Friday, December 31, 2010

Shoesies for My Feetsies: The Search Continues Indefinitely

When last we left my shoe search all of two days ago, I was looking for classy shoes with a low heel that would be comfortable and stay on my feet, and I was ready for a foray into the real world of shoes.  For me, this translates to sales racks.  My shoe budget is minuscule, so this and Payless were pretty much the only options (and believe me, I spent a lot of time looking at Payless).

Since I had so much time, my shopping was very casual.  Whenever I went to the mall, I would take a peak at the shoe and department stores to see if they had anything interesting.

Personal Photos

I was pretty much just having fun with the first one, but I really do love the left shoe in the bottom picture.  I may have bought that one if the heel had been about half as high.  And while they always seemed a bit informal, I absolutely love flip flops.  I wear them whenever the weather allows and often when it doesn't.  So when I was starting to give up on finding a cute shoe with a small heel, I toyed with the idea of buying sandals like the one above.  It's cute, it's white, and it's by my beloved Nina.

However, my search quickly started to get frustrating, mostly because trying to find shoes with a small heel that don't look like a grandma's is pretty ridiculous.  So I turned to the most cost-effective alternative to buying shoes:  my closet.

I wore these to prom, and I still like them and would be totally comfortable wearing them to the wedding if it weren't for a few problems.  The heel is a little too high, they don't have straps, so they don't stay in place as much as I'd like, and most importantly, they're trashed.  They're scuffed and many of the strings of rhinestones are broken beyond repair.  As much as I like them, I don't want to wear broken shoes to my wedding.

These are my absolute favorite shoes of all time, and I very seriously considered wearing them, especially since they really go with the outdoor, summery vibe that we're going for.  But they have their problems as well.  Though they're super comfortable and stay on my feet really well, they are also a bit too high, and they're wedges which really wasn't what I was looking for.  But the main problem is the same as my prom shoes:  because I wear them all the time, they're dirty, broken, and kind of squished.  I probably could have made them passable, but at the same time, because I wear them all the time, they wouldn't really be special.

I love these shoes.  They are so freaking adorable.  But the greatest thing about these guys is they are the PERFECT heel height.  They're pink which works with the wedding colors, and they're classy while still being covered in glitter which frankly is perfect for me.  Unfortunately, they're hopelessly uncomfortable.  Even if I could attach a heel strap so they didn't flop around all the time, I don't think I'm skilled enough to keep the toe area from digging into my feet.  I was sad to realize that these just were not going to work out.

After almost a year of searching, I still had not found a shoe that fit all of my requirements, until this week that is.  Stay tuned for the conclusion!

Where did you go for your shoe search?  Would you consider wearing shoes you already owned?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shoesies for My Feetsies: The Beginning

I loathe shoe shopping.  My feet are small but wide, and it is a pain in the ass for me to find shoes that fit me.  As a result, my wedding shoes are not all that important to me.  I want something cute, but they don't need to be perfect, and I'm much more concerned about them fitting into the very small budget I allowed for them.

My requirements are mostly functional in nature and seemed simple enough when I laid them out:

1.  Straps:  My shoes need to be easy to dance in since we're not having a flip flop basket, and you can't take your shoes off at the reception.  Thus, they must stay on my feet.  I also feel like if you're going to spend money on shoes for a wedding, they may as well be comfortable.
2.  Small Heel:  Daniel is only 3 inches taller than me, and I'd really like to keep as much of that height difference as possible for the sake of pictures (don't judge me!).  We figured out that if he gets formal shoes with a rather large sole, the highest my heels could be is 2.5 inches.  Any more, and we start to look about the same height.  As I'm sure you ladies know, finding a heel that is only 2.5 inches is like looking for, not a needle in a haystack, but maybe a pocket knife.  That's been the biggest challenge in my shoe search.
3.  Heels:  For most formal events, I have no problem wearing wedges, and even though wedges or flats might make more sense for my outdoor, on-the-grass ceremony, I really want to go traditional on this one and wear actual heels.  Besides, I really need to acquire more heels, and buying wedding shoes is a great excuse.
4.  Easy to Walk in:  This probably goes without saying, but I don't want to be falling all over the place in my big, poufy dress.  Thus, these shoes need to be made for walking.
5.  Classy:  Like I said, I'm not the girl with 400 shoes in her closet.  Most of my formal shoes were purchased for events like prom and formals and such.  The rest of them were purchased because they were cheap (have I mentioned that Payless and I are super tight?).  For my wedding, I really want something that looks adult and stylish and not at all like a five-year-old.

