Friday, July 23, 2010

喝酒! Drink!

One of the good things about our venue is we get to BYOB...and wine and spirits. I've pretty much given up drinking since the company trip to Disneyland, ah, er, never mind that. I'm not much of a drinker. I've attempted, but haven't developed a taste for wine or beer. Dark chocolate on the other hand, I've been very successful at. Cheese is working it's way up there as well. Too bad for Air, since he does enjoy large bottles of delicious beer that he can't finish by himself.

giving it a taste 

We're not planning to do an open bar (alchies!), but beer and wine for sure and some signature drinks. Then maybe some scotch since Air and his friends are really old men drinkers.

Air and friends 

Air's must list? Belgian beers! Specifically Ommegang tops his list. So sad our short lived discovery of finding them at our local Costco, to be replaced by the Kirkland brand. I wonder if we can get kegs...

beers, wedding crafts, and dark chocolate 
source: me

Signature drinks? One will be Air's drink of choice - the mint julep, since it's the most intensive labor drink the bartender can make.

I recently saw on blogger Mrs. Cola post about this:

hibiscus flower garnish in champagne 

It's so awesome! I want it! It supposedly tastes good too. What signature drink should we make with it? What other signature drinks should we have?

Geek note: Posted from Amtrak train on the way to Boston by using my Android cellphone as a wifi hotspot. Post-processed photo in camera! (RAW to small JPG, darn Mac having no photo software).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

the Budget

Mr. Air at one time threw out the question of us just having a big party to celebrate instead of the whole wedding affair. is a big party! Just a ginormous party with a whole industry built around it to capitalize on every aspect. The problem with not calling it a wedding was that it wouldn't be a compelling reason for all his friends on the east coast to come out. So, yes, it was to be a wedding.

All the planning checklists tell you first things first, to set a budget. We were not sure what to do. "How much do weddings cost?", we asked. According to various mags or websites, the national average was something to the tune of $28-30k dollars.

That could be even compared to a wedding from the 1940's (ok this is probably extreme for the 40s, since the person was likely very rich). From the mint financial blog:
In an article published in the Saturday Evening Post on May 26, 1946 (a scan of which landed in our inbox thanks to Shane Murray of The Wedding Report), author Horace W. Osborne gives a humorous, if overly detailed account of his daughter’s wedding preparations — and all the costs involved.
His daughter’s wedding dress cost $191.45, the florist charged $220 and the wedding cake was $45. The total tab wedding tab ran at $2,238.47.
Adjusted for inflation:
Dress: $2,320.57 
Florist: $2,666.62
Wedding cake: $545.45
Total: $27,132.49.


But back to the future! Er, present day. $28-30k average? Holy cow, that's a lot of moolah. Our thoughts were "ok, guess we'll try to go for the average cost". Budget calculator, take 30k and make it so.

Our plan was - don't go crazy, or anything over the top, but just spend whatever was reasonable. Then I determined what I felt was important (and Air agreed of course):

the venue - most of the guests would be coming in from out of town (and a number of east coast flyers), so wanted some place nice that made their trip worthwhile. And I wanted somewhere outdoorsy that was not a country or athletic club. And definitely NOT a hotel (I PMed IT setups for work conferences, so I've spent a LOT of time in hotels).

the photographer - all you have left after the wedding are the photos, we both always play the part of photographers, so we don't really have any pictures. And since we're both photographers, it needed to be of quality stuff.

Photographer Aaron Morris
(sorry, there will be no garter getting for us)

the food - we are foodies. When I think of weddings, I think of 10 course Chinese banquets. That's what I wanted! Typical American food at weddings is always terrible! Dried out, overcooked pieces of bland steak, chicken or salmon. BLEH! Single entrees just does not work as well as Chinese family style for large groups.

Chinese New Year's Dinner at Chef Chu's 
one of the dishes with a fish carved out of a carrot! source: my cell phone

That's a whole entire wedding there! It was hard to see the whole financial picture when we started, since I just compared the costs to similar venues, or photographers, or caterers. None of the budget sheets gave me an idea of how must everything would really cost. So we made our own spreadsheet (a bit after we started the deposits for the big things).

Was 30k really an average cost for weddings in the SF Bay Area? Um no.

Costs in metropolitan areas, like the SF Bay Area where we live, costs even more.

