Tag Archives: ceremony

Takin’ Love by the Horns: I ‘Wool’ Always Love You, Part I – Some Wine Please

9 Jul

It was time guys. Mr Big and I were standing literally inches from each other, unable to take each other’s eyes off the other. Meanwhile, Celebrant J, commenced the ceremony.

The ceremony was written in collaboration with Celebrant J. We took our favourite pieces, mixed, matched, added, and subtracted until we got to something uniquely us. I’ll talk more about it in my vendor reviews, but in short, everyone loved our ceremony.

For the sake of clarity and to keep the sincerity of the ceremony, I kept our first names as is:

It is my very great pleasure to welcome you to this most joyous occasion, Grant and Eileen’s wedding day. They are delighted that you all have been able to join them in this expression of their love for one another, especially those of you who have travelled great distances to be with them today.

Grant and Eileen are ecstatic that their experiences have brought them to the place where they are ready to fulfil what is theirs to accomplish in this life, to join the forces of their individual spirits, capabilities, and backgrounds.

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For Grant and Eileen, marriage means never being too old to hold hands, remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once a day, and never going to sleep angry. It is at no time, taking the other for granted. It is standing together, facing the world. It is doing things for each other, speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways, and giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is not only marrying the right partner, but being the right partner.

The commitment they make today is made understanding each other’s weaknesses and accepting them, and knowing each other’s strengths and encouraging them.

And this is as love should be. However, love is not meant to be the possession of two people alone. Rather it is the source of a collective energy, an energy that gives you the strength to live your lives with joy and courage.

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For Grant and Eileen, marriage represents a solemn lifelong commitment to each other. It is walking this life together and helping each other through the ups and downs. It’s being the shoulder to cry on, the crutch to lean on, the enthusiastic ‘high-fiver’, the comforting hugger, and the encouraging presence. It is all about being a best friend, confidant, lover and the best partner each could ever want. They feel their relationship is still securely established in that blissful ‘honeymoon phase’, even though they’ve been together for a little more than three years. Something they hope continues for a long time to come!

Taking the vows of marriage in front of the many people they care about makes today so much more important. Not only are Grant and Eileen uniting, so too are both their families with Eileen joining Grant’s family as a [Mr Big’s Last Name] and Grant becoming a [Miss Big’s Last Name].

The journey that sees Grant and Eileen standing before us today began in 2010 when they met over the internet. After exchanging messages, they chatted regularly for weeks on end. Through their little talks, they got to know each other, paving the way for Grant to request meeting in person.

Upon seeing Eileen for the first time, Grant’s first thought? ‘She’s so little!’ (This got a few laughs!)

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That first date they had lunch, got to know each other a little more, and then watched their first movie together, the “very romantic” Christopher Nolan movie – ‘Inception’. To this day, Eileen still has the ticket stub to that movie – framed and proudly on display!

That first date they had lunch, got to know each other a little more, and then watched their first movie together, the “very romantic” Christopher Nolan movie – ‘Inception’. To this day, Eileen still has the ticket stub to that movie – framed and proudly on display!

Before long, they were seeing each other weekly. Eileen found happiness in their talks but also in the moments of quiet. And she found comfort not only in Grant’s touch and kisses, but by simply being with him. In his presence, she knew she could spend the rest of her life loving this man.

Grant knew he wanted to take their relationship to the next level when Eileen asked him to join her and her family on a trip to Indonesia and China. The fact that he was unofficially a part of the family made him realise he wanted to make it official.

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For Grant, that ‘magical moment’ – the proposal – in the magnificent Milford Sound, New Zealand, had been in the pipeline for weeks! This was despite their in-joke that Grant would only propose while intoxicated and would do so with a bronze pipe washer purchased from Bunnings to save money. So when Grant ‘casually’ proposed underneath ‘Sterling Falls’, Eileen was caught off-guard!

Her response, ‘Are you serious?’ had him thinking that perhaps he hadn’t been as traditional as some would expect… so down on one knee he went and asked again! Ironically, he had bought a washer for the proposal and incidentally left it at the hotel 2 hours away. Smiles all around, the momentous event filmed, and post-proposal group-hugs all added to that special day which in fact was Eileen’s 24th birthday – a day that Grant had promised to treat her to ‘something special’.

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Over time spent together, Grant and Eileen have become the best of friends. With their complementing personalities and unique and quirky sense of humour, they’ve lived life and loved the only way they know how: fun-filled and with enthusiasm!

They’ve settled into that ‘special place’ that everyone dreams of: love, contentment, and growing in understanding of each other. As a team, they are looking forward to supporting each other achieve personal goals, while pursuing their own individual dreams.

Everything that Grant has wanted in a life partner; Eileen fills that role. In his own words, ‘she’s affectionate, smart, funny, accepting, and somehow is not only the greatest friend I could want, but the best, most caring supportive partner I could hope for. I think it’s great that neither of us runs the life of the other, and that – having so much in common – we both have a lot of the same hobbies and interests.’

