We decided to marry quickly after several months of uncertainty, and I am so glad that we did. Not only did that keep things simple, we didn't have to go through the stress of planning a wedding for more than several weeks. And I will never forget so many kindnesses during that month.
After a crazy year, things started to pull together, which is what made me feel like I could take the next step in our relationship. My foot healed and I got my cast off, I finally had a new plan for my career, and I'd found a charming 1916 apartment in San Francisco that was a good deal because we could be building managers. Still, that didn't keep me from getting anxious and crying before letting Michael take me to get dessert and pop the question (yeah, I left that part out of the FAQs on the wedding info post).
I deliberate a lot (sometimes too much), so when I decided I was ready for us to get engaged, I had a lot of things ready: a blog post, a guest list spreadsheet, a Facebook post.
Unfortunately it looked like Michael's dad wasn't going to be able to be in Salt Lake, and that nearly made us have the wedding even sooner because I felt it was important to have him there. We were hoping to get some money from the wedding to pay for the training I had the next month, and I'd already told the landlord that we'd both be living there to manage, so scheduling for later was not ideal. Luckily, Michael's dad was willing and able to fly all the way back to the States from Taiwan for us.
It was so wonderful that it was a non-issue with Michael for me not to change my name. I've dated guys in the past who really took issue with my desire to keep my name. I love still having my same name.
We emailed our invitations, which makes me happy, because that is so in line with me and it saved us money. However, I feel embarrassed every time I think about it: I totally ruined our engagement photo. Gosh, I wish I had just left our faces alone. There were some plants in front of us that I wanted to Photoshop out, and in the process, I decided to follow a tutorial to clean up our faces. Ugh. Clearly I went overboard. Some day I will fix that photo and re-post it, but I can never take back all the emailed invitations.
I also wished that my skin looked better for all the wedding festivities. It was in pretty bad shape, but at least makeup was able to do a decent job at hiding that.
Two other techie things we did: we signed up for a service that creates an online album for wedding guests to upload their photos to in lieu of posting on Facebook (which I didn't want). Unfortunately, we didn't get many photos from that, but at least people refrained from posting on Facebook as requested. We also did an online registry for people who were really set on giving us actual gifts so they could pick items to donate money towards.
I wasn't sure if I should add coral to the wedding colors since I really love that color, but I decided that two colors were enough and we stuck with light green and lavender. I was able to find fun minty-green Wayfarer sunglasses for the wedding party.
Ever since I went on a cruise with the Glauser family in 2007, I've wanted a ring like the one I saw on that cruise ship. Apparently the cruise company can't share the information about its vendors, so I couldn't get any help there. However, Michael's aunt works at a jewelry warehouse in San Francisco, so she lined us up with a new vendor, who agreed to make my ring. It wasn't perfect, but he got it done quickly and gave us a good price that Michael's aunt's subsequent donation took care of.
Kind friends hosted a preception for California friends in Fremont, and I was really touched by some of the people who made an effort to be there, including my parents. My friend Lisz helped me do my makeup for that and when I saw the pictures, I laughed, because we were a bit dramatic; oh well! Our friend Becca agreed to take pictures for us as her gift to us.
A few months earlier, my mom had offered to buy me a dress and a blouse at a store that we stopped at on the way to her dropping me off at the airport. Little did she know . . . After I started thinking about getting married soon, I realized that the dress would work as a wedding dress. It was made of off-white Swiss dot cotton and cost all of $10. The only thing was that I would need a lining for the dress. I emailed the Relief Society and Amber, a friend who lived nearby, volunteered to help me make one. When I brought the dress to her, I mentioned that in some ways I wondered if I would regret not having my one fancy dress, and how I'd considered ordering the expensive dress I'd been crushing on for a while. She said, "Let's make this dress special for you." She met me at Britex, a fancy fabric store, where I picked out some vintage lace and ribbon. Lovely Amber did a fabulous job. She added some layers, lace, and a ruffle to the bottom of the dress, sewed lace to the sleeves and bodice, and put in holders for a ribbon at the waist. She was right that I loved my dress even more because it was unique to me. In the end, I used my sister's old slip instead of making a lining, and the whole thing cost about $110.
I bought some off-white, cotton lace flats from American Eagle. No high heels for this short gal. Also, I planned on only wearing some simple white pearl earrings that Michael had gotten me in Danville. Hurray for simplicity!
I was feeling frustrated that our place wasn't more set up and we were running late when we picked up the dress and headed to the airport. To our dismay and with a wedding shower the next morning, we missed the check-in to our flight. A magical airline employee did some frantic typing and changed us onto a flight that would actually get us to Salt Lake before the other one would have because it was direct. Still, all the stress caught up to me on the plane, and when I realized I'd forgotten some stuff, I cried. Luckily I had a very caring fiancé who took me to replace said stuff in Salt Lake the next day.
An aunt and a dear friend organized wedding showers for us and were very kind about communicating our request for money that we really needed rather than gifts that we'd have to ship back. It was great to see so many people who wished us well.
After we paid for a wedding license the following Monday, we had to go shopping because Michael had yet to find a suit (two days before the wedding). We drove around to several places in the Salt Lake Valley, to no avail (the prices and the time constraint were quite prohibitive), and because my feet were still having some issues, I got very worn out. Somehow we randomly stopped by H+M and found that they had a formal section, where Michael got a nice grey suit for under $100. We also picked up some crocheted ribbon that my mom dyed lavender for me to wear in my hair, but I didn't end up wearing it.
