Semi-Bridesmaids Gifts

I am not having bridesmaids at my Japanese or American weddings. In Japan, there is no such things as bridesmaids and  I don’t have anyone that I am that close to in Florida. I do, however, have 5 women who are helping me a lot with the Japanese wedding and I wanted to get them a few “semi-bridesmaid” gifts.

I just want to say that I am horrible at gift giving. If I could just give everyone money I would be very happy, but that is considered rude so I had to really put my thinking cap on for this.

I don't know about you, but I would be happy with any of these gifts.

I don’t know about you, but I would be happy with any of these gifts.

Images: Top Left- Money Umbrella- Image via theseasonalhome.com Top Right- Money Tree- Image via thenshemade.com Bottom Left- Balloons filled with money-Image via choosecraftiness.blogspot.com

Unfortunately, my thinking cap did not work, so  I called my sister and she helped me out.  My sister is an amazing gift giver and party planner so I knew she would be helpful.

First, we looked for something fun to put the gifts into. I had a 50% coupon for Vistaprint and we decided to buy all of my semi-bridesmaids personalized tote bags with their names on them. Grocery stores in my region of Japan  no longer give out free plastic bags so I am hoping they will be able to use them as eco-friendly shopping bags. I went through the designs Vistaprint offered, found a design that matched their personality, and added their names.

My bags for my girls

My bags for my girls. Pardon the white boxes- had to cover up some personal info

After that my sister suggested we get them something to wear so we went to oldnavy.com and got very cute pairs of pj pants for all of them. My sister then suggested that I buy two more small things for each of of the girls and left me on my own.

I am now in gift giving limbo. I want to get the ladies something that they can actually use and that is under $20, but that turns out to be pretty difficult. Right now I am currently debating make- up pouches, Godiva Chocolates, and L’occitane bath soap. I have also been all over Pinterest and Etsy looking for good bridesmaids gifts.

I wish my girls liked to cook!

I wish my girls liked to cook!   Image via knivescookslove.com / Photography by Andrews McMeel

Or tea lovers- a beautiful tea wreath. Image via kojo-designs.com/

Or tea lovers- a beautiful tea wreath. Image via kojo-designs.com/

 

I thought personalized beach towels would be nice, but none of them are really beach goers.

photo from etsy.com

Image via Etsy Shop: Occasions Embroidery

Once I do settle on gifts for them, I will mail it to them all on the day of wedding so they won’t have to carry it around all night. It is another additional cost, but I think they will be grateful for the convenience and who doesn’t like getting things in the mail?!

Where did you find your bridesmaid gift inspiration? Do you have any gift ideas for me?

Learning to Let Go of “My” Money

I once went shopping with my older cousin when I was about 16 years old. After we finished shopping we headed back to her house. I started to gather my shopping bags and head to the door and I was surprised to see my cousin gather her shopping, but instead of heading to the door she walked to the back of the car and stuck the bags in the trunk. When I asked her why she did that, she told me that her husband would get upset if she found out she went shopping so she would hide the bags into her trunk and sneak them in when her husband wasn’t home.  “This is what married life is like,” I thought.   In that instant, I decided that I would never let anyone tell me what I could do with my money.

After Mr. Gondola and I became engaged we settled down to talk about how we were going to do our finances as a married couple. Mr. G’s family is Japanese and his father, like many people his age,  hands his paycheck over to his wife (who doesn’t work) and she controls all of the finances. I come from a  family where the incomes are combined. I wanted something different from both of these styles and I suggested that Mr. G and I keep our finances separate and split everything down the middle. Mr. G said he was fine with that and that had been our plan–until we went to premarital counseling.

During our talk with our counselor the subject of finances came up and our  counselor brought up a very good point: “What will you do when you stop working to have kid?” The thought had never crossed my mind and I was a bit dumbfounded.  I, unfortunately, work for a company that does not provide maternity leave. Our only source of income will be Mr. G’s paycheck, which means splitting things down the middle during that time will be impossible.

During our talk and even now, it is still difficult to wrap my head around the fact that I will have to depend on someone for money, and that I will have to discuss any big purchase as it will no longer be my money, but our money.  Mr. G is fine with sharing his paycheck down the middle as he has grown up in a house that does that. In addition, like his parents, I will budget and handle the finances as I am better with money and actually like to make budgets.

There is one thing that I am afraid. All my life, I have been afraid of my husband being the one who is critical of the purchases I make with our money, but I also realized that I could be just as critical as well.  I am going to have to learn to let go of my 50/50 mind set and learn to open myself to the “what’s mine is yours” mind set.