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Grant and Eileen value their time together. They act, not just as lovers and partners, but as best friends, sharing in-jokes and being able to lovingly poke fun at each other. Grant especially loves that they are both capable gamers and even when pitted against each other, he can still be proud of Eileen when she kicks butt!

Grant’s love for Eileen is unfathomable. She loves his intelligence, his deep breadth of knowledge and most of all, his very willing and generous heart.

With Grant, Eileen knows that she can be herself. She’s not afraid to show her weaknesses – and Grant has the ability to play to her strengths. His presence makes even the direst of situations that much less so. In her own words, ‘he’s a constant in a life full of inconstant.’

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As big dreamers, Grant and Eileen’s hopes and dreams for the future are already formulating. They want to travel the world and experience all life could offer; to celebrate every moment and tackle every problem side-by-side. Most importantly, they want to keep getting closer, the way they have since day one.

Grant and Eileen haven’t been happier. Their laughter is never far from their eyes and their love and respect for each other can be seen and heard in their words to one another.

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At this time, Grant and Eileen would like to take a moment to acknowledge the family and friends who were not able to make it here to share in this wonderful occasion, but who hold a special place in the hearts of those here. Specifically, the happy couple would like to recognise their families in New Zealand and Indonesia, who send their love and blessings for this union.

In recognising family, Grant and Eileen would also like to take a moment to acknowledge the relationship they share with their parents, [Mr Big’s Papa] and [Mr Big’s Momma], and [Miss Big’s Papa] and [Miss Big’s Momma].

At this point, Mr Big’s and my parents were called forward by Celebrant J:

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One of the closest relationships in life is that between caring parents and their children. This connection continues to grow and change as these children grow into independent and mature adults. As parents, the love that each of you has shared within your own marriages has been a legacy conferred to Grant and Eileen.

For them, marriage seems natural and you have offered them quiet yet inspiring examples of how it can be. You have encouraged them to live their own dreams and offered them support that has been greatly appreciated.

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Today, Grant and Eileen would like to take the time to honour this relationship. Grant’s parents, [Mr Big’s Papa] and [Mr Big’s Momma], and Eileen’s parents, [Miss Big’s Papa] and [Miss Big’s Momma], represent their families and all of us when I ask them:

‘Do you give Grant and Eileen your blessings, and pledge them your love, support and acceptance of this marriage?’

The Bighorn Parents: ‘We do.’

At this point, Papa Bighorn was supposed to grab my hand and place it into Mr Big’s hand, but because this isn’t a customary thing to do in Chinese culture, we had a hugging session instead, which later turned to a BIG GROUP HUG with all the parents:

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As I repositioned myself to stand in front of Mr Big, Celebrant J then read out the ‘monitum’, a legally binding statement that is compulsory in all marriage ceremonies in Australia:

Family and friends, my name is Jennifer, and as a Civil Marriage Celebrant, I am duly authorized to solemnize this marriage according to Law in Australia. Grant and Eileen, before you are joined together in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn, the serious, and the binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to Law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

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Celebrant J then continued on with the ceremony, asking MoH M&Ms to hold my bouquet as I grabbed Mr Big’s hands in mine:

The hand which you each offer to the other today is an extension of yourselves, just like the warmth and love which you express to each other. Cherish this touch, be sensitive to its pulse, and try to understand and respect its flow and rhythm, just as you do your own.

Grant, I now ask you before all those present, do you take Eileen to be your lawful wife, to share your life with her, and pledge that you will love and honour her, with tenderness and affection, forevermore?

Grant: ‘I do’.

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Eileen, I now ask you before all those present, do you take Grant to be your lawful husband, to share your life with him, and pledge that you will love and honour him, with tenderness and affection, forevermore?

Eileen: ‘I do.’

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After we said our “I dos”, we moved on to the wine ceremony, a ceremony Mr Big and I wanted to incorporate for two reasons: (1) we’re in the Hunter Valley, the wine country of New South Wales, and (2) wine has a special place in our relationship. We split the wine ceremony into two portions: a wine ceremony ritual where we would drink and toast some wine; and a wine box ceremony, which unfortunately we didn’t get still photos of (but heaps on video and our stop-motion).

Today, Grant and Eileen have chosen to celebrate their union through the symbolism of wine. Wine has been called the symbol of life. It is like the blood flowing within our bodies.

The glass of wine symbolises the sum of your life experiences. It contains within it sweet flavours symbolic of happiness, joy, hope and love. This same wine also holds some bitter properties that symbolise sorrow, grief, and life’s trials and tribulations. Together, the sweet and the bitter essences represent life’s journey and all the experiences that are a natural part of it.

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As you drink from this cup, you accept the commitment to draw from your marriage all that you need to wash away the bitter flavours and savour the sweet.

Drink now, and may the cup of your lives be sweet and full.

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By sharing this glass, the two become one and the parts become whole; two paths intertwined, each separate, yet united in love. May all the sweetness that it holds for you be ever the sweeter because you taste it together, and may you find life’s joys heightened and its bitterness sweetened.

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At this time I’d like to draw your attention to the box beside Grant and Eileen.

