Thursday, July 30, 2009

Forever Favor?

Description of Problem: The blue chairs at the Manoa ballroom don't match our black, red and white color scheme.


  1. Status quo
  2. Rent or buy chair covers ($5/chair)
  3. Use sashes and bows (doesn't truly cover the blue?)
  4. Change our wedding colors to match the venue
  5. Figure out something completely different

You can guess what I chose.

Chair cover wedding favors.

Oh, it's not as bad as it seems. Let me break it down -

Sak and I are budding environmentalists (living near San Francisco can do that to a person). We aren't total hippies yet, but we've started trending. We own a prius, shower with a bucket to catch extra water, and take our 30+ "green"- bags with us whenever we go shopping. (3 cents off at safeway for each bag you bring use!) That said, I knew we should have something useful for a favor. I had considered donations, or carbon credits, but I just couldn't do it. Maybe I'm crazy, but I love getting stuff at parties. Especially creative, fun stuff that can be used all the time.

If you type in 'green wedding favors' in a search, you might end up with a lot of 'tree sapling' favors. Which is an amazing idea, but not practical for a Hawaii destination wedding (Agriculture laws!)

So we'll be making "green"-bags. They won't actually be green, but probably black. I'd like to use eco-friendly fabric, if possible.

And these won't be just any old bags. They'll be bags made to fit on top of the chair. A chair-covering bag. Blue chairs, you shall haunt me no longer!

To make them festive, we'll print Saka's family crest (the Japanese word is 'mon') to the front of the bag, and probably put our names/date inside, where it's not as visible. That way guests will actually use them after the wedding. A Bible verse would also be nice, hidden somewhere In-N-Out Burger style.

Here's my print screen stencil trial run:

To do this I printed out the image, and traced it onto a sheet of thin plastic (actually the plastic from a cover report). I then used an xacto knife to cut out the image. This was extremely hard, and you can tell I didn't do that great of a job, based on the choppiness of some of the lines. Xacto knives don't exactly turn corners so well. And I cut myself once.

After I finished cutting out the image, I sprayed the back of the plastic sheet with sticky tack. This makes the template stick to the fabric. Usually, I'll place a piece of mesh over the template so the ink flows more evenly (no big globs), but I got lazy this time and just applied the ink (Speedball fabric ink) directly to the template with a spongy paint brush. Peel the template off, and voila!

Here's the story behind his mon. I think it's even more fitting that the plant it's based off of is a sustainable one.

The final product will probably be red or white ink on black bags, placed on the chairs and then tied with a pretty ribbon or sash. I'll have to find the dimensions of the chairs so I'll know how to sew it.

I'm contemplating buying a YUDU to mass produce my template. The one I made with plastic is pretty flimsy and probably won't hold up much longer. I've been pretty intrigued with the Yudu, after trying several other forms of cheap-silkscreen, like the embroidery hoop and modge podge method. I have yet to do real etching, but the yudu seemed like a hassle-free setup.

Anyone else come up with a multi-purpose favor? Or an eco-friendly favor?

A Venue, and therefore a Date

Things Sak and I were looking for in a venue -

  1. Great food. But yes, this is Hawaii we're talking about, so pretty much anywhere you go, food is going to be good.
  2. Price. Partially because of our budget, we didn't bother to entertain the thought of the amazingly beautiful, but outrageously expensive resorts like Turtle Bay or Ihilani.
  3. Freedom. Since I'm a controlling crazy lady, a package deal isn't going to fit for me. I want to be able to bring my own cake and flowers and Napa valley champagne in. We'll go to grocery outlet to stock up! (Though yes, the practical person might say that shipping champagne over will probably make it just as expensive as buying from a venue. But at least we'll have the choice of what kind to get. And plenty of excuses for trying them out beforehand... )
  4. Good Cause. If possible, we'd like the money we pay for our venue to go to a useful cause.

So we came up with pros and cons for the four finalist venue locations:

The Hale Koa

Pros: Sak's parents were married here, they have awesome food, and there's a garden/gazebo to have your ceremony in.