At first I was like, eh, I'm not picky, this will be fine.  And then I started thinking about that list--classy, short heels that don't hurt my feet--perhaps not as easy as I had planned.

I pretty much started looking for shoes as soon as I got engaged because I knew they'd take FOREVER for me to find.  Since I knew nothing about shoes, I started my search online like a good little blogger, just to get an idea of what was out there.

I quickly fell in love with Nina.  These are some of the earlier shoes that I liked the look of:

As you can see, I kind of wanted a traditional shoe color in the beginning, and while I would never actually order any of these, they did help show that I like the side strap that pulls behind the heel.  To me, that looks classy and nice.

But it wasn't long before I left the online world behind and started casually scouring sales racks.  More to come on the search, including an actual purchase!

What were your shoes requirements?  Did you have trouble filling them?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Best Christmas Present

I've always loved Christmas, but now Christmas Eve has an even more special place in my heart because it was on Christmas Eve of last year that I asked Daniel to marry me.

The holidays now remind me of that decision to spend our life together, so I thought I'd share the story of that night with you in honor of our one-year engagiversary.

We were going to be in Chicago on Christmas Eve because we couldn't afford to fly home, so I knew if I was going to do it on Christmas, it would have to be there.  But at that point, I still didn't know Chicago very well, and I couldn't think of anywhere to do it that would be really special.  We both disliked the idea of proposing in a crowded room, but outside in the middle of winter didn't seem like an appealing option either.

I decided the best choice would be to ask in our apartment, but I wanted it to be special, so I covered the apartment in candles.  I even taped tea lights to our tree (and let me tell you, that was nerve-wracking).

It's hard to tell, but the really bright lights are real candles.
Personal Photo

I also made a Christmas love song playlist to play while when he came in and while I was asking.

Of course, I had to get Daniel out of the house so that I could set up, but that turned out fine because as a habitual procrastinator, he had waited until that day to finish his Christmas shopping.  He spent the whole afternoon running around getting things for the cutest Christmas present for me, one that rivaled (and probably beat) my proposal:  he got me 12 presents of Christmas and wrote and performed a song for them set to (you guessed it) "The 12 Days of Christmas."  It was really freaking adorable.

Since we had been engaged before, I had already gotten him an engagement ring, so this time around, I made one for him.  I wrote down a bunch of things that had been an issue for our relationship (having to move to Chicago, wanting to live in different places, his love-bordering-on-obsession for gaming) and then wrote things that I liked about them (our favorite Chicago pub, my intense love for food in Berkeley, our rousing games of Munchkin).  Then, I folded the paper up into the shape of a ring, like a money ring.  It wasn't easy, and I had to follow the online tutorial about 7 times before I got it to work, but I finally had something passable.  Daniel is a huge Lord of the Rings fan, so I got one of my friends who taught Elvish as a language to write "Will you marry me?" in Elvish for me, and I used an online translator to write it in Elvish script instead of English characters (poorly).

Daniel's family always opens one present on Christmas Eve, so I wrapped his ring up nicely, and I wrapped my engagement ring as well for him to give to me.

Then I got dressed up and waited.

And waited and waited.

And called to find out where he was.

Finally, he came home and told me not to look while he brought in presents.

I told him to leave them in the hallway and opened the door holding the wrapped ring.

I took him under the Christmas tree and had him open it.  Then I told him how sorry I was that I had broken it off and that I loved him and knew I wanted to be with him.

And then I popped the question.

He said, "Yes."

Then I opened my ring, and there was much happiness.

Aaaaand then I dragged him off to the dinner reservations I didn't want to be late for on top of the Hancock Tower, the second tallest building in the country.