They have written letters to each other expressing their feelings as they begin their marriage. In these letters, they have detailed why they fell in love and what they truly admire about the other person. The letters are sealed in individual envelopes and they have not seen what the other has written.

These letters have already been placed inside the box with a bottle of wine. Together they will seal the box, and on the happy occasion of their 5th year wedding anniversary, they will open the box, drink the wine together, and read each other’s letters.

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Unfortunately there aren’t any pictures of the actual wine box ceremony, but this photo shows you how the ceremony was laid out.

Grant and Eileen, by reading these love letters, you will be given an opportunity to reflect upon the reasons that you fell in love with each other.

I now ask you to place the letters in the box and seal it shut.

Next up, the vows and the big kiss! (OOOOooooooOOOOOO!!). Stay tuned guys!

[All photos by Studio Something.]

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Rock On!

23 Oct

I’ve mentioned before that GP and I have a preference for rock-oriented songs.

Our wedding will be filled with songs which aren’t what people would call “standard” wedding songs. In fact, some people may not know some of the songs played at our reception! Hopefully it’ll run smoothly though. I won’t get into specifics – I sort of want to keep some air of mystery! – but the songs we’ve chosen for important parts of the wedding (sans a few) will be rock-based.

Our ceremony will have a number of alternative and folk rock songs strewn throughout. Since the last post, GP managed to cull about 40 songs from the massive list I gave him (I’m a bad decision-maker, what can I say!). We shifted some songs around to the reception, since we really liked some songs, and some we culled completely (for example, “Teardrop” by Massive Attack – I love that song, but it’s actually sad… and I didn’t realise that until now, doh!). Our pre-ceremony music will go for longer than 30 minutes, about 45, but that’s purely because we’re worried we’ll be late.

Most, if not all, of the songs during our ceremony will have some basis in rock and range from indie to mainstream and alternative to folk. There’ll be a few that only a select number of people will know (The Script’s “I’m Yours”) and others that are pretty darn popular (Coldplay’s “Clocks”), but all of them were chosen because they fit the criteria of, a) easy listening, even for guests who don’t listen to our genre of music, b) not depressing, like 99% of the songs I listen to, and c) fitting for a wedding!

This goes double for the reception.

I mentioned before that we’ll be having a few key things happening at the reception, most of them revolving around music, so it was important that GP and I get it right. We know not everyone will enjoy our type of music, but we hope our song choices will be enjoyed by a majority of our guests. And we’re hoping, for those who don’t really like our genre of music, they’ll enjoy it simply because it softens/lightens/hypes up the mood at the wedding. 🙂

Excitingly, we got the song list from FBIL Muso and it looks good! They’re mostly what I call “slow sway” rock songs, and will definitely suit as dinner music to entertain others while they eat and mingle. I’m not sure about half of the bands (before my time, unfortunately) but I’ve recently put most of them on to a Spotify playlist and am playing through it now. The running time is just under 3 hours, but let’s include the changeovers and getting-ready between songs, and they’ll probably be playing for about 3 hours. We’ll need to see how it can fit into the timeline, but it should be ok! 🙂

GP has also chosen the three songs he wants to perform, but still needs to run this by my papa. De Papa (GP’s dad) and FBIL Muso have an idea. I’m super excited about this one, but nervous for GP at the same time. We’ll see how this one goes. 🙂

As for the dance-portion of the wedding, GP and I have carefully chosen songs which span the ages and suit what we like. We’ve had to negotiate on some songs, but overall, we’re happy with our choices. Our last song of the night will be particularly, we hope, crowd-stomping worthy. Now we need to get all the songs and give them to our DJ. Eeesh, it’s getting closer to the wedding every day that goes by and I’m actually starting to freak out about the amount of stuff we have to do!

Hopefully our guests like/accept our music. It’s the one thing GP and I have both been incredibly thoughtful about. In fact, when we listed what we truly wanted out of our wedding, ‘good music’ was one of the priorities.

What do you guys think? Are we being too narrow-minded? Do you think we should add some songs we don’t really like?

 

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.

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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:

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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.)

Ceremonial Crafting: Mood Music

9 Aug

Hi there Hive!

In August, I started working on our ceremony.

Our celebrant, Jenny, is great and tailors the ceremony to whatever the bridal couple wants. She’s an old friend of Mr Big’s from his days working at a big retail company when he first moved over to Australia and has since moved from said retail company to working as a fulltime celebrant. After looking through her ceremony wording portfolio, I managed to craft something which both Mr Big and I think suits us well. It’s sincere, funny, but most of all, perfectly us.

In addition to this, Jenny also added in important facts and qualities about us as a couple which just really personalises the ceremony.

I’ve crafted most of the wordings for the important sections: “Introduction”, “Giving Away”, “Exchange of Rings”, “Rituals”, and the “Declaration of Marriage”. I’ve sent these sections to Jenny, whose refined them and written them up in a lovely book which we get to keep!

But guys, I’m not here to talk about the ceremony.

I’m here to talk about the ceremony music.

