Wedding Recap: Cranes end their journey north

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , , , | 0 comments

Our cranes head  more than 2000 miles north to Toronto, CA
Don't use masking tape if you're going to ship through the post office...we found out the hard way. (personal photo)

After nearly three months of folding and watching our flock of little white paper cranes grow to 1000 birdies strong, and another several months figuring out what to do with them, we packed them on their way for their final flight north to their new home in Toronto, Canada.

For awhile before our wedding, I had this crazy vision of folding 1,000 paper cranes. Cranes are symbols of great fortune across Asia and according to Japanese tradition, the couple who folds 1,000 paper cranes is granted a long and happy life together. Since my husband is half Chinese, and cranes are auspicious birds in Chinese folklore as well, I thought this would be a great project for our wedding. But with neither one of us knowing how to fold a crane, the thought of folding 1,000 of them was daunting. For a few weeks, I kept talking myself out of the idea, thinking folding 1,000 paper cranes on top of everything else we had to do was just crazy talk!

Then I heard about the Crane Chandelier Project by the Wedding Co. in Toronto, Canada. In celebration of turning 10 years old, the wedding planning support organization is collecting paper cranes from newlyweds around the world, which they plan to display in a massive chandelier at their 10-year bash in 2011. For each crane they receive, the Wedding Co. is committed to donating 50 cents to cancer research. Since we decided to make a donation in lieu of traditional wedding favors, we thought this would be a great cause to donate our efforts to.
Personal Photo

So we started with our first paper crane. With my laptop propped on the coffee table, we followed a youtube clip on how to make a paper crane. Slowly but surely, we began our huge task. As we began to get the hang of it, we made it a goal to fold 100 cranes a week. Each week, we put 100 cranes in plastic bags to keep track of our numbers.  It took many movie nights on the couch/crane folding to get to that goal. Finally, more than two months later and watching our upteenth rented movie, we folded our 1,000th paper crane! We almost couldn't believe that we had finished 1,000 little birds that we recounted our bags to make sure that we really did have 10 bags, each containing 100 paper cranes. Sure enough, they were all there!

Ironically, folding 1,000 paper cranes wasn't the hardest part. It was figuring out what we were going to do with them that really stumped us. We knew we wanted to display them at our wedding, to show our guests the fruits of our labor. But with limited set-up time at our reception venue, we had to think of a quick and easy way of hanging 1,000 paper cranes. After scouring the Web for ideas, I decided that we would make 10 chandeliers, each containing 100 cranes.

Making our DIY Paper Crane Chandeliers
Using jewelry beads, a needle, and some sturdy, translucent jewelry string (all purchased at Michaels), I followed this DIY crane-hanging tutorial to help me make my first chandelier. I started out by stringing 25 paper cranes on one strand, taking my needle (with string attached) through the top of each crane to the bottom until there were 25 cranes strung up on one strand. I made sure that I left a little slack on top, and attached a bead to the very top of the crane so they don't slide off. I attached another bead to the bottom crane as well so all 25 cranes stayed in one place. I made four strands each containing 25 cranes and tied them all together about five inches from the very top crane. Voila! I made my first chandelier!

Photo by the Wedding Co.

What I didn't account for was how time-consuming making one chandelier would be! We unwisely put off making our chandeliers until the week before the wedding (yikes!) With a bunch of other wedding-related stuff demanding our attention, there was no way we could add making 10 chandeliers to our list. So I enlisted the help of my MOH who thankfully helped us make half of the chandeliers. Seriously, give yourself at least a couple weeks if you want to  make chandeliers out of 1000 paper cranes!

When we finished, we handed our birds to our reception venue staff. All they needed to do by set up time was hang each chandelier to the overhead beams in the dining hall.