Obviously, the food was really expensive, and I really couldn't afford it at the time, but I'm really glad I did it anyway because we had a great view, even better because I had said in my reservation that I'd be proposing that night, and it was a great way to celebrate together despite the food being underwhelming.

It was a great night, and I'll never forget how happy we were knowing forever was coming.

 My favorite Christmas present that year was this sled.
Personal Photo

Well, that's my (preferred) engagement story.  What's yours?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Going Lite on Offbeat Bride

When I discovered the amazing awesomeness that is featuring our STD video, I also discovered this which I think I may also have had a small something to do with actually.

You may have figured out by now that I am a big, big fan of  In fact, aside from WeddingBee, it's the only major wedding website that I follow regularly.  My fiance and I definitely have our geeky side, most of my friends since, like, 6th grade have been nerds, and I just love the creativity and uniqueness (and geeked-out awesomeness) that the Offbeat Brides put into their weddings.  I was definitely tempted to join them and have a geektastic reception.

The thing is though, like the author of this post and her Offbeat Lite cohorts, I often feel a little out of place on this site--and even just on normal blogs sometimes--because deep down, I want a traditional wedding in many senses.  I want flowers, a good photographer, a nice, formal reception, a big, pouffy white dress, a groom in a tux, and, well, the structure of a normal wedding.  There will certainly be offbeat details like my STD video, but we're not actually going to have boardgames, sorting hats, and Disney princesses as centerpieces or do a first Rockband game instead of a first dance.  And sometimes, I feel a little lame by our wedding's lack of extraordinariness.

But then, this is the wedding I want.  This is the wedding Daniel wants.  And as awesome as a Hogwarts cake would be, it's not really the shape we want our wedding to take.  And that's OK.  And sometimes it's good to remember that despite ANY expectations, this day really is about the two of you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010



This is the proudest moment of my wedding/blogging career.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Dowry???

A while back, my mom said something that really irked me, and though its been months, I still cringe when I think about it.

My parents have been super cool about letting me do whatever I want and not caring about tradition.  As they got married underwater (on scuba.  I'll tell you about it some time), and their entire wedding cost less than $1,000, they understand off-beat weddings better than most.

But for some reason I cannot understand, my mom feels like it is their responsibility as the girl's parents to pay for the wedding.

And I can't wrap my head around it.

Granted, my mom is old and somewhat old-fashioned when it comes to gender roles (she lets my dad do EVERYTHING for her, including taking responsibility for paying all of the bills), but she's pretty progressive most of the time.  And the idea that she would have such a backwards idea toward who pays for the wedding is beyond me.

Now, feeling bad because Daniel's dad is paying for almost 2/3 of the wedding makes sense to me.  And I can see how she would feel bad about me paying for almost 1/3 as well (and by me, I mean my dead grandfather).

But she actually wants to pay FFIL back for everything that he's given us.

It'll never happen, so I'm not really worried about it, but's just so weird to me how persistent she is in her belief that they should be paying for the wedding because it's tradition (speaking of which, isn't it traditionally divided into groom pays for ____ and bride pays for ___?  I don't really know, but that's what I've heard).  I had them read this article to better show that us modern brides don't play by the sexist rules of yesteryear.  But it didn't change her mind even though the girl's parents paying for everything sure sounds like a dowry to me.

And I'm just wondering, do most parents expect the bride's side to pay for certain stuff and the groom's side to pay for other stuff?  Do most parents expect you to uphold certain silly traditions?  Or gender roles?  I know most brides and grooms no longer expect this, but does this insistent clinging to traditions I thought were dead seem weird to anyone else?

My life has been pretty far removed from tradition growing up in a liberal California household, and I know my FFIL does not expect my parents to pay for the whole wedding or even most of it, but I'm just curious if you have encountered this kind of stuff because it completely knocked me off-guard.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Neither of us is particularly concerned with the music at our wedding.  We like music and want people to dance, but there are a lot of other things we care about more.

We are having an iPod wedding.  Or rather, a MacBook.  Frankly, I don't understand why more people don't do this.  It's like a personalized DJ.  I have a reasonably large selection of songs, and if we think we need more dancing music (or just a higher proportion of Disney : Non-Disney music), we can always buy it on iTunes.  Still way cheaper than a DJ.