We’ve had our decision for the processional since late 2012, so that’s all settled. It still needs to be cut to size (it’s a 4-minute song!), but it works with the feel of the wedding. However, the other music choices for the wedding were a lot harder to decide!

First off, we needed approximately 30 minutes of background music in the beginning.

Initially, I compiled approximately 45 tracks which I think could be used. That’s over 3 hours of music guys! Mr Big then went through it and culled three-quarters of it. Apparently, I’m not very good at musical decisions. We now have about 45 minutes for the pre-ceremony background music.

I also initially had about 5 possible songs for the signing of the marriage certificate (which is done publically in Australian weddings), but had no ideas for the recessional.

You see, the problem was that we’re very much into alternative and indie rock – and basically rock in general.

We don’t mind other things, however, most of the songs selected so far are very rock-oriented. For example, “Winter Winds” by Mumford & Sons is folk-rock, “You and Me” by Lifehouse is alternative rock, and “You Found Me” by The Fray is alternative rock. Having a random pop, classical or other-genre-of-song may sound a little strange and out of place.

We’ve also got some Linkin Park, Train, Matchbox Twenty and Rob Thomas, The Script, Of Monsters and Men, Coldplay, The Goo Goo Dolls and Birds of Tokyo. Vampire Weekend, Hoobastank and Newton Faulkner were possible artists I had listed when formulating a basic plan-of-attack for the ceremonial music.

Essentially, hive, our music isn’t “typical wedding music”.

I had previously heard of other Bees using Vitamin String Quartet (VSQ), but it just didn’t feel right to use orchestral versions of songs when we could just use the original.

Enter Imagine Dragons.

After listening to their very popular song “Radioactive” and then going through their entire album, Mr Big and I found the perfect recessional song! Mr Big was also able to cut the humongous list I had made to make it fit all nicely.

Overall, we’re pretty darn happy with our choice. Now all we have to do is ensure that the processional makes sense with everyone’s entrances and we’re all set!

Who else is using “offbeat” choices for their music?

I really should be working on my thesis…

7 Aug

Alternative Title: I am AWESOME at procrastinating!

So… I should be writing about political tactics and the influences of said tactics on workplace bullying… buuuuuut I can’t be bothered. Also, my brain has been on frantic-wedding-mode since Monday and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why! I was fine last week, working hard on my thesis and all, and then – POOF! – gone. No focus – no concentration.

It really sucks.

But it does mean I’m getting some wedding-related things out of the way.

For example, I’ve been putting off ‘ceremony wording’ for a while because I just didn’t want to peruse through the thick book of ceremonial suggestions. Yesterday, I buckled down and managed to write down our choices in cohesive order. It’s obviously not the whole ceremony, since that will be refined by our celebrant, but I’m happy to have gotten that out of the way. Now I just need GP to read through it, add his own revisions, answer some of the questions, and we can send it off to our celebrant.

Yay!

I’ve also been going through some DIY projects. Mainly, the simplest of them – personalised coat hangers for the girls. All I needed was a black sharpie, graphite pencil, eraser, ribbon and a wooden hanger.

Done.

My makeup and hair trial is coming up this Sunday. I’ve tried changing it to Saturday, but the hair and makeup team I’m with are a little… late to reply to things. I might text or call them.

Otherwise, I haven’t done much and there isn’t much else to plan apart from the finer details which are more-or-less dependent on guest numbers and the like.

So yeah guys – I really should be working on my thesis…

Tick-tock: Timing is Everything

29 Jun

On a Saturday morning, June 29, I woke up and came downstairs, seeing Mr Big bent over a writing pad and planning out the day-of timeline. A little early for that, doncha think? So I asked what that was about, and found out something that made my heart sink.

Apparently, Chinese tradition states that Mr Big needed to lead me out of my parents’ house at 11AM. Now this meant, at 11AM, Mr Big needed to get to my parents’ house and lead me out. There were initial problems to this.

The first problem is fixable. Let’s say Mr Big is at the door to my parent’s villa. If he leads me out, he’ll see me in all my white-dressed-glory, which ruins the whole “first-seeing-each-other-when-I-walk-down-the-aisle” thing. GP says that he can blindfold himself before he knocks on the door and we can do both traditions (not seeing each other before the aisle-walk, AND the Chinese tradition of Mr Big letting me out of the house). So… this problem is fixed, but the BIGGEST issue was the second one.

The second, and MAIN, problem was timing

Our civil ceremony was initially supposed to start at 11AM and we’ve told our guests this. This meant guests would be arriving at the Waterfall Outlook before 11AM. Now, if Mr Big lead me out of my parents’ house at 11AM, we’d ultimately get to the Hunter Valley Gardens by about 11:15AM. Which meant our guests would be sitting down  waiting around for about 15-20 minutes.

I didn’t want that to happen.

Not to mention that pushed back the civil ceremony, the official family photos, and the amount of time we get for the Chinese tea ceremony. However, like all problems, we found a fix, which meant being approximately 15 minutes late to the ceremony. We made our celebrant aware, and hopefully, guests will be ok with it. According to a number of our married guests and friends, it’s okay for the bride and groom to be a little bit “fashionably late”.