Photo by Don Le of  Bliss Imagery
Photo by Don Le of Bliss Imagery

 Photo by Regina Bunye

When I saw them all hanging at the reception for the first time, I was amazed at how gorgeous they all turned out! The cranes became the focal point of the room, adding something truly unique to the look and ambiance of our wedding. Each of our guests received a card at their table telling them about the cultural meaning of the cranes and our donation to the Wedding Co. We constantly heard compliments about the cranes from our guests -- how much they adored them and how many of them appreciated the donation we made for them. Even weeks after our wedding, we still hear the compliments!

Photo by Don Le of Bliss Imagery
Cards explaining the cultural significance of cranes and the donation to the Wedding Co. were placed at each seat. (Photo by Regina Bunye)

But alas, we had to say goodbye to our little friends. We packed them up in boxes and shipped them to Toronto. As a side note, if you plan to ship the cranes, you'll have to find a box large enough to hold them...and the bigger the box, the bigger the shipping cost is. Add in international and postage fees, shipping 1000 cranes can be pretty expensive (it cost us more than $100 to ship from LA). Also, make sure you know about packaging protocol...don't use masking tape (like in the above photo). You need clear packaging tape...yup, that was us pulling off the our original masking tape and repackaging five huge boxes at the post office!
Our boxes arrived beat up and weathered, but our cranes made it just fine to Canada!
Photo by the Wedding Co.

But really, it was all worth it in the end. One thousand paper cranes will bring in a nice donation going toward cancer research! Luckily, the cranes all arrived safely in their new home in Toronto. Catherine from the Wedding Co. blogged about our donation! They're moving closer to their goal of 10,000 cranes by January 2011 and need just over 1300  more to reach their goal!

A huge thanks goes to the Wedding Co. for putting on this awesome, worldwide effort! Over the months of planning we've come to see our cranes as symbolic of the time, effort, energy and patience we put into planning our wedding. It was a long, sometimes tedious, a little stressful, but overall fulfilling and fun journey. I'm happy to see our cranes' journey end someplace where they'll continue to hold a special meaning and purpose long after our wedding!

Wedding Recap: The Rococo Room

Friday, September 24, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 2 comments

 Photo by Don Le of Bliss Imagery

Sure, I've shared my disgruntled opinion about a couple of vendors who turned out to be duds (Hello, MIA hairstylist and unorganized, shady hotel staff) but there were, thankfully, amazing people who seriously went beyond expectations.

One of these star vendors is the staff  at the Rococo Room.

We had our daytime reception at their intimate banquet room in downtown Pasadena, and it was perfect for us. Why?

1) They were extremely organized and super generous from beginning to end.
When we first met with Keith, the venue coordinator, he was very thorough of what he could offer us and how much everything would cost. He was very patient and willing to work within our budget. He even threw in some amazing freebies, like extra appetizers for our guests, or a very minimal room setup fee. Normally, parties have two hours to set up before the event, but Keith gave us extra time on Friday night to get the room prepared. Their staff knew exactly what was going on -- from set up, to the schedule of events, to clean up. The wait staff was professional in demeanor and attire, and the service was simply excellent.

2) Our guests loved their food. One of the things we did not want to compromise on when first planning our wedding was the food. I've had my share of dry, rubbery chicken at wedding receptions, and we did not want to go that route. Even it meant sacrificing a giant guest list, or the grand hotel ballroom, or even thousands of dollars of flowers--we did not want to go cheap on the food. Unfortunately, even if more than half of our budget was dedicated to catering and the venue, the menus in our price range were...disappointing.  Luckily, the Rococo Room offered Zagat rated food that was D-lish.
 Photo by Don Le of Bliss Imagery
Guests were well-fed with plenty of appetizers, salad, a main course and the OMG cake. No, that not what it's called (chocolate mouse cake, really) but the looks and tastes of this cake had you saying that over and over. It's what our photographer deemed the best wedding cake EVER!

