Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In the Beginning: The Hunt

For about a month, Mr. Jessebel and I have been in the market for an SLR. We want to take some pretty pictures on our honeymoon, so our little point-and-shoot just won't do. We've always known that SLRs were expensive but Mr. Jessebel didn't realize just how much until the search. Upon his discovery, I reminded the man his appalled response to the rates garnered during our hunt for a photographer. Silence.

The importance of photography needs no explanation. It has come a long way from the drab that haunts our parents' albums. Today, wedding photography is fresh, vibrant, and modern and comes in a variety of styles that are unique to the person at the helm.

It can also cost a pretty penny.

The source of many wedding Os Jose Villa.


This caused a riff between the Jessebels. The man has always been money-conscientious. He likes having a cushion - a really plush one - just in case. I like to live for the day...to a certain degree. When I first started researching photographers, their rates took me aback. In hindsight, I wouldn't say that $4000 is really high but when you go by the random charts provided by the Knot ($1,200 for a $20,000 wedding) it seems pretty steep.

Mr. Jessebel was appalled by anything over $2500. See our differences.

After doing research, I found it quite difficult to locate anyone who fit the bill for both of us, literally. Mr. Jessebel and I argued about it for about 2 months and it seemed we weren't going to see eye to eye on this topic until randomness, once again, made an appearance. A gorgeous knottie bio, and perusing my local Knot Board lead me to our savior - Sarah K. Chen.

It was very apparent from her bio that not only did she have a good eye but also had impeccable taste. My interest was piqued upon discovering she was a budding photographer, so I check out her website. Before getting my hopes up, I contacted Sarah to find out her rates. I was very pleased to discover that they were doable. The other hurdle, besides making sure we were compatible and viewing her portfolio, was hoping that the man was sold. Luckily, he was. We booked her...the first and only photographer we met and locked in her rate at the time. This all took place in December 2007 for our wedding in May 2009. Yes, we were really early but I knew she had some major talent bubbling so it was only a matter of time before her popularity skyrocketed. I'm proud to say I was so not wrong.

I'm gonna go there [sic] and say that with the exception of venue and food, photography is about the only item in the wedding budget whose high price tag makes sense. Yeah, I said it. Why? Because of the equipment. The camera, lenses (which can cost more than the former), the computer actions - it all adds up. Talent is just one (although a major) part. Another thing about lenses, the results from different types is vast, think about it. Those different effects in those pictures adds up. Our own photographer revealed in our first meeting that she had to sell her wedding dress in order to get into the business. Crazy, but the results more than made-up for it.

Last 4 images all courtesy of Sarah K. Chen.

Believe it or not, Mr. Jessebel was not all that happy about spending $2500 but now his tune has changed.

Gotta love a man who can admit when he's wrong...or at least allude to it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brain Cramp: Wedding Style

Picking the colors and style of the wedding can be kind of daunting not just because an array of choices, but the presence of limitations. I wanted something romantic and organic but not overtly girly. Mr. Jessebel doesn't necessarily care about the minute details of the wedding, however, he didn't want me to get crazy with things that he views as too feminine (read: pink here, there, and everywhere). Lucky for him, that's not how I roll. There is nothing sadder that seeing a wedding that clearly was one-sided in style. Between that request, the volume of prettiness available on the net (The Cherry Blossom Girl is my daily addiction), and the venue (that pesky thing) it's been kind of difficult to pin down the style. Afterall, you only get married once...

This oldie but goodie from Snippet and Ink helped me narrow the down the look and feel that we are going for - to a certain extant. I am prone to fickleness, 'ya know.

1. What season is it?
-Late Spring, early summer in May

2. What is the mood of the event? Is it formal, casual, or something in between? Is it grand or intimate? Sophisticated? Playful?
-Casually formal. Intimate. Whimsical sophistication. (Not going to lie about that last one, I'm simultaneously rolling my eyes and laughing at myself right now. All I need is the blue book.)

3. What is the location? Inside or out-of-doors? How can I play up regional/local elements? Does the architecture/scenery inspire me?
-Country Club located in the clean, crisp air of a fertile region. Ceremony is outdoors - open, clean. *Rewind* Chances are high that the ceremony will be moved to a church. Reception indoors - romantic but imposing in some areas. Will attempt to bring the outdoors inside but also bring some familiarity to the venue.

4. What single element can tie everything together? Is it a theme? A certain flower or fruit?
-Color Palette: Main color - Bluish Grey, accents - pinks and purples in floral, brown in branches and possibly centerpiece vessels.
Theme: Wedding. Tee hee.

5. How can I stretch this idea? What is unexpected but fits perfectly with all the other aspects?
-branches, candles, glass, updated family traditions, blah, blah.

My answers may not sound like I'm very engaged but the questions really helped in narrowing down what to focus on, or, really what to ignore.

Snippet and Ink is ubiquitous for it's inspiration boards. The boards are gorgeous and can be extremely helpful when trying to figure out the style or tone of the wedding. Watch out though, looking at too many boards can easily confuse the indecisive bride so tread lightly. Sadly, I am a lazy bride who is not really interested in creating her own board so a list of my favorites will just have to do.