Cons: It's the most expensive, you can't bring your own champagne, and pretty much all Saturdays in 2010 are already booked.

The Manoa Grand Ballroom

Pros: Bringing your own cake and champagne are okay, proceeds go to the Japanese Cultural Center, good availability and a cheery, upbeat spokesperson on the phone (that's always a plus, in my opinion!).

Cons: No place to get married, and no one's ever been there to know what the food is like.


Pros: Newer facility, Sak's cousin had a party there before.

Cons: No place to get married, can't bring your own cake or champagne.

The Okinawan Center

Pros: Cheapest, Zippy's food (Even Pres. Obama likes it!), can bring own cake and champagne.

Cons: No place to get married, plastic tablewear.

In the end, we decided on the Manoa Grand Ballroom. It's on the fifth floor of the Japanese Cultural Center, and I'm pretty happy with it.

Sak's dad and brother even went and checked it out for us.

Our date is now 7.31.2010! Easy to remember! And Harry Potter's Birthday!

How many reception 'finalists' did you have? Did you have a set criteria of things you were looking for?

Save the Dates Phase 1

'Save the Date' cards are what most people do if they decide to do anything 'DIY'. So naturally, I will be making my own as well. I decided to draw mine. Not that I'm an expert or anything, but it's been a long hobby of mine, and you know, it's just plain cuter than the real Saka and Penga.

Hard at work!

Above is the main image we'll be using. The plan is to turn these into little 2x3" magnets from Vista Print, attach them to some kind of card, and mail away! However, we have yet to decide on a suitable background. What's simple, but not too simple? Mom-Peng & Sister-Peng made me a version with a Mario Bros. scene in the background (us jumping into a pipe and everything!). Unfortunately, I'm thinking that my images aren't "pixelly" enough to vibe with the 8-bit feel of an old-school game.

As for the wording, it will definitely include something along the lines of "Saka and Penga are advancing the storyline", since the pic is a light reference to our love of RPGs (role playing games). Kicking off our first project sure is exciting!

If you're doing them at all, did you do anything on the unconventional side for your save-the-dates?

Dress Mock-Up Stage 1

Yes, Sak and I are attempting to make my wedding dress. Yes, we know they possibility of it looking like a bad cosplay outfit is high. But I'll tell you why we're going to try it:
  1. We're cheap. Wedding dresses are expensive, and I'm not paying exorbitant amounts for a dress I'll only wear for a few hours. We're using muslin for the trial run, and if all goes well, we'll invest in some cheap white muslin. Why didn't I get white muslin to begin with? Well, I didn't know they made it, otherwise I totally would have. But never fear, I have big plans for the trial dress. It can be used at renaissance fairs, maker faire, and of course, some kind of cosplay I'm sure.
  2. I don't want to be shiny. Since I'm already going to be shiny from sweating in the hot Hawaii sun, I don't need any help from the dress.
  3. We're DIY-fiends. When we see something cool looking, our first thought is always, "how can we make that?" We love a good puzzle.

So, before I reveal the pictures - here's the pattern we're using for the skirt. We are going to redesign the top, since I'm not 100% comfortable with a completely sleeveless look.

Like any pattern, we began by reading the directions. We cut out the pattern pieces, lined them up with the fabric, and used the guides to help us cut the correct pieces.
Finding a place to put the easily-ripped pattern paper was tough though. I don't think Sak hanging up our highly flammable pattern paper to our incandescent chandelier was such a good idea...
Half the skirt laid out.. Funny thing, this pattern. It had an error! One of the pattern pieces was several inches too wide, and several inches too short. Luckily, we could put our engineering degrees to the test, using the curvature of the correct parts of the skirt to figure out which piece had the error, and what it was supposed to look like. But, before I claim victory on this one, I should point out we bought the wrong sized (and recalled) pattern in the first place. I didn't bother to check the measurement sizes when I picked up the envelope. I simply saw the 6-8-10-12 on the package, and assumed it would fit me, since I'm in that range. Unfortunately, patterns are printed in something like 1920's measurements, so a 2009 size 8 is really like a 1920 size 18. But once again, we modified the pattern by adding extra paper, and it worked out just fine! And as a note to future pattern-users, please check online first to make sure there are no existing problems with your chosen design. It will save many headaches!