‘But what, pray tell, is this post about?’, I hear you guys asking. Well, guys, we’re counting down the days to the wedding, and I’m glad to tell you that we’ve got the day-of timeline tightened and neat. With the help of Microsoft Project, information from our vendors, and working throughout all of November and December to get this baby all set, I think we’ve definitely got a workable day-of run sheet.

So for those who want a few tips on how to construct what seems like a massive venture in the beginning, let me give you a few tips:

  • Get in touch with your vendors as soon as possible: I know this is an obvious one, guys, but seriously, this vastly helped in constructing our day-of run sheet. Our reception coordinators actually gave us the run sheet that they normally work off of, and that gave me a good idea on how to get started. I basically extrapolated this and then overlaid it with our own plans.
  • Communicate with your FI/partner: Another obvious one, but the amount of times I’ve put a plan into action and had Mr Big either improve on it or add details I didn’t know about are amazing. Mr Big and I are pretty good at communicating, and when it came to the timeline, it’s amazing what sitting down and going through it can do.
  • Durations are your friend: I know it’s not really easy to get things down to the finest minute, but I found that giving events a duration of time (1 min, 30 mins, 1hr, 3hrs, etc.) allows for a much easier “block” to work around. For example, I know the ceremony will start at 11AM to 1115AM and go for approximately 30 minutes. I made note of that in the run sheet.
  • Try and go through your run sheet as early as possible with important members of the “wedding team”: I’m not just talking about bridesmaids and groomsmen – remember that your ushers, parents of flower girls or page boys, DJ, MC, florist, and all other special attendants need to know what’s happening too. I sent my preliminary run sheet to all of my vendors and asked them to have a look over it. They were able to tell me where to tweak it and also give me their timings! This then assisted me in improving where particular things flowed in the run sheet. I also went through the run sheet a week early with other attendants (ushers, bridesmaids, etc.) in order for them to understand what I needed of them.
  •  If at all possible, print out and give copies to bridal party members: This is particularly important if you have a big group (like we do!).

I hope these tips help you all in planning your own run sheet! If you need any tips (or would like to see a copy of my own run sheet), please do PM me! 🙂 I’d post a template up on here, but I need to get cracking to last-minute wedding stuff!

Who else had some issues formulating their day-of run sheet?

Bubbles, bubbles, I wish my name was bubbles~

3 Jun

(Who got the title reference?)

During the planning process of this wedding, Mr Big and I thought through a lot of things. One of these was the “exit” for the bride and groom during both ceremony (recessional!) and reception (send off!). I’ll get to the send off later, because that’s a longer story, but our recessional exit was an easy one.

Upon visiting the place where we’d get married, our former ceremony coordinator turned to us and said politely, “we unfortunately can’t have rice or confetti thrown on the Garden grounds, but most people do rose petals”. Mr Big and I nodded in understanding, and kept looking around. After a pause, our ceremony coordinator turned to us and said these game-changing words:

“Bubbles are my favourite though.”

I had never heard of such a thing, but it sounded fantastic.

I love bubbles. One of my fondest childhood memories was grabbing a bowl, pouring in a mixture of dishwashing liquid and water, grabbing my self-made bubble blower (made out of a coat hanger of course!) and then going out onto the balcony and blowing the bubbles. Seeing them bob up and down in the air, floating into the air, was wonderful.

This was only emphasised by the gorgeous images of bubbles being blown at newlyweds.

design

Bubble exit! / Image via A Southern Soiree, photography by Exum Photography.

So of course, when bubbles were proposed as an alternative to confetti and rose petals, I was set. So was Mr Big. He seemed even more excited than me, hahah! 😀

So after that visit, I started the search for wedding bubbles, and promptly found out how overpriced they were. Eighty cents per blower!? Over $100 for about 150 bubble blowers!? Are you serious!? I stopped searching when all I could find was overpriced wedding merchandise after overpriced wedding merchandise. It was also too early to settle on buying these things.

A few months later, I found a pretty good deal on a website selling twin heart bubble blowers. However, after contacting them, we weren’t given the kindness of a response and gave up. I was annoyed, because it would’ve been a great deal.

Oh well, back to the drawing board…

Fast forward to 1 June 2013.

We were in the city to go to a Tour de Dance at the Metro Theatre to support two friends and their dance troupe. The night was AMAZING and they’re SO good at dancing! While we were there though, we had about two to one-and-a-half hours to go. We shopped around, finding some wedding guest book options (which I’ll get to when we finally get around to buying everything). We also visited a discount dollar store (you know, those ones which sell cheap stuff). And inside that store, we, or more correctly, Mr Big found bubbles!

And the cost: fifty cents per bubble blower.

EFF YEAH!

They had two designs, a twin heart design and a bride and groom design:

bubbles_montage

Left: The twin heart design from Swish Wedding Invitations, and right: The bride and groom design from La Occasion Wedding & Events Coordinators.

We originally ordered 6 boxes of the combined designs, but at the end, we got about 6 boxes of the bride and groom bubbles. It was all good thought, because we got the bubbles for a combined total of $72!

