This is me, my husband Bill and our son Thomas.
I have always been a graphic artist, but my recent escape from the confines of a 9-5 job is giving me the freedom to expand my freelance business. Please visit my blog and my Etsy shop to see my offerings and recent work. I love working on a variety of projects; company logos, paper goods for weddings, parties and showers, wine labels, packaging design, traditional illustration and I even dabble in photo editing and restoration.
Now on to the details of our wedding...
We were married on October 6, 2007 after dating for nearly 10 years.
We planned a wedding for 160 people in Walnut Creek, CA. Since, DH is Chinese and I'm white, we incorporated a lot of Chinese traditions as well and American traditions.
We met, technically, when we were both soccer referees for our local soccer club. We became great friends as we began traveling to referee high level youth games and semi-pro adult games. I say "technically" because we went to the same high school two years apart and I knew who he was. He didn't know me specifically, but he knew my family through the soccer club. His translation is that I was stalking him. So not true.
We've been dating since 1998 and got engaged officially while on a mini-vacation in Las Vegas. He proposed by slipping the ring on my finger while I was still asleep. I woke up and, though it took me a minute to figure out what was going on, he
popped the question. It was a proposal perfectly suited to us and very personal. I'm so lucky to have such a great guy.
DH and I are both Bay Area born and raised, but we currently live in the Long Beach area; we moved a few years ago for DH's work, bought a house and are learning about all of the frusrations that come with home ownership. I'm a graphic artist and illustrator and DH is an IT Manager for a major airline. Both of our families still live in the East Bay and we try to visit a couple weekends every month.
some tidbits about me:
- i am the oldest of four kids
- i grew up down the street from DH and vaguely knew who he was in jr high & high school
- i hate eggplant and broccoli
- my last meal would be Mom's meatloaf with mashed potatoes & corn on the cob
- i love watching What Not to Wear
- i'm good at sleeping with earplugs
- i taught DH how to relax around kids
- i am not easily embarassed, I can laugh at myself pretty well
- i still aspire to go back to work as a camp counselor one day, even if it's as a volunteer
some tidbits about him:
- he is an only child
- he grew up down the street from me, but didn't know who I was until high school
- he hates orange creamsicles
- his last meal would be sticky rice with diced mushrooms & pork
- he loves watching Cops
- he snores
- he taught me how to be more decisive
- he is warm and goes out of his way to help others, and doesn't like getting recognized for it
- he still aspires to work in law enforcement one day, even if it's as a volunteer
Origin of my screen name:
The ceremony will be at Shadelands Ranch Museum in Walnut Creek, CA.
These photos were takin in winter, the trees will have leaves on them in the summer... hopefully ;-)
Everything is much prettier when there are leaves on the trees.
After the ceremony we'll have a small reception with dim sum and beverages. We'll take photos while the guests mingle and we'll take a large group photo. FI and I are looking to have some Chinese lion dancers perform as a surprise. And we'll have the tea ceremony in this time too.
The banquet reception will be at Tin's Tea House Lounge in Walnut Creek. We're having a traditional ten-course Chinese banquet. We will actually have our tables look like this. Red tablecloths, ivory napkins, ivory plates with bright yellow chargers. I like how colorful it looks, but still sophisticated.
$250 on sale from JCrew.com. It's incredibly comfortable and exactly the kind of gown I wanted. Simple, elegant and a little sexy.
My shoes. $64 from Nordstrom. I wasn't thrilled with most of the flats I found... and to be honest, I'm not thrilled with these. I dislike that they're patent leather and they make my size 10 feet look pretty darned long. But they're the most comfortable flats I had tried on. Being 5'9", I have to wear flats because I can't make my gown any longer. It totally sucks some of the really adorable flats I've seen since after my wedding.
I'll have my hair done similar to this with burgundy orchids here and there. My chapel length veil will be tucked under my hair. I've ordered it custom so it's not too poofy at the comb and very sheer.
Photo reference for my Chinese gown (cheongsam):
I wanted the burgundy gown on the left with the embroidery and buttons from the red gown on the right. East Store did was wonderful job and the gown was custom made to my curvy measurements. My only issue with the gown was my own darned fault... I didn't wear a slip and the static elecrticity made the gown stick to my legs. It kind of made me walk funny... thank goodness I didn't dance in this dress. ;-P
There's a long story about a beautiful gown that my MIL had made for me while she was in China... I ended up not wearing that gown and ordering this one two weeks before the wedding. It arrived in four days!
These are the flats I wore with this gown:
$50 from Zappos. I totally lucked out that they are a very close match to the gown's color. I had actually been thinking about buying dyables before I found these. They've quite comfy. A contrasting color would have looked awful and drawn way too much attention to my feet.
They are all maids or matrons of honor instead of bridesmaids because I want them all on equal ground in the planning process. They all have busy schedules, so I didn't want the responsibility of the shower and bachelorette party to fall on one person.
Yvonne - my friend since kindergarten. We were joined at the hip in elementary school, I had more sleep-overs at her house than any of my friends. Her mom and dad are a second set of parents for me. She moved 30 miles away in 6th grade and we lost touch. We became friends again in high school when she and her mom would drive those 30 miles each week for our Girl Scout meetings. I was her MOH when she got married in 2002. Even though we don't talk to each other every day, or even every week, we still have a bond that allows us to pick up right where we left off. I couldn't have asked for a better friend.
Jackie - my younger sister. It was a given that she would be one of my MOHs. Growing up, we shared a bedroom and we didn't have the greatest relationship. Aside from being 6 years apart in age, we have very different personalities. After I moved out, we grew closer and became a confidnant for each other. She really surprised me with how she stepped up for the wedding. She organized our spa day and my bachelorette party dinner with Yvonne. I never knew she had those organizational skills.
Kristen - we were almost forced to become friends when her DH and my DH began working together and became friends in 2001. She was busy in grad school, I was busy finishing my BFA and working, neither of us really had time to make a new friend. ;-) It turned out that our boys became great friends and we ended up following suit. Even though she lived in Virginia when I was planning my NorCal wedding, she was supportive and helpful via phone and email. She was my therapy (other than PW). Her DH will also be a groomsman, and their toddler will be our only ring bearer.
Veronica - we became friends back when she was 10 years old and our families were involved in our local soccer club. Her dad was DH's and my referee coordinator. DH asst coached her soccer team one year. When she became a referee too, we all traveled together for tournaments. We became great friends. She began dating my brother after a few years of excessive flirting. Unfortunately, after dating him for 5 years, she called it quits 6 months before our wedding. The way she broke up with him was shallow and mean and made me want to fire her from the wedding. When I expressed these feelings to my bro, he was awesome and said that what happened between them shouldn't affect my wedding or my friendship with her. He convinced me to leave things be. In the end, what happened between her and my bro pretty much ended our friendship. We are just aquaintence now, but we'll never be as close a we once were.
FI is a only child and has chosen four of his best friends. Two will be flying in from our of state. One is my brother, who is also making our wedding cake.
