Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our humble celebration

I seem to lack on focus at work these past couple days, so I am going to assume it's because I haven't done the post on the wedding. My partner and I decided to get married for a number of reasons, but we aren't traditional people, so we wanted to do things our own way. Which meant on the cheap, vintage, and small. We didn't tell many people, partly because we planned it in about 4 months and because of the decision to keep it small. I never realized how even a small (about 45 guests) wedding could be complicated. We're very happy. We got married in Chicago because that's where my college friends, brother, and Steven's extended family lives (this is pretty much whom we invited to the wedding).
The goal was a $5K wedding, including all the dress and rings. We mostly succeeded. Part of the reason it was so thrifty was because of my choice in dresses. I have never thought of myself as the "marrying kind" and I didn't know about "looking like a bride." Brides are beautiful, but I never dreamt about being one. I did, however, dream about being a folk singer as a teenager. I told Steven that I wanted to look like a 1970s folk singer, and he was happy with that.

some inspirations: Joni and Linda

I spent alot of time on Etsy and Ebay looking for my dress. It wasn't easy. But I did find this gem:It was $32, sold by secretagentgirl. It was a little big, but the beautiful bow in the back and the high waist (just above at my natural waist line), it actually fit perfectly. I suppose that's the gamble with online shopping. But what a gamble.
(My friend tied the bow in the back)

I said that we're not traditional. I meant that is that I like traditions, but I pick and choose which ones I want. We set up the chairs in the church in a big circle (with two rows). I borrowed this from the Quaker traditions, which I first read about on a blog for off beat brides. We're not Quakers, although I dig their commitment to social justice. I love the idea that the community was in a big circle. We don't have the big pictures yet (our photographer friend, Rollin Leonard, is still editing the larger photos, and I only have the pictures friends took during the ceremony). We picked a Unitarian church because I wanted a church that was open in their traditions, and also the big "We Support Gay Marriage" sign out front did not hurt. (The church is in the Boy's Town section of Chicago. My mom and dad did not like it but did not say anything either).

Weather is iffy in Chicago in March, so I decided on a separate dress for the dinner reception. I also found this adorable "Rockabilly" style vintage on etsy, sold by seesong. I actually met her in Brooklyn (in Greenpoint) to pick up the dress. This is another hand made item (you can tell from the seams, lack of tags, etc.) I did need to do a quick hem along the front right hem, which I did right before running to the church (on time).

This dress was another gamble. I am the correct waist measurement, but this model is shorter then me, and the waist hit me on the rib cage, not under it, so it was a wee bit tight. But it was worth it. The best part about being taller then the model is that the dress hit me in a more flattering part of my leg.
Co-contributor, self, and the cohabitator

The cohabitator's clothing was also a challenge. We wanted something that was his style yet formal to be suitable for the event. I found him a dusty rose leisure suit on Rustyzipper a few months ago. But when he wore it I was not convinced, and I made him send it back against his wishes (a Bridezilla moment). We later found this beautiful camel colored 3 piece suit on Ebay (supposedly "mod" and from the late 1970s). The condition was great and it was probably hand made in a tailor shop. Like many older suits, it has a higher waist and gigantic pant legs, but our lovely local tailor took it in perfectly. Blokey is quite a thin man, and the tailor took the jacket well too.

We loved that we had friends contribute to the wedding. Friends and family sang songs, performed music, read poetry, and helped with the decorations. Another traditional I borrowed was the wedding cookie reception, which is supposed to be a tradition from midwestern industrial towns. I never heard of it before reading about it in the NY Times, but my mother-in-law loved the idea. Since we had dinner at a restaurtant, it made sense to hold a mini-reception outside of the sanctuary, in the little room just outside.
Anne did a beautiful job with the cookies. Actually, cookies and cupcakes. She made pumpkin mini cupcakes, peanut blossoms, and mint chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies. I regret not taking them on the plane with me. (Check out her blog if you'd like the recipes or more pictures)

