Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tying the Knot Between Cakes and Jewelry

I figured with all the talk about cakes in the comments earlier, it might as well be my next topic. I think the cake is strangely one of the areas where Sam and I disagree on what we want. I want something simple and fairly traditional, and I don't really mind if it's not personalized. I think Sam wants something much more personal, though he hasn't been able to say any particular ideas he has on the matter...

I really only want something with flowers on it. There are a lot of elaborate cakes out there with varying themes and cute ideas. Sam and I had discussed a sledding theme (because we met while sledding... though the theme is inappropriate for our Spring wedding), Winnie the Pooh, Japanese elements... I'd love a cake decorated with cherry blossoms, like this:

Isn't that pretty, with all the little cherry blossoms climbing the sides of the cake? I even like the cake topper bride and groom in traditional wedding kimonos. So cute! Or I could use the cranes, like I had mentioned before. I could make two cranes and stick them at the top of the cake...

But I don't think it's fair to have so much in the wedding about what I want and about my interests, when Sam should have some of his own elements in there too. But when I ask him about interests he'd like to include, he's stumped for ideas. I also suggested we get a groom's cake (which is a smaller cake, usually of a different flavor, that shows off something the groom likes), but he didn't seem too keen on the idea. I thought it might be cool to have a groom's cake in the shape of a Star Trek badge, or something. Then have it be a chocolate cake with mint frosting. ^^ Of course, only big nerds like us would get why the flavor of the cake is so funny, but I think it'd be cool that way.

So, anyway, we're debating cake toppers. Traditional bride and groom, two cranes, flowers somewhere in there too... I've been considering making myself some "cake jewelry" which are these jeweled ornaments that you stick into the cake to make it look all swanky. You can buy them online too. This one is from

It's made out of Swarovski crystals and sterling silver wire, I believe. This place also makes cake jewelry monograms and crystal bouquets. Don't they look familiar, though? That's cuz they're just beaded flowers. Basically the same as the rose I made for about $2, only these are smaller and using crystals. Sure, crystals are expensive, but I could probably make the exact same thing for around $30. They're charging nearly $140! I won't even start on their crystal bouquets. I should consider selling them myself.

I'm not sure if I really want them on our cake, though. I think I'm enamored of the fact that I can make something just as beautiful for so much less. But I just thought of another neat cake topper we could have, and I think it would be cute with flowers or flower petals around them. Since Sam and I are both aspiring writers, I could make two chocolate books - one white chocolate one and one dark chocolate one (like bride and groom books). Then I could write or paint titles on them in opposite colors (dark on white and vice versa). I was thinking we could even take the titles of stories we wrote ourselves. So it'd be like "Whatever" by Kristine C___ on the white one and "Whatever Whatever" by Sam N___ on the dark one. (I'm blanking on story titles here...) Sam might like that. I'll have to ask him. I'd have to figure out how to make chocolate books, though. And how to write in chocolate. Dang.

There are a lot of highly rated bakeries in the area, so it'll be hard to choose one. They're rated mostly on their ability to decorate the cakes, but a lot of the higher end bakeries' sample cakes look basically the same to me. I've heard rave reviews about the Bread Basket, which is located right by me. But I've also heard people say they're overrated and arrogant. On the cheaper end of the spectrum, I also read 2 brides absolutely gushing about how tasty the cakes they got from Plusko's Bakery in Thousand Oaks was. I used to get birthday cakes from there when I was younger, but I don't remember much about what they tasted like. I'm sure they've changed a little since then... I also remember that they did a lot of that frilly stuff with the icing, and I don't like that. I wonder if they can do a more matte finish to the icing? I think it'd be prettier and there'd be less icing to boot. (Too much icing = yucky.) It's definitely worth a look, though. The 2 brides I heard this from had fed about 150+ people, and the cake cost less than $200. Wow!

Yeesh, all this talk about cake is making me really hungry. Time for lunch. But here's another picture of a cake I like (I'm tried to post more, but Photobucket's acting up...):

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Location Hunting: Casa Sirena & PC Yacht Club

Sam and I finally went to see some possible reception locations today: Casa Sirena Hotel and the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club. They were thankfully in the same general location, so we didn't have far to travel, but getting there by the route Yahoo Maps suggested was quite hairy. Anyway, here are some thoughts about them.

Casa Sirena Hotel
I think there are three things that I like about this place. 1) The view of the harbor is pretty. 2) It's quite affordable. 3) The staff seems nice. However, I was honestly not thrilled with the appearance of the hotel itself. It's a fairly old hotel that's going to be remodeled soon (after our wedding date, of course...). Don't get me wrong - it seemed clean and not at all trashy. It was just worn down. Worn carpets, doors, bannisters, elevators... And the banquet room they wanted to give us was small. The guy (named Bart. Ha!) assured us that 60 people could fit in there quite comfortably, but I didn't really believe him. Okay, yeah, we could all fit in there with the tables and chairs, but we wouldn't have much room to walk around and chat. And they'd have to remove a table in order to clear up the dance floor. So they'd come in and wheel out a table after dinner? And where would the cake go? So if we do go with them, we'd definitely request a bigger room. But the banquet room opens out to a large balcony, and the view overlooks the harbor. It's very pretty.