The guys will be wearing black suits. FI and I haven't been able to agree on shirt, tie and vest colors. I would like the classic white shirt with FI in a black or striped tie and the GM in burgundy ties. (all the boutonnieres will be burgundy orchids) FI doesn't like wearing a white shirt, (he says it makes him feel like he's on a job interview), so he wants to wear a burgundy shirt and a black tie. I'm having a hard time picturing it... but, I've decided that I don't want to stress about it, so I've told him it's his decision. I'm going to just let him surprise me.
UPDATE: FI will wear a black striped tie at the ceremony with a white shirt. All the GM will wear burgundy ties and white shirts. At the reception, when I change into my Chinese gown, FI will change into a black dress shirt and a red tie with gold dragons on it. It's a little bit cheesy, but it will still be fun.
My girls will all be wearing black, tea-length dresses. I've left the style and cut of the dress up to them. They will be carrying 6" clutch style bouquets of black magic roses and burgundy gerbera daisies tied with a black satin ribbon.
I've purchased red reversible pashmina shawls for all of them from eBay seller rickierainbow.
They were only $14.99 plus shipping... so each ended up being around $18.
The RSVP card: Created in Illustrator and printed on ivory cardstock.
The map: Created in Illustrator and printed on ivory paper.
The finished product fits into a standard A6 sized envelope and only needs a $.58 stamp. Yay! The burgundy cardstock, ivory linen paper and A6 ivory linen envelopes were purchased from www.thepapermillstore.com. The patterned paper was created by me in Adobe Illustrator from scanning a piece of Chinese brocaded fabric. RSVP cards were printed on ivory cardstock that my mom pilfered from her work along with clear address labels that I used for our return address.
After hand delivering a few invitations to guests, I noticed that I totally created the invitations left-handed. Every person who opened it, opened it upside down! I even stuffed them into the envelopes backwards. My mind is subconsiously trying to make the right handed people in the world conform to my ways. (evil laugh)
I'm quite proud of the label I finished yesterday. This cheesyness will adorn our take-out boxes that will be filled with custom fortune cookies. I had originally planned to do the traditional take-out box art with the red pagoda and fake restaurant name. But I thought I was a little boring and lacked the goofiness that FI and I have. I then thought that cartoons of FI and I on the box would be funny. So I used the Itchy & Scratchy Catroon logo as inspiration and went to work. This is the finished product (photoshoped onto a photo. We haven't begun assembling them yet):
Here's the label up close:
All the invitations have gone out. We'll be taking e-pics this weekend and I'll order the guest book next week. Soon I'll design the centerpieces and programs. The next few weekends will be busy with finalizing music, finalizing the menu and alcohol, decorations, shopping for wedding bands, visiting the sites with the DJ and photographer and videographer, trial runs of my hair and makeup, getting my gowns altered, and much more that I can't think of.
I'm really excited to be getting married to the man I've spent the last ten years with, but I'd really like to get it over with now. I'm done being preoccupied with details and waking up in the morning thinking about what needs to be done. I'm also thankful that we are only having a ten month engagement. Those of you ladies engaged for more than a year, 2 years, I salute you.
We hadn't planned to do engagement photos. Neither of us wanted to spend the money and we both dislike having our picture taken unless it's candid. In the ten years we've been together, there is only one professional photo of us, and it's from a
random holiday party a couple of years ago.
Since both sets of parents hinted that they'd like some photos, we traipsed around Newark and Fremont last weekend snapping photos with my brother acting as photographer with my 7MP Canon PowerShot. While I love the photos I've seen of couples walking hand in hand down Baker Beach or at the Palace of Fine Arts, those locations aren't what brought FI and I together. We both wanted to choose locations that meant something to both of us.
So we ended up taking photos at our high school...even though we didn't know each other in high school. We went to Ohlone College where there are some areas gorgeous for taking photos. Next was the Central Park Sportsfield in Fremont where FI and I both played and refereed youth soccer. We also snapped photos at the playground at the Newark Community Center where we both attended preschool.
It wasn't formal and there are a lot of goofy shots.
At Newark Memorial High School:
At Ohlone College:
At Central Park:
FI was pretty tired at the end...I hope he can last through all the picture taking on our wedding day!
Our ring bearer is only 15 months old and will probably have to walk down the isle with his mom and dad. Which is fine since both are in the wedding party. Instead of having him hold a ring pillow that he probably won't hold, we just got him a ring bear at the Build-a-Bear Workshop. He loves stuffed animals and always walks around holding his very soft and plush bunny rabbit. So I grabbed the softest bear I could find and dressed him up in a tuxedo. We'll attach two fake rings to the bear's hand and have the little guy carry him down the isle instead of a ring pillow.
It'll be a surprise to everyone, including his parents.
We revisited our ceremony site over the weekend to see how the trees have grown in and to get an idea of how much shade we'll have.
This was taken around 1pm. By 3:30, the front of the gazeebo will be in the shade. Special thanks to the Walnut Creek Historical Society for placing that gazeebo in the right spot. ;-) We'll decorate the gazeebo minimally with some ribbons and a silk flower pomander hanging from the bottom of each of the railings. Then we'll place shepherd's hooks down the isle and hang smaller pomanders on them. Ribbons will be tied to the hooks too, kind of like this... but substitute the jar for a small pomander.
My brother, the videographer, testing his camera with the lighting and getting an idea of how everything will be layed out.
We'll conduct a somewhat traditional tea ceremony on this bench under this beautiful tree. We're still working on the logistics of this since we're planning to include our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and married older cousins. We're looking at over 30 people. I still need to make cushions for the bench and talk to my family about the tea ceremony and how it works. We'll probably provide red envelopes for my family and ask them to put $1 or $2 in them for the gesture.
... I'll be walking down the isle.
I'm so friggin excited that I can't sleep. And when I do, I dream crazy wedding disaster dreams where terrorists try to take over the world starting with my wedding. (I was watching season 5 of 24 a few weeks ago. Save me, dreamy Jack Bauer!)
Our friends and family have been wonderful and I had an RSVP in hand or via email for 160 guests on or before the deadline. I know how rare that is.
Programs are done. Centerpieces are done. Escort cards are done. Guestbook is done. Timeline is done. Music is set. Everyone has their jobs. My highlights are done. My teeth are whitening. All that's left to do is to pamper myself with a mani, pedi and a massage... and hope that this stress-related acne will clear up in the next three days.
Everyone on this board has been so wonderful and I can't imagine how hellish wedding planning would have been without these message boards... or the internet for that matter.
I'm happy to report that our wedding was a success and we had a wonderful time! While there were definately some hiccups, DH and I have no regrets. The ceremony was wonderful and because DH knew I was worried that I would cry, he and his
groomsmen put on matching aviator sunglasses as I began walking down the isle. So, instead of possible blubbering, I was cracking up as I walked down the isle. Our officiant barely keeping his voice from cracking and his hands from shaking only made me
The banquet was a lot of fun and the food was amazing! I give a lot of thanks to our photographer who must have been struggling to keep up. As soon as the ceremony started 30 minutes late due to guests arriving late, the whole timeline was shot to hell. Nothing really followed it after that and I know it must have been frustrating for him. Thankfully, none of the guests were aware that the banquet was on the brink of chaos... just in my opinion.
