinks are pretty self-explanatory. For those who don’t drink wine, we have beer. Mr Big and I aren’t too fond of beer. He can drink it, I can barely drink it (read: get halfway through one bottle and give the rest to Mr Big). My dad, a big beer drinker, suggested those three, so we decided to go with his choices, since we trust him wholeheartedly!

The non-alcoholic drinks will be for our guests ages 0-17. My junior bridesmaid/Groom’s Homie Oddball will be of that group, so they’ll be drinking fruit juices, soft drinks, sparkling grape juices, and perhaps even water. We wanted to make sure the kids were happy with the choices of drinks, so we added the sparkling grape juice, particularly for the pre-teens like Oddball.

Spirits, unfortunately, are dished out on a per-consumption basis of $7 per nip. I’m sort of glad about this, because I don’t want (too many) shots at the wedding. If our bridesmaids or groomsmen buy a round of nips for a round of shots, well, ok, that’s their choice, but I’m not a big spirit drinker to begin with (it goes STRAIGHT to my head) so I’m sort of happy that spirits are on a per consumption basis…

And that’s our drinks folks! What do you think? Did we consider our guests? Do you think it’s good that Mr Big and I chose the Shiraz over, say, a Merlot? Do you think anyone will be bummed out that the spirits will be on a per consumption basis?

Balancing the Banquet

14 Sep

(Alternate Title: The Bighorns versus The Food)

Between my Masters work, the wedding, and Life, I began thinking about menu options. At the four-month mark of the wedding, I decided it’ll be good to knock a few things out of the way. One of those was something Mr Big and I excitedly discussed EVERY time we thought about our venue: the food.

Now Tamburlaine provides catering and drinks in a package, so that the bridegroom couple don’t have to worry about finding their own catering company. Plus side – we don’t have to do the additional searching. Not-so-much-a-plus-side, that meant we HAD to use their company. But after mulling over the menu, we concluded that they sounded delicious, and so, we settled with Tamburlaine, comfortable with the menu and the catering company they use, Wine Country Catering.

Unfortunately, we then found out (after putting a deposit down) that the catering company no longer does tastings (BALLS!!!) which completely bummed us out (we wanted to taste some food dammit!). The catering company, however, is known as one of the most prestigious catering companies for corporate, weddings, and other events, so we concluded that we weren’t worried about the quality of the food.

The most difficult for us in this foodie journey, being lovers of food ourselves, is choosing the food.

Let me just post a few pictures of the foods from Wine Country Catering to demonstrate what I mean:

Steamed asparagus with Persian feta tartlet served with honey roasted tomato and chilli jam. / Image from The Barrel Room.

Fromage Blanc tart with peanut brittle and Persian fairy floss // Image from The Barrel Room.

I don’t know what this is, but it looks good / Image taken from The Barrel Room.

Uhm, can people say, yes please!

So, from those pictures above, you can see that Mr Big and I had a pretty tough choice on our hands. Luckily, there were a few things that helped us choose:

  1. Chinese weddings often serve seafood only as that is believed to bring good fortune and prosperity to the bridegroom couple
  2. Not all of our guests can have seafood only, for example, the mother-of-the-groom and the groom himself dislike eating lots of seafood, and some of our guests have a severe allergy to certain types of seafood
  3. Some of our guests are picky regarding certain meats, for example, BM Cupcakes doesn’t eat beef and lamb, Groom’s Homie Oddball doesn’t eat lamb, we have three vegetarians, and one of our photographers is vegan.
  4. Some of our guests are lactose intolerant and another is allergic to chocolate, so dessert needed to be carefully considered.
  5. We’ll have children there! So they need to be kept happy and fed.

Now, in order to ensure that point 1 could be met, to an extent, we needed some seafood options. However, we had to cater for point 2. Point 3 meant that we also had to have a meat that everyone could eat. Point 4 meant that dessert needed to be carefully considered. And so, with all of that, we decided on the following:

  • V – vegetarian
  • SF – seafood

Canapés: (choice of 4)

  • Potato rosti with roasted beef and caramelised onion
  • Spinach and pinenut filo pastry parcels (V)
  • Satay chicken skewers
  • Roma tomato and fresh basil on garlic bruschetta (V)

Entrée: (choice of 3)

  • Smoked salmon, potato and rocket salad served with horseradish cream and capers (SF)
  • Slow cooked pork belly salad with braised cabbage, sautéed bok choy and an orange soy dressing
  • Tempura battered king prawns with Asian greens and honey/chilli sauce (SF)

Mains: (choice of 3)

  • Herb-crusted perch fillet, baked with lemon and parsley beurre blanc served on creamy mashed potato (SF)
  • Corn-fed chicken supreme filled with pinenuts, spinach and feta on linguine pasta with basil pesto cream sauce
  • Roast of soy and thyme beef rib eye served with roasted chateaux potatoes, dutch carrots and seasonal vegetables

Dessert: (choice of 2)

  • Fromage blanc tart with peanut brittle and Persian fairy floss
  • White and Dark chocolate terrine with raspberry coulis and fresh seasonal berries

Tea and coffee at a station which where the cake will be plated up for our guests.

And in keeping with point 5, we chose the “party platter” for the kiddies, so they get a selection of things to eat.

Children’s Options

  • Party platter – nuggets, party pies, frankfurts, etc.

Dessert: Vanilla ice cream with chocolate toppings (other flavours available upon request)

As for the vegetarians, we got a general consensus from our vegetarian guests and settled on this:

Vegetarian Options

Entrée:

  • Steamed asparagus with Persian feta tartlet served with honey roasted tomato and chilli jam

Main:

  • Sweet potato and fresh herb gnocchi with a saffron cream sauce, fresh shaved grana padano

Hopefully our guests like the food! We’re certainly excited!

In the next post, I’ll talk about every adult’s favourite things at weddings: BOOZE (and non-alcoholic drinks).

So what do you guys think of the menu?