What Favors Do You Favor?

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I’ve never been a fan of non-edible wedding favors.  I once got a CD of the couple’s favorite songs as a favor and threw it in the trash (Our music tastes were very different). I once got a shot glass with the couple’s name and wedding date on it. It now lies unused in a dark corner of a kitchen cabinet. (I don’t feel like it belongs to me- it has their name on it, not mine.) I’m sure other people enjoy favors like these, I just don’t.

I decided to have a dessert bar at my American wedding because I figure people like to eat dessert and I’ve always enjoyed edible favors.  I also like the freedom of it- people can choose only what they and take it home and I could have all of the leftovers. It’s a win-win deal!

I wish I could have this dessert bar. Image via

I wish I could have this dessert bar. Image via cupcakesandcutlery.com

Or at least that is what  I thought until the day my mother called and said, “ I just don’t think the dessert bar is enough. I think we should have something else we can give the guests, like chopsticks.”  My mind went to the kitchen drawer of her house where the chopsticks I brought back from Japan have mostly laid untouched.  I said I would think about of and get back to her. I can understand her reasoning for wanting an additional favor, but I don’t want to waste money on something that will get thrown away.

So Hive, I want to know. Would you appreciate a pair of chopsticks as a wedding favor? If you could get a wedding favor from Japan what would it be?

Wedding Date Worries

I don’t know if this made the news in other countries, but Kyoto and surrounding areas got hit by a pretty bad typhoon about two weeks ago. Rivers flooded, there were landslides, and quite a few people had to evacuate their homes. Mr. G and I were totally fine, except that we couldn’t use water for a few hours. While I was glued to the news hoping that people who were affected by the typhoon would be alright, I had a very bridal thought running through my mind- “Thank goodness I didn’t get married this weekend.”

Choosing your wedding date is no easy task. There are many things to consider such as weather, sport seasons (I hear some southern brides would never dream of getting married in the fall because of college football season), and religious holidays.  When I first started planning my weddings I thought about having something in September or August so I could use my school’s summer vacation for travel. I discussed this idea with a friend and she reminded me that September was during hurricane season. “You don’t want to get to married during hurricane season do you?” she asked.  I had been living in Japan for so long I had forgotten about hurricane season which is from June to November.

I’m originally from South Florida where hurricanes are not an uncommon occurrence. Big hurricanes don’t happen too often, but since I am coming all the way from Japan I don’t want to take any chances. I started thinking about ways to coordinate both wedding so that we could have the Japanese wedding right before the American wedding and still have good weather at both.  Hurricane season ends November 30th and the weather in Florida is perfectly comfortable in December. Unfortunately, December in Kyoto is quite cold and I didn’t want to get married in the winter.  We decided to take our chances and have our wedding at the tail end of hurricane season in early November, and have our Japanese wedding in mid-October when the weather is nice and the autumn foliage is in full display.

The wedding dates we chose have some pros and cons. The October Japanese wedding date is pretty amazing. Kyoto will be covered in stunning red maple leaves. Unfortunately, many tourist come to see the foliage and Kyoto hotels book years in advance during this time. It was difficult finding hotels for our out- of- town guests.

Kyoto in the fall image via wakpaper.com

Kyoto in the fall is quite beautiful
Image via wakpaper.com

November weather in south Florida is quite nice. There won’t be many mosquitoes and it (hopefully) won’t be too oppressively hot and humid around that time.  On the other hand, we are still technically in hurricane season. I’ve done some research and the chance of a hurricane coming in November is extremely low, but hey, I’m paranoid.

Our wedding dates also affected our honeymoon plans.  I went online to see how to pack for our honeymoon in Italy and was disappointed to see that November is the wettest month.  After seeing this I wanted to push our honeymoon back until May of the next year, but Mr. G is insistent that we go straight after the wedding so it feels more like a “honeymoon.”  I’ve been to Italy before so I will be fine and it gives me an excuse to buy a pair of cute Coach rain boots I’ve been eyeing, but I was worried that the possible rain may affect his first trip to Europe, but he says he won’t mind the rain. A part of me still wishes I had considered our honeymoon when choosing our wedding dates.

What did you consider when choosing your wedding date? Have you had any problems with it?

Digital DIY

When some people hear the phrase DIY their mind usually jumps to items such as paper goods, hot glue guns, and glitter, but when it comes to wedding planning there is another DIY aspect, the digital DIY aspect like slideshows and/ or videos. Both of our weddings will be having some DIY digital entertainment that I hope our guests enjoy. The Japanese wedding won’t have dancing so I feel that some sort of entertainment will be essential, and I think digital entertainment at the American wedding will just add to the festivities.