The Knot (2009):
New York City and Long Island have the highest wedding budget ($56,999 and $55,877 respectively). Arkansas has the lowest wedding budget ($15,073), followed by Idaho and Utah ($15,276 and $16,030 respectively). 

San Francisco weddings are the most expensive in the country coming close to an average of $45,000. That's nearly three times more than Philadelphia and twice as much as Chicago. San Franciscans also spend more on engagement rings. The average ring is $6,525 compared to New York where it's $3,851. (2009):

For: 94043 Mountain View, CA
Wedding Cost by:
Estimated Cost: between $32,060 and $53,433 for guests of 100-150 (7/2010):
Estimated Cost: between $27,433 and $45,721 with guests of 100-150 and a Traditional wedding.

Well ok, maybe closer to that amount for the South Bay. It's still a lot.

And it's comparative to the highest rents in the country! My parents asked me why is our spending is so much more than so and so, who spent $15k on their wedding in Fresno...well, it's not Fresno, Dad! There's a reason why things are cheap there...

Well, we don't have any debt (Air has a car payment), so we are paying everything as we go (from cash savings) so we are not incurring any debt. It's just delaying our goal of buying a house. What I really, really, wonder is, how does everyone else pay for this stuff?

On Say Yes to the Dress it's not uncommon for a bride to be spending $4-5 thousand dollars on a dress! My high end of willingness to spend on a dress doesn't even reach the low budget end of the brides shopping at Kleinfelds. And these brides are elementary teachers or police officers or in a profession which doesn't say - I have a lot of money to spend on a dress. We live in an area that has a high cost of living, so we also make more than a number of people in the country (we are very lucky), yet they are okay with spending several thousand dollars on a dress for a few hours, where it's way beyond reasonable for me?

Air's favorite fashionista, Randy Fenoli source - FIT NYC
"The average cost of a wedding dress in the U.S. is $800; at Kleinfeld, it’s $4-5,000."

But I do realize it also depends what's important to the bride, if the dress is important, she'll spend more on the dress. And that Kleinfeld's has a certain But how do they pay for everything?!? It's not a walk in the park for us and we don't have have any debt, compared to the average US household which does carry debt. I saw a Craigslist ad recently looking for a 30k wedding loan. Oh boy...bad, bad idea.

Looking at all these wedding inspiration websites and magazines is bad in some aspects too. Although they are great for ideas, they in a way set this standard for wedding greatness and plant into your head that you need x and y and detail z. My advice in retrospect, would be to figure how much is a wedding worth to spend for YOU, then make everything fit into that. Well, I guess that's another way to say 'budget'. :) And it was a lot easier to think things are not so bad when you're paying them bit by bit.

But costs aside, we are really having things the way we want them to be and are looking so forward about having all of these great people in one place for one big (eating) party! It's going to be at this FANTASTIC venue with our closest friends and family and eating DELICIOUS food. LOTS of it.

And that's the reason why we wanted to have a wedding. To get our family and friends all together in one place, throw a party, and show them a good time!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Quest for Cute, Comfortable Shoes - cont.

After stumbling upon those Washington Post articles on the effects of modern day footwear on the feet, I've resolved to get rid of all the heels I have that I can't stand more than 20 minutes in. No matter how cute. Not like I would get non-cute heels. Even though I rarely wear them. Yes, it's the whole trying to be more like a girl thing. I'm even contemplating getting a purse to hold my cell phone and wallet.

Wedding. Shoes.

What to do about them. So even though I hate heels, I would like to be a slightly will make the dress look longer (the years have mellowed out my refusals to wear dresses for any occasion). And although you won't really see the shoes fully, you'll still see them peaking out. There's too much photography of just shoes (typical wedding photography...where is the actual wedding?!?).

Flip Flops or Flats?

There are some brides who just wear flip flops (bad for your feet) or flats (also bad for your feet! and they hurt too) or maybe even sneakers.

Even though it's my casual Friday everyday, I'm also a visual person...and wearing flips flops or sneakers just does not look right! Too informal...and...boring.

Yes, my venue will have dirt and lots of it...(this is it)
Rain Boots?

The rain boot idea is kinda cute. But it doesn't fit with our wedding. Air didn't like the idea so much either.


I've passed by some of those Naturalizer type of shoes...low heels, probably comfy...but...just so old lady looking. Not so cute.

Ballroom Shoes?