 The OMG cake. Photo by Don Le of Bliss Imagery

3) Location. Nestled in the trendy and historic downtown Pasadena district, The Rococo Room is a rare combination of prime location and affordability. The room was the right size for our intimate gathering of 100 people. The outside doesn't look like much, but the room has a rustic charm to it. With Chivari chairs, elegant linens and silverware, there isn't much you need to add to decorate this place. All we had were our orchid centerpieces, the lovely ceremony arrangements a family friend made for us, a few orchid flowers strewn about and some candles.
 Photo by Regina Bunye

Photo by Don Le of Bliss Imagery
4) We could afford it. With two appetizers, salad, plated meal, cake, open bar, champagne and apple cider toast, set-up and cleanup, labor, audio and tech equipment, taxes and gratuity all for 101 people, we paid about $5300 out-the-door. Not. Bad.

Wedding Recap: Unveiling my surprise

Saturday, September 18, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 2 comments

 Our dancers perform a Tahitian Dance

For those who didn't know, I planned to surprise my half-Samoan husband with the Taualuga, a traditional Samoan dance at our reception. The last I told you about the Taualuga, I was stressing about the dance moves. I seriously only had 2 hours to really learn and practice the whole thing...not the ideal situation for a rhythmically challenged gal like me.

Performing a Tongan dance

For those who don't know, the Taualuga is a traditional Samoan dance which traditionally was reserved for the daughter of the chief, or someone of high importance. Nowadays, it's performed at Samoan gatherings, a grand finale where everyone gets up, dances around the dancer and throws money at her. Since we didn't have the usual money dance planned (nope, no time or patience to slow dance with folks for money), I thought this would be a fun alternative.

After our toasts, and the cutting of the cake, the Polynesian dancers came out and performed a few dances--one Tahitian dance, a Tongan dance and a Samoan dance. During their last number, I snuck out to the hallway (told the hubby I needed the ladies room) where I waited to make my entrance for my number.

While waiting, I was kinda nervous because the crowd was a little reserved. During a lot of Polynesian gatherings, the crowd usually makes noises and gets really into the performances. But our curious crowd was just politely watching, and not so much as a "Woo" from them. Turns out, most of my hubby's Samoan extended family couldn't make it to the wedding, and our guests were mostly non-Samoans except for my Father-in-law, my hubby's sisters and brother and of course, my husband. While our Polynesian dancers did an awesome job, our guests just didn't know they were supposed to be loud. Great, I thought. No one's gonna know what they're supposed to do during my dance!

While trying to recall all the moves I learned just the day before in my head, our wedding coordinator asked me if I had the CD with the song I'm dancing to.

I looked at her blankly. Uhhh, sure, let me pull it out from my dress....No, of course I don't have the CD! She told me that our DJ didn't have the song!

At this point, I started to panic. What do you mean he doesn't have it? I uploaded it to his public server. I even sent him the file by email. Turns out all the music files I sent him by email were dead files and he didn't see the song on his server.

What am I going to do???

Our coordinator headed back to the DJ to have him check his server again and I watched nervously as they talk. After a minute, and just when the dancers wrap up their final routine, our coordinator flashed me a thumbs up.

We're good to go.

Our MC, a good friend from college with a fun and boisterous attitude, introduced my number as a very special performance where everyone needs to get involved. And by involved, he meant get your bills ready!

The music started and I heard my cue. I bounded out and I did a little Samoan bow toward our families.

That's when I heard the cheers and the clapping, and I just smiled and let go.
 Me performing the Taualuga.

I don't think I got the routine exactly right, but I recall my instructor telling me, when you lose track of where you are, just smile and wing it. That's really all you have to do. Well, I'm sure there are people who do it much better, but I did my best.

People came up and out of their seats and joined me. First, my SIL, then my FIL who seemed to be really enjoying it. Then a whole crowd of people surround me. The money was flying in all directions. I saw the smiles and laughter, and man, I was really enjoying myself!
 Working hard for the money!

I kinda forgot what I was doing at one point, and that's when the DH came to join me. There's a part in the Taualuga where someone (usually a male) jumps onto the floor in front of the female dancer. I recall my instructor telling me if that happens, to step my foot lightly on that person and continue to dance gracefully. I don't know the exact meaning of that portion of the dance (apparently to signify the high status of the person dancing), but the hubby does exactly that and I do exactly as I was taught. People loved it!