So how did we keep it under under 5k? I'm not a big jewelry chick, so we got really really simple rings. We found a seller on Etsy who makes rings from recycled jewlery, and they were really beautiful.
The rings were only $85 each, and were 2mm wide. I'm not used to wearing jewelry, and the look is very subtle, but I love that I can feel them on his hand when we hold hands (sorry that was so cheesy). Maybe the 3mm would have looked nicer, but I think the ones we got were great. We sized our ring fingers at Target. The nice lady at the jewelry counter let us borrow the ring sizer.
We also saved money as I chose to do my own hair and make up. I'm not much of a make up person, and perhaps my eyes could have looked more vibrant in photos (that's what photo editing is for). But getting ready with my friend Joni in the church basement was so much fun. I had my hair and makeup done for a friend's wedding a couple years ago and thought "never again." I think they do a good job, but I hate feeling overdone. I was happy with the outcomes.

I didn't go with a veil, but I did want something in my hair. I found this vintage wedding crown/wire, sold by BeSomethingNew on Etsy, for $37. I found out through internet research that a long time ago, brides in Finland wore crowns. My husband's paternal family is from Finland (a couple generations back) and so I thought this worked as a quasi-crown. (Blokey's last name is Finnish, but I guess strangely my Korean last name is not that far from a common Finnish name. He is uninterested).

The other way we saved money was by doing the reception at a restaurant. Getting caterers to bring stuff somewhere is a pain and a half. By having our reception dinner at the private room in a cool, quirky restaurant, the Wishbone, in north Chicago, we were able to let our guests choose what they want AND have an open wine and beer wine. Plus the restaurant has its own decorations, and we had great decor with minimal effort. Four courses, unlimited booze, 47 guests total= less than $2,000. Happy, full, and tipsy guests, non-broke Cohabitators. We got to control the music in the room, and still had plenty of space for schmoozing. Best part was the the bar was in our private room, and so some of the uncles had a good time parked in front of the bar, laughing it up.

We may have done a bit of that too.

Eek, back to work!


  1. it was beautiful. you are beautiful.

  2. I loved so many things about your wedding weekend but what I loved most was how lacking in "traditional" cheesy wedding stuff it was - no attendants, bouquet tosses, bad DJs, chicken dances or electric slides, etc. I've been to a lot of weddings that I'm sure cost twice as much or even more, and yours was by far my favorite. The whole day truly was a celebration of your partnership, which is exactly what it should be.

    (PS - Not letting blokey wear a dusty rose leisure suit is a pretty far cry from bridezilla!)

  3. Susan, Joni shared this blog of yours with me and it was lovely to read. I'm so proud of you (if that is ok to say as an 'outsider'!) as I totally believe your way of doing a wedding is the best way. I wish you much happiness and lots of laughter. xx Esmyr

  4. Thanks for sharing all of this with us, lady! So many wonderful and highly personal touches in the planning and ceremony ... way to do it YOUR way.

  5. Susan, thanks so much for sharing all the lovely details!! It sounds like a great wedding and I love that you chose to have different traditions from different cultures. And it sounds like your parents let you do whatever youw ant with your wedding which is unusual for Korean parents and so I'm jealous - I didn't get to plan my wedding - just chose my rings and dress :(.

    Enter to win a women's Orient watch!

  6. I must have discovered your blog after you posted this-- so thanks for drawing our attention back to it! Your wedding sounds awesome and, from the degree to which I've been able to get to know you through your blog, seems like it fit perfectly with your personality. That is what I'm always hoping for in a wedding-- in a day which is theoretically supposed to "be about the bride," I want to see that her personality is reflected in the event planning, the clothing, the food, etc. This is one (of the many) reasons I hate the idea of a wedding planner, and I believe that I can tell, as a guest, which weddings have been planned by the bride and which ones have been planned by a stranger.