I don’t know if this is “a thing” in other countries, but a slideshow with pictures of the couple as they grow up is almost a requirement at a Japanese reception. I bought a Japanese wedding magazine and “collecting photos for the slideshow” was the first thing on the checklist.  Our venue offers a service that will produce a professional slideshow using your own photos for about $200 dollars. I gawked at the price and decided I could easily make one for free. I gathered a few photos from my parents and Mr. G’s parents and got to work.

Mr. G and his sister as babies.

Here is a photo we will be using in the slideshow of Mr. G and his sister as kids

 A young photo of me I will be using in the slideshow as well

A young photo of me I will be using in the slideshow as well

I decided that the easiest way to make the slideshow would be to put everything in chronological order. I’m sure professionals probably do it in a more non-linear way that is more exciting, but I wanted to keep it simple since I’m an amateur. I started with baby pictures of us, then moved on to pictures of us growing up, meeting, and then added a few shots of our proposal.  At the end we added a picture of us side by side as two babies. The only reason we ended it this way is because we remembered that the character Lily from How I Met Your Mother mentioned how lame it was, and we knew we had to do it.

Our lame ending photo for the slide show.

Our “lame “ending photo for the slide show.

We chose two songs for the slideshow. It will start with Coldplay’s Viva La Vida which is very moving and emotional and end with Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City’s  It’s Always a Good Time so it can end on an upbeat note.

Our second piece of digital entertainment is a short video about me and Mr. G’s life in Japan for the American wedding. I wanted to make a short video that described our life in Japan because our American wedding will be filled with people I haven’t seen in years and people I’ve never met before. I know an inevitable question I will be asked is “So what is Japan like?” I hate answering this question. It’s hard to sum up an entire country in just a few sentences. Especially a country that is so different from your own. I’m hoping to head our guest off at the pass with this video. It is by no means a professional- grade video, but I’m hoping that it’s low quality will make it cute. Feel free to check out a clip here.

Another piece of digital entertainment we are doing is a Find –The- Differences game for our after- party. As I explained in a previous post, Japanese after-parties are really game-nights.  Mr. G and I decided that a spot- the- differences game would be something fun. We invited Mr. G’s mother over one day and worked out lighting and positioning. Mr. G’s mom took a photo of us sitting down with a few items around us, then we got up switched a few things and sat back down in our original places and took another photo.

Here is photo 1. I'll reveal photo 2 once the after party is over.

Here is photo 1. I’ll reveal photo 2 once the after party is over.

Other digital entertainment will include a video message from my family at our Japanese wedding, and some friends are going to make a few digital shorts for our reception and after party.  All of the videos will be about two to three minutes long. Both my Japanese and American wedding planner warned me against making anything longer than 5 minutes or guests will lose interest. This was fine with me as it means less work for everyone making them.

I’m looking forward to having a bit of digital entertainment at the wedding. All eyes will be on the screen and not on us so we can relax for a moment or two.

Are you doing any digital entertainment at your wedding?

Mishaps, Bungles, and Changes

“Do you want me to pour you a glass of wine?” This was Mr. G’s go- to question whenever I got off the phone and had an “Oh no! The wedding is going to fall apart” look on my face. During this past year I’ve had a few things go wrong during my wedding planning: I lost my American venue, coordinators quit, an MC canceled, and my cake baker went out of business. I had quite a few sleepless nights trying to figure out how to fix all of these messes. At first, I resented all of those sleepless nights because I wanted my wedding planning to be fun and easy, but I’m so glad that things went wrong because every single change or mishap has led to something better. If there is anyone out there who is stressing over a planning mishap, don’t worry. Things can work themselves out for the best.

Image via

Image via troll.me

Losing my American venue was my biggest mishap. I booked our venue 13 months in advance from our planned wedding date in November. Nine months before the wedding I received a phone call saying the owners had decided to move to New York. When I got the news, I didn’t feel rage or anger, I was just numb and in shock. I hung up the phone and sent out a few emails to other venues and tried to sleep, but I’m ashamed to say I cried for a bit. I had this image in my head of what my wedding was going to look like for months and now it was just over.  It was hard to change my vision into something completely different, but in the end, the Hollywood Beach Golf Resort where I will be having the wedding is a much better choice. The owners are good friends with my mother and the venue is much larger than the previous venue. The previous venue was so small that there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to have a DJ and dance. The change in venue meant a more fun, party vibe for our guests. We also have free reign to decorate and have event lightning which the previous venue didn’t offer.

