Timeline of planning:
We weren't so sure about setting the date yet, one thing just led to another. It wasn't that we didn't want to get married, we were engaged for some time, but wasn't sure when it we would be able to save enough for it.
It all started with curiosity of how much wedding dresses go for and if they even made anything my size. Going into wedding forums asking about how to find dresses for petite brides and loving to hear about other people's planning.
September 7, 2005 -
Browsing on Ebay, I found a few dress options. There were custom made dresses from Shanghai, China made to your measurements as long as you provide them. I was cautious about these because you really don't know how the quality of the dresses are and if the pictures they posted up is even the real thing. So I saved the seller's info and showed my fiancee the dresses and asked what he thought. The dress being $250 shipped, seemed to be worth a try and if it did fit perfectly, I'd save hundreds of dollars on alterations. I still held out a bit and even found a some promising reviews of the seller and the quality of the dresses. It was worth a try. The pictures were beautiful, my fiancee even picked 0ut the one I had in mind - it must be the one even though I haven't tried on any dresses yet. I went ahead and ordered it. The dress arrived, it was as beautiful as it could ever be. Hanging in my closet, "what am I going to do with this dress now?" We haven't set a date and if it's going to be three years later, "how outdated would this dress be?"
Then we knew it was time to get some idea of where we want to have the ceremony. We considered having the wedding at home where we are renting, but the idea of cleaning up the mess after the celebration wasn't how we wanted to spend the day after the wedding. The cost of renting patio tables and decorating the yard, also wasn't ideal. Parking in the small cul-de-sac also wasn't a wise idea.
November 2005 -
Two months went by...we made a decision to look at a few small places to have the ceremony. Our vision of our ceremony was about 2o guests, no more. My fiance thought it would be meaningful to have one in San Francisco. If we should ever move away, we married in the most beautiful city in the bay area - San Francisco, where you've fallen in love and left your heart at.
Okay, so this wasn't really SF, but the idea of the intimacy was appealing. We visited Mountain Home Inn at Mill Valley near Mt. Tamalpais. For a small wedding of 20 guests, the reservations begin at $300 to book the Bay View Room where it opens out to a small deck. You don't get a aisle, it's very intimate and you'll end up standing around and walking back in for the reception. Everything you need to keep it simple is included, white ceremony chairs, reception chairs and table, white linens, tea light candles. You'll also need to have at least 3 staff members to work your event for $25/hour (5-8hrs). It's also recommended to book room 5, which opens to the deck so you don't have a stranger walking into the deck during your ceremony for another $325. It's a nice room to get ready in, but why didn't we choose this as it all sounds so fitting for our budget?
I guess I'm picky, I had lunch there to taste the food, I was disgusted and didn't think I should go any further with booking it because I wouldn't want our guests to not enjoy the food there. Getting to the inn was a bit tricky, I worried about how our guests would get home if it's late at night on those twisty dark roads with unvisible road signs at night. The contact person, I didn't have a good feeling towards the person we talked to mainly because of the snickering of my ring size. It hurt my feelings and wasn't respectful knowingly this was going to be a low budget wedding. Not only did it hurt my feelings, it made my fiance feel like he's not providing enough. This was definitely not the place for us. This might be perfect for another couple, but after our experience there, it wasn't for us which was unfortunate because we were planning for a beautiful intimate event there.
In SF's Presidio there's the Interfaith Chapel. It has a beautiful aisle and the views are beautiful nearby. Parking was plenty and easily accessible. The rental fee was $500/hr, for less than 30 guests, the estimate was about 1.5 hours for the event, making it $750. They book multiple weddings a day so it's crucial to stay on top of schedule.
There are 3 time blocks:
Morning: 10 am - 12:30 PM
Afternoon: 1 - 3:30 PM
Evening: 4 - 6:30 PM
There is even a beautiful pipe organ and piano there so you don't have to worry about music, plus a coordinator for your event.
Everything was so close to being perfect, but the idea of having a cemetary next door wasn't. Something about visiting there on a rainy, gloomy day even made it more eerie which I bet it would have been the most beautiful place on a sunny day.
The search continues...
We considered the idea of having the ceremony/reception at a restaurant. At the Carnelian Room, you could book private rooms. We loved that idea and had a meal there to check things out. One of the staff members gave us the idea we could book two rooms, have the ceremony in one and the reception at the other. It was a brilliant idea! We thought to ourselves, the room rental is $300, it's even cheaper than booking the chapel! My fiance surprised me with a formal proposal here that night. It became a sentimental place for us, it was it. We contacted the event manager and guess what? We were told in order to have a ceremony in the other room, you have to pay the rental fee plus what meals there would have been - doubling the reception costs. Considering 20 guests and $60 a meal excluding drinks, We're not paying $1200 for small room rental, no way!
The food was outstanding and we liked the parking lot that was available making it very easy for guests. The view was spectacular and we've fallen for this to be "our place" to be part of our wedding day. We had to work around this. The Carnelian Room was a definite "yes" for the reception and we won't have to worry about tables or staff.
We didn't know what other options there were in SF and thought about having a city hall wedding then a reception at the Carnelian Room after. I somehow ran across one place - The First Unitarian Universalist Church. The rental fee was $600 for 2 hours usage, even cheaper than the Presidio Chapel. It had beautiful stained glass windows, the contact person was super nice and took the time to show us around, we felt an aura of warmth when we walked in, we both had a smile - this was it!
We finalized that both places had the dates available and we booked the date immediately.
We're going to get married!
September 9, 2006 -
The wedding is coming soon, things have been busy with work and trying to balance what needs to be done at work and for the wedding is getting hectic. I'm getting my hair trimmed and highlighted next week for the big day. Still need a few RSVP's back, I have all of them except from vendors. I need to give my final headcount next week, so this weekend I'll have to be a pit-bull and call each person to see what they would like for their meals. Spreadsheets are a blessing to wedding planning. I'm using it to keep track of what needs to be paid to vendors and to keep track of guest names and menu selections.
I have a few more projects to do:
Emroidery of our names for our aisle runner, place cards, menu cards, favors...
Oh must order the cake soon, we're ordering from Sheng-Kee bakery so we don't need to order until a couple of weeks in advance.