The hubby joins me in the Taualuga.
When the music wrapped up and I took my final bow, people cheered and clapped. My MOH, my FSIL, our coordinator and even one of my flower girls took part in gathering all the cash which turned out to be more than I've ever earned in an entire day's work...much more in three minutes!

Money, money, money!

In the end, I'm so happy to have shared that performance with our guests. People still tell me that the dance was their favorite part of the reception! Most of all, I think my hubby and his family really appreciated and enjoyed it. It was a gift, my husband told me later, that he will never forget. 

And neither will I.

*All photos courtesy of Don Le from Bliss Imagery.

Wedding Lesson #8: Obligatory Invites...Don't do it

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 4 comments

I'd hate to post something negative, especially since our wedding was such a beautiful, joy-filled day. Maybe I've got a grudge I have yet to bury, but I've got to get this off my chest: Don't fall victim to the obligatory invite. Nope. Don't do it. It's not worth it. If someone has to force you, I mean literally scream and pout about inviting someone who clearly was so far off your guest list you asked "Who?" when their name was suggested, then nope don't do it.

But we caved in. We only have ourselves to blame for that. So my only resolution is to make sure other couples don't make the same mistake. When the auntie and uncle who mom and dad insisted on inviting never responded to our invitation, I called. And I left a message. Two weeks before the wedding, auntie calls to casually say that they're coming after we had assumed they weren't. Oh, and their grown son who lives with them wants to come, too. Whahhh? Never mind they're totally being rude by responding a month late, but they're adding another person on the invite! But I cave in. Not only does said auntie and uncle pull this on us, but so does another aunt who insists her grown granddaughter who lives with her can't stay home alone. Another aunt who's been MIA in our family for more than 10 years inexplicably shows up two weeks before the wedding. Mom insists that we must invite her now. She RSVPs for herself and her two adult kids, only to find out through the grapevine two days before the wedding and after our meal count has been locked in, that her two kids are not coming. Mom tries to tell me that I shouldn't expect too much from our guests.

"Filipino weddings aren't like this. We don't do RSVPs," she says.

"But we're not paying for the entire village either," I say.

Come wedding day, auntie and uncle and their wedding crasher son don't even bother to show up to the wedding. Nope, no-show. So is the 20-year-old granddaughter who can't stay home by herself. MIA aunt shows up, but with two complete strangers in place of her kids. Yes, at least she brought people to replace her kids, but geez, did the two said strangers have to sneak out of our reception venue with two of our centerpieces (which were reserved for one person per table)?

We lost nearly $300 on guests who did not show up at the wedding. One table was completely empty. And nearly all (but one person) were obligatory invites, people who weren't on our list on the first place. $300 is not chump change for us and I'm still fuming over it. I feel really bad, especially since I justified to my already-annoyed fiance why they deserved to be added to the list. And they don't even bother to show up? Seriously, culture should not be a reason for your lack of courtesy. I don't care if the wedding cost $5 or $100 per plate, you don't tell someone you're coming and not show up.

So, couples, grow a backbone. Don't let people dictate your guest list. Guests, have some manners please. Don't insist on bringing along someone who wasn't on the invite, it's not your place, no matter how much you think this person should be there. And don't flake out. You might think we won't notice because of all that's going on, but we do.

Too bad. Your loss. Food was D-lish.

Wedding Trailer: Hazel + Isaac

Monday, September 13, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: | 2 comments

I'm very pleased to share with you our wedding trailer courtesy of Bliss Imagery! It pretty much sums up the joy of the day. Enjoy!

I have been asked whether or not I think wedding videography is necessary, and from a personal view, I'd have to say that if your budget allows, it's always nice to have footage from the day rather than just still pictures. Sure, I think your main focus should be photography -- those are irreplaceable and if you don't have the budget, means or opportunity, stick to the photos--but I'm really grateful we have a cinematic perspective of the day. 