My smile may be sweet but I am kind of a control freak!

My smile may be sweet but I am kind of a control freak!

Anyone else out there worried about sharing finances? How do you open yourself up to sharing everything?

The Great Chair Battle

I’ve talked about fighting with your fiance during wedding, but there is another person who you can just as easily fight with – your mother.

Gasp! Is there something my mother and I could fight about?! Picture: My mom and me

Gasp! Is there something my mother and I could fight about?!

There are many things a mother and a bride could fight about- budget, the dress, or your mother just taking over in general. I have been lucky as my mom is a wonderful woman who is in no way a “momzilla” and lets me be me. She was never dead set against a wedding dress and happily agrees with most of my ideas. There is, however, one thing that my mother and I did not see eye to eye on. One thing that lead to a huge fight in front of our venue coordinator.  Mean words were spoken, eyes were rolled, and insults were hurled.

What was this fight about you ask? The budget? The guest list?
No, it was about the number of chairs at cocktail hour. Yes, we had a fight about chairs.

She wanted none and I wanted enough for everyone. My mom thinks that cocktail hour is for socializing and people will want to walk around. I think that people, especially women in heels, would like to sit. We fought for a couple of minutes until our venue coordinator  cleverly suggested we get half the number of chairs of the guests we invited. We both compromised and decided on this. Afterwards we made up, but I could not believe that out of all the things we could fight about it would be something as trivial as chairs. What is it about weddings that brings out the crazy in us?

After much thought I believe it is this: You want people who come to your wedding to leave feeling a certain way. My mother wants people to leave the wedding feeling that they had a fun time.  Her idea of fun is mingling with people (mingling with people is my idea of hell on earth). I want people to leave my wedding feeling as if they have been taken care of and were comfortable the whole time thanks to me, the gracious hostess . Neither of these ideas are wrong, we just have very different visions and though we have very different visions most of the time they still match up.  Having your guests feel like they are being taken care of and having your guests have a fun time are not that different when you get down to the core of what your goals are.

If you want to avoid fighting with your mother or with whomever you are planning your wedding, have a discussion about what you want your guests to feel like after the wedding. This may be a real eye opener into what your priorities you both have.

My american wedding is just a few months months away, and I am sincerely hoping that there will be no more fights.

Is there anyone out there who had fight with your mother? Was it something as trivial as chairs?

Cake Tasting Disaster

As you may already know, I love reading wedding blogs especially weddingbee! I love reading about all of the events that lead up to the wedding – choosing your menu, tirelessly searching for  the perfect shoes, or the absolute fun you have when trying out different wedding cake flavors.

So far I have had fun with the wedding menu and  shoes, but unfortunately I had a pretty bad experience with my wedding cake.

I must admit that I am partially to blame for why the cake tasting (or lack of) went so badly. I never really wanted to have a wedding cake. Spending $1000 dollars on a cake never seemed to make much sense to me, however Mr. G really wanted one and actually looked on the internet for a few with me.

photo from meandyoulookbook.com

Our wedding cake inspiration       Image and Photography via thepastrystudio.com

Photo from stylemepretty.com

More wedding cake inspiration     Image via stylemepretty.com/ Photography by Marta Locklear

 

I scheduled an appointment during our spring break vacation in the states at a baker that was recommended by my mother and  very close to her house. Well, I should say that I tried to make an appointment. The person on the phone said I could drop by anytime to choose a cake. I thought this was strange but shrugged it off.  The next day we went to the bakery and found it inexplicably closed. We went during normal open hours but no one was there (this was the first red flag).  The next time we went they were open (yay!). We walked in and were greeted by a very grumpy woman who turned out to be owner. We told her that we called earlier and that we wanted to look at wedding cakes. She handed us a portfolio book with a huff and told us to sit down at the table. We flipped through the book and found a cake we both liked.  We went back to the counter and told the woman what we wanted. She asked us a series of questions – “How big?” ” How many tiers?”  while simultaneously rolling her eyes as we tried to figure it out. When we got to the flavors I perked up thinking we were going to finally sample some cake, but she just began to list flavors. We both paused for a bit and she let out a giant sigh. I was ready to leave the store right then, but it was our last day in the states and this place was our last resort. We decided on the cake flavor, paid our deposit, and left.

I felt pretty horrible afterwards. Mr. G had been really looking forward to having a cake  tasting and due to my disinterest we had a pretty lame time of getting our wedding cake. I learned a couple of rough lessons that day.