We toured the hotel rooms too. They gave us some decent offers, but while the rooms had some nice amenities and cool layouts, I wasn't terribly impressed. Again, it was more because everything was old... I wouldn't mind staying there at any point in time, but I'm willing to bet that I can find a better room at another hotel for about the same price.

We might call them back soon to schedule a tasting, to see if we like the food. It smelled yummy while we were walking around, so we're hoping the food itself will be good too. And so far, this is the most afforable place we've encountered yet, so it's basically the top contender of the moment.

Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club
First, let me just say that this will definitely not be a where we'll hold our reception. Even if this place were available on our wedding day (which it's not), it seems to be too rich for our blood. And that's a real pity, because this place was awesome. (Which is why I'm gonna talk about it)

So we go in there (after wandering around the harbor area for a while) and this place is just super swanky. And not in that overly glitzy, everything made of marble, 4-star hotel way. More like that rich, warm, and classy way. I really liked it, even though Sam and I both felt a little out of place. We waited on a couple couches while the manager guy (a Frenchman by the name of Michel) was busy, and when he invited us into his office, he immediately offered us our choice of wine, coffee, or beer. My mind went "Whaa? Free wine?", but I politely refused. Michel kept insisting that Sam have a beer, so Sam finally accepted, and the assistant was sent to fetch him a beer. When she came back, she poured Sam a Miller Lite from a bottle into a frosty cold glass! So swanky. Anyway, at that point, Michel told us that our date was already taken by some charity event or something. He offered us another date, but our date was pretty much already set. He went so far as to call up the charity people to ask them if they could move their event, but that was crazy... Sam and I decided to stay and hear the information anyway cuz we felt bad. He was being so accomodating and, well... it'd be a waste of free beer.

Anyway, he went through the expenses, and I think he saw us as a naive, young couple. He gave a very long speech about the costs, but also a lot about what people should do when they're planning a wedding. He was very nice and even funny at times, but he was also pretty serious. And everything he said was translated into my head as "Appetizers are expensive, cocktail hours are expensive, alcohol is expensive. Funny joke about people swarming plates of shrimp... etc." Then he gave us a tour of the lovely banquet room and pool area. After the tour, he gave us a wedding packet, we returned Sam's glass, shook hands, and off we went.

What's interesting is that the dinner itself would not be very expensive, and neither would be the room rental fee. The appetizers and alcohol are what would really put us over the top. We could do without the appetizers, but the alcohol is a little necessary, and we can't bring our own. They also charge a cake cutting fee if you don't use their assigned bakery. Ah well. This is really all a moot point. They don't have our date open anyway.

But did I mention the free beer? (I'm easily impressed by anything free.) Free beer!

I'm still trying to gather more ideas of locations to call. Even though Casa Sirena has our date free and is very affordable, I think it's smart to try to shop around a little more. I'd like to see if there's someplace Sam and I would like a lot better.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ringa Linga

I'm beginning to realize that my love for the color blue is a little scary. Seriously, I want it everywhere. Maybe I should get blue tints for my glasses, so everything I see will automatically be blue. Sadly, I'm only mostly joking...

Anyway, I've been looking at wedding bands, and I'm really liking these. Yes, because of the blue. They're from

This one is 14k white gold and has a round, blue diamond center stone with two smaller white diamonds on either side. 1/2 carat total weight, so it's not too big, not too small. I really LOVE this one. I'm generally not a jewelry person at all, so when I like something, I really like it. You could probably stick a blue sapphire in the middle and I'd still love this ring. But I like the idea of having something unique. (My mom would probably say, "Why do you always have to be so different??") And at $495, I think it's a great value.

If I were to get something that's actually a band, I think I'd like something like this. White gold or platinum (probably white gold cuz it's cheaper) with blue sapphires and diamonds that go halfway around. Nice! I really like it, but I don't love it. Using 14k gold, it's $659.

So why am I considering a ring I only like when there's a less expensive ring that I love? I've got 2 reasons:

  1. The first ring only comes in gold. We think my engagement ring is platinum (we're somehow not sure). I normally wouldn't care about what it's made out of so long as it lasts, but I want to solder my e-ring and wedding band together eventually. Would there be complications because of the different metals?
  2. Since the first one is a 3 stone ring, will it look okay sitting flush against my solitaire e-ring? Particularly when/if I solder it? It might be a large clump of stones...

I figure I'll go to a mall jewelry store, try on a similar style, and ask the salespeople about how it'll look, metal soldering, etc. Then I'll just buy it online. I feel a little bad taking advantage of the salespeople like that. But then I remember that they're mostly pushy, stuck-up people who drool over my every word when I'm looking at a $1000 diamond ring, but sneer in my face when I ask to see a $99 sapphire-only ring. (This happened in two different stores some months ago. The moment I said, "What about a ring with only sapphires?", their smiling faces turned into bored, ugly sneers, and they basically threw the $99 ring at me...)

I'd normally feel a little nervous making such a big purchase over the internet, but all the brides I've talked to who dealt with them said they got beautiful rings with awesome service. And they're listed with the Better Business Bureau. Yay!