My second major mishap was that our Japanese wedding after- party coordinator suddenly quit and didn’t pass any information along about the party to her replacement.  My friend, Tomomi, who is helping me coordinate the after- party gave the venue a call to go over a few details and they were like “Who is this?” “What after- party?”  Needless to say, Tomomi had a mini freak out. Fortunately, the date was still available, but we had to start the process of going over all of our special requests and programs. The upside to this is that I didn’t like our original after- party coordinator in the first place and now I won’t have to work with her. Mr. G, Tomomi, and I went to meet with her one day and she basically ignored me and only spoke to my Japanese friend. I understand that people may not think I understand Japanese and initially speak to the Japanese person with me, but once it’s established that I can understand most people start talking to me. Our event coordinator did not. She posed all of her questions to Tomomi even though I would answer. For example, 20 minutes into our meeting we had this exchange:

Event Coordinator (looking at Tomomi): How many people do you think you will have at the after party?

Tomomi: I think you should ask the bride.

Me: About 50

Event Coordinator (looking at Tomomi again): When can you give me the final headcount?

Tomomi: …

Me: I can give it to you by October.

Event Coordinator (looking at Tomomi again): Blah, Blah, Blah…..

This went on and on.

Tomomi and I left feeling very dissatisfied, but we liked the venue so we stuck with it. We were upset to hear that she quit, but we are so glad we won’t have to work with her anymore.  Our new coordinator, Ono-san, is amazing and he looks at me when he asks questions!

I’ve had a few other mishaps too. My American cake baker went out of business (with her attitude I’m not surprised.)Fortunately, I was able to find a better cake baker named Jen who is super communicative and makes beautiful cakes.   I am actually looking forward to our wedding cake now!

When you start wedding planning it is easy to get wrapped up in a world where your wedding is the most important thing and any change that doesn’t go with your vision is going to ruin everything. I say take a deep breath and move on. Things can work out for even better than what you expect if you open you yourself up to change.

Has there been any major mishap or change in your wedding planning? How did you handle it? Did it all work out for the best?

Who Is This Weirdo?

Mr. G and I finally had the chance to meet with the florist provided by our Japanese wedding venue last week. We sat down with the florist and he opened up by asking a few questions. “What colors do you like?” “Do you have a particular flower you would like to use?” “Would round arrangements be okay?” Our wedding coordinator jumped in and explained that I wanted to use jars that I had collected for centerpieces rather than a one-pot floral arrangement. I expected the florist’s eyes to light up and we would start talking about how he totally got my vision, but he just looked mystified. It was the same look I got at other venues when I talked about making my own invitations or having a photo booth. It was the “Who is this weirdo?” look.

Japanese weddings are very easy to plan. You book the venue and they take care of everything from invitations to flowers to food. The average time between engagement and wedding in Japan is between two to three months since weddings are so simple to plan. In my experience, it seems that most brides in Japan aren’t interested in planning elaborate DIY or one-of-a -kind weddings that are starting to be more common in other countries.

My Japanese wedding planner is use to all of the DIY ideas and American touches (like escort cards and place cards which seriously took 20 minutes to explain) that I wanted to add to the wedding, but I think my florist was caught off guard by someone who wanted something a bit different. He hadn’t even brought any sort of catalog or portfolio for me to see what he usually prepares. I’m assuming that the brides he works with just leave everything in his hands. We ended up going over a few inspiration photos and I explained what I wanted. I hope I conveyed my vision well because I won’t see the flower arrangements until the day of the wedding. I’m pretty nervous about this, but if the flowers don’t turn out well I won’t be too stressed because I will definitely be getting what I want at my American wedding.  I had an amazing consultation with my American Wedding florist, Vicky Rotunno.  We talked in detail about the perfect flowers to match my vision. I got no “Who is this weirdo?” look from her and she actually said she was excited to do something a bit different from the norm.

Bouquet inspiration from Mrs. Thimble Image via weddingbee.com

I fell in love with Mrs. Thimble’s bouquet and want a variation for my wedding. Image via weddingbee.com

More floral inspiration for the American wedding. Image via Style Me Pretty Photography by Brooke Schultz

More floral inspiration for the American wedding. Image via Style Me Pretty /Photography by Brooke Schultz Photography

A sample of the florals I will be having at the American wedding

A sample of the flowers I will be having at the American wedding.

Have you ever gotten a weird look from a vendor when you requested something a bit different? Did you stick to your guns or did you become nervous about your decision?

