Reading our vows

When I was back in California last year running wedding-related tasks with my mom, I started fretting about San Francisco’s mercurial weather patterns, which would have meant moving the ceremony to the reception hall. “What if everything goes wrong, Mom? What if it rains? What if I’m standing in front of the fireplace and my dress catches fire? What if it all goes wrong?”

My mom said, “Then it’ll go Ron!”


“It’ll go Ron! You’re still going to get married to Ron!”

I groaned, but she had a point. We’re really, really, really lucky, however, that nothing major went wrong on our wedding day. The weather was gorgeous, I didn’t hyperventilate and pass out during the ceremony, nobody got drunk and hurled on my wedding dress, and Catherine Jr. didn’t get run away during the reception. I’m always scared she’ll do something like that.

While planning the wedding, Ron and I wanted to come up with a few new twists on traditions that we either felt were not relevant to us or that we just weren’t comfortable with. The “new” things we did included…

…walking with both of our parents down the aisle. This really isn’t a “new” tradition, since Jewish brides and grooms have been walking down the aisle with both parents for a long time. I wanted to honor my father and my mother during the procession, but more importantly, I just wanted both of them there with me. The idea of walking down the aisle without my mom just made me feel lonely inside (even though, of course, I love my dad very much). Ron’s parents were also very touched that he asked them to walk with him. My mom said that some of her friends had asked her how the three of us would fit down the aisle. Hey! I’m not that fat!

…our bead ritual.
There are a lot of rituals that are incorporated into wedding ceremonies now, but Ron and I wanted to come up with something of our own. I read on someone’s blog about how they’d made a sandwich during their ceremony, with each layer representing an element of their relationship. I’m really messy with food, but I liked the idea and it was percolating through my head when I laid eyes on my beading supplies. A-ha! I thought. Why not make two necklaces during the ceremony representing who we are as a couple? Originally, Ron and I planned to wear the necklaces ourselves, but then I came up with the idea of gifting them to our moms. Our necklaces were made with sterling silver chain and pendants of tiger’s eye, goldstone and jade. This is what we said during the ritual:

These silver chains represent the bonds of love,
Which do not imprison
But strengthen by linking two people
With different strengths and weaknesses together.

Jade represents the supremacy of love
As the force that drives all that is good in the world
[Places jade stones on chains]

Tigers eye represents
Our willingness to challenge one another
And our promise to always be honest
And never hide our true feelings
[places tigers eye pendants on chains]

Goldstone is a manmade stone
Made by exposing glass to a flame
It glitters and is more than the sum of its parts
Just like the two of us together
We will grow from the challenges we are exposed to
And the strength we draw from each other
[places goldstone pendants on chains]

We now present these necklaces to our mothers
In honor of the history that we each carry with us into this relationship

If you want to do this for your wedding, I suggest attaching a bead or some other “stopper” to the end of the chain so the pendants don’t go flying off. I wire-wrapped each pendant and made the loops large enough to fit over the jump ring at the end of the necklace.

…writing our our own vows while jet-lagged. I was so tired I thought I was going to cry, but I think the exhaustion helped, since that meant we really had to write our vows from the heart (since our brains weren’t working).

…not doing a bouquet or garter toss. I actually think bouquet tosses are a lot of fun and have participated in a few with some gusto (though I never caught the flowers). When I thought about it, however, I realized I didn’t like the symbolism behind it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being single, and I also got the feeling that most of my single female friends would only participate in a bouquet toss reluctantly. As for the garter toss — no no no. I’ve seen photos of grooms removing the bride’s garter with their teeth where their heads are so far up her dress that it looks like they are doing something else entirely. Seriously, if anyone was going to be drunkenly taking off a piece of my lingerie and tossing it at a pack of men during the wedding, it was going to be me, and me alone (though I didn’t actually do that). Ron and I swapped both traditions out for a bouquet presentation to our grandmothers. Since two of Ron’s three grandmothers were not going to be at the wedding, I ordered gorgeous handmade air clay flowers from FentonFlorals on Etsy and we handed those out instead.

Handmade air clay bouquets for our grandmas

For those of you who are planning a wedding in the Bay Area, here are some of the people we worked with that I recommend:

Our officiant was Irene Kane and I cannot say enough good things about her. Ron and I wanted a secular ceremony, but we also wanted to be mindful and respectful of the many different religious traditions both of our families and our friends come from. Irene was really the perfect person for that. While we were planning our ceremony, she also gave us a questionnaire to fill out about our relationships and our lives, and used that to craft a personal history which she read during the ceremony. Answering the questions and listening to what Ron had written about me was a really eye-opening and touching experience.

I’ve been in love with Cooper Carras‘ photos since seeing my friend Catherine’s beautiful wedding photos. Working with Cooper and his shooting partner Alison was like getting two brand new friends. They put both Ron and me at ease, which is good, because my default reaction to seeing a camera is to either cross my eyes or run in circles, screaming.

The service at the San Francisco Zoo was amazing. The catering coordinator’s name is Carol Mann and she was a great help in making sure the ceremony and reception went off without a hitch. We also got a ton of compliments on the food from our guests. If you are looking for a reasonably-priced wedding venue in the Bay Area, I definitely recommend the zoo.

I originally wanted a donut tower instead of a wedding cake because I thought it would be fun for Ron and me to cut through it while playing a techno remix of Homer Simpson going “d’oh!” My parents did not like that idea, however, because they felt that the wedding cake was the final “thank you” to guests who had traveled all the way to the wedding and they thought something fancier was in order. They also wanted something that was not too sweet. (I’ve noticed that people raised in Asia like more subtly flavored desserts. My own palate, however, has been ruined by years of good old processed American food and I like my sweets so sweet they induce a coma.) While I was in Taipei, my parents went to several cake tastings without me (boohoohoo) and settled on Cakework. The owner, Cecile, has a sculpting background, which is evident in the gorgeous cakes she creates, and uses white chocolate instead of fondant icing. I was so in love with our cake, which we had covered with sculpted plum blossoms (which my engagement ring setting is shaped like). I was sorry we had to kill it during the cake cutting, but the taste (we chose the chocolate toffee filling) more than made up for my sorrow.

Stefano Bartolin from Big Fun Disc Jockeys was our DJ and emcee. He was absolutely amazing, very attentive to our feedback and the massive “do not play” list I crafted, and kept the reception on track. Big Fun’s rates are extremely reasonable compared to other DJ’s in the area. I also love that it’s named after the band that played “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)” in “Heathers.” (At least I think it is, I didn’t confirm that with Stefano).

Our florist was Megan’s Flowers. Once again, we got wonderful service for a great price. My bouquet, which included roses and peonies, was so pretty I could not stop petting it during the reception. Seriously, every photo of me is of me petting my bouquet.

Our videographer also happened to be my brother. He’s an award-winning filmmaker who is also a certified Steadicam operator. His videos are gorgeously filmed, benefit from his filmmaking experience (i.e. they are very cinematic and not boring like many wedding videos) and I was very happy when he offered to film the wedding as a gift to Ron and me. Mike works in the Los Angeles area.