If you can't  afford videography, I've seen cool videos taken from a simple flip camera. Yup.

Wedding Recap: Our First Dance

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 2 comments

Photo by our coordinator, Regina Bunye

We never practiced our first dance. We still were as stiff as two awkward junior high kids. But I dunno, I still look back and think what magical moment it was for us.

We decided to do our first dance number right after our introduction as Mr. and Mrs. T. We danced to Etta James' "At Last," a number I gather from wedding blogs and forums is considered quite overplayed, but we chose it because we both liked the song, and it was, thankfully, short and sweet. To add a little personal feel, my sister took to the mic and did a wonderful rendition of the number as we swayed the best we could to the track.

Sure, it wasn't a meticulously choreographed number. No funny dance moves. Nothing that would garner thousands of Youtube views. But I remember every moment. I remember how it felt being there with my new husband and everyone's eyes on us. I remember seeing our old high school and college friends' start to tear up. I remember what it felt to look into the eyes of my new husband. And to me, that's all that really mattered.

Wedding Lesson #7: No regrets

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 1 comments

My friend's lovely wedding @ Irvine Presbysterian Church in Irvine, CA. (Personal Photo)

I apologize for the little break from blogging, but I had a busy Labor Day Weekend, which included going to one of my good friends' wedding. Let me tell you, I'm still so amazed about all the creativity that turned a regular printing warehouse into an elegant, contemporary, modern-chic banquet hall!

Please forgive my blurry photography! Long strips of white material (purchased at the LA Fashion District) covered up walls and printing machinery. Lighting and paper lanterns certainly did the job!
Another blurry photo. Amazing what you can do with some lemon, rocks and sticks!
Food (a mixture of Filipino, American and Korean ode to their Filipino, Korean and American backgrounds) was yumm! Catering by LA Rose Cafe in Los Angeles. (Personal Photo)

This was the first wedding that I've attended since my own, and while I'm still ecstatic for my two friends' wedding, the inevitable comparisons come up. Their wedding was a fantastic, low budget DIY fair. It was an evening wedding where guests danced to the wee hours. I started thinking, gosh, would we have afforded a dinner wedding? Could we have done what they did? I started worrying that we had not done our best research, we hadn't fully explored our options. Perhaps we could have had a dinner wedding for nearly as much as we spent on a daytime wedding. I was wondering if I was regretting our decision.

I finally snapped out of my insane worry-wort ways, and realized, sure, we could have done what they did, but it would have been an entirely different wedding. We wouldn't have had the intimate vibe our smaller venue had, we wouldn't have had the rustic, vintage-y feel that was more us. And...I look back at our photos, and I loved the natural lighting only a daytime wedding could offer. And, sure we had a daytime wedding, and yes, the feel would be much different at night, but that didn't stop us from getting down!

My friends' wedding was gorgeous and lovely, proving you don't have to spend a lot to have a great, chic and stylish wedding. The artsy vibe was sooo them. But at the same time, our wedding was more us. It fit us. And I can't transplant what we had and try to fit it into what our friends had without coming up with something totally different. Not better or worse. Just different.

So don't worry about what's done already. There are no do-overs when planning your wedding...unless, of course, you want to do a vow renewal ceremony but for us, that would be way down the line. Yes, you might see something in the future that, had you known about it before, you might have done things differently. It's inevitable. But don't beat yourself up over it. The fact that you didn't have "Mrs." and "Mr." signs on your chairs wouldn't have made a huge difference in your wedding. What matters is not how much money you spent or if you had it during the day or evening, or if you could have afforded those favors instead of the ones you actually did hand out. Honestly, the best memories I have of our wedding are not the things we ended up buying or making, but the joy, the laughter, the love and loved ones, and the opportunities to share our love with the people close to us, that truly made our special day. For that, I'm truly grateful for our own amazing wedding!

So no regrets...Ok, maybe except for caving into obligatory invites who insisted on adding more people to their RSVP and never even bothered to show up! But that's another post....