Originally, Daniel wanted a live band.  This was before he knew how much weddings cost.  Once numbers started coming out, this idea was scrapped completely.

But the idea of live music never really left him.  His cousin, Barrett, is a professional musician, and my brother aspires to be one, so asking one or both of them to play for a bit was always an option.

Recently, he approached me about having Barrett do the music for the ceremony.  At first, I rejected the idea.  You may have noticed that I'm a bit of a control freak.  I want everything to be perfect.  Using pre-recorded music to me is more likely to go as planned, and part of the reason I never wanted live music is because I think recorded music sounds better, so that is what I wanted to walk down the aisle to.

Then Daniel said something that made me take a step back:  "You're not going to change your mind on this, are you?"  Crap, I thought, am I becoming that girl?  I don't want to be that bitchy bride who gets everything she wants.  This is our wedding.  It shouldn't just be about me.  So I said, "If this is something you want, then let's talk about it."

When we did, I realized that Daniel didn't even want live music for the whole ceremony, and we were easily able to come to a compromise that made everyone happy.  We would ask Barrett to play acoustic guitar before the ceremony started, and everyone would walk down the aisle to recorded music.

We'll probably have a similar arrangement for the reception.  Most of the music will be pre-recorded, but I will probably ask my brother to do a set for us...that is if he will agree to play non-depressing music that people can dance to.  This way, we'll be able to have some live music at our wedding without spending more than a few dollars for iTunes.

And so a musical compromise was made, and a big thing was checked off the list.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Picture Perfect

I don't think I've talked about photography on here thus far. This is not for lack of interest. In fact, it is because I care too much. I find photography to be the third most stressful part of planning a wedding (after the godforsaken guest list and finding a venue) because it is the third most important aspect of the wedding for me (after the venue and my dress), but we have a relatively small budget for it.

I have very expensive tastes in photography. The first photographer I fell in love with was Jerry Yoon.  The man is a photographic genius.  Anyone who can make Wurster Hall (the ugliest building on the UC Berkeley campus, also ironically the architecture building) an awesome backdrop for wedding pictures is a god in my book.

 Seriously, genius.

And apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so because this photographer charges around $4,000 for wedding coverage.

For my measly $1,500 budget (at the absolute max), that was not going to fly.

I've been through all sorts of ideas about wedding photography.  First, when I had pretty much no budget, I was going to hire one of my photographer friends to cover the wedding while doing the "put disposable cameras on every table" thing.  I still think that would have been fun, and I do have some talented photographer friends, the best of which is Lauren Wuornos (who unfortunately lives in Chicago).

Lauren indulged my love of being in front of the camera.

However, I quickly realized that I wanted someone with more experience to do personal photos of me and Daniel as well as the group shots.  And then with the help of a friend came to see that I really needed a professional to do the ceremony too because even a very talented novice doesn't know what moments to be ready for.  So a new plan emerged:  hire a professional for 2 -3 hours to do personal/group photos and the ceremony and have a friend cover the reception and whatever else we wanted pictures of.

Then suddenly, when we were planning on a Catalina wedding, that wasn't going to be possible.  If we wanted a professional, it would have to be for the entire day.  So we were going to have to find the best cheap photographer we could and hope for the best.  Fortunately, that plan didn't last long enough for me to do any research.

Now that we're planning on Guayma's, we've got more of a budget, so I'm sort of looking into variations of these options.  Mostly, I'm looking to have someone good but not terribly expensive give us 6 hours of coverage (I've found several good photographers who offer this package at our rate) though I'm still trying to talk some very talented photographers into giving us 3 - 4 hours of coverage at a rate we can afford (cross your fingers for Jerry).  If we did the latter option, I'd probably still ask a friend to cover the reception.  So pretty much, we're back at square 1, but with a real budget.

You may have noticed I used the word "I" an even greater number of times than usual in this post.  This is because Daniel's only photography request and interest is that we hire someone capable of getting good group photos.  Thus, I am pretty much playing this one solo.

