Wedding Recap: Gifts for the lil ones

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 0 comments

Personal photo
Our Flower Girls (minus one) and our ring bearer

We had four flower girls. There was no way I wasn't going to include my four nieces. They're just too adorable and we have both known them since they were born. So what do we get little girls ages 2-7 years old? Nearly all of them are flower girl veterans. They have all of the flower girl books and picture frames from previous weddings they've participated in. 

Since our wedding was an adult reception, except for the kids in the wedding party, we gave our flower girls little items they can enjoy and keep them busy on the wedding day. This included Disney coloring/activity books and crayons, as well as bottles of bubbles (Dollar Store, yo). I also put together a DIY wedding coloring book, courtesy of bridalbuds.

And as an extra little gift, I gave them each freshwater pearl stud earrings from etsy seller Orien Jewel. They have a promotion that offers free 6.0 freshwater pearl stud earrings in the colors of your choice for each referral you make to their store.

 For our ring bearer, who was a little older, we decided to give him what he asked for...we thought giving him something he'd appreciate would be better than giving him something we thought he should appreciate (can't really see him digging a T-shirt that says "Ring Bearer") . So we got him a Bakugan set (apparently the new kid fad in toy collectibles. Our ring bearer loves those things!).

With an GC I won in a giveaway and the Orien Jewel promotion, we only paid for the girls' coloring books, crayons, and bubbles...all less than $5!

Wedding Recap: Gifts for our Parents

We knew we wanted to give our parents a nice thank you...but what do you give your parents for, oh, raising you for all of your life and their support (whether financial or emotional) during this entire wedding process? You simply can't put a price tag on that. Nothing we can buy can be enough for what they've done for us. But we still wanted to give them something. But what do we give our parents on a beer budget?
So, to say thanks for the years of memories and the wedding they've helped put on, we gave both parents each a digital photo frame. We thought about a photo album, but knowing our parents, we knew another album would collect dust in a cupboard somewhere never to be seen again. At least a frame can be displayed and instead of one photo, they can display multiple photos at once.

We purchased two 7 inch Matsunichi digital photo frames from for, get this, $15 each! Regular price is about $70, but we found these two at a steal.

The picture quality is actually pretty good (480 by 234 pixels). But for our tech-challenged parents, we knew we would have to set everything up for them. We purchased memory cards and downloaded our childhood photos and engagement photos onto the cards. So all they needed to do was plug in the frame and press the on button! Easy peasy! We also figure we will download our wedding pics onto the frames when we get them.

When we gave them their gifts, both parents really enjoyed them. They love staring at the photos in frame. Really, they sit down staring at the frames like it's a television!

Wedding Recap: Gifts for our groomsmen

photo by Don Le of Bliss Imagery

So what do you get these crazy guys?

Groomsmen gifts are always hard. It's hard enough finding gifts for guys, so what kind of wedding momentos can guys really appreciate? Let's face it...not every guy wants a wedding-y gift. But we still want to give them something to show our appreciation for their friendship and support. We decided to give something different to each of our four guys, something that fit each one's taste and personality--even if it wasn't a traditional flask or money clip.

For the Best Man:
A New Zealand Kid Leather Wallet from the Office of Minor Details. With our Best Man being a grilling type of guy, we also gave him a $20 GC to Omaha Steaks.

For Groomsman #2:
We gave our groomsman a custom engraved mug from Picture It Creations, only his mug featured the logo of his favorite team, the San Francisco Giants.

For Groomsman #3

A $20 GC to Sunglass Warehouse

For Groomsman #4
Personal Photo
Yes, we got him a moneyclip, but for the Lakers fanatic, it had to be purple and gold! We got this one at the Lakers' official team store at the Staples Center.

How much did all of our groomsmen's gifts cost us? Many, many thanks to my blog sponsors and the blog giveaways I won, our groomsmen's gifts cost us no more than $10. Enter giveaways. Start a blog.

Wedding Recap: Our Bridesmaids' gifts

Monday, August 30, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , , | 2 comments

We had a pretty big wedding party--Four bridesmaids, four groomsmen, four flower girls, a ring bearer, our parents and, according to Filipino tradition, six sponsors. We decided we wanted to give everyone thank you gifts for their participation and help. This also included gifts to our ceremony readers, wedding shower hostess gifts and thank you gifts to people who helped us out for free (our MC, the family friend who made our gorgeous ceremony flowers, etc).  That's 29 gifts! Even if we spent $20 a gift (which hardly buys anything these days) it would have really killed our budget.