Some photos from the day:
Us with our officiant, Lou.
my BFF, me, my lil sister, and my FSIL.
With our Lion dancers! DH's big request for our wedding day.
My girls and me.
My advise from the day's experience:
Pay attention to where you will be walking. Moments before I walked down the isle, Dad and I walked past a rose bush that plucked my veil right off my head. When my dad asked if I wanted to go back and get it, I replied, "We've gone too far..."
Make lots of lists! And most importantly, make sure someone (other than you) is responsible for this. I would have been incredibly preoccupied with all of these details if I didn't have a friend as my DOC. She did wonderfully and I just wouldn't have had a fun day without her.
Last planning bits:
Our DIY centerpieces
Because we did the Chinese banquet thing, we couldn't have an elaborate centerpiece. It had to be simple and informational. I was inspired by mavie's centerpieces and made these:
The other two panels were the table number and a short list of the guests seated at that table. The "kisses" panel was copied from another knottie, but I can't remember who. If someone knows, I'd appreciate the info so I can properly credit her.
"Kisses from the Bride and Groom. If you would like a public display of affection from this Bride and Groom, it will take more than just the clinking of a glass! For some display of 'love' to take place, your table will be required to sing a
song with the word 'love' in it. The better the song, the better the kiss."
I also included Chinese characters for love, kiss, double happiness and my new last name.
These are our DIY Programs:
We used leftover cardstock and patterned paper from my invitations for the cover. The insides were printed on plain ivory paper thru Kinkos. The ribbon is just that really cheap 1/8" ribbon you can get at Michael's for $.50 a spool. Total cost for 100 programs was about $70.
The information inside the program included a list of all members of the wedding party and their relationship to DH and myself, the ceremony music and info, explanations of the Chinese tea ceremony, explanations of the symbolism in the banquet food, a couple of sudoku puzzles and a personalized crossword puzzle.
I was really happy with how they turned out and we received a lot of complements. In hindsight, I wish I didn't put the answers to the crossword puzzle in the program. It could have been a fun game to decipher during the banquet. Oh well.
This is the script from our ceremony... pieced together from a bunch of scripts I found online and altered to suit us. Our officiant was reading a little fast, but not too bad. A friend clocked the ceremony from when he first started talking to when we kissed... 8 minutes! Awesome! :-D
Hello and welcome!
It is with great pleasure that we are gathered together in the presence of God, to celebrate the love which Alexandra and William have for each other, to give social recognition to their decision to commit their lives and accept each other completely, to learn how to help and understand each other, to build a family, and together, to travel through life.
If any of you has anything to say that might change their minds… they… don’t want to hear it. However, they do want to hear from you, that you are their village, that you will always be their family, and will always support and encourage them as they discover the commitment and dedication needed to make marriage work. And that is why you are here today.
Since the dawn of man, people have been united in marriage in all lands, all cultures, and all religions. In marriages everywhere, this is a time for two individuals to leave the families that raised them, to begin a new family. At this time, we ask the parents of the Bride and Groom to come forth to bless this marriage.
Do you, Dick and Sandy, Mark and Laikwan, who have lovingly raised and nurtured these two individuals, offer your blessing for their marriage, promising to support them, guide them, understand them, and encourage them in their solemn endeavor, in the years ahead? If you agree, please say, "We do". (Parent's respond.)
And to the witnesses and honored guests here today, I ask the same question. Do you offer your blessing for their marriage, promising to support them, guide them, understand them, and encourage them in their solemn endeavor, in the years ahead? If you agree, please say, "We do". (guests respond)
So Alex and Bill, please focus your attention on one another and also answer my questions:
Alex, "Do you take Bill to be your wedded husband, to share your life openly, standing with him, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in hardship and in ease, to cherish and to love, so long as you both shall live?" (bride responds)
Bill, "Do you take Alex to be your wedded wife, to share your life openly, standing with her, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in hardship and in ease, to cherish and to love, so long as you both shall live?" (groom responds)
Before you exchange rings and vows, I’d like to remind you what the Bible has to say about love:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
May we have the rings please? (he holds the rings for a bit)
The metal in these rings has little real value,
Except in its use today.
These words are gone as I say them
But as I say them, your lives are changed forever.
You are man and woman, born to trouble and to joy;
And this is your greatest triumph —
That the greatest of gifts are yours for the risk of asking.
We are to witness now the sealing of this promise with these rings
Signs and tokens before the world
Of the world you will create —
single, whole, and quiet —
Within the world outside.
Together you are one; as one you are a world.
Bill as you place this ring on Alex’s hand, please repeat after me:
I take you Alex to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death parts us.
Alex as you place this ring on Bill’s hand, please repeat after me:
I take you Bill to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death parts us.
Bill and Alex,
Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the
journey ahead and through all the years.
May happiness be your companion and your days
together be good and long upon the earth.
With the support of your families and friends,
by the vows you have made to one another,
by the strength of your covenant,
and in the presence of God,
it is my pleasure to pronounce you “Husband and Wife.”
I am honored to present to you for the first time, William and Alexandra Wong.
I created a diagram for making our DIY pocketfold invitation. The text may be hard to read, so if you'd like the .pdf version, shoot me an email at abattyref at yahoo dot com and I can send it to you.
Here are modified instructions on how to make my pocketfold invitation. These just have one panel instead of two. The finished size is still A6. These directions can easily be modified to accommodate a variety of sized invitations.
As always, feel free to send me an email if you'd like the higher resolution .PDF file. abattyref at yahoo dot com.
I also created a diagram for the centerpieces we created. The idea came from the lantern centerpieces that mavie used for her wedding. It uses two pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock.
One of my best friends is a photographer in North Carolina. She couldn't make it to our wedding, but she was in town over the holidays, so I convinced my DH to put his suit back on for some photos. At our wedding we didn't have a lot of time to
take pictures of just the two of us. And she wants to add more wedding photography to her portfolio.
We met with Krista on very chilly Sunday morning at the Newark Community Center for what we thought were going to be trash-the-dress photos. The dress wasn't trashed at all... even the grass I laid down on was dry. Anyway, I was happy with many of the pics we took, and most importantly, we had fun.
I'm not sure which of these I like best...
I got together with my friend Krista, of Krista Lucas Photography, and we trashed a gown that I purchased from David's Bridal.
Round 1: among the redwoods at Memorial Park
Having fun with the boots I was wearing... it was a bit muddy in the woods.
Not to bad for a $99 gown, eh?
Here are the rest of of our trash the dress pics.
Round 2: Pescadero State Beach and San Gregorio State Beach
Trying a couple of colors out.