Question is, should we leave them as is, or should I add some nice ribbon?

A Place to be Married

5 Nov

I’ve gone through the search for our reception, but I haven’t talked to you guys about our ceremony!

Mr Big isn’t religious at all and I’m of the Buddhist-persuasion. As such, our ceremony won’t be held at a church or a place of religion, but it’ll be a civil ceremony. Furthermore, due to cultural and traditional purposes, we’ll be having two ceremonies at our wedding: a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and a secular civil ceremony.

Our initial plan was to have the tea ceremony at the hotel, before we got ready for the big day, and the civil ceremony would then be held in a nice vineyard somewhere. It sounded simple enough, but alas, things did not go according to our initial plan.

And here’s why:

oriental_pagoda_sunset

The Oriental Garden at sunset. Image & Photography via DC Images

The Oriental Garden: an absolutely stunning location for a ceremony located at the Hunter Valley Gardens, or HVG.

In my previous post, I talked about the HVG and how it didn’t really make the cut for the reception space, despite the fact that it was a beautiful location. However, Mr Big and I just couldn’t let go of it as a place for our ceremony. The grounds of the HVG are stunning, and it’s really no wonder.

hvg_cavanagh

Absolutely stunning. Image & Photography via Cavanagh Photography.

Bonus? When you have your ceremony at the HVG, you get to have a 2-hour photography session. Which is great! The HVG itself has about 10 different mini-gardens to explore. They’re great for photography purposes, such as the Storybook Garden:

hvg_storybook

Image & Photography via Creek Street Photography.

As for the ceremonies themselves, of the 10 mini-gardens, four of them can hold ceremonies:

The Formal Gardens:

formal gardens

An aerial view of the formal gardens. Image via the Hunter Valley Gardens official website.

The Sunken Garden:

sunken garden

A shot of the gardens in front of the waterfall. Image via the Hunter Valley Gardens official website

The Oriental Garden:

oriental garden

The Oriental Pagoda at the Oriental Garden, where ceremonies are usually held. Image via the Hunter Valley Garden official website.

And the Lakes Walk:

lakes walk

The Lakes Rotunda at the Lakes Walk, where the ceremonies are usually held. Image via the Hunter Valley Garden official website.

Each of the four gardens has specific places which the HVG wedding coordinator recommends for the ceremony. The Sunken Garden itself has two places – the bottom of the waterfall and the top of the waterfall. When we first toured around the HVG, we were allowed to enter for free (yay for being the engaged couple!) and were toured around on a golf buggy. We were basically treated like stars for the day! It was awesome.

During our tour, our guide, the then-wedding coordinator Kelly, showed us around. Kelly was so fantastic and was able to answer all of our questions! She gave us the lowdown about what each bridegroom couple received when booking their ceremonies with the HVG. There was a fee attached (we knew that beforehand), but with the fee the couple also received:

  • A set number of seats and a PA system for the ceremony
  • A wedding coordinator on-hand to assist in all questions, queries, details and problems
  • Two hours photography with all-access around the HVG
  • A golf buggy to take the bridal party around the HVG on-the-day (girls in heels with no sore feet? Score!)
  • A wet-weather option inside their onsite Chapel (which, if this Spring has been anything, we won’t need)
hvg_chapel

The HVG Chapel from the entrance. Image & Photography via the Vincent Lai Photography.

She then gave us the grand tour!

The first stop was the Formal Gardens. We took a look and, though beautiful, it was much too… well, formal. It would be a great place for formal wedding, but our wedding was a little less formal, and a little more semi-formal. So, off we went to the Sunken Garden.

We took a look at the base of the waterfall, and it was gorgeous… but loud. The sound of the water hitting the base of the falls is soothing when you want some time to marvel in its splendour, but saying our vows over the din? No thanks. Despite its beauty, we had to give this one a pass.

Kelly then drove us to the top of the falls, called the “Waterfall Outlook”.

hvg_waterfall outlook

Image & Photography via Cavanagh Photography.

It. Was. Stunning, hive. That picture above does not even do it any justice.

The aisle, which you can see above, is lined with columns and arched with branches and wisteria. It ends at a balcony that overlooks the HVG. The waterfall isn’t loud at all from above so it makes the perfect ceremony location. Plus? It’s shaded, so we won’t have any of the Kiwis fainting in the summer heat.

It was the perfect place for us.

Get engaged at the base of a waterfall, and get married at the top of one!

Kelly then golf buggy’d us down to the Oriental Garden. We arrived, walked towards the Oriental Pagoda and Mr Big turned to me and said:

“We’re having the tea ceremony here.”

Now hive, I was of two minds. The first was stating that we had to be reasonable, that we had a plan in mind and we needed to stick to it.

The second was this:

Like – exactly my reaction. Taken from College Times.

I caved.

He was right, though! It was magnificent. But as I had said before, it completely changed our plans! So what do we do?