But thanks to connections at work, blogging, online discounts, bargain hunting and giveaways, I was able to score some really awesome gifts for everyone on our gift list for under $300! First up, our bridesmaids' gifts. My bridesmaids really helped us out, whether with planning, performing tasks, hooking us up with great vendors or giving us a generous amount of money for the wedding. So obviously I wanted to spoil them with nice goodies! Instead of going for one expensive gift (which I couldn't afford) I decided to go with a grab bag full of smaller awesome gifts. Sure, I may have gone overboard with the gifts...but I really wanted to show them how much I appreciated them!

Each bridesmaid got a small clasp clutch purse from brands such as Lena Lime Studio, Amanda Pearl (thank you Merci New York!) and Stila Cosmetics.
Personal photo
Lena Lime clutch purse for my MOH
Amanda Pearl clutch for my Matron of Honor (her's was actually pink)

I purchased two Stila makeup clutches from for my 2 bridesmaids (both for less than $22 each)

I filled each purse with makeup from Stila, Urban Decay, Loreal, Senna, Sephora and Clinique.

 I also scored some beauty products from Moroccan Oil, Loreal and Morning's Mist Country Store through connections at work and sponsors of my blog.

They also received handmade soap from Morning's Mist Country Store and Sweet Sally Soaps (thank goodness for blog giveaways!).


 On top of all that, they received handmade Hawaiian jewelry from Kreations by Kawai: and this Hawaiian jeweler on etsy

The blue Tahitian shell pearl necklace I gave to bridesmaid #2

The Lotus Flower Necklace for my Matron of Honor

The Opihi shell necklace I gave to bridesmaid #1

The Opihi shell necklace I bought for my MOH

And, wait, there's more!  They each received genuine pearl earrings:
Guy and Eva mother of pearl earrings for my MOH

 Mother of Pearl earrings from House of Peltier for my Matron of Honor

 Freshwater pearl earrings from Dazzling Jewelry and Pearls for Bridesmaid #1

 and Freshwater Pearl Earrings from Bellalu and Me for Bridesmaid #2

I put their gifts in cute lauhala bags I ordered from Ailana Kai, an online shop based out of Honolulu. Each tote was only $2.50 each!

Personal Photo

So, for four grab bag of goodies for each of my bridesmaids (including tax and shipping), I spent a total of $120! A huge thank you to my blog sponsors and blog giveaways!!!!

I also gave my MOH and Matron of Honor extra gifts for being so helpful and hosting our wedding shower. I gave my MOH a bangle bracelet from Guy and Eva:

And my Matron of Honor received a handstamped mother of pearl necklace with each of her three daughters' names from The Vintage Pearl

And since my mom helped my ladies put on a nice party, we gave her a gift certificate for a free massage at a nearby spa. Total for all 3 hostess gifts? $30. For realz. Enter those giveaways!!!

Coming up: Our groomsmen's gifts

Wedding Lesson #3: Forget DIY, Be a DIT Bride

Sunday, August 29, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , , , , | 1 comments

(personal photo)
The boutonnieres my aunt and cousin made as I nursed a migraine

So when I last left you, I was stressing out big time over my last minute Taualuga dance and my DIY flowers. By evening time, when I planned to work on the bridesmaids' bouquets and flowers, my headache had gone from bad to worse. I was feeling nauseous and dizzy. I couldn't stand up upright without feeling like I would puke. We decided to work on the flowers in the hotel where everyone was staying in the night before the wedding. My MOH, Matron of Honor and even one of our groomsmen came to help me cut the leaves, stems and thorns from flowers. Thank goodness our potted orchid centerpieces were pretty much already done. My FH simply put them all in their pots and covered the soil with moss and voila! Our centerpieces were taken care of!

But by the time I had put together one bridesmaid bouquet, I decided to give up. My head was pounding and my body was telling me to get some rest.There was no way I could finish the rest of the flowers. I needed to go to bed.
But then my aunt and cousin came knocking on our door. They had just come to see how we were doing and bless their souls, they took on the rest of the flowers! They knew exactly what to do because they've done bouquets and corsages for church-related events before. They did an absolutely beautiful job--even better job than what I could have done without a migraine! My aunt and cousin used several leftover roses from the bridesmaid bouquets, baby's breath and purple orchids to make the bouts. I was able to get the sleep I needed while they made the rest of the bouquets and all the pretty bouts for our groomsmen, sponsors and parents.

My aunt scolded me by saying I should have asked her earlier for her help. There's no reason for me to try to do it all on my own. She's right.