This is the outer-most layer of the dress, there are two other layers that haven't been tacked together yet. Then, once all three layers are in, we can do the pick-ups that give the skirt its "posh-flair", haha.

Anyone else use a pattern for their dress or other wedding day gear?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Viable Vision

Whenever I get confused and my brain feels like a pin-ball machine on hyperdrive, I turn to old faithful to bring me back in line: the list. There's lists for groceries, chores, things to do at work, restaurants to try, Christmas presents to buy, even topics to blog about.

"Before you go buying things and spending frivolously, did you come up with a theme yet?" Asks Sak, as I peruse a clearance section at Michaels with interest.

"Hmm. I dunno. Get me a pen and a paper, we'll brainstorm a list of ideas!" I answer, now clutching a completely useless but adorably cute pack of pewter charms.

Sak groans audibly. "You don't even know what you're going to do with those, put it down." Ever the practical man, he doesn't believe in buying things without having a firm scope in place for the items use. '50% off of a ten dollar item is still five dollars wasted.' is his mantra.

Since I couldn't rack my brain fast enough to come up with a feasible idea, I put the charms away. We went home and I busted out a list of criteria for our wedding. With this in mind, maybe I wouldn't be like the hungry person that decides to go grocery shopping and ends up buying way more than expected.

Our wedding had to: be accessible to a large quantity of elderly guests, inclusive to about 150 people, non-touristy, not overly feminine, and not boring. But above all it had to be relevant to our lives - things we love and enjoy. What kind of situation would satisfy all of the above?

Sak and I celebrate each anniversary going back to the anime convention where we met. One of our favorite events at the con is something called "Anime Hell". There's really no good way to describe it, other than to say it's a night's worth of random video clips that only happen to have the words "funny" and "anime" in common.

Our wedding, I think, will be something of a play on that idea: random, but still loosely themed together with the topics "fun" and little parts of "us". (Not body parts, of course.)

In a blurb -
An explosion of artistic pop culture infused with stylized shout-outs to our Asian roots, a touch of the tropics and plenty of things to keep the mind occupied. A night-time affair with delicious island food and fragrant, brightly colored flowers. An evening's worth of variety and entertainment taking the place of the traditional drinking and dancing. Video clips, bingo, algorithm marches and more. We'll mix up old and new wedding events to the point that it becomes a logistics nightmare with something for everyone. (Or at least something for everyone to talk about later on!)

Fortunately, our chosen theme is still vague enough for me to continue to browse random sales racks. I'm glad we agreed on something, it's encouraging for me to have that first building block - the foundation of things to come - in the back of my head as I look at venues and decorations with a better sense of purpose and vision.

What about you? Was theme the first thing you decided on in your planning? Or did your theme evolve from the contracts and purchases you acquired?

A Viable Vision: Prologue

Choosing a theme or overall vision for one's wedding is, I think, one of the most important and difficult hurdles in the planning process. How can anything be decided without it? Especially in this sea of ideas and resources known as the Internet. Without direction, one can be kicking and clicking and thrashing around for days, drowning in color swatches, fonts and feathered-sequined-beaded-lace veils. A centralized idea is the backbone of all future decisions. It's why us cubicle-dwelling corporate folk have bosses, and boss' bosses, and boss' boss' bosses. The high point on the totem pole that tells everyone else, "This is where we are going, get me there."

When Sak & I first got engaged, we went to the library and checked out a DVD called "Wedding Planning for Dummies".

Dummies, indeed. One of the first things recommended was to take a moment and think about what we wanted our wedding to be like. I paused the video, and asked Sak what he thought.

You're thinking - Hawaii wedding, right? Beach, palm trees, gorgeous weather?