It's hard to see, but the black and white photos really accentuate my freckles.
We had so much fun. And if the weather had been a bit warmer I would have gone in the water more than just to my knees. It was SO COLD! The gown got pretty dirty, but it's completely cleanable. I'll probably hang on to it for a while and maybe we can take more photos this summer. Maybe some swimming will be involved.
In the planning process I, along with most newly engaged couples, was floored at how much the prices quickly added up when planning a wedding, even with tons of DIY projects. I found it a tremendous help to know how much everything cost before I began falling in love with a vendor. A few knotties began including pricing information in their bios and I followed suit. Below is a breakdown of our budget. In a world where people tend to be a bit sensitive about money, I want to share how we were able to have a great wedding for less than $20k, not including our honeymoon and wedding bands.
Ceremony Site: $950 included chairs, tables and set-up
Reception/Catering: $9000 10-course dinner for 160 people, including alcohol, cake cutting, clean-up and tip
Officiant: $100 his fee was $0, but DH and I paid for his hotel room as a TY gift.
Videography: $0 gift from my brother, a film student
DJ: $0 gift from our friend
Cake: $0 gift from my other brother
Cake topper: $153
Hotel Rooms: $900 suite for 3 nights
Lion Dancers: $600 including tip
Rehearsal Dinner: $1000 approximate total, I never saw the bill, MIL paid
Bride's Gown: $285
Bride's Chinese Gown: $193 MIL paid for
Bride's Accessories: $187 2 pairs of shoes and jewelry
Groom's Suit: $123 DH wore a suit he already owned, he just bought a new shirt& tie
Ring Bearer: $70 his suit & "Ring Bear"
Invitations: $170 includes postage
Programs: $70 for printing and ribbon
Centerpieces: $0 used leftover materials from invitations
Ceremony Decor: $50
Hair & Makeup $400 for bride, BMs & MOB, bride paid
BM/GM gifts: $300
Grand total: $17,559
Wedding bands: $600
Honeymoon in Maui: $3000
My Knot bio has additional information because I was on the NorCal boards before I found PW.
My Knottie Bio
I've been lucky enough to be able help out a some fellow PWers with maps for their wedding invitations. Website URLs have been changed, obviously.
My technique is pretty straightforward. I trace over a Google map in Adobe Illustrator and then use colors and fonts that match the wedding invitation. Some maps require a second little map to make sure that all of the major freeways are acounted for. The way I do things is simple: I create the design, send you multiple drafts, make any changes you'd like, then send the final in a .pdf format. The printing, cutting and assembly is up to you.
Some examples of maps I made for PW members:
The back of this map listed the addresses for the hotels marked on the map, and a link to the couple's website.
This bride's map posed a challenge because of the distance between the two sites. We couldn't squeeze it onto a 5x5 card because the street names would become too small to read. So we made a map that folds in half, the finished size is 5x10, with some hotel and valet info printed on the back.
UPDATE: She's changed the map a bit as it will be letterpress printed. Love the new fonts.
This map was one of three maps created for this bride. Her monogram was shown faded in the background on each one. (I didn't create the monogram) Each map was printed on the back of the invitation to each event for her Indian wedding. One for the church ceremony, one for the Indian ceremony, and one for the reception. Nifty idea!
This map had hotel information and a URL to the couple's wedding website on a separate card in their pocketfold invitations.
The finished product of this map was in grayscale.
It's also a good idea to include any parking information if it's not totally obvious where to park. This map needed to let guests know that they were going to have to sign in at the gate.
We subtly incorporated the monogram that the bride created here. This was printed on ivory paper to coordinate with the invitations.
This map was double-sided with a list of hotels on the back, along with the URL to their wedding website.
The map from my wedding. We put hotel information and our website URL on the back.
Lot's of fun incorporating the bride's color scheme. ;-)
Some invitations created for fellow PW members and some that I did on my own:
You can see more current projects on my vendor profile:
I received my boudoir photos today from Danielle Biel of SkyeBlu Photography and I was truly speechless. I've never really enjoyed having my picture taken. As an overly critical Virgo and an artist with a background in classical illustration, I'm quick to notice flaws; even quicker to notice flaws on myself. I had an absolute blast with Danielle and felt comfortable and sexy and like a real woman. This was the best thing I could have done for myself just 2 weeks before my 30th birthday. I don't know if I will be able to wait three weeks to give this book to DH for our anniversary! ...but I'm gonna try ;-)
If anyone is thinking about having boudoir photos taken, even if it's just an inkling in the back of your mind, do it!!! Nothing about me is petite... except maybe my wrists. I'm 5'9" and a size 12. My legs are riddled with cellulite and spider veins from over a decade of playing youth soccer and then 6 years of working retail; standing for 10 hours at a time. I have lots of sun damage and acne scars. I learned that almost all of these don't even show up when there is fantastic lighting. And these aren't retouched!
Yes, it can be expensive. Especially if you account for any new lingerie that you buy... which I did. I wanted do get these done before our wedding, but it was seriously outside our budget. So, I socked away some money every month for a year to get these done and I am SO glad I did. With Danielle, professional hair and makeup is included. Along with a nice photo album and a 4x6 of every print. Also included are all of the negatives (she shoots film) and the images on a CD. Plus you get to use her amazing studio.
These are some of my favorites... that are... ahem... suitable for public viewing.
DH wore this cheesy dragon tie at our wedding reception.
Aretha Franklin's (You Make Me Feel Like) Natural Woman is stuck in my head.
"...you make me feel... like... uh... nat-tu-ral... WO-man. WOMAN!"
I ran these through a Photoshop action that I really like:
Black corset, burgundy nightie, black lace bra, thong, garter belt and thigh-highs are all from Fredericks of Hollywood. Red lace custom embroidered panties are from Personalized Presents. The black patent leather shoes and red satin shoes are from Zappos.com. The pearls are from Michaels (in the wedding decor section, sold as pearl garlands)
Once I got all of the photos, I ordered 2 photobooks for DH for his anniversary gift. One I ordered through Blurb in approx 11x8.5. The second book I ordered through Shutterfly because they had sent me a coupon for a free 8x8 photobook. So I made a second "travel book." Which worked out because DH travels a lot for work, so the travel book stays in his suitcase.
Photos of the b-pic book I ordered for DH for his 1st anniversary gift:
Sorry, the photo isn't great, the cover is shiny and reflecting the windows.
I opted for the dust jacket option and wrote "To my darling husband on our 1st anniversary. From your loving wife" on the inside flap. It was meant to be a loving message with cheesiness. ;-) I really like the dust jacket and the ability to customize the flaps. The back flap says, "come and kiss me now".
The first page. Thanks to HMM for the idea to use the "for Bill's eyes only" line. The next page has a "girl next door" style photo and a short love note reminding DH how much I love him.
A couple of inside pages.