My lovely bridesmaids with their bouquets (photo taken by a friend)

So don't be afraid to ask for help. Forget being the super-DIY bride all the time. You can't do it all on your own. Do-it-together -- with friends and family who really do want to help -- and take some of that load off your shoulders. A bride needs her beauty sleep you know!

Wedding Recap: My Surprise

Saturday, August 28, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , | 1 comments

The Taualuga, a traditional Samoan money dance

For a few months before the wedding, I had been planning a surprise for my future husband and his family. As I blogged before, my husband is half Chinese and half Samoan. In honor of his Samoan roots, we booked a Samoan dance group to perform at our reception.The dance group was actually the daughters of my MOH's friend. We were really excited because professional Samoan dance groups run up to $1000 per performance. My MOH's friend agreed to have his daughters perform for a minimal fee as a favor to my MOH. On top of their performance, his daughters offered to teach me the Taualuga, a traditional money dance which Samoan brides usually perform at the end of the program. The dancer comes out and a group of people throw money at her and dance really raucously around her. Here's a Youtube example of the fun!

Now this was a really big deal for me because...well, everyone knows I don't dance. I'm not a dancer and I hate having the spotlight on me. At first I was hesitant, because of 1) my limited dance skills, and 2) the Taualuga is a very big traditional Samoan dance. Oh, and me not being Samoan, I would hate to really screw it up. The last thing I would want is for my rhythmically-challenged Filipino feet to mess up the Taualuga.  But my MOH's friend insisted. It would be a surprise, a gift to my FH and his family. I thought, sure, why not? I thought they would really appreciate it and it would be a huge honor for me to perform it. Besides, usual money dances at other weddings tend to be long and boring. Why not put a little Samoan spin on it?

But a week before the wedding and before I had a chance to learn the dance, the dancers were hit with a family crisis. Their mom was diagnosed with cancer and needed emergency surgery in San Francisco the weekend of the wedding. My MOH's friend was so sorry they couldn't be there at the wedding (no money had been exchanged yet). Sure, I was disappointed...OK, I was bummed... not to be able to perform the Taualuga, but I told him to take care of his family first. His wife's health was much more important than a dance.

I had all but given up on the Taualuga at that point. How would we find another Samoan dance group in our budget a week before the wedding??? Then something amazing happened...

My MOH told me an old college friend (who also happened to be Samoan) contacted her out of the blue on Facebook just to say hi. My MOH messaged her and asked her if she by any chance knew anyone who could teach me the Taualuga. And wouldn't you know...she did! Her mom teaches Samoan dance and offered to give me a brief lesson. She also had cousins who could perform a few dances for us well within our budget!

What luck!!! So the Thursday morning before the wedding, I had a Taualuga 101 lesson. It was so much fun, but a little stressful. How was I going to find time to practice in 2 days among a zillion other things I had to do? After the Flower Mart venture on Friday morning, I snuck off to my sister's apartment where she let me practice for a couple of hours. By then, I was really stressing out thinking about how I didn't have a whole lot of time to practice. I just hoped I wouldn't look ridiculous, or worse, No One would get up and dance with me. Just a bunch of blank, bored eyes staring back at me!

I was getting a major headache running around trying to figure out my dance and do a bunch of last minute details before the wedding. This was not good because I still had our bouquets and flowers to worry about.

Coming up: A migraine forces me to give up on our flowers and our DJ loses the song for the Taualuga!!!

Wedding Lesson #2: Get organized in advance

Friday, August 27, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 1 comments

We didn't have a main coordinator taking charge of the entire wedding. We had a church coordinator and a reception coordinator, but the FH and I were responsible for everything leading up to the day of the wedding. In the months of planning, the guest room in my house had become stacked with wedding items. Our table runners, our ceremony programs, our birdage cardbox, our guestbook, the DIY coloring books for the flower girls...every little random item I had acquired. But all of that doesn't mean anything if you can't get all of your items organized so they can actually be used the day of the wedding.

I needed to separate all ceremony items from reception items. I needed to make a list of items as well as instructions for our church and reception coordinators of what to do with them. I didn't realize what an undertaking it was until I found myself at the wee hours of the morning trying to organize everything. We had 50 palm weave fans my aunt brought from her trip to the Philippines to pass out during the ceremony. We even took time to decorate each one with a purple ribbon. These nearly weren't used when I almost forgot to put them with the items labeled "Ceremony." I bought a cute little wooden sign that said "Forever and Always, No Matter What," at a thrift store. I wanted to display it at our guestbook table. But, alas, I forgot to put it in with the reception items, so it was never used.