Well, it’s safe to say that we booked the ceremony venue a few days later (no suspense here!). We asked question after question about the ceremony and ensured we got everything in writing too (we’re paranoid) and the wedding coordinators (Kelly changed roles, and now our current wedding coordinator is Kylie!) have been nothing but extremely helpful!

They agreed to provide us with hot water, tables and chairs for the tea ceremony, and were more than happy to give us two ceremonies for the fee of one! Kylie has been great and has answered all of our questions. They’ve also opted to provide us with snacks and drinks (for a price unfortunately) for our bridal party!

All-in-all we think we’ve chosen a great place to be officially announced as husband and wife and to celebrate the elders of our family.

It’s making me excited just thinking about!

Has anyone else gone to a venue looking for a reception and leaving with an idea about their ceremony? What do you guys think about our choices?

Talking venues! and we have a date!

23 Oct

Hello readers,

How long has it been!? Sorry for the long, long absence guys. It’s been a quiet few months ’cause the fiance and I have been waiting and waiting on a date. We FINALLY have one! YAAAAAY! (It only took 6-and-a-bit months…). Now the wedding ride really starts. As the title suggests, I will be talking about different venues we’ve been thinking about (though the title could also suggest that the venues themselves can talk… but seriously, what kind of venue can talk?).

We’ve been looking at different places to have the reception and ceremonies, but we’re pretty sure we’ll be having our reception at Tamburlaine Organic Winery. We haven’t booked anything yet (a fact that completely confuses my parents) but we’re having serious conversations on places to have the ceremonies. We have about four scenarios with which to do the wedding which I’ve got written down in a Word file:

Scenario 1:

Civil Ceremony: Hunter Valley Gardens

Tea Ceremony: Hunter Valley Gardens

Reception: Tamburlaine Organic Winery

Scenario 2:

Civil Ceremony: Hunter Valley Gardens

Tea Ceremony: Tamburlaine Organic Winery

Reception: Tamburlaine Organic Winery

Scenario 3:

Civil Ceremony: Hunter Valley Gardens

Tea Ceremony: Place of accomodation (where we’re staying)

Reception: Tamburlaine Organic Winery

Scenario 4:

Wedding at the Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel

Scenario 5:

Wedding at the Hunter Valley Gardens

As you all may know (if you’ve been following the blog so far), we’ll be having two ceremonies: the ‘Western’ civil ceremony and the ‘Eastern’ tea ceremony. My mother was a little bit confused about the whole thing (even though I’ve been trying to explain it to her over the past six months) but I think we’ve settled that issue. Anyway, we’ve finalised that the civil ceremony needs to be performed between 11AM-12PM because of some cultural thing that states that I (eichanist) have to be handed over by my family to GP’s family between that time (otherwise known as the “Giving Away” portion of the civil ceremony). In Chinese tradition this means the groom drives over to the bride’s house, plucks her out of her family home, and drives to his parents’ house (where the tea ceremony will take place).

Of course, this is impossible if you’re having a mini-destination wedding like GP and me. Not only that, but GP’s parents live in Christchurch, New Zealand, so having the tea ceremony there isn’t really an option. So we figured that we can incorporate this Chinese tradition into the civil ceremony. When my dad ‘gives’ me to GP, I’m being relinquished from my family and being accepted into his. Or something like that. Now the only problem is where do we have the ceremonies?

Enter the five scenarios listed above.

All five scenarios have their pros and cons. We’re trying to keep the wedding within a localised ‘suburb’ of the Hunter Valley called Pokolbin (all locations are within this area) which makes travelling a lot easier for everyone. Tamburlaine and the Hunter Valley Gardens (HVG, for short) are about 5-10 minutes apart from each other. The Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel is located a little further away, but the distance isn’t huge. If we do use the Sebel Kirkton though, we’ll be using the hotel for all of the day’s activities. To make it more transparent, I’ll break down each venue/location and make note of their pros and cons.

The Hunter Valley Gardens (HVG)

The Ceremony:

As far as we can see, when using the HVG for a reception, you get to use the Gardens at a discounted rate for ceremonies. You also get the Gardens for 2 hours for photography (including a buggy to ride around in) and there’s a wet-weather option included (which is the onsite non-denomination Chapel). The photography and the wet-weather option is included regardless of the use of the HVG as the reception, but the discounted rate on the ceremonies is a bonus, especially because we’re keen to have both the civil and the tea ceremony there.

The Garden itself has five ceremony locations:

  1. The European Formal Gardens
  2. The Sunken Garden
  3. The Waterfall Outlook
  4. The Oriental Garden
  5. The Lakes Walk Rotunda

GP and I really liked the look of the Waterfall Outlook for the civil ceremony and the Oriental Garden for the tea ceremony. Because the Oriental Garden only sits a maximum of 70 guests, we’ll only be inviting family and close friends to this one. The Waterfall Outlook is in a shaded area, so guests won’t overheat in the sun (since we’ll be getting married at about the height of January). We’re also trying to think of what to do with the bugs, since there’ll be a lot of mosquitoes and flies about.