I opted to have the background black on all the pages and I left the back cover blank. The spine says "Boudoir - 2008" in a red script font. The book is 8.5x11 and about 50 pages, it cost $37 on Blurb with a coupon for free shipping. I'm currently working on our wedding album with Blurb and will post photos when it arrives.
Creating the Chinese portion of my invitation proved to be a huge pain in the butt. Neither my DH or I can read Chinese so we had to rely on my MIL to make sure that all of the information was correct. It was a long and tedious process, but we were really happy with the end result. I hope this info will be helpful to future brides facing a similar dilemma.
It reads top to bottom & right to left in a traditional and very formal writing style. This is what I was told about the Chinese characters and what they say:
1. Date of the wedding, both gregorian/solar and Chinese/lunar calendar form.
2. Names of the bride and groom with their birth order listed first. For example: This one says: Oldest Daughter & Only Son. The names themselves can be written in English if desired. I've seen it done both ways.
3. Ceremony location, the bottom portion describes this particular location as a park.
4. Reception or banquet location. The name of the site can be written in English if desired. The text also describes a 10-course Chinese banquet at a seafood restaurant.
5. Names of the bride & groom’s parents. The bottom characters say something along the lines of "hosted by."
6. “Welcome” characters should be larger than the rest.
I know that the start time of the ceremony is in there somewhere, I'm just not sure where. :-)
If you do not have the ability to type in Chinese, there are a couple of options for you. One option is to visit www.njstar.com and download their software. They also have software for writing in Japanese. You will need to have someone who can read the characters to be able to type in the information that is specific to your wedding.
Another option (this is what we ended up doing) is to talk to your friends and family and see if anyone has a Chinese word processing program like MS Word in Chinese. My DH's Uncle was able to type all of the information we needed and send me the text as a PDF file. I was then able to upload it into Adobe Illustrator where I was creating my invitations. I have also been able to simply copy and paste Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean characters directly from a Word .doc into Illustrator, as long as the font I'm using supports the characters. Many of the standard fonts do... like Times New Roman, Trajan Pro, Garamond, etc.
I'm sure there are plenty of places online who will create Chinese text for you for a fee. I didn't want to pay anyone for info I could get from my family, so I haven't done any research there. If anyone has any additional info to add, I'm happy to hear it and add it to this post.
A while back I posted a thread asking for advise on whether or not to attend the wedding of a friend of mine.
To summarize, we were BFFs since pre-school and drifted apart after high school. She severed all contact for no apparent reason a few years ago and then called me out of the blue to reconnect. She wanted to know if I could make it to her wedding, in a week. It was on a Thursday and 400 miles away. Needless to say, I had a tough time deciding whether to go.
A huge thank you goes out to everyone on here who gave me some fabulous advice. I did end up going to the wedding and I'm so glad that I did. It turned out that a mutual friend of ours was the photographer, so I brought my trusty camera and was happy to step in as her associate photographer (she was very pregnant and was happy for the help). Here are some photos that I took from the wedding:
I love doing close-ups of the rings. Plus, the groom's band was awesome! I wish I could get a band like that for me DH. I gotta ask the groom where he got it.
My view from where I was waiting for everyone to walk down the aisle. It was a really beautiful place, but made for VERY difficult lighting with our cameras.
Everyone getting ready to go!
The darn veil kept covering her face...
The bride and her sister DIYed the flowers. The locket on the bouquet held a photo of the bride's mom who passed away about ten years ago. When we were taking close-up photos of the locket we were all saying, "hurry up, hurry up!" because all of us were getting teary eyeed thinking about how awesome her mom was. Credit for the photo on the right goes to the photographer, Krista Lucas Photography.
The reception was also in Tilden Park at The Brazilian Room.
They danced to Alicia Keys' No One. I have a new appreciation for that song now.
This photo totally cracked me up.
My younger brother was getting married August 1, 2009. But they have decided to postpone until 2011. My bro's employer drastically cut his hours and both of them are still finishing college. So there was no way they could afford to live together. So, they decided to postpone with hopes that the economy might improve and they'll be in a better situation financially. Either way, I'm having a great time helping them with their plans.
My brother, Michael, proposed to Sara at Snow White's Wishing Well at Disneyland. DH and I were lucky enough to be there snapping photos. We'll probably use a couple of the photos in their STD.
That's me holding the ring box while we talk about "making a wish..."
They have booked the Purple Orchid Inn in Livermore for the whole weekend, including their 10 guest rooms. It's a beautiful bed & breakfast in the Livermore Wine Valley. It has its own oilve orchard with beautiful Tuscany-like views. I kinda wish I'd known about this place for my wedding... Despite the postponement, they still plan to get married here.
The bride's favorite color is purple and she is leaning towards this Jim Hjelm gown for her 7 bridesmaids. I will be one of them along with my sister. Her younger sister with be MOH.
She's chosen the Eggplant color, it's not a loud royal purple, it's quite lovely. I wonder if I'll be able to use it as a normal cocktail dress after the wedding if I shorten it to knee length?
As the designer in the family, I'm working on designs for their STDs and invitations. Here are some works in progres
I'm looking forward to finishing the design with them and then moving on to invitations. :-D
We didn't have the money or vacation time to be able to have our honeymoon right after our wedding. So we went almost a year afterwards and spent a wonderful week on Maui.
We bought a hotel/airfare package through Travelocity.com and found it was about $400 cheaper to fly to Maui from Seattle instead of LAX. (We were able to fly to Seattle for free.) So we first spent a full day in Seattle first being driven around by a close friend.
Next we boarded our Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 with comfy exit row seats and made our way, non-stop, to Maui. We picked up our car rental and drove to our hotel: Sheraton Maui Resort in Ka'anapali.
This book really what made our trip fun. It's written by a local and it gave us tips on exploring out-of-the-way places and restaurants. What places weren't worth the inflated prices, and hidden waterfalls and beaches. I highy recommend it to anyone who's planning to travel to Maui. (He's written books for Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island too)
This is an aerial shot of our hotel. The arrow points to where our room was.
The view from our room of Ka'anapali Beach:
We spent the entire week exploring the island and experiencing the food.
Big Beach, south of Wailea.
Picking pineapples with the Maui Pineapple Company. This was one of the most touristy things we've ever done, but it was still really fun. We learned way more about pineapple than we will ever need.
The view from pineapple field #64.
The luau at our hotel. It was fun, but pricey. About $100 per person. Probably something we won't do again if we can make it back to Maui.
On the drive to Hana:
Sunset shots from Pu'u Ola'i Beach (aka Little Beach):
It was a wonderful trip and we both want to go back... badly.
It figures that the week we start talking about making babies... we make one. In spite of the not-so-subtle hints from our friends and family, we had decided to forego a long vacation this year and start TTC instead. "Sure, let's start
trying this summer." "It would be awesome to tell our family and friends at Christmas." Well my body had a different plan and we got pregnant right away.
I'm dealing with day-long nausea, fatigue, and a crappy appetite. DH thinks my fuller bustline is the "coolest thing ever!"