Lesson 1: If something is not important to you, but important to your SO, give it the same amount of attention. I am sure that had I been interested in a wedding cake we would have gone to at least three different bakeries and brought my whole family along.

Lesson 2: Call and see if the bakery offers cake tastings, don’t just assume they do.

Lesson 3. Be sure to setup an appointment and avoid places that don’t. While we were answering her questions at the counter the owner of the store was also helping customers. It was awful.

Lesson 4: Don’t wait until the last minute to choose a cake vendor.

I am sad to say that the only silver lining in this story is that my wedding cake is cheap -$97.  I am currently thinking of ways to give Mr. G a cake tasting since he couldn’t have one in March. I may bake a bunch of mini-cakes for him here at our home and he can choose a flavor for his birthday cake, or I may take him to a bakery and order a bunch of different cakes we can each take a few bites of. Either way, I really want to make up for this bad cake tasting.

Did you have any wedding planning event that did not go to plan? Any ideas on how I can make it up to Mr. G?

Getting Your Life Back

Wedding planning is time consuming and sometimes, if you choose it to be so,  life-consuming.  It is no surprise that women get post wedding depression after they are married. Heck, I actually got it after my sister was married. Every night my mom, sister, and I would talk about and go over the details of my sister’s wedding for three months. When my sister went on her honeymoon I felt as if there was a big hole in my evenings. The time usually set aside for wedding planning was now sadly free and I had nothing to do.

In May of 2012 Masa told me “I’m going to propose to you by the end of this year.” After that, I was constantly online looking for wedding inspiration. I have a three hour round trip commute and most of that commute was spent on Style Me Pretty, Offbeat Bride, and Emmaline Bride.

After we got engaged in August if 2012 (I seriously expected a December 31st engagement), I added a few more websites to my commute list such as Once Wed. I also started going on Pinterest and pinning dozens of images on my newly created wedding boards.

Screen shot of one of my Pinterest boards

Screen shot of one of my wedding Pinterest boards

That time in planning was immensely fun and time consuming, but time consuming in the good way where time goes by so quickly as  you are having so much fun. The possibilities were endless for my weddings and it was so much fun to look! I then started to get worried about post-wedding depression. What was I going to do when all of the fun of wedding planning was over? I went online to see if there was anything I could do to curb the post- wedding depression. The best advice I read was to not look at the wedding as an ending but as a beginning of a new life with you and your significant other.

As time passed, more aspects of the wedding became confirmed and rather than looking for inspiration, I started actually working on those projects. This was also fun and time consuming in a good way. More time passed and suddenly 6 months before the wedding all of the wedding website surfing and wedding project making became stressful and time consuming in the bad way.

You are so right Ryan Gosling, but I am just so tired.

You are so right Ryan Gosling, but I am just so tired.

Once I got the big things out of the way- the invitation design, purchasing major gifts, and hammering out other major details l- I found myself in another phase: the getting my life back phase. Since May of 2012 to May of 2013 my life had been consumed by the wedding, but slowly and surely things have begun to change. On my commute I no longer look at wedding websites- I watch episodes of Scandal and Fringe on my iPhone.  Instead of working on wedding projects on the weekends I do fun stuff with my girlfriends like horseback riding.

DSCF1269

The biggest difference has been my Pinterest page. Before it was filled with wedding pins, but now most of my pins are home or craft related. I am looking forward to all of the sewing projects, crafts, and home decorations that I can start after the wedding.

A screenshot of my most recent pins

A screenshot of my most recent pins

I have been very worried that I will have post bridal depression, but as I slowly start to get my life back I am feeling more confident that it may not happen to me. I see the wedding as the beginning to a new life and I am looking forward to reading more,  not saving money for the wedding, and planning for our future family.

Anyone else going through a “getting your life back phase?” Anyone worried about post bridal depression?

Summer Reading: Wedding Edition

I love books. I read them while I am on the train and I listen to them while I clean the house. My love of books started at a young age. I would beg my parents to let me read at the dinner table during dinner time, and the only time I ever got detention was when I was in the 5th grade and I got in trouble for reading a Baby-Sitters Club book during math class.

Once I became engaged I immersed myself in all things wedding. I listened to wedding podcasts such as Say Yes to the Dress: Monte’s Take on my iPod, I read wedding magazines like Martha Stewart Weddings (I feel that all other magazines are just pages and pages of advertisements. Martha Stewart actually has useful ideas), and of course I watched tons of wedding shows such as Four Weddings, and My Fair Wedding with David Tutera (I love David Tutera, he is the Oprah of wedding planning).