Wedding Lessong #6: Let Go

Friday, September 3, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , , | 0 comments

Me actually dancing at the reception! Photo by Don Le of Bliss Imagery

People used to always tell us that the wedding day would go so fast we would never remember it. But what I loved about the wedding day is that I did remember everything. I had time to actually enjoy everything, soak everything in.
Not that I didn't have anything to worry about (oh, yes, there were more bombs thrown at us through the day, but none half as bad as the MIA hair and makeup stylist!), but once the ceremony started there was always at least one person I could hand over the reigns to, giving me time to just...enjoy!

Earlier in my blog, I pondered whether or not hiring a wedding coordinator or a Day of Coordinator was necessary. From my own experience, I would have to say, no you don't need to hire a day of coordinator... but you do need someone who will be the point person and who will coordinate the day. Someone you can had over the reigns and say, "here, it's all yours!" It may be a family member or a friend. But keep in mind, someone who's involved in the festivities and also wants to enjoy in the day, might not be as attentive (read, might not do as good of a job) as someone whose main purpose and job is to make sure things are running smoothly...not how Aunt so-and-so is doing cuz you haven't seen her in so long!

We had a wonderful DOC and she came to us like a blessing. We knew we couldn't afford to hire a DOC, but she offered her services to us for free. My MOH just happened to have a friend who was looking to break into the wedding coordinating industry and wanted to take on our wedding to build her portfolio and references. And she was wonderful to work with, very organized and on top of things! She grabbed all of our reception items and set up the room (saving us money on the room setup fee). When we arrived at the venue 15 minutes late from taking photos after the ceremony, she brought our schedule back on time. When the Samoan dancers arrived, she welcomed them and showed them where to get ready.

The whole time, my fiance and I could chat with our guests, we can laugh, we can enjoy our yummy food (oh yeah, the food deserves a post of its own!) and we could dance...and dance we did!

mmmhmmm, that's my new hubby gettin down!!! photo by Don Le of Bliss Imagery

Wedding Lesson #5: You're not Martha Stewart

Thursday, September 2, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , , | 2 comments

As you know, I'm all for DIY, or even better -- DIT (Do-it-Together). But as we got closer to the wedding date, I started to get real with all of my crafty, DIY ambitions. As I've said before, I'm a crafting wannabe, a complete novice. I've had some successes that actually turned out pretty nicely, and then some fails. Ummm, the flower girl baskets I was determined to make? Ultimate fail!!!  If you're not the crafty type, don't take on projects you know you don't have the skills or time to accomplish. Be real with what you can do amd you'll save yourself a headache.

One area I knew we had to be real with ourselves were our centerpieces. I met with different florists, but I was pretty unsatisfied with what our budget could buy us: a few flowers in a vase and a ribbon. yippee. Forget about orchids. They were too expensive. Needless to say, we skipped the florist. But with our wedding in the morning, we knew we had to come up with centerpieces that didn't require a whole lot of time, work, and of course, money.

Then we saw our inspiration while walking through the Asian Mall in Westminster, CA: a display full of tall, potted purple orchids. They were gorgeous, made a great impression, and yet so simple! We loved the idea of a potted centerpiece instead of cut flowers. These were centerpieces we knew our guests would want to take home with them, and they would last long after the wedding. Put them in nice pot, top the soil with moss, and they're good to go!

Potted orchids can be kind of pricey depending on where you buy them. We decided to order our orchids, moss and pots wholesale from the LA Flower Mart. We wanted double stem orchids as they looked more lush than single stems. We went through a vendor who offered us $13 for each orchid and we ordered our pots from another vendor for $4.50 each.  We purchased all 12 of our centerpieces for less than $20 each.

The Friday night before the wedding, we were in a time crunch and with me fighting through a migraine, the last thing I wanted to think about were centerpieces. Luckily our centerpieces were so easy my husband-to-be put them together.

And I must say, they turned out nicely.


All photos by our coordinator, Regina Bunye

Wedding Lesson #4: Trust Your Gut

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 | by Newlywed | Labels: , , | 2 comments

Trying to relax while my stylist works on me. Personal photo.