Board #295: Delicious pops of color.

Board #258: Love the unexpected warmth.

Board #333: I adore this board but me thinks the man would not approve.
All inspiration boards created by Snippet & Ink; original sources available respective links

Le sigh.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Do to the explosive headache that I woke-up to this morning, I stayed home from work. Thank goodness for DVR.

Because I'm a nerd, I read the transcript of Obama's speech before watching it. Both the speech and his oratory were excellent.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.
- Read: Get over the 60s, boomers.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.
- Word.

But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control.
- Sorry Milton.

The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.
- A breath of fresh air.

The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
- Well, he did teach at the University of Chicago School of Law and this quote is a fine example of the pragmatism that Obama is sure to deliver.

The grandeur of the inauguration, Obama's speech, the hopeful looks of millions of people has all cultivated this desire in me to do more. At 26, I'm embarrassed to say that I was already disenchanted with this life, this country, and our leadership but now the same feelings and curiosity that compelled me as a teenager is making its way back. It's refreshing. I believe in Obama. His presidency and sensible family will not only bring a new vision but also mark the return of stability to this country. I'm not saying that Obama holds the magic answer, nor will it be easy but for the first time in a long time, Mondays don't look so bad.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Just one more day.

This brought chills...not the good ones.

I think Mary J. Blige butchered Lean on Me but at least she looked good doing it.

I knew U2 would perform In the Name of Love. Call it a hunch.

Sasha is absolutely, positively adorable. Malia is like, "Whatever."

I wonder if Garth Brooks lost any fans by performing at the celebration.
Who am I kidding? Yeah.

This was actually my favorite performance. I had no idea that Bon Jovi could actually sing.

Sasha has had it, Malia is still interested but their cousin has been passed out for a while now. Michelle looks fierce.


The History nerd in me is squealing in excitement. That's what I use my degree for, d'uh.

Where will I be tomorrow when Obama is sworn in? Same place right now - at work. Yeah. I guess beggars can't be choosers.

Image sources: NPR and NY Times

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Planning Rewind: Photography Blogs

If there is one single piece of advice that I could give the newly-engaged set it would be to stalk photography blogs. Read them not just for the obvious reason: when you're in the market for a photographer, but for the unexpected: your overall planning.

Photography blogs are one of the the few sources to a find a real wedding in your area captured in flawless photos. The weddings featured in most magazines is usually an event that showcases one-of-kind (subjective) details that hasn't been seen before...and often using higher-end budgets. Preston Bailey takes my breath away but only a select few can afford him. Photography blogs, instead, focus on the couple, the venue, the flowers, the rentals - all of which tend be local to your area. While there are bridal magazines that cater to your respective local area, new publications are issued quarterly (or sometimes the new covers are issued quarterly *wink*) whereas photography blogs are updated weekly with their latest work of almost all of their clients. I don't know about you but I get antsy for my Martha Stewart Weddings mag.

Finding a venue is tough especially if your only available source for how it looks for wedding is the fairly outdated material sent to you by the catering manager. With a photographer's blog you get a glimpse of how a prospective venue looks for a wedding, sometimes, in different types.

Rancho Las Lomas - Indoor Reception

Courtesy of Jasmine Star

Same space, different use

Courtesy of Leigh Miller

Outdoor reception, same venue

Courtesy of Leigh Miller

It can be especially helpful for those who are in the market for an unique venue that is not often advertised or not very well known.

Also, I have found that photography blogs can provide a good example of a how a wedding gown looks on a real person, you know not a model. Naturally, finding your wedding gown would be a bit hard considering there many designers and styles out there, but if you aren't quite sure about a silhouette a blog will be your best bet to see how a bride of a similar body type carries the gown.

Sometimes blog stalking reaps big rewards for those whose heart grows fonder.

Courtesy of Our Labor of Love

Yes, I googled my dress before buying it.

Seeing my gown on a bride who's shape is closer my own really put the mind at ease.

Courtesy of MSD Photography

Not sure where to begin your list? Project Wedding is always a good start. Snippet and Ink also has list of photography blogs. Oh yeah, as do I. Later I will have a full list of blogs that I have or currently follow.

Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dress Shopping Tips

I will admit I was bit worried about dress shopping but going in prepared made my experience significantly easier. Reviews helped but not in usual "Wow, this store made me feel like a princess!" nonsense. How then? By taking into account what women did wrong. Sometimes the reviews are warranted while others scream, "They didn't let me have my way! Hmph." There are times when the salon is completely out of line or not up to par but if one goes in prepared then the trip won't suck...as much. So are some things I learned:

1. "The one" is a myth. Sorry, it is.

2. Set your budget. NFT.

3. Start the dress search after booking your venue. You really don't want to look out of place at your own wedding, do you?

3. Find out what stores are in your area. It makes the next step easier.

4. Research the designers the store(s) carries. Besides saving you time during the visit by knowing what to look for, it also saves you heartache by knowing the price range the salon carries. Sorry, but every time I read a review that complained about how pricey the salon was, I would roll my eyes. Tough cookies. If they had of done their research, it would have been avoided.