This is from my 9 week ultrasound last week. The little blob is approximately 2.5 cm long and about the size of a grape.
We're due October 27th and we both think it will be a girl. We will definitely find out the sex when we can, neither of us would be able to handle waiting. ;-D Either way, we're both excited and terrified all at the same time.
We had our 2nd trimester ultrasound last week and we learned that we're having a boy!
The ultrasound tech took the measurements she needed and said that he's measuring a little bit big and projected that my due date will be closer to October 18th instead of the 27th. Perhaps he'll be a Libra instead of a Scorpio. She said that his legs are long and that his profile looks like he has my nose. It was awesome seeing him pretty much fully formed with his heart beating and his little body moving around.
Here he's sucking his thumb.
The tech then showed us what we can do in the coming months if we're willing to fork out the money. My clinic offers what they call 4D ultrasounds for about $100. (They're actually 3D, and I think it's ridiculous to call them 4D.) Sometimes the images really turn out awesome and you can see facial features well enough to identify if the baby looks more like Mom or Dad. We're thinking of doing it as a gift for the grandparents when I get to about 30 weeks.
This is the image she printed for us. At only eighteen weeks, it's not a very clear image. His hand is right near his cheek and he's smiling. The baby had his head buried in the placenta for a while and it took a little while for him to turn around. It was really amazing to watch, it looked like he was burying his head in a pillow. Maybe he'll be a good snuggler.
To be completely honest, I was shocked to find out we were having a boy. I was convinced we were having a girl and was worried I'd be disappointed if it turned out to be a boy. I had only been thinking of girl names! I wasn't upset, I didn't
cry, but I was disappointed. All day Friday I kept thinking how my intuition could have been so wrong and what am I going to do with a boy...? I can't start a Girl Scout troop with a boy!
He must have sensed my disappointment because I really felt him move for the first time on Satruday. And I've been able to feel him move a little bit every day since then. Magically, it made everything all better. ;-)
I'm 26 weeks along thus far and everything has been running pretty smoothly. I passed my glucose screening test (yay!) and found out that I'm a little bit anemic. So I have an added iron supplement and DH thinks it's a good reason to BBQ some steaks a little more often. DH and I are attending a Bradley Class with plans to educate ourselves on the birthing process so we can deliver our little guy with as little medical intervention as possible. Yes, I'm planning to go drug-free. We'll see how that goes once the big day arrives.
Current cravings range from ice cream and milkshakes to bologna, hot dogs and soft pretzels. They vary from day to day and only rarely do I get a craving that's really urgent... like I NEED a soft pretzel NOW! I haven't had to send DH to the store for anything... yet. I've been super lucky to not have any serious back pain so far and I'm only just started to get hip pain from having to sleep on my side. (pelvic rocks really help with back pain!! AKA: cat/cow exercise) I'm going to talk to my chiropractor friend about ways to aleve that.
DH and I have only just started planning what our baby's nursery will look like. It will still play the part of guest room for the baby's first year so we have to keep that in mind. After searching the web for ideas I decided to make all of the bedding myself. Below is my inspiration board with the furniture that we've registered for. I will be using all four of the patterned fabrics shown with the yellow dots and blue floral pattern as accents. I'll make a few bed sheets, crib bumper, crib skirt, pocket organizer, and a quilt along with covers for the rocking chair cushions. We will paint the walls a very pale and buttery shade of yellow with a white ceiling, trim and shutters. We'll decorate the walls with photos from our honeymoon in Maui. I pick up my new sewing maching this weekend, so I can get started.
Wow, the colors look really bright on my screen... the print fabrics are navy blue, not bright blue.
Last weekend I met up with Tressa LeFevre at a regional park near Crockett, Ca for a maternity photo shoot. She had a TTD marathon over the weekend and she was gracious enough to let me snag one of the spots. The weather was a little warm but absolutey beautiful! It was so much fun to shoot with her and I was stoked that I could still, sort of, fit into my wedding gown. She blogged a couple of photos.
One of my favs:
I truly felt like a goddess in the wind with my gown. I wasn't trying to look like a bride again, I just wanted to feel beautiful. The landscape and Tressa's talent made me feel beautiful... despite my swollen ankles and aching feet. ;-)
Below is my birth story. It's a little long despite my relatively short labor (about 11 hours), but I wanted to document my delivery for anyone wanting to read about it. The hubby and I had taken a class using the Bradley Method of childbirth to educate us to be able to do this with no pain medication and with as little medical intervention as possible. Thankfully I delivered at a hospital that advocates natural, drug-free childbirth, so I didn't have any arguement from the hospital staff. I also had an OB that was very supportive of my birth plan.
My husband and I attended a Bradley Method childbirth class to prepare us for the birth of our first child. As much as I would have preferred a home birth or a birth center
birth, my HMO would only cover a hospital birth, and we couldn't afford to pay out-of-pocket for either of the other two. Thanks to advice from our Bradley instructor, I was able to get my insurance to approve a switch to a different local hospital that
was significantly more accommodating to the birth we were planning for.
At my 37 1/2 week OB appointment, a Friday morning, I learned that the baby was positioned perfectly and I was 2cm dilated and 50% effaced. I knew I could remain 2cm for another few weeks, or I could go into labor immediately. I was still excited to know I only had 8 more centimeters to go. I had been fighting a terrible cold all week and wondered if my cough could cause me to go into labor a little early. I was still planning to work one more week before starting maternity leave. My OB said it was a small possibility and made sure I had a copy of my medical records, just in case. After I got home, a friend of mine (who has five daughters) laughed when she saw how low I was carrying and told me I wouldn't last the week. I laughed right back at her thinking I still had three weeks to go.
I woke up Sunday morning to 2 or 3 very light menstrual-type cramps. They were very weak but something I hadn’t felt at all during the course of my pregnancy, nothing like the few BH contractions I'd had. I'll admit I had a few moments of heart-racing panic as I thought this might be the start of labor. My son's nursery was barely started, we had no diapers and I hadn't installed our car seat yet. So, I put myself in a blissful state of denial and tried to ignore the "cramps" for the morning and most of the afternoon. I had the runs pretty bad too, but I managed to convince myself they were from dinner the previous night... I couldn't possibly be in labor already.
Around 3pm I was starting to take the "cramps" a little more seriously as I had a couple that I couldn't talk through. There was no rhythm to them, so I was still thinking that it was probably
nothing... or if anything, false labor. I didn't even tell my husband what was going on, since he was occupied with building a pedestal for our new soon-to-be-delivered washer and dryer. So, I installed the infant car seat in my car. While doing that
I had three contractions that caused me to stop what I was doing and force myself to relax. I must have looked pretty ridiculous. The short walk up my driveway and into the house produced two strong contractions. I realized that this was probably
the real thing and noticed that my contractions were only a couple of minutes apart when I was up and walking around. I KNEW from our Bradley class that walking was a great way to keep labor progressing, but all I wanted to do was the five things we
were taught to figure out if I was actually in labor... so I could lay down and relax! I took a walk, drank some water, ate lunch and tried to take a nap. Laying down, in any position, simply wasn't comfortable. So I went to take a shower... which I
couldn't do because a pipe was busted while installing the washer & dryer, so the water was shut off. As my husband was frantically trying to prevent a flood and walking out the door to Home Depot, I finally broke the news that I was in labor.
