I haven't really shared details of my wedding with you guys, have I? It was such a crazy experience that the planning took a lot of out me and my husband. After two years (our anniversary was yesterday), I finally have the energy to revisit.

The idea
It started out as a 'what if' discussion between my girlfriend and I during a wine night in. Into our second bottle of wine she said, "I can totally see you having a wedding in a chateau like a princess coming down a grand staircase."

"Yeah, sure," I said. Never in a million years.

The reality
A few months later as we began touring potential venues in wine valley (Napa and Sonoma) and seeing the price tag (hefty for just the venue excluding catering, etc), the mandatory noise ordinance at 9pm, and restrictive beverage selection (their wines only and no liquor), the French chateau wedding went from a no way to a why not.

I did some research and realized that the price was fairly similar to rent the venue but would include catering and drinks. Plus, the idea of a fully privatized site was very desirable. From there we found and interviewed a few wedding planners and choose one from France who specifically catered to non-French clients. We knew it would be impossible to pull this off without some help.

The venue
Working closely with Nancy, from Fete in France, we narrowed down our options to five venues based on location and capacity. She helped us plan a two-day tour in the French countryside to visit all five. I was exhausted at the end, but Nancy was a trooper as she drove us from one site to the next.

Ultimately we settled on Chateau D'Artigny for its 52 rooms and its remote proximity to Paris. The idea was to keep everyone close in an intimate setting for a few days, undistracted by Paris. We wanted to spend time with everyone. The wedding took place during Labor Day weekend so guests were able to make a vacation out of their trip so if they wanted to do Paris later they could.

The vendors
The cost of booking a photographer, videographer and make up artist in France (Euros and conversion rates) actually came out to be more than if I choose my own in the states, flew them to France and paid for their housing. Not that we wanted to skimp here, but I picked vendors who had specifically worked with Asian clients or were Asian.

This is where it gets a little political. I believe that if you have never worked with an Asian client or have not been exposed to diversity, you tend to see those who are of a different race than you as an 'other.' The othering of another race is obvious in photos - they do not come across as intimate, personal and they will not capture the best angles of someone. You know how when you see yourself in the mirror, you are a full person with emotions and experiences? But then when a random stranger takes a photo of you, you suddenly look super exoticized? That's othering. Another example is when I do my own make-up, I look my best and enhance all my unique features. When someone else who isn't familiar with Asian faces does my make up, they always over line my eyes and make me look even chinkier. This has happened to me in a few local photoshoots when your girl was a wannabe model (hi, Model Mayhem). So it's so important to pick vendors who see diversity and are diverse. Those who have a diverse portfolio will be able to capture the nuanced characteristics of you instead of framing you far away and focusing on decor instead of you because they don't know how to capture you.

My photographer was Julie Lim. Makeup artist was Susan Lim. And my videographers were an Italian duo, Sole and Alessandro.

As much as we planned, things went wrong as they always do. And oftentimes they don't matter because your guests won't notice, but when it affects others, I remember. For example, I should have asked for them to move the spotlight so it wasn't in my father's face during wedding speeches. But that's just my overwhelming sense of protection showing up.

Things I would do differently:

  • Probably not cover the cost of stay for guests
  • Cut down on guest list - a lot of friends ended up being just party friends - more on this in another post
  • Spent more on florals 
  • Not spent money on goodie bags - totally unnecessary as no one really used it
  • Not spent $ on Laduree macarons
  • Spent more time intimately with everyone - looking back, it was so busy it was hard to connect with guests
Things I'm glad we focused on:
  • Family speeches and time
  • Videographer
  • Music - my husband personally picked out the playlists
  • DJ - they took the cue from my husband and played all our types of songs
  • The venue was breathtaking and perfect
  • The Paris Officiant, Laura did an amazing job and took the burden off a potential friend who would have had to do the honors, I think this made the wedding more enjoyable for everyone since it was emcee'd by a neutral party
  • The rehearsal dinner and having a moment of quiet before the storm with our close friends and family
  • The welcome drinks - this was a great way to spend time with folks before the wedding. It set the tone for the wedding and started the event on a happy note

Looking back on the photos and videos, I can honestly say it was a beautiful day full of wonderful memories despite all the things I would have done differently. The most important memories were the ones that we had with our parents and close friends. Seeing my mother speak, my father tear up and sharing a dance with him was all I could wish for. Seeing my husband and dancing with his mother and her wide gleeful smile of pride and happiness, we always laugh about that. Moments like that don't happen often in this lifetime.