No Strippers For Me

Strippers kind of creep me out, but I always wanted to have a booze fueled, penis memorabilia filled, girls-night-out bachelorette party with a surprise appearance of a stripper. Sadly, I will not be having a stripper at my bachelorette party because I won’t be having a bachelorette party at all.  Engagement parties, bridal showers, and bachelor/bachelorette parties are none existent in Japan. We also won’t be in America long enough to have any sort of party besides the wedding so we will be skipping all of the pre- wedding party traditions. I consider myself very lucky to have two weddings, but I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy when I see awesome bachelorette parties or bridal shower pictures from friends.

Fortunately, once friends heard that we weren’t going to have any pre- wedding parties they stepped up to make us feel special. My Australian friend sent me some lingerie since I wasn’t having a bridal shower and my brother gifted us with a sign for our sweetheart table for an engagement gift.   It’s been great receiving attention from others before the wedding and it almost makes up for the lack of parties.

Top: Sweetheart table inspiration Image via stylemepretty.com/ Photography via Kimberly Brooke Photography   Bottom: By my brother

Sweetheart table sign  inspiration Image via stylemepretty.com/ Photography via Kimberly Brooke Photography   

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My brother’s handiwork

Mr. G  and I still wanted to do some sort of alternative to the pre- wedding festivities so we booked a mini- vacation the weekend before the wedding to make up for our lack of bachelor/bachelorette parties.

Our plan will be pretty simple. We will stay at a nice hotel in Osaka and get a steak dinner at Lawry’s Steak House (one of the few American restaurants in Osaka) which Mr. G loves and then go to a piano bar for drinks which I love. Of course eating out at a nice restaurant and having drinks afterward is nowhere near as cool as having an awesome bachelorette party, but it is very “us” and I know we will enjoy it.

Are there any couples out there who are skipping the pre-wedding parties? Are you planning an alternative?

Fitting In With the In- Laws

“You’re not only marrying your fiance, you’re also marrying your fiance’s parents.” My premarital counselor told us this when Mr. G  and I went to premarital counseling a few months ago. He explained that the way your fiance’s parents raised your fiance will affect your relationship. Were they the type of parents who insisted on eating dinner together? Are they the type of parents who constantly hover? All of their parenting decisions affect your partner and sometimes your marriage. This has rung true for me and Mr. G. One of the main fights that Mr. G and I have is about his ease for asking his parents for money. I was raised with the notion that I had to work for whatever I wanted once I turned 18 and hate asking my parents for money while Mr. G  and his parents feel that he should ask his parents for money rather than get a loan from a bank or go into credit card debt. They are both two very valid ways of thinking and I have grown to accept that Mr. G’s family and my family are just different when it comes to things like handling money.

Mr. G and I live about a 5 minute drive away from his parents’ house so we see them quite a bit. Mr. G’s family is very kind, but sometimes I feel awkward around them. I’m naturally nervous around people I don’t know well, but I also feel that there is so much pressure to put on a good impression since I’m the new daughter -in- law and the future mother of their grandchildren. I hate to say it, but even after a year of being engaged I still feel nervous after seeing them and hope I made a good impression.

One of the reasons why I get so nervous is because our families are so different. Of course, there are the cultural differences since my family is American and his is Japanese, but Mr G’s family lived in America for about 25 years and I’m fluent in Japanese and have lived in Japan for about 10 years so we are pretty understanding and accepting of cultural differences. Our families differ more “personality-wise.” My family is big and loud- I’m the middle child of five and my siblings and I are all about a year apart age-wise. Whenever we get together there is constant talking, interrupting, and lots of noise. Compare this to Mr. G’s family who are very quiet for the most part. Mr. G and I once went on a road trip with his parents where no one in the car talked for hours at a time. I couldn’t believe it. I thought about making conversation, but didn’t want to come off as noisy or too chatty.

My awesome, loud, talkative siblings

My awesome, loud, talkative siblings

Mr. G with his awesome, sweet, quiet mom

Mr. G with his awesome, sweet, quiet mom

My family also loves to plan. If we go on a trip we email each other itineraries months in advance and make lists of things to see and do while Mr. G’s family is more laid back and just let what happens happens. Mr. G’s parents will be coming to the States with us for our American wedding and I have been restraining myself from cc-ing them to emails and sending them constant updates.

How do you fit in with your new family that is so different from your own? I have yet to find out. So far I have been treading lightly and trying to respect the way his family works and not impose my beliefs on them, but perhaps I’m losing myself when doing this. Maybe the better way is to talk on road trips because that makes me comfortable or send trip itineraries months in advance so they can get used to how I work in these situations. Or perhaps the best answer lies somewhere in the middle.

How have you fit in with your in-laws or soon to be in-laws? Are your respective families vastly different from each other?