His eyes got really wide and he asked me, "did you do the five things??" Then he smiled when he realized that I couldn't take a shower with the water off. I reassured him that the contractions were mild and I didn't need him right that moment. So he
worked frantically to get the water back on so I could shower.
While he was gone, I called my mom to get some sort of confirmation that I was actually in labor, it was about 4:30pm. She had all four of her babies (three of them 10+ lbs) all-natural using the Bradley Method. At this point, my contractions were focused in my lower back and would sometimes wrap around to my hips. I sat on an exercise ball leaning on my bed trying to roll my hips around during a contraction. They were about 10 minutes apart now and all over the place in length and intensity. My mom predicted I'd have my little boy sometime tomorrow evening.
When I was finally able to take a shower, the hot water felt amazing on my back. I used up all of the hot water while my husband sat on the toilet seat with his iPod helping me time the contractions. They were 5 minutes apart now and steadily building in intensity. After the long shower I slowly made my way to the living room couch with a giant towel in my hands waiting for anything to start leaking... I still hadn't lost my mucous plug or had any bloody show yet, and I was convinced that my water would break all over our carpet. My husband made me a light dinner of a couple of eggs and a toasted bagel. The timing was perfect because shortly after I finished eating, I suddenly had no appetite. Every 30 minutes or so, he'd also give me a glass of water or VitaminWater to stay hydrated.
We called my sister, Jackie to have her come over. It was really helpful to have the extra person around. She helped keep me relaxed by making me laugh and time my contractions while my husband got the car loaded, printed our birth plan and called our parents so they could get themselves on the first flight in the morning. We also called my photographer friend Krista, to give her the heads up with plans to let her know when we headed to the hospital. We arranged for her to be present at our son’s birth to take photos. She lived about a hour away and we wanted to make sure she didn’t arrive too early and have to wait around, or arrive too late. By this time, my contractions were no longer focused in my back, they were settled in my abdomen and hips and growing in intensity.
By 11pm the contractions had maintained a consistent level of intensity for well over an hour and were about 2.5 to 3 minutes apart. My husband had to seriously convince me it was time, (one of my biggest fears was getting to the hospital too early) so we headed to the hospital, the longest 20 minute drive ever. My sister said I made creative use of the F word. We arrived and got checked in. The first stop was labor & delivery triage where our triage nurse, Shirley, was there to monitor the baby for a bit and to check how far along I was progressing.
While I was changing into my stylish gown, I finally started having some bloody show. I was seriously stoked to hear I was dilated to 6cm and 100% effaced. Shirley was awesome with her exam because my bag of water was bulging a bit and she didn’t want to break it. She had read our birth plan thoroughly and was really wonderful about following it. Then she brought me a tall cup of cranberry juice and I could have kissed her.
After Shirley was able to get about 15 minutes worth of info on the baby (he was doing great), I walked down the hall to my labor and delivery room. I was able to walk around the room and do pretty much whatever I wanted to to make myself comfortable. The most comfortable position for me was standing up and leaning on the bed with my husband rubbing my lower back. I never really moved from that spot and just swayed my hips during a contraction. I was entirely focused on the feel of his hands on my back. He didn't need to massage, I just needed to feel the warmth of his hands there. During one contraction he had leave to sign some papers, and I started to panic, gasping instead of slowly breathing through the contraction. Once he was back, I got myself under control again.
While a nurse was asking me question after question about my health history, I had a moment of realization. I noticed that I was sweating; a common sign of being in transition. I actually got excited at this point. Sure the contractions hurt like hell, but I realized that this was as bad as it was going to get! I realized that I was going to get through this and not need any pain meds!
A few moments later I felt a contraction that was noticeably different, my body started pushing a bit, without any help from me. Then I felt myself peeing all over the floor... which was just my water breaking. Definitely an odd sensation. My husband said he only got a little bit on his shoes. I think he was being nice.Because my water had finally broken, the nurse wanted to check that there was no cord prolapse. I crawled into bed and was put back on the fetal monitor for a few minutes. Everything was great and I was at complete at 10cm! The on-call obstetrician was called, my OB was on vacation. I was able to adjust the bed and pillows so I was in a sitting upright/squat position that was much more comfortable than laying flat (plus there was no friggin way I was going to lay on my back). After two contractions, I started feeling the overwhelming desire to push.
My body SO wanted to push, at each contraction my body was starting to push with or without my participation. Trying not to push through these contractions was, by far, the most difficult part of my labor. I kept hearing over and over to not push, since the OB wasn't there yet. Hearing them just made me more and more angry. THEN! ...a nurse finally arrived to start my Hep-lock. There is only one reason why I agreed to get the Hep-lock: I'm a very hard stick and if there was an emergency, I didn't want there to be a delay because they couldn't get an IV going. I warned my labor nurse that I was a hard stick, so she called in a LVN. After the LVN blew three veins, reinforcements were called in and a phlebotomist got one going on my right hand. I know it took them a while because they would stop their work whenever I had an OH-MY-GOD-I-NEED-TO-PUSH contraction. The pain from the blown veins was barely noticed since I had other sensations to distract me. I was moments from bashing heads against the wall for picking NOW to start my IV. If they had taken a moment longer, I would have screamed for them to stop and get out. Afterward, I had some ugly bruises on my arms that took weeks to heal. :-P
Krista arrived right around this time and was able to start taking photos. I’m so happy she was there as I know my husband didn’t want to have to focus on me and remember to take pictures too. The only bummer was she couldn't use a flash... which we didn't know about before hand. I guess the flash would have messed with the room's spot-lights.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, (it was probably only ten minutes) the on-call OB arrived and I could start pushing. It was an utterly amazing feeling to be able to push. I finally got to participate in what my body was doing instead of just breathing/moaning/humming/grunting through each contraction. My husband was amazing, reminding me to breathe through each contraction and to keep my face as relaxed as possible. His touch kept me focused and calm, best coach ever! Then my sister, who was expecting to get kicked out because we hadn't actually planned for her to be there, came over and kept her warm hands on my knee. She joked that I conveniently shaved my legs for the occasion. I was told I laughed between contractions, I don't remember laughing. :-)
resting between contractions
My contractions got significantly shorter at this point (only 20-30 seconds long) and I was only able to get two good pushes per contraction. I pushed my way through half a dozen contractions with the OB perched on at the foot of my bed monitoring my progress. She was just sitting there wearing only one glove and was very chill about the whole thing. My husband was starting to wonder if she was going to catch this baby one-handed. She finally said something like, “two more pushes…” and then suddenly the room got moving. She got all gowned up and the bottom half of the bed was detached. My husband said it was pretty cool to watch as they got everything ready for the baby to arrive in just a minute or two. I was also incredibly thankful that I had about 20 to 30 seconds of rest in between each contraction. The OB did a little perineal massage then, with some very cold hands. :-/ Man, that hurt.