So definitely, don't wait until the final stretch to get your wedding stuff organized. As soon as you acquire something for the wedding, start organizing them by places of where they should end up. Start keeping notes of where the items should be and how they should be arranged (because you'll definitely won't be doing it all yourself the day of the wedding!) You'll save yourself a lot of headache in the end.

Wedding Lesson #1: Conquer the Flower Mart Mad Grab

Thursday, August 26, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , , | 1 comments

Photo by Bliss Imagery

We woke up bright and early Friday morning to pick up the flowers for the wedding. After visiting the LA Flower Mart several times already to scope out vendors and pick out flowers for tester DIY projects, I thought we had this Flower Mart thing down real good. I had a list of everything we needed. Easy Peasy, right? Well, try shopping at the Flower Mart on a Friday morning, along with hundreds of other DIY brides and florists with the same mission in mind -- must. get. flowers. for. big. day!!!!!

So what rules should you follow when getting your flowers at the Flower Mart?

Rule Number 1: Want first dibs on your flower selection? Arrive early. The Flower Mart opened at 8 a.m. We arrived at 9 a.m. It was grab what you can find by then.

Rule Number 2: Have a list of flowers you need and the quantity you need. This is what we did right and fortunately we found almost everything on my list.

Rule Number 3: Can't find what you need? Have a list of backup flowers ready. I couldn't find billy balls for the bridesmaids' bouquets! Every vendor was out of them! I had to scour the Mart trying to find a reasonable alternative. I found some flowers that looked somewhat like billy balls, but I still have no clue of what they're called.

By the end of the Flower Mart excursion we purchased:

1. Our centerpieces: Purple double stem potted orchids. We ordered these 2 weeks in advance from our favorite orchid vendor. Along w/ moss and the pots, our 12 centerpieces came out to $233

2: Bridesmaids' bouquets, boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen, sponsors and parents, as well as cake flowers and extra decorative flowers: $100

So all together, our flowers cost us $333 (not including the flower girls's petals which had to be silk per church policy, my bridal bouquet -- won through a blog giveaway, tester flowers or ceremony flowers -- a gift from a friend).

Rehearsal Dinner Deets

Monday, August 23, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 2 comments

People have described to me the moment that it finally hits them, the OMG feeling that tells them that Yep, this is really happening...When did I have that feeling? My fiance and I were sitting at our spots at the altar of our church during our ceremony rehearsal and we looked at the faces of our wedding party sitting in the pews. We both turned and looked at each other.

Yikes! We're getting married!!! And it feels sooo good!

We scheduled our rehearsal dinner the Thursday evening before our wedding, giving us all of Friday for any last minute prepping -- which we definitely needed. We planned a lowkey, casual backyard get-together after the rehearsal.

The rehearsal dinner invites I made using a free template from Download & Print, free 4X6 prints from Snapfish, leftover envelopes from our Save the Dates and leftover cardstock from our invitations. Cost for 22 invites plus postage: $10. 

Our church coordinator did a thorough job going through each step of the ceremony, which was a Catholic ceremony without communion.

It's starting to sink in...

Feeling the excitement!

But the rehearsal went much longer than expected. We ended at 7:30 p.m. and our rehearsal dinner was scheduled at 7:30 p.m. We still needed to drive to our family's house to get the backyard ready for the dinner! We invited other guests who didn't need to be at the ceremony rehearsal so we had to get there as soon as possible.

But of course there was bumper to bumper traffic moving at a glacial speed on the 210 freeway. Oh, LA traffic, must you rear your ugly head now???

Despite being nearly an hour late, our rehearsal dinner was still a fun, casual affair at our house.

We used our own tiki torches and my father-in-law borrowed tables and chairs from his work.

For centerpieces and added lighting, my mother-in-law gathered old candles from around her house. It added a nice ambiance to the evening.

The food was a mixture of home-cooked Filipino food, catered Chinese food and grilled short ribs.

Saying thanks to our wedding party. Yep, that's me wearing a silk Chinese top in traditional red and gold, in honor of my fiance's cultural heritage. My guy's wearing a traditional Filipino barong, in honor of my Filipino family.

It was a lovely evening with both of our families coming together and getting to know each other.  And yes, the rehearsal dinner was part of our wedding budget. Including the food, drinks, utensils and all decorations for a dinner to feed 30 people, we spent $230.

Next up: Getting ready for the big day!

Sneak Peak

Saturday, August 21, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 4 comments

I'm really excited to share with you several pics from the wedding day! We're still pouring over more than 4000 proofs (How do you choose from 4000???), so many more to come! Stay tuned...

All photos by Bliss Imagery

Oh, and did we make our budget? We sure did...and then some :) Full budget breakdown and recaps later!