Here are my major contenders so far:

If he lived in the Bay Area instead of Orange County, I probably would have booked him already (darn travel expenses!), all because of the above photo.  Great photographer who just hasn't been in the business long enough to be terribly expensive.

Who is awesome but apparently does not want her photos shared.  This is the only high-priced photographer who has been willing to work with my budget.  4 hours of coverage for just over our budget.  We shall see if that works out.

Super nice person who I got on with very well, not quite the style I'm looking for, but the most reasonably priced of these.

Advice on how to find photographers?  Or do you know a Bay Area photographer willing to work on the cheap?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Epic Save the Date Video

For my 100th post, I decided to wait for something special.  This is my masterpiece, my Mona Lisa, my ultimate contribution to the wedding world.

About a minute-and-a-half ago, I sent out our Save the Date Video.

And it is awesome.

I really do not give a flying frak about the Save the Dates and neither does Daniel.  This was definitely not something either of us wanted to waste money on.  But once I saw this video, I knew that I wanted one that was just as awesome:

All right, so I'm not a professional editor, and ours is not actually this epic.  But it's still awesome!  My dad films movies for a living, and I was a film major, so I knew that between the two of us, we could pull a decent short film together.

I really wanted to do something unique, not the standard sequence of relationship pictures set to sappy music, but I still wanted to do something that would look good with low production values.  But that left the question of what we should do?  My first idea to simply tell the story of our relationship hit the waste basket when I realized it's actually sort of depressing (2 years apart, breaking off the engagement the first time--meh).  Then we thought maybe we could do a fusion of us and one of our favorite movies:  The Princess Bride.  But once I started trying to map it out, it just proved too difficult.  And then I had an idea.  A very different sort of idea.  Not at all your typical wedding idea, or even video idea, but something that just might work for one.  Have you seen the iPad commercials?  Here's our favorite:

I thought, why not make that into a video about us?  "Nicole and Daniel are" stuff about us and our relationship.  It would be short, easy, and totally unique.  Daniel loved it, and I started writing the script.

It took a fair amount of time, but we are very pleased with the result.  So without further ado, I present to you our epic iPad Commerical Save the Date Video:

OK, now I finally get to tell you about the super awesome thing that happened to us while we were shooting.  We did a lot of the shooting at the Disneyland Resort, and my friend (and bridesmaid) and I did some scouting while there a few days before.  I've always loved the wedding gazebo at the Disneyland Hotel, and with some encouragement from Bridesmaid M, I decided it would be a great place to fake get married.  However, we were filming in the middle of the Sunday of Veterans' Day weekend, so I figured the gazebo might be busy.  I had a back-up plan, a smaller gazebo at the hotel that we could use if there was a wedding going on.

Well, when we got there, we found the main gazebo all dressed up and a wedding party taking pictures nearby, but when we went to plan B, we discovered that the back-up gazebo was in the middle of their reception.  What ever were we to do?  Well...the wedding party was no longer in the ceremony area, they were busy taking pictures...and the main gazebo was we took our chances and got the best fake wedding background EVER!  I feel a little bad taking advantage of someone else's wedding, but I don't think they noticed, and even though the clean-up guy totally saw us, he waited until we were done to do his thing and didn't say anything.  And we got the ultimate ending to our video!

I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  It's not exactly the same as the commercial, but I think it really works.  And it was nice to be making and editing movies again.  That was the best part of being a film major even though I didn't get to do much of it at Berkeley.

Soooooo, what do you think?  Oh!  And I really want it to go viral, so if you want to, you know, send it to people, post it on Facebook or Twitter, or share it on your blog or website, um, I don't mind :).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Can I please just have a break from life?

Today we're going to talk a little bit about why I quit my job and what it means for our relationship.

I'm hopeful that if I start this with a clear topic and goal I may avoid the general ramblings that usually accompany my personal posts.

We'll see how it goes.

I am a mess.  Daniel often says that he has to take care of me (physically and mentally but mostly the former) because I won't take care of myself.  Though I maintain that he is a bit excessive about it, the boy has a point.