The Reception

There are two locations: the Tempus Two Barrel Room and the Garden Terrace. GP and I like the look of the Garden Terrace if we did the wedding at the HVG. It’s basically their restaurant in the morning. We haven’t been inside, but from what I’ve seen there’s a deck with rolling doors which open up completely to create a seamless inside-outside atmosphere. The deck itself overlooks the Oriental Garden, so it’ll be perfect if we have the tea ceremony there (guests could perhaps watch while drinking pre-dinner drinks).

The venue sits approximately 110 guests on round tables and 140 on long tables. Because we’re estimating about 120 people, we’ll have to use the long table option if we use this place. The dance floor itself is outside in an amphitheatre they have there, so a live band could be set up outside. It really is a pretty venue, though there are some flaws.

The HVG doesn’t have much in the way of seafood (which is a big cultural thing during Chinese weddings). I’m not too fussy about having seafood at the wedding ’cause I’m not a big fan of seafood. Another thing about the HVG is the cost per-head. The venue hire isn’t too bad, and on Sunday (which is when we’re planning on having the wedding) there’s a 50% discount. Unfortunately, the price-per-head for HVG for the Premium package (the best one they have) stands at about $20 more than the best packages of all the other venues we’re looking at. The Deluxe package (the next one down) is about the average price of the more expensive packages in other venues. GP also didn’t like the fact that the names of their foods sound too snobbish (e.g. “rabbit ragout on a bed of…”) though they do have more humble (and yummy-sounding!) offerings.

I also have a feeling that centrepieces and decorations are all “taken care of” by the venue, which takes the decisions away from us (the bridal couple). I would like a say on what goes where and how things are presented. I know GP doesn’t really have a head for decorations, but I’m sure he wouldn’t like the control taken away. It is our wedding after all. Need to remember to bring this up when we see them (hopefully I get a reply tomorrow).

Tamburlaine Organic Winery

The Ceremony

Tamburlaine do ceremonies on the lawn just outside the venue. There’s a little seating area with French-style chairs and tables and I’ve seen the pews they use to set up for seating. The setup is simple – 4 pews with satin sashes, rose-lined aisle, a wine barrel for signing of the Marraige certificate, and a garden arch. The lawn is not as pretty as the HVG, mostly just grass and Eucalyptus trees (very Australian). Some couples have gotten married in front of the manmade lake they have there, but that lake is mostly covered by reeds from the lawn (though looks stunning on the verandah at the back of the venue). We’re not too keen to have our ceremony here, but it is an option we should think about.

The Venue

Tamburlaine’s venue is called the ‘Member’s Lodge’ and juts out onto a manmade lake (the verandah I mentioned above) surrounded by reeds. It’s really pretty. Tea lights spatter the inside and outside of the venue and the venue itself is huge. It easily fits 150 people, so fits our guest list criteria. Like the Garden Terrace at HVG, doors can be opened to go out onto the deck outside, causing a seamless inside-outside environment. This is important for GP, as that was his one major ‘want’ in regards to the venue.

Decorated, Tamburlaine looks very pretty. My parents (especially my father) has an issue with the excessive use of white because of its symbolic interpretations to death in Chinese culture, but decorators should be able to change the colours (or spatter coloured tealights throughout). Also something I have to make mention of. The interior of Tamburlaine is a dark blue, so ‘wedding colours’ might be a little difficult to incorporate. Luckily we’ve picked out two major colours: red and yellow. Add blue and what do you get?

Beauty and the Beast colours.

I’m lame, I know…

Which brings me to the next topic, Tamburlaine gives you an enormous amount of flexibility when planning the wedding. They have a ‘make your own package’ deal where you can pick and choose what you like (and don’t like) to alter the per-head cost. This means you can tailor it to your budget. Food is also extremely varied: heaps of seafood, beef, chicken, lamb, duck, etc. The down side to Tamburlaine is the fact that you can only use their wines, but having tasted their wines, it’s not too bad. The sweeter wines are very nice, a fact which you need when tailoring to my side of the family (and my friends).

Sebel Kirkton Park Hotel

The Ceremony

GP and I haven’t been to the Sebel yet, so there’s not much I can say about it. The packages look okay, so do the pictures of the locations, but GP has some reservations against it. We’ll be checking the place out 3 November and I can give a more comprehensive rundown. All’s I can tell you is the Sebel Kirkton Park has three locations to choose from for the ceremony:

  1. The Manor Garden
  2. Between the Urns
  3. Wisteria Walk

Ceremony packages are only available when the reception has been booked with the Sebel.

The Reception

As above, we haven’t checked the place out. But from pictures I’ve seen, both venues – the James Busby room and the Hunter Rothbury room – have a courtyard which you can go out too. I’m not too sure if it’s as seamless as the HVG and Tamburlaine, but the interior (from picture) looks really good. The packages are well-priced too. Unfortunately, the cheapest one is only a ‘cocktail’ function, which forces GP and I into the next package up (we want a dinner-wedding). After our visit here, I’m sure I can give more information about the place.

 

That’s all for the venues. Not much of a segue, I know. In other news, I’ll be going shopping with my bridesmaids in about… a month from now. 😀

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!