Saturday morning came around, bright and early...ok maybe not really bright, but it was definitely early. We woke up at 5 a.m., and with my headache gone, I was ready to start the day! I had resolved to not let anything keep me from enjoying the day, that no matter what freak-out inducing bomb might appear, I'd just file under the "worry-about-later" category and move on. Little did I know that one big one would drop on me real soon!

At 5:45 a.m., my stylist, the wonderful Michelle Kimme, arrived at my hotel room to set up for my hair and makeup appointment at 6 a.m. Two of my bridesmaids, my mom-in-law and mom, met in my mom's hotel room for their hair and makeup appointment where my second stylist would work on them.

Ok, this calls for a little background info.

I was about to go through the Paul Mitchell School's Design Team (at $65 a person, they were a great deal), but they couldn't offer on-location styling, which we needed since we all had to be at the church by 9 a.m. I decided to book my own hair and makeup stylist through my wedding coordinator who gave her a great reccomendation. She offered on location hair and makeup styling, including a trial, for $221.

Since my mom, mother-in-law and two of my bridesmaids wanted hair and makeup as well, I had to find one that fit their budget. I didn't have much to work with: less than $60. So I hit Craigslist, since that seemed to be the mecca of deals and bargains.

I contacted several stylists and I found one with a good portfolio and an affordable price. She offered to work on all four ladies for $210. She was a freelance stylist who was in her last year of styling school. I decided to take a chance on her.

Before the wedding, we met and talked about the styles.

The thing is, I should have trusted my gut about this girl. For one, she said she would have her own freelance contract for me to sign, but she didn't. Luckily, I brought my own contract stating the services and the time, date and location of the agreed services, which she and I both signed. I mean, what professional doesn't have their own business contract?

And also...she didn't make a whole lot of eye contact with me. She also seemed like she was in a hurry to leave. These should have been a no brainer...I should not have trusted this girl. But I was under a lot of pressure to find a decent on-location stylist at an affordable price in a hurry (we were two weeks out from the wedding) and in my naive thinking, I thought a contract and a deposit (I paid her half the fee) would seal the deal.

But I guess I was wrong...6 a.m., our agreed upon call time, came and went. At 6:15 a.m., I called our stylist. No answer. I emailed. I texted. No answer. At 6:45 a.m., still no stylist and my bridesmaids and moms gave up. They had waited nearly an hour, taking an hour out of our already tight schedule. My stylist worked on the two bridesmaids, but there was no time to work on the mothers. We all had to be at the church at 9 a.m.

I felt horrible. I felt soooo bad. My bridesmaids and moms assured me that everything was fine (the moms said they would rather do their own hair and makeup anyway). Although my stylist's fees for bridesmaids' hair and makeup was considerably higher ($100 per bridesmaid) she was a lifesaver. A true professional. We decided to cover the difference for the bridesmaids and they looked fabulous! And, yes, I loved my hair and makeup! Sometimes it is worth it to pay more for piece of mind and a true professional.

I was still determined not to let this debaucle ruin the rest of the day. So, once we got our hair and makeup done, and I got helped into my dress, we sprinted to the cars  (yes, sprinted) to make it to the church at the call time of 9 a.m.  I had forgotten everything else by then.I was getting married. Nothing was going to get in the way of that. Not even an irresponsible, shady stylist I found off of Craigslist.

So 1) trust your gut about people you enter into a contract with. Do they seem like trustworthy, dependable people? If not, walk --  no run -- far, far away!, 2) Always have a contract. After the wedding and honeymoon, I had to bug this girl for 2 weeks before I was able to receive my deposit back in full. (Her excuse was that she got into a car accident the morning of the, sure). I reminded her that I had a contract which she signed and if she didn't return my money, she would receive the full legal wrath. 3) I'm not saying Craigslist is bad (it's been a lifesaver for a lot of budget brides) but have caution when dealing with people there. There are definitely some crooks.