The only other ring I might like better is a solitaire enhancer, called a wrap. Like the name suggests, it wraps around the solitaire to make it look like one multi-store ring. Like this:

But with just the blue sapphires on the sides. Preferrably round or pear-shaped. But I have yet to see that anywhere.

I feel like I'm being nitpicky, but I figure it's only natural. I take a long time deciding what to wear from day to day... how much more for something I'll be wearing for the rest of my life?

We found a ring that Sam really likes at the Zales Outlet store, but that was several months ago, so it's not certain that it's even there anymore. From what I remember of it, it was white gold with diamond(s) and sapphire(s) in an inset channel. (Thankfully, blue is Sam's favorite color too.) It was around $400.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hot Air

So here's a vent. I was debating on whether to post it on my regular journal, but it's all wedding-related, so here we are.

It's just that this reception venue stuff is really very frustrating. Almost everywhere that we've called so far that's free on May 6 is either expensive or unaccomodating. And the cool inexpensive places are either booked or unaccomodating. It's aggravating.

I did a lot of research tonight, though. I even looked into places like country clubs and hotels that just seemed too much like wedding factories or stuffy posh places for our little reception/party. I found a few that seem promising, so I'm hoping they pan out. I have my eye set on the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club. They're inexpensive, yet with high class food. But I'm trying not to get my hopes up on that one. Their website mentions sponsorship by a member, and I certainly don't know anyone with a yacht club membership...

The thing that's really getting to me is that some of these places sound fantastic, but they're about $1000 out of our price range. Which seems like a lot to us, because that's about 1/5th our budget, but is really not that much at all. And then one place is completely affordable and perfect, but not available on May 6. And another place that's totally affordable doesn't allow music after 8pm because of another event that day. It's just all these near misses are really grating on me because I just want to have it over and done with.

Honestly, I wouldn't completely mind having our reception at the park. I had visions of a glitzy, slightly over the top reception before, but I don't now. We're not glitzy people. Something fancy would be nice and probably fun, but I don't need it. I just hate being dragged from one end of the spectrum to the other. I hate having my expectations change so drastically day by day. One day, I'm thinking we're having picnic tables, plastic cups, and Subway sandwiches. Which would be fine, except the next day, I'm thinking we might have round dining tables, glass goblets, and tri-tip au jus. It's so frustrating!

I kinda just want to pick a place, go with it, and be done with it. But some places sound like a deal, but they're really not. And some places sound like they're very expensive, but they're really not. Like now that I'm thinking about it, I looked at a hotel online today that actually seems like it might be a better deal than the Yacht Club, depending on the circumstances. But since everything's not all that it seems, I have to do some really tedious calculations. Blargh! Blargh, I say!

I want to have a wedding I can comfortably afford. But, at the same time, I don't want to sacrifice anything that would ease my mind a little. I just don't want to stress out on my wedding day, you know? I don't mind stressing out the days before, but I just want to sit back and feel confident that there'll be food and drinks and people to serve them when I get to the reception. I'm a worrier by nature. I don't want to worry more than I have to on my wedding day. I want to enjoy it as much as I can. I think that, at least, is one of the most reasonable things to want out of my wedding.

Monday, December 12, 2005

All for Fun, and Fun for All

I've been to enough parties and weddings to know that you can't just stick people together with food, booze, and dancing, and expect them to be entertained. Some people don't chat while they're eating, some people don't drink, some people don't dance. In fact, I'm expecting many of these types of people to come to the wedding. So I've been thinking of activities that will hopefully keep people from forming bored groups around the tables. Here's what I have so far:

Personalized Guestbook Pages
I found this idea on a few wedding websites, and thought it sounded really cool. Instead of having a stuffy, boring, useless guestbook where people sign their names and that's it, we'll have a guestbook with pages or cards that each guest can personalize, draw on, write memories, etc. It'll be like the guestbooks at the, but we'll make it ourselves!
  • We'll buy sheets of cardstock or 4x6 notecards (in various colors, maybe?) and place in a basket with colored pencils, stickers, gel pens, and other artsy stuff.
  • Each sheet will have a question on it, such as: How did you meet Kristine/Sam? What is your favorite memory about Kristine or Sam? If you had one wish for the couple and their future together, what would it be? What would you like Kristine and Sam to remember most about their wedding day?
  • We'll set the basket of paper and artsy stuff on a separate table with directions to sign and fill out/decorate a page, then return it in a separate basket.
  • If I get ambitious, we can set out an iZone Polaroid camera so guests can take pictures of themselves and stick them on the page they decorated.
  • When Sam and I get back from our honeymoon, we can read through what people wrote and put them in a scrapbook!

Disposable Camera Scavenger Hunt
I also found this idea floating around wedding pages, and thought it'd be fun.

  • We'll set out a disposable camera at each guest table (or every other one)
  • Attached to each camera will be a tag with instructions and a list of about 5 pictures the guests need to take with the camera.
  • The list of pictures will include things like... ~Everyone at your table, ~The photographer taking a picture of you, ~The bