Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Tale of Two Dresses

Sigh.  I have been avoiding this post, but the time has come to share it with you.

I bought a wedding dress.

A few weeks ago, I went to a sample dress sale at Demetrios.  As you might remember from my previous Demetrios post, I'm very much a fan, but I can't really afford most of their dresses.  I figured checking out the sample sale would be a great way to see if I could find an awesome dress that would normally be out of my price range.

Well, I found one.  And the great thing about this dress was that it wasn't actually a sample dress, just one that someone had decided not to buy that had been sitting in the back room for years because it's a size 2.  Obviously, not a dress that would fit most people.  I am not most people.  Though this dress was still too big on me (crazy, right?), it was the closest dress to my size that I had ever tried on, and it was beautiful.  It seemed like the perfect mix between everything I originally wanted in a dress and the new styles I had been considering.  It is very princessy, has a sweetheart neckline,  has a very full skirt, and sports lots of beading.  However, the beading is lace-like in style, and the skirt manages to be as full as I want without my previously requisite pick-ups.  This dress is truly unique, not only because it has glitter sewn into the fabric and an open-fronted skirt (see pictures), but also because the neckline had been altered by the previous almost-owner so that there actually is no dress quite like it.

It seemed like everything I had been looking for even though it was nothing like the dress I imagined getting married in.  And it cost a lot less than I had originally expected to pay.

Here was my dilemma:  Remember the dress I found a year-and-a-half ago that I fell in love with but haven't seen since?

Yes, that one.  Well, I'm still in love with it.  I wasn't so sure about it during the Monalisa fiasco, but as soon as I thought about buying the Demetrios dress, it was all I could think about.

I told the sales lady I wanted to sleep on the decision.  She told me that this was the last day of the sample sale, so the dress would go up in price significantly if I came back even the next day.

I started saying, "shit" repeatedly in my head.

In retrospect, I probably should have figured that a dress that had been sitting in the back room for so long probably wouldn't go up in price all that much if I decided to come back for it later.  The saleslady was very good at her job, and I really should have known better than to trust her.

I left the shop to go think about whether to buy the dress.  I had about 2.5 hours until the store closed, not nearly enough time to make an educated decision.  I called three very different people who have all been involved in my wedding, and all three of them basically told me as gently and in as much of a "it's your decision" tone as possible that I shouldn't buy the dress.

I really should have listened to them.

I went back to Demetrios thinking I probably wouldn't buy the dress but that I wanted to try it on once more before making a decision.

I'm not exactly sure what possessed me to buy it, but there are a few factors that I know were involved.

You've probably ascertained that I have been really worried about money lately.  It's not just the wedding, but the wedding is enough.  Our budget is definitely not large, and since Daniel and I are both picky and both want everything to be perfect, I've been majorly stressing about having the day be everything we want while still fitting into our budget.  Accordingly, I've been trying to save money on my dress because the one I want is $1,100, slightly over budget, but with tax and alterations it's significantly more than I was counting on.  The Demetrios dress seemed like the perfect solution:  beautiful and very me while still significantly cheaper than the other dresses I had loved.  I really wish I had had the conversation we had with my FFIL a couple of hours earlier because it alleviated a lot of my money problems, and I probably wouldn't have bought the dress if I had known how much he was going to give us beforehand.

Mostly, I think I talked myself into it because it was cheap, but that wasn't the only factor involved.  I wouldn't have bought it if it hadn't been so unique and timeless.  That's what sold me.  I have worried a little about my children looking a pick-up dress and asking, "WTH were you thinking?!"  And I really was looking for a dress that was unique without being too contemporary, and this dress really fit.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, but it was still very me, and I loved that about it.  But in the end, it has the same problem I've had with every other Demetrios dress that I have liked:  something just doesn't seem quite right.  It fits really well with what I want, but something's just off about it.  When it comes down to it, I can't see myself actually getting married in it, and that's the biggest problem imaginable.

There was one other factor that I think pushed me over the edge:  I'm sick of looking and waiting and not being able to do anything about my wedding.  It is SO frustrating to not really be able to make any decisions because we can't book a venue because we're not in California.  I'm so sick of it.  I can brainstorm, but I can't really do anything from 2,000 miles away.  Even the dress I want I can't find anywhere but San Jose!  I'm just so tired of waiting to be able to plan anything for real that I think I just wanted to have something over and done with.  Stupid reason to buy a dress, but I do think that was part of it.

Anyway, it did not take long for me to know that this just wasn't the right dress for me, and I'm trying to sell it.  On the very dismal bright side, two good things came out of this.

I know I want the other dress now.  I mean, I'm still going to go try it on again first, just to be sure, but I'm pretty much convinced that no other dress is going to live up to that one, and I'm planning on buying it.  I'm going to try to find it around here just to try it on again, but if I can't, I'm going to road trip it up to San Jose once I'm back in CA so that I can try it on and buy it.  They still have it, and hopefully they'll still have it when I get back.  I'm no longer looking for any other dresses, and I guess I did get the certainty I wanted in a dress out of the way...albeit in a horribly ironic and expensive way.

The other bright side is a lovely bridal gown photo shoot.  My friend Lauren is a fantastic amateur photographer, and despite the fact that we couldn't go outside, she got some really great pictures of me in the dress.

All Photos by Lauren

All that right after her laptop had been stolen, so she couldn't photoshop them.  I did a little editing, but considering the crappy lighting conditions we were dealing with, she did an amazing job.

So now that I'm selling it, is anyone interesting in buying?  Or know anyone that might be?  I have a lot more pictures of the dress itself here:  And this is the original Demetrios picture of the dress: (but that picture has the unaltered neckline).  The dress is a size 2, but I'm a street size 4, and it's still too big on me, so I figure it would be a perfect fit for a street size 6.  Also, I'm 5'5", and it's significantly too long on me, so a tall person should have no problem with length.  At the same time, the saleslady assured me that it would be easy to alter, so a short and/or thinner person would be fine too.  I'm asking $780 which is almost exactly what I paid for it and including free shipping.  If you are at all interested or know someone who might be, please email me at  I'd really love to not have to move it across the country.

Also, does anyone have any advice about how to go about selling it?  I posted ads on Weddingbee and Once Wed, and I'm probably going to do one on Ebay soon, but I would appreciate any advice you can offer.  Or just moral support.  I could definitely use that too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


...also known as the Day I Drove to Six Venues.  I went home to Southern California last week for my brother's high school graduation and took the opportunity to get our venue search started for real.  I visited six venues across Orange and San Diego counties, spanning about 100 miles.  It was quite the day, and it was totally worth it because we may very well have found our venue.

I won't bore you with the ones we're not going with.  There were only two that really stood apart, and they were sisters.

Daniel wasn't able to come with me unfortunately (can you say expensive plane ticket?), but based on the many, many pictures that I collected and my experience, the one both of us like best is Tivoli Too.

It's in Laguna Beach though oddly not actually by the ocean, but it is still beautiful.

ceremony location

Dining Area

Elevated Dining...Classy

Our Awesome Ceremony Backdrop

All Personal Photos

:) :  It's beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.  More beautiful than I would have dared imagine for what we're paying.  Tivoli Too has the feel of a magical fairy-like garden while still maintaining an air of elegance.  The setting is meant to be Italian in style which works well for me (though there could be fewer angels for this atheist bride and her Jewish groom.  Oh well).  It's outside which we both really wanted, but it still feels enclosed which is also nice, and it is covered in twinkling lights which eliminates the problems with lighting that I had envisioned.  It is nothing like what I was looking for, and yet it is still perfect for us.  Even in pricing.  This place definitely fits our budget, and for all of the things that are included, it's downright cheap.  Plus, we really wouldn't need decorations, and that would cut costs as well.  And the summer is actually their off-season (weird I know, explained below), so we would be able to have the wedding on a Saturday night which I had pretty much given up on but would definitely be nice.  Overall, this is a great find.  Definitely worth checking out if you're planning to get married in Southern California (but you can't have the last weekend in July 2011 because it's mine).

