Wedding planning and preparation became a very memorable experience for my hubby and I mostly because it was a DIY (Do It Yourself) with help from family and friends. Initally, we were planning to have it at Mira Vista Golf Club up in El Cerrito hills. It has a beautiful deck with a panoramic view of the city and eastbay. When it's foggy, it feels like you're up in the clouds and the trees and landscape is just very dramatic. They quoted us close to $10,000 for about 80 guests, which was okay. However, after the food tasting, we didn't really think that the $45/guest was worth it. We decided that if we're gonna spend that much, we might as well plan a wedding that we really wanted, which includes a church wedding and a nice venue for the reception. The church required at least 6 month notice and to attend seminars and such. It took us a while to find Albany Memorial Building for our venue (~$1200). I fell in love with the ornate wooden beams that are colorfully painted and decorated with big, old lanterns. We originally have our hearts set on a Mission theme and the church and venue pretty much fit what we're looking for as far as ambiance and warmth.One of my bridesmaid's brother-in-law sings for a church choir and his voice will bring tears in your eyes. He sang some tagalog songs for our wedding and everyone finds him amazing. Instead of having our party catered, we decided to order and pick up food from couple of Filipino restaurants and an Indian restaurant and ordered the food we love. We served empanada and turon for hors d'oeuvres and for the main dishes, we have pakora, chicken tikka masala, naan, rice, sisig, and filipino bbq. The Filipino food was a hit and we didn't ordered much but we had a lot of left overs! We hired two servers who also picked up the food and helped with cleaning.
We spent 3-4 hours the day before setting up the venue with unique table arrangements, colorful table covers, various centerpieces (colorful potted plants, origami cranes, candles, petals), colorful chinese and star lanterns on the stage, and with our guestlist/wish bowl with colorful scrapbook cards for the guests to write their messages. I framed the card that we received from the Pres. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, when we send them our wedding invitation, next to our wish bowl. It was funtastic! Everyone helped put things together - from picking up rental supplies to setting up all the decorations and final touch-ups. We were so tired after the preparation but I still managed to get my mani-pedi before the wedding rehearsal and dinner that night.
It was slightly rainy the morning of our wedding. My ex-roommate made my bouquet and bridesmaids' bouquets and I was so glad she was there to help put people in their places and help me with last minute stuff. My bridesmaids were wearing different color dresses (yellow, orange, red, purple) and my orange bridesmaid was running late. Fortunately, they my hubby's cousin, who happens to be wearing an orange dress, and had her march with the rest of the entourage. It always crack me up to see the picture and realize that by the time I marched to the alter, my orange bridesmaid already sneaked in to her post. How funny!
There are a lot of memorable things in our wedding, including our slideshow, our money dance, our first dance (which I choreographed - thanks to YouTube), our multi-flavored Kara's cupcakes tree that everyone adores, and our spontaneous last dance (to the song "At Last") where everyone coached us to dance in the stage. I actually bought a $10 "The Promise" figurine for our cake topper because it's very decorative and something we can always put in our home and remind us of our wonderful wedding. At the end, our photographer (who charged us $600 for 2 discs of photos, including retouched and engagement pictures), took more pictures of us at the playground and back alley, which turned out real well!
Overall, there are so many things I really enjoyed with this experience - all the bridal shows, freebies, and delicious food on sip-and-scan events at bridal registry parties (Macy's, Crate and Barrel, Bloomingdales) we attended, my last minute bachelorette party at the Cafe in Castro, SF, shopping for dresses and customizing a $400 trumpet/mermaid dress I got at David's and Bridal, and putting together all my creative ideas to design my own wedding. I'm very grateful to my very supportive (and understanding hubby) and to all our family and friends who helped materialize my plans and design. I'm also glad that I found wix.com (to put together our wedding page) and weddingwire.com (which has amazing tools and the seat planner was unbelievably super handy!). Other resources we used are: evite.com,Weddingchannel.com, Avon Brides, Michael's, Real Simple.com, Martha Steward, Herecomestheguide.com, local cupcake bakery, Rock-climber cake topper, VistaPrint.com (for save the date postcards and final inviations), Michael's and Joan's for ideas on favors (luggage tags, ornaments, herbal potted plant, bottle stoppers, lanterns).