"No beaches or touristy things whatsoever." Sak stated in his 'I am man and this is my unchangeable law' voice.

Well, okay. I could live with that. I'm a sucker for air conditioning, and it'll keep me from turning into a slippery sweat-monster.

I asked what he wanted in place of beaches.

"I don't know. Whatever. Just no touristy things. And I want final veto power on any crazy ideas you come up with."

Vetoes? What is this, a government operation now? In any case, I agreed, but it still left me with the task of coming up with an overall vibe. I turned to others for help. We'd just need one or two concrete ideas to formulate our type of wedding.

"Like Disney Epcot Center, you could do a variety of different food stations scattered around the reception hall, and seat people in different "Country" tables. Filipino food in one corner, Japanese in another, Chinese in another, etc. etc." - Mom. She is ultimately, like any respectable person in my family, all about the food.

"Build an obstacle course like 'Ninja Warrior' and have all the wedding party wear katanas (swords) and yakuza(mafia) floor length jackets! Then when you exit the ceremony they can line up and make sword arches for you to run under!" - Best friend. As cool as this sounds, I think preventing people from leaving early in this manner might be considered a fire hazard.

"I once went to a wedding where the couple had a mashed potato bar. They put mashed potatoes in martini glasses and had all the toppings: cheese, gravy, chives, etc. We were all full by the time dinner arrived! Or, you could hire those kimchi burrito guys that drive the taco truck around!" - Aunt. Once again, all about the food. Unfortunately, I don't think the taco truck leaves the L.A. area. But kimchi burritos are oh, so very, very good.

Three or four months later, we did decide on a sort-of loose theme, which Sak attached his seal of approval to. But I still enjoy hearing other people's ideas. We'll also have an at-home reception in my hometown of Salinas, California after the wedding, so anything is possible.

How long did it take you to come up with a vision for your wedding? Did you receive interesting theme ideas from others, either solicited or unsolicited?

A Tuba to Remember

A few months into our first year of dating, I proposed to Sak with this:

For the non-electrial-person, it's a zener diode I had turned into a ring while in analog design lab. And much to my continued, pouty-faced annoyment, he refused me.

"There's lead in that thing, dummy. I'm not wearing that."

Fast forward five years later. June 27th, Sak and I drove over to the Foster City shoreline after visiting the King Tut exhibit at the De Young museum in San Francisco. Ancient Egyptian treasure is nice and all, but it was nothing compared to the treasure awaiting me later that night.

Foster City, to us, is a land of dreams. Sure, the whole thing is man-made, built for the illusion of living right on the water, but it's the nicest "fake" I've ever seen. We have spent many evenings walking on the bike path along the bay, looking for feral kitties and enjoying the cool sea breeze.

That particular night, we walked along towards the San Mateo bridge, and saw a family of skunks frolicking in the anise bushes. The cats were running away from them, as any smart cat probably should. We decided to follow their lead, and turned back in order to avoid the possibility of week-long tomato paste bathing.

Next we came upon a tuba player, out practicing in front of the water. He was shortly accompanied by an oboe. Their low-pitched scales singing calmly into the night air. Sak decided to stop once we were out of earshot from the musicians and anyone else on the path, and he sat me down on a bench near the edge of the bay. Planes flying into the San Francisco airport roared overhead, and the faint hum of the power lines mingled with the instrumentalists down the shore. Moonlight illuminated the waters ahead of them as Sak grabbed my hands and knelt down to propose. I said yes before he even had a chance to pull out the ring.

Look, no lead!

Although I was taken completely by surprise, Sak had evidently been worried out of his mind for weeks leading up to it. It's my fault, really. I told him once, years ago, that if I didn't like the way he proposed, I'd refuse him. I think I said this to avoid being embarrassed at a restaurant -or worse- in front of my family members. I'm a pretty shy gal, especially when it comes to expressing my feelings, so public proposals put me on edge. He knew this, of course, which is why our intimate moment was so perfect.

Did you have any proposal fears? Or were you too interested in finally getting "the question" to care how it was done?