Surprisingly, immersing myself in TV shows and podcasts was not enough. I wanted more and decided that books about weddings were the way to go. I went online, and at first I could only find non-fiction books on wedding planning, but after a while I was able to find quite a few good fiction books that I wanted to recommend them to you. Now these books are not any great literary works like War and Peace, but I think they are perfect for summer reading.

One- There’s Cake in My Future by Kim Gruenenfelder

photo from Amazon.com

photo from Amazon.com

This book does not have too much to do with wedding planning, but I had lots of fun reading it. I also loved learning about the wedding cake pull tradition.

2. The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts

b1 b2 b3 b4

All photos from Amazon.com

This is a series of four books about four friends who run a wedding planning business. I am currently on book three and I am loving every minute of it! It has romance and wedding planning. I could not think of a better mix! Reading book four will be bittersweet as I won’t be able to read any new books about these four wonderful characters that I have really learned to enjoy.

 

I am still on the look out for more wedding books. I saw that Sophie Kinsella, writer of the Shopaholic series, has a new book titled The Wedding Night. I can’t wait to dive into that!

 

Have you found any good fiction books on weddings or wedding planning?

DIY Dessert Banner

Mr. G and I are couple of geeks -we both watch anime, read manga, and have in depth conversations about anything from X-Men to Sailor Moon. I wanted to incorporate a bit of that geekiness in to our wedding and I had two ideas:
1. Make a cake topper with my two favorite Archie Comic Characters -Betty and Jughead.
2. Incorporate Mr.G ‘s favorite anime character Justaway.

Justaway from the series Gintama Photo from fanpop.com

Justaway from the series Gintama Image via nicovideo.jp

I originally thought I could use my favorite characters as a cake topper.

My DIY cake topper inspiration from the perfectpalette.com

My DIY cake topper inspiration Image via thepaperpony.net  Photography by Raya Carlisle

My plan was to make the silver cake toppers and just glue a picture of Jughead and Betty on the tallest hearts.

As for Justaway, I thought that I could make a Justaway card box by using lots of Styrofoam and spray paint. I soon found out that making a cylindrical card box would be way above my DIY skills. I scraped the card box idea and spent few weeks thinking of a way I could still incorporate Justaway. In the meantime, I discovered that the people who made our custom couple illustration also made cute cake toppers.

I just had to get these! Photo from Etsy.com

I just had to get these! Image via Etsy Shop Love Birds Goods

I figured that I would not only have to scrap Justaway, but also Betty and Jughead.
But wait! An awesome idea struck me when Mr. G and I started talking about our dessert bar- I could make a dessert banner incorporating Jughead, Betty, and Justaway.

IMG_1435

My completed dessert bar banner

This DIY was pretty simple and only took a few hours.
First I started with the hearts. I went to a Japanese dollar store and picked up a bag of assorted foam hearts and silver sticker paper. I cut out squares of sticker paper that would be big enough to cover the entire heart. I then stuck the sticker on the heart and cut any execess paper of with scissors and an exacto knife. When I finished I taped a picture of Betty and Jughead. I later put the hearts on bamboo skewers.

IMG_1388 IMG_1389

I then layered squares of Styrofoam in the jars until it was 4/5 full. The Styrofoam I used was from packing material and I literally broke off chunks that were big enough to put in the vase.

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I set the Styrofoam aside and turned those clear jars into glitter jars.

I then started on the banner. I Googled “banner template,” downloaded one that fit my sizing needs, and spelled out desserts. I put Justaway at the bottom of each letter. I then printed them out on card stock and used my hole puncher to punch two holes at the top. I found some twine that I had lying around and strung it through the letters. I started with D and strung all the letters on before cutting the string so I would be sure to have string leftover on both sides.

Lacing the banner letters

Lacing the banner letters

Phew, almost finished. I then started thinking about ways I could anchor the banner to Betty and Jughead’s hearts. I decide to hot glue the top of a loop of string on each heart. This way I could tie and untie the end of the banner string easily which would make it easier to transport.

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After that, it was time to put everything all together. I put the Styrofoam into my newly made glitter jars, added white raffia paper on top, and stuck in the hearts.

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I then tied the banner on to the loops behind the largest hearts and I was done!

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This project was easy but it had lots of steps. I was pretty proud of myself once it was finished. Of course, this is not the classiest dessert banner, but it has me and Mr. G written all over it. Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure my mother will hate it. Who cares? If there is going to be any whimsy at a wedding it should be at a dessert bar right?!

How did you incorporate yourself into your wedding?