Ever since I was really young, I never really put my health and well-being first.  In middle school, I used to rank my commitments by importance, saying that school came first, then cheerleading (or gymnastics or dance), and then my health.  That really was the way I saw it, and in high school, it really started to be a problem, especially after I had stopped cheerleading and no longer had a built-in balance between school and physical activity.

When I got to college, I realized that if this was ever going to change, I would have to be the one to do it.  But by then, never putting my own well-being first was so ingrained that even trying to change was exceptionally difficult.  My senior year, things came to a head.  I had a lot going on and was so burned out that I just stopped.  I dropped a class which lead to dropping one of my majors (history--so glad I didn't have to write that 30-50 page research paper) and finished my last semester with only 2 real classes.  It was the first time in my life that I had ever put academic success after my own sanity.

After that, I was addicted.  Addicted to making choices based on what I wanted and not what an admissions officer wanted or my potential employers would want or on anything besides what would make me happy right now.

Then I graduated during the worst economy our country has had since the Great Depression (Remember that history major business?  My concentration was American history.  Yeah, I have a really good sense of exactly how bad things are right now compared to every other period of our history, and they really fucking suck).

Things have been pretty interesting since then.  I graduated in May 2009, and since then I have had (as per my tax forms) 8 jobs in 3 geographical areas and 2 states.  Nothing makes me happy because I am so sick of waiting for my life to get better and doing things so that it can be better down the line.  Working hard in high school may have gotten me into Berkeley (the school I wanted), but once I was there, it was just the same thing all over again, and having a degree from Berkeley hasn't gotten me jack except for my last job which I hated.  I am so sick of doing things that are supposed to make things better for me later on and not having things actually get better.

Which is why my resume is a nightmare of unrelated jobs, none of which I have stayed at more than 6 months and most of which I only had for 3.  I quit my last job to look for one I actually wanted, but I am starting to worry that nothing will make me happy because I don't want to keep waiting for things to get better, and with all this competition, even getting crappy jobs that I don't want is a struggle.

But I could probably make it happen eventually.  I could volunteer, work part-time somewhere I didn't really want to be until I could get a job that I wanted, and live at home for a year or two until I could make it work.

But that's not really an option because it's not just me that I have to look out for.  Daniel has his own problems which are far worse than mine at the moment.  I can't be financially irresponsible in case I have to support him.  I couldn't quit my job for 2 months even though I hated it so much it was causing me physical pain because I had to lend him money so that he could live.  And if he gets a real lawyer job in the remotest corner of California, we have to go no matter what I'm doing.

In short, I still can't put my personal well-being first because I have to put ours first instead.

This has been the hardest thing about getting married for me because I so desperately need to be able to put myself first for a while, and you just can't do that in this kind of committed relationship.  This is why I broke off our engagement the first time, 4 months after I broke down and dropped that class, because I knew I couldn't make that kind of commitment to someone else while I so very much needed to fix myself.

I still need that.  A lot.  But the reason I decided to get married anyway was that I needed him more.  And the only thing I'm proud of in all of this is that this time around, even though allowing Daniel to take the time (and money) he needs to get his shit together has been really difficult, I haven't wavered, I haven't had cold feet or second thoughts, I haven't for a second considered not spending the rest of my life with him.  And after thoughts I have had in the past, this gives me glad that I have at least got something right.

Things are not going well for me right now, and I still really need someone to cut me a break.  I want a job that will make me happy, and I don't want to have to spend years more waiting for it.  But it does help to know that at least I'm happy with him.  Finding a husband this young will never be good for my career, but it is good for my personal well-being.  And at least my hodge-podge of shitty jobs shows that I have been attempting to make things better for myself while still being conservative enough to accommodate him.  And hopefully he'll get a decent job that will allow me to be selfish for a while and do whatever it takes to get a career going for me.  Hopefully, someday soon.

P.S.  The career I really want to get into is photography, so if you know a good, experienced photographer of any sort in Orange County or LA County who might be willing to take on an assistant, paid or unpaid, let me know.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Little Wedding Fun

A friend of mine sent me this:

It is hilarious!  A little fun to break the wedding/holiday stress.

Classy Wedding by the Sea