5. Bring pictures. So you expect a complete stranger to know what you like or what you're talking about in your limited bridal gibberish? Added bonus: maybe the salon doesn't carry the gown you like but they carry something similar that may be better looking or even cheaper. You never know.

6. Bring your own strapless bra. It's the difference between looking like a Mary or a Jezebel. Besides being functional (containing the girls) it completely alters the look of an outfit in a good, regal way. So next time bring it.

7. Wear Spanx. It's not really needed for ballgowns but can provide an added coverage for the bashful set. Remember, the consultants will be seeing you naked.

8. Only bring people who's opinion matters to you but don't be like Beyonce and bring an entourage. I will admit that while I did bring people whose opinions matter to me, I still purchased a dress that only one person liked. Didn't bother me one bit.

9. Shop around for a better price. For example: My gown at Gabrielle's was $3990. Since she price matches, I proceeded to call a variety salons that carried Melissa Sweet that I was willing to travel to. The highest quote I received: $4180 from now defunct Santa Barbara Bridal , the lowest: $3800 from The Wedding Day in Fountain Valley which Gabrielle matched. Some salons would not give me the price over the phone which was fine (I just won't shop there) while others were bit more savvy and quickly pounced on the idea of price matching 'cause in the end it's a sale. Ultimately, the quote I ended up getting was $3600 from Alexandra Bridal whose original price was $3945. Never limit yourself to just one salon.

10. No advice here. Just my gown. Melissa Sweet Dora:


Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Confessions of a Bored Bride

1. I have absolutely no desire to see Bride Wars.

2. I've been on a 3+ month hiatus from planning the wedding - by choice. I'm slowly making my way back.

3. My excitement for the honeymoon far exceeds the wedding.

4. I once cheated on my wedding gown with this Jezebel.

I even went as far as to call bridal salons to find out how much she cost. Not worth it.

5. I still check out other gowns because after the wedding I will have no business doing so.

6. I constantly change my mind when it comes to floral. So. many. choices. I want them all.

7. I kind of, sort of don't like the bridesmaids dresses. More on that later.

8. My biggest fear is that no one will dance at the wedding. I know my family, Mr. Jessebel's family, and our friends. They like to drink and mingle, but dance? Nope.

9. Do we have to dance in front of everyone?

10. I'm not inviting any co-workers to the wedding...and I don't feel bad about it. The wedding doesn't need anymore awkwardness.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Said and Done: The Venue

The search for a venue was difficult but, in the end, alcohol really does soothe the pain.

I'm not sure if you noticed but searching for a venue was not a favorite task of mine. The search would have been simple if there was a garden chock full of cherry blossom trees with an available date in late April, but alas, there is no such thing in Southern California and if there was, it would probably be too far. (Yes, I remember but in my fantasies my skin is also perfect.) Instead, we started to gear our search towards the proximity of the home of Mr. Jessebel's Nana in Ventura County. You see, she is a fickle woman who rarely attends family events in the San Gabriel Valley yet manages to make a visit every year for her birthday. When you get to be her age, you can do whatever the heck you want! Chances are high that she will not attend our wedding because she would be setting a precedent (plus some folks get a bit miffed considering she snubbed them) but we still made it a point cause we love her.

Oh yeah, the venue.

A random Google search lead me to it...so random that the search terms used escapes me. I contacted the venue to find out their rates when luck striked - they were holding an event where local vendors showcased their talents - meaning we get to see what the venue looks like for a wedding. The rates, by the way, in October 2007, the food and beverage minimum was $15,000 for a Saturday night wedding and $8,000 for Friday or Sunday nights. I have to admit, we weren't really interested in country clubs but what reeled me were it's chandeliers. Sometimes I roll like the Gabors. What drew Mr. Jessebel was - well - nothing yet. However, as we drove up to Spanish Hills Country Club, we noticed not only how simple the directions were but also the seclusion the venue offered and easy parking.

We made our way to the ballroom when...my mind has gone blank. Do you really think that I would remember all of those details? That's why we took pictures. There are some things we failed to get pictures of (like the beautiful dark wood door) but whatever. Oh, and don't laugh at the quality of the pictures. If you want professional shots of the venue check here, here, and here - I have issues.

A mock-up ceremony.


The view...if you get really close to the edge.


The money shot.

We made an appointment to meet with one of the coordinators that we spoke to during the event. Hallie was incredibly nice especially considering we were late for our meeting. As I mention earlier, Mr. Jessebel was not feeling it. He even kind of grilled Hallie about pricing and different scenarios to which she held her own. Then Mr. Jessebel came across these mortal words in the mid-range package: five-hour hosted premium bar. Yes, those 5 little words made all the difference because if there is anything college taught us it's that getting a buzz cost mucho money. Our families are polar opposites: His - outgoing but judgemental, mine - reserved and judgemental. Free Alcohol + Awkward family event = better time. Seriously.

Were the secret sauce will be served.

As soon as we could, the venue was booked. We chose Sunday not just because of the money (who am I kidding, that is the main reason) but also our wedding will be the only event held for that day. Spanish Hills holds 2 events on Saturday - um, pass.

It was such a relief to get that done and out of the way. It's true. Once the venue is picked everything else just falls into place.