:( :  There are a few little things that bother me.  This place is a little small, and while it would be fine for the ceremony and dinner, the small space for the dance floor is a bit of a problem.  I'd have to see if I could expand the area by pushing tables back a bit.  Also, the reason it's cheaper during the summer is that the Art-A-Fair, the venue's main exhibition for the year, occurs during July and August, and the people attending it would be able to watch our wedding.  That doesn't really bother me, but it could be irksome.  The main problem with Tivoli Too, the reason I am not rushing to book it now, is that the management seems a bit difficult to work with.  The person I talked to was very nice and seemed willing to listen to our wishes, but their regulations contain quite a few caveats.  The big one for me is that you have to use a DJ (no ipods or prerecorded music allowed) that you pick off of their vendor list.  I REALLY don't want a DJ.  I'm picky and have been to way too many events with crappy DJs, and with iTunes at my disposable, spending money on a DJ seems stupid.  Plus, I really want my brother to play a set at my wedding.  He's quite the talented musician (check him out!:, and it would mean a lot to my whole family to have him play at least a song.  So I'm going to have to look into their vendors and see if they'll let Cody play and go from there.  There are other things, like you can't bring your own flowers or decorations, but mostly it's just the feeling that they're going to be inflexible and difficult.  It worries me.  We'll just have to talk to them about our concerns to see how much of a problem that will be.

But regardless of the issues, we could definitely make this place work for us and be happy with the result, and that's a relief to me.  It's just so good to know that there is an amazing venue out there that we can afford!  We probably won't book until we move back to California because there are some other places we want to check out still, and I don't want to book a venue that Daniel has never seen in person, but Tivoli Too is definitely number one on the list right now.

What are the most useful questions you asked about your venue?  What criteria did you choose to pick it?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Don't go breaking my opals

Remember our rings?  You know, those little beauties I was set on getting done before we left Chicago?  Well, Daniel FINALLY got a hold of Mark, our jeweler, and we went to see him on Friday.

This meeting was just about the epitome of good news/bad news.  On the positive side of things, it was really helpful to finally be able to talk to someone who knew what he was doing and knew whether the things we wanted were possible.  However, he also pretty much destroyed all hope for most of the designs we showed him.

Apparently, people do not use opals in wedding bands because they like to break and fall out of their settings.  Not something that could last a lifetime = not going to happen.  Same goes for a lot of other designs with inlaid stones that we showed him.  Making the designs we were looking at is very difficult and thus expensive if you're not buying your ring from China, and it would definitely be to our advantage in the long run to buy from Mark as he is practically family.

The only designs we showed him that he did not reject were these:

We're not crazy about this particular wave design, but one like it is something we both like.  This would be nice because we could definitely have complimentary rings with this design.  If we wanted, Mark said we could make the waves a color with this stuff that looks like stone but isn't that we could put inside the waves, but that feels kind of cheap to me.  Nonetheless, it's an option.

Daniel really likes these Mokume rings, and while I think they look really cool, I just don't think this is for me.  Not feeling it.

We talked about some other options.  Mark suggested a titanium ring for Daniel.  They are exceptionally strong, and they have a different look, but they're not really good for designs which is something both of us are attracted to.  It's doable on a small scale.  Daniel's engagement ring was titanium ("was" because he lost it.  This is my punishment for breaking it off, I guess), and it had a little design on it (see below).  But ultimately, he's thinking he wants more options than titanium will allow.

I think you can guess which one is Daniel's.  And that this is a personal photo.

For me, well, I don't think I've mentioned this on here yet, but when I started thinking about wedding rings, I immediately wanted to reproduce my mom's ring (I'd say my parents' rings, but my dad lost his a loooooong time ago.  Anyone else sensing a trend here?).  I don't have a picture of it (yet), but it's yellow gold and has two dolphins' heads intertwining, and where their tales should be, their bodies meet to form the band.  I've loved it for as long as I can remember.  The main reason I didn't decide on this a long time ago is that it's not really Daniel's thing, so we definitely would not have matching rings, but also, it's significance to me is a lot more about my life than our life together.  I've had a deep and unwavering love of the ocean my entire life, and my parents definitely helped instill that in me.  They are both scuba divers, and they actually got married underwater, so to me this ring symbolizes the love of the ocean that brought them together.  While it's something that's important to me and that I share with them, it's not something that symbolizes my love for Daniel, and I really want a ring that feels right for us.  I'm still very much considering using my mom's design, but I'm not sure that it feels right.

So basically, we're back to square oneish.  At least we have a better idea of what we can do.  I've told Daniel that it is his job to look for designs in metals because he's better at it than I am, so we'll see what he comes up with.

Have you had trouble finding the right ring?  What's most important to you?  How do you decide on the ring that you will wear for the rest of your life?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A word to the wise...

...never do any sort of wedding planning/discussion on 3 hours of sleep.  It does not end well.  That is my tip for the day.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?

Let me whisper in your ear,
Say words you never thought you'd hear,

I don't want a wedding.

Not a real wedding, anyway.

Weddings are not about marriage.  Weddings are an excuse for your families and friends to get together and party and pretend it's about you when they really think it's about them.  It's not a celebration about marriage any more than Christmas is about Jesus's birth.  In my house, that's basically not at all.  It's all about celebrating because you have an excuse.

That's not what I want.  I want a wedding that's actually about us.  I want a wedding that's actually about us choosing to spend the rest of our lives together.  I want it to be beautiful and romantic and personal.

I don't want a big wedding.


See, I do sort of want to celebrate with all the people I care about and have all the things I'm only going to get to have once and go all out for this one day to make the best party I'll ever have.  But that's not about us.  That's about wanting the material side of it for tradition's sake.  Because I know I'll never get another chance to have the big, expensive party.

That's not what marriage is about.  I don't think I need to go into why.  And when it comes down to it, I think I'd feel a lot better about a wedding that was just me and Daniel declaring our love somewhere natural with just the officiant or just our very, very close friends and family.

That would feel like a marriage too me.  I could do the "big reception for everyone later" thing.  That would be OK with me, I guess.  But for the ceremony, the more people that are there, the less it will feel like a marriage to me.

And the bigger our wedding is, and the more time I spend planning it, the more likely I am to be disappointed by the fact that it can never live up to my expectations.  Because I'm a staunch perfectionist, and it will never be perfect.

I think the perfect thing for me would be a destination wedding in the Caribbean or Hawaii.  Small, intimate, naturally beautiful, and planned completely by someone else with our interests at heart.

Would I regret not having most of the people I know there?  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm trying not to think about it because it will never happen.

Aside from the large number of people who would kill me for doing this, it's not what Daniel wants.  Daniel wants to have all of the people he cares about there, and while it won't be a big wedding, it won't be tiny either.  He actually told me he wouldn't marry me without having the people he cares about there, and while I don't think that's necessarily true, I do know that it's something he cares about deeply.  I can't deny him that.

So we're having a wedding.  Maybe I'll be happier for it in the long run, maybe I won't, but it's important to me that he feels satisfied with our wedding, and I'm going to try not to over-think it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Return to Themes

Finally, it's here.  The Big One.  The post you've all been waiting for....all right, not really.  But I have been meaning to revisit themes for an awfully long time, and that time has finally come.

When last I discussed themes, wayyyyy back in February, I was very reluctant to have a theme at all.  It didn't take long for me to realize that my favorite weddings all have a distinct theme and that it is much easier to plan when you've narrowed down your options a bit.  I started small.  I figured since we were doing a wedding by the sea, we could work within an oceany color scheme.  That would give us some fluency without being too limiting.

But the more I thought about it, the more that didn't really sit well with me.  I really like pastels, and as much as I love blue, I didn't want to limit our palette to just blues and greens.

So then I started branching out and thinking about a real theme to tie things together that would allow for a varied color palette.  My brainstorming left me with some pretty...interesting ideas.  Among the more amusing were a wedding covered in fairies (including a "find the fairies" game) and a BookWorlds wedding (BookWorlds is a club that teaches college courses at Berkeley about fantasy and sci-fi novels like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.  It's how Daniel and I met).  However, I also managed to come up with a few ideas that might actually work for us.  I have narrowed it down to three.

And so I enter the world of inspiration boards.  Not so much for me, I have a pretty active imagination, but so people who are not me can get an idea of what the Hell I'm talking about.  Because when I came to Daniel with my theme ideas, he had no sense of what any of these weddings would look like despite my descriptions.

So without further ado, these are my top three:

1.  Natural Beauty

OK, I'm sorry people whose pictures these are, but I am not posting source info for all of them.  I know, I know, I'm being a bad blogger.  If you don't want your picture on here, just email me, and I will be happy to take it down.

Note:  For those of you who are used to Weddingbee inspiration boards, I'm just not into them.  I'm not posting pictures of stuff I intend to use or stuff that necessarily all goes together, just stuff that has the sort of feel I'm looking for.  And that means multiple kinds of one thing (notably, cakes).  Because this isn't perfect, it's just a visual brainstorm.

Alrighty, so the idea behind this look is elegant but natural beauty, probably with a foresty feel to it but still with lots of flowers.  Think dark, woodsy tones with lightly colored flowers.  This would probably involve a dress with beaded flowers, flower centerpieces mixed with lots of greens, twigs and branches incorporated in the scenery, a viney tiara, and wooden chairs among other things.  We could also easily transform this from woodsy to beachy plants if we wanted a natural CA coastline theme to better suit our venue.  But the main idea of this is bringing out the best that nature has to offer.

2.  Dripping with Flowers

Even if we got all of the flowers locally and in season, borrowed from people's gardens, used silk flowers, bought flowers wholesale, and did all of the arrangements ourselves, I still think this probably isn't going to be a real possibility for us budgetwise.  However, since I haven't really looked into all that yet, for now it is still possible.  The idea behind this one is flowers, flowers, everywhere.  The Secret Garden (Holland, USA, 1993) is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I would definitely be taking inspiration from it.  I would want a natural as opposed to manicured feel to the arrangements, and as such, there would probably be a lot of crossover opportunities between this theme and the natural one.  Major features would include a flower arch, majorly flowery centerpieces (potentially a different flower theme for every table), lots and lots of roses among many other types of flowers, pink bridesmaids dresses (and I can feel one of them cringing just at the possibility), and real flowers on the cake.

3.  Danicole

Ah, the fun one.  This idea is all about us, things we like and things that have been important in our relationship.  Not only would this be the easiest thing to plan, it would also be the cheapest by far.  I'd be taking a lot of inspiration from, my very favorite wedding website, for this one.  The most visual aspect of this would be the centerpieces.  We would do a different one for each table, each reflecting a different thing that we like such as games, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Disneyland, the beach, dogs, etc.  We could have fun Nicole and Daniel trivia and people could play games from the game table if they didn't want to dance.  And everything would be tied together by pictures of us doing something related to each table and maybe just us being together elsewhere (like the food tables and such).  This would be very fun and very us.

Problem with that is, both of us really want an elegant wedding, not so much fun and quirky.  So as much as I would love a wedding based off of #3, I think we're going to stick with something more along the lines of #1 or #2 because it's more what we envision in a wedding.  That's what we want our day to be.

Poll:  Which option do you like best?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Money, Money, Money

Family of the bride and groom, if you are reading this, I am going to ask you not to continue.  It's not bad, but there is venting involved, and I would really appreciate it if you would allow me privacy for this post.

I really mean it, if you are still reading, please stop.

OK, if you are still reading, I don't want to hear anything about this from you.  You are not to speak to me, Daniel, or ANYONE else about what you are reading.  You have been warned.

Classy Wedding by the Sea