The idea light bulb went off and I thought - ballroom dancing shoes! Those must be more comfortable, after all, dancers put a lot of impact and can still move in them right? I'm not the only person with this idea.

Jimmy Choo's?

Another suggestion was to get an expensive pair of shoes - more money = more quality? But I wasn't going to drop 5-10 bills on a pair of Jimmy Choo's!

I checked out the Ballroom Connection, which has a store front in Mountain View...they were actually more comfy and stable and there were some cute ones as well. So what was the problem?

I liked some Stephanie ballroom shoes like this

The soles. The shoes are meant for indoor use - they are soft, so they would wear out fairly quickly from outside use.  I wanted something that I could use after the wedding and there were no plans in my future for ballroom dancing. 

There were Argentina tango shoes are meant to be used outside, but they weren't in my range of wedding colors. And the fully customizable (heels, height, fabric) Celebrity brand shoes which could add an outdoor sole were not as cute or comfortable as the Stephanie or other brands.  

The price. The shoes I liked in the store were in the price range of $160...not something I wanted to spend on shoes if I couldn't use them in the future (for activities not including dancing). Although the price online seems to be quite lower for similar styles.

Nike Air Cole Haan's?

I went to Bloomingdale's to try the Cole Haan's with Nike Air technology (although they don't have visible air bubbles). Unfortunately they had a limited selection and they didn't have the height or type of styles I was looking for. 

Made in Italy!

But...I did do a round about the shoes and found these Via Spiga Lyra shoes at 40% off with an additional 15% of for the 4th of July weekend. Woo sale! They actually felt decently comfy and stable in the store...and they didn't feel as high as they were. What a realization...don't get shoes Made in China! I tried on some to compare afterwards, and they felt pretty crappy (Nina, Nine West, Calvin Klein, oh poor cute Nina's).

Made in China = Crappy Shoes that Hurt

Here are the shoes! Via Spiga Lyra - Made in Italy
Edit: So the shoe are not actually made in Italy...designed in Italy and made in Brazil. While I was trying them, another woman came to buy them in other colors since she thought they were so comfy. Test trial time!

It didn't require a lot of shopping actually (compared to the dress) since it was the found on my first dedicated shoe shopping trip (outside of the ballroom shoes) - what a relief! And came in under budget my budget spreadsheet. I wonder if they are too high though...Will these work with my Chinese dress?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Quest for Cute, Comfortable Heels - does it exist?

This is one item I've have been dreading to check off my wedding project plan:
Purchase wedding shoes and start dress fittings. Bring the shoes along to your first fitting so the tailor can choose the appropriate length for your gown.
Shoes....barrgghh. I hate wearing heels. They're terrible! I just don't comprehend why women would want to put themselves in torturous pain for a detail that no one will notice! I just cannot understand - why wear shoes that you can neither stand or walk in (even for a few feet) and have to sit all night looking pretty but moving no where?

It reminds me of how Chinese women used to have their feet bound to look small...not to the horrible extent of, but similar in how women deal with pain and foot problems and can't move! Don't understand! Don't understand! Well there is the being taller bit...

Is there such a thing as comfortable heels? Google must know! Here's what I've found:

More stability will put less pressure on certain areas of your foot.

You can achieve this by:
Getting a shorter heel.
Having a wider heel.  A wedge has the most surface area to give support.

Doing some image searching for this post came up with this image:

the effects of wearing high heels 

From the On Your Feet article:
Women often think they're doing their feet a favor when they ditch the heels and put on flip-flops or ballet flats because there's no heel, no pointed toe, no reason to worry. Right?
Not so, say podiatrists.
I knew it! I knew it! Flats sucks just as much...they never did anything in the comfort department for me.

Looking around, there's a pro and con section for different types of shoes, even on those hideous shoes trends, Crocs and Uggs.

Ugg-ly? Yes.

But wait, there is hope.
For those women who want fashion plus function, so-called comfort-brand shoes claim to offer the best of both worlds. Among them: Naturalizer, Ecco, Aerosole, Cole Hahn and Taryn Rose, created by a former orthopedic surgeon who brought her first line of luxury shoes to the market in 1998. And they're not your grandmother's orthopedic shoes.
Kelly splurged on some Cole Hahn's as her first wedding (or "engagement present to self")  purchase...and touts their Nike Air technology to enable them to be the only heels she'll wear.

Any advice on shoes? My quest to find shoes to be continued...