Wedding photography is so expensive. I was that horrible person who was hoping to get someone to take photos for very cheap or free (so sorry to the person I asked!). A photographer I knew from college agreed to give us a discount and met with us. She even took my list of cheesy wedding photos I didn't want (like jumping or dipping) in stride, though she had me try out just a couple poses that she thought I might want and like later. Her confidence and experience was reassuring.
My mom was just generally amazing. She dealt with the people who were being über-picky (and I thought I was picky) about how our setup had to be for our preception, and did a million little things to make everything better. She dyed dresses and found ties, she scheduled a place and a caterer for our luncheon, she cut Michael's hair, she found the best eclairs, and she added lights to the Bartons' backyard to make the atmosphere a little more romantic.
Really, people were so generous. Our close family friends Charla and Ray let us use their yard for our preception and helped with setting up. My brother handled music, my other brother helped Michael figure out rental cars, and my aunt put together some lovely lavender bunches for us—and even though I'd said I didn't need a bouquet, she made one just in case, and the photographer was right about it looking good in the pictures. Another aunt canceled a flight to be there, my sister and her husband flew to Utah from California with their kids for their third wedding in two months, people brought refreshments for our preception, my cousins gave us a ring for Michael, and my brother's girlfriend gave me some makeup tips. My wonderful friend Tanya flew all the way from New York to be there and volunteered to do whatever I needed—which turned out to be ironing my dress.
Also, my friend's sister kindly scheduled a last-minute hair appointment to tint my hair (I will forever feel bad that I had no idea how to tip and I don't think I did it right), and a nice woman at the Lancome counter did a great (and free) job on my makeup and fake eyelashes for the preception.
Two of my sisters and I went and got inexpensive spray-on tans. I think it looked pretty natural—I still look like my pale self in the pictures, so you can imagine just how pale I was before that.
Michael picked up his family at the airport and then picked me up from the makeup place. The Bartons' yard was so verdantly beautiful—the perfect setting. I'd picked out a book covered in red silk in Chinatown for people to sign on their way in. The whole wedding party looked great in their garb. It was really awesome to introduce Michael and his family to so many dear friends who came to show their support. We should have arranged our time a little differently so that our photographer could take pictures outside of the time when visitors came. Some older people left because they were sick of waiting for our photo shoot to be over, oops! We picked up on our photographer's patterns quickly: "Look at me. Look at each other. Kiss."
After a few hours, my face was sore from smiling and promises from others that they would clean up, Michael and I went to dinner at The Dodo Restaurant with his parents and sister.
The next morning, a friend of a friend did my hair. I probably should have had her do makeup while I did my hair, because she didn't quite understand just how quickly thin hair like mine can quickly lose its shape in the warm September sun even though I'd stressed that, and she didn't end up having time to do my makeup, meaning I had to do it and hope that it was okay. However, when we didn't have enough cash to pay her then, she told us to have a happy wedding day and accepted what we had.
A man from my parents' neighborhood did the actual ceremony. I mostly remember thinking that having a specific side to sit on seemed kind of silly and that he went on for quite a while—long enough for people to be dozing off. Also, he paused during the official part that I was supposed to respond to, so I said "yes" a bit too early and made everyone laugh.
I was so glad that I could just change into my dress and touch up my makeup on my own after the wedding ceremony, even though a woman at the preception the night before had criticized me for wanting to do it that way. I was ready before even Michael was, ha! We forgot to put on our rings until later, which is obvious in the pictures. Whoops. The sunglasses were a hit during picture-taking. I think.
The weather was amazing. It was sunny, clear, and warm—just perfect for our luncheon in Sugarhouse Park, where close friends and family joined us for hummus and cucumber sandwiches and eclairs. This, to me, felt like the pinnacle, like the real thing: we were in a beautiful and simple place, surrounded by loved ones regardless of their religion, where we could share our love for and commitment to each other. My friend Betsy gave a great talk about marriage and Michael's dad bravely gave a speech in English and did a fine job. I only realized later that it would have been nice to ask if my parents or anyone else wanted to say something, too. A wonderful friend arranged to have a log and a saw there for us so we could cut a log together as I'd seen newly-married couples do in Germany to symbolize working together. I improvised my wedding vows from notes on my iPhone and got a little choked up. Michael said some wonderful things in return. Everything was really so simple and lovely, just as I wanted it to be.
When it was over, everything felt so normal and comfortable, as if we'd been married for ages. We weren't in a big hurry to get to the airport, so we had some time to pack and plan while Michael's family went up the canyon with my family before taking them to the airport. Of course, we still received some physical gifts, most of which Michael's sister Claire was able to nicely take back to California with her. We stopped by to apologize to the guests we'd missed the night before and to thank them for coming.
On the airplane, we typed up what every single card we'd received said, and once we got to the airport, I hesitated for just a second, but then we put all of those cards into the recycle bin. Hurray for recycling and less clutter! Then we were able to scan all of the checks we'd received into our bank account. Hurray for banking apps!
When our photos from both the California and Utah festivities arrived, I saw that some of the pictures had cut-off feet, which bugged me a little, but most of them turned out really well. I took out the plethora of kissing pictures just for you. It is so great to re-live those beautiful moments every time I see the pictures. Enjoy!
Click here to read about our Taiwanese wedding celebration.