After about three or four pushes, I finally started feeling the baby crowning. I had a few moments of sheer panic thinking, “there’s no way my body can stretch that far!!” (my mom warned me I’d have that feeling) Then the contraction ended abrubtly and it felt like he was sticking out halfway... I know he wasn't, but that's what it felt like. The OB was telling me that once his head was out to stop pushing, even though I was still going to feel the urge to push. One his head came out, the rest of him came shooting out anyway. He was suddenly out and placed on my chest in one fluid movement. My husband had to tell me to open my eyes so I could see our son. I opened my eyes and saw this beautiful baby screaming his head off as a nurse rubbed his skin and cleaned him off.
I developed tunnel-vision and had no idea what was happening beyond him. All I could see was his squishy, pissed off face, full head of hair and incredibly long fingernails. No one in my family had hair when they were born!! I immediately saw my husbands eyes and nose with my mouth and my ears. It was an amazing feeling.
The nurses left him on my chest, skin-to-skin, while my bottom half was tended to. I had a 2nd degree tear, most likely from his body shooting out so quickly. He stayed with me while my post-pardum room was arranged and they got stuff ready to transport us. He was only taken from me for a few minutes to be weighed and measured and to have footprints taken, and they did it right next to my bed. 6lbs, 8oz and 19.5 inches long. Apgars of 9 and 9. He was born on October 12, 2009 at 2:02am.
Then I finally let my husband hold his son for the first time... and I grabbed the camera to snap a photo:
When a nurse asked us what his name would be, we both agreed on Thomas James. We weren't 100% decided on a name before labor began and we hadn't told anyone the names we were considering, but Thomas just seemed to fit him.
Since Tommy was born after midnight, the hospital had us staying at least 24 hours after birth. So we were discharged on Tuesday afternoon, SO ready to go home. I was miserable in the hospital as the AC aggravated my cough and by Monday afternoon, I had no voice. I got absolutely no sleep with people coming and going at all hours and an adrenaline high that took quite a while to come down. I was also stressing because Tommy took over 24 hours to finally latch on for more than a minute or two. One nurse brought in a breast pump and made me feel like a huge failure because I was only able to get a few drops of colostrum a mere 12 hours after birth. It finally took one nurse who saw the tears in my eyes, to reassure me that for a baby nearly 3 weeks early, it was normal for him to be so sleepy and to not latch on right away. The LC on staff that day was absolutely no help to us and never returned phone calls. I met with a different LC a week later and we got his shallow latch straightened out and went on to breastfeed happily until he self-weaned at 19 months. :-)
My squishy boy!
So, I was able to have a relatively positive experience with a drug-free childbirth in a hospital (gasp!). No one ever brought up epidurals or Pitocin or any unnecessary interventions. I delivered at Long Beach Memorial Hospital in Long Beach, California, for anyone who's looking for a NCB-friendly hospital in S. California. I truly believe that laboring at home for as long as I did was key to getting in and out of the hospital with barely any intervention. My labor progressing very well also helped... bringing cake for the nurses may have helped too.
I used to be a professional picture framer and make shadowboxes every day. These are my tips for making your own wedding shadowbox.
Having a shadowbox custom made will be expensive, like $300 and up! The price will vary on the materials used, the number of items in there and the overall size. But it will be GORGEOUS and all of your items will be mounted properly with acid-free materials and UV glass will be used to protect everything from fading. Fabrics fade faster than paper, even if they aren't exposed to sunlight. Even regular home lighting can cause fading over time. Ideally, your shadowbox will look just as lovely in 20 years as it does now when it's custom made.
But, if you can't or don't want to spend an arm and a leg you can DIY your shadowbox. Check out craft and framing stores to see if they have a ready-made shadowbox in a size and color that you like. You can buy them online too.
You can do a few things to help your shadowbox look amazing, even 20 years from now.
- Mount all of your paper items using acid-free/archival glue or tape. Spend a little extra $$ to get the good stuff.
- Mount any non-paper items by sewing them down with a needle and clear or white thread. Gluing or taping down fabric or lace isn't a good idea and sometimes, the adhesive fails over time and your item will fall or droop. It just doesn't stick to
fabric as well as paper. Or the adhesive can leave a gunky residue on your fabrics.
- If you choose to include real flowers in your shadowbox, make sure they are dried or freeze-dried. Try not to seal any moisture in there that could be soaked up by paper or fabric. Also understand that even if you dry them properly, the odds are that in a few years, they will shed some dust onto the bottom of your shadowbox. It's inevitable.
- If you don't like the background that comes with your shadowbox, check out the fabric store to find a fabric that perhaps resembles your wedding gown or your table cloths. And you don't have to lay it flat, sometimes it looks beautiful if it's artfully draped across the backing and then held in place by a few stitches and your mounted items. Sometimes, depending on the shadowbox, you can even wrap fabric around the side walls.
- Don't put a piece of cardboard in the back of your shadowbox. Get some acid-free matboard or foamboard. The acid can seep into your shadowbox and cause some discoloring. It doesn't happen in a few weeks or months, but it will happen over the
course of a few years.
- Buy a piece of UV/Conservation Clear glass for your shadowbox. You will have to go to a custom framing dept or store and have them cut or order it. It will protect your items from fading. Over time, everything will fade if it's not protected.
The salesperson may try and sell you something called Museum Glass. It's wonderful glass that has no glare and looks like it's not even there. If you can afford it, it's awesome and highly recommended. But it's pricey! Some ready-made shadowboxes are
built so you cannot remove the glass, so check on that before you order any new glass. (those kinda tick me off)
- If you are making a really large shadowbox, consider getting Conservation Plexiglass. It will be more expensive than glass but will be lighter weight and shatterproof.
- When you get your Conservation Glass home, clean it with an ammonia-free glass cleaner and a soft towel and make sure that you are careful with it. The side with the writing on the edge scratches very easily. That side will go on the inside of
your box, facing the artwork.
- If you are including a newspaper clipping in your shadowbox, like your wedding announcement, I recommend scanning it and reprinting it on acid-free paper, then put the reprint in your box. No matter what you do to protect it, a piece of newsprint will discolor and fade over time. It's just the nature of newsprint.
- When mounting your items and putting your box together, do your best to make sure nothing is touching the glass. If condensation gets in there, it can cause items to stick to the glass.
- When your awesome shadowbox is all done, be conscious of where you hang it. Don't hang it near a heater vent, in your bathroom or where it will get direct sunlight. Heat causes condensation to form inside the glass and creates a home for mildew
to grow. I once had a customer all ticked off at me because his shadowbox was growing mold on the inside... then we got him to admit that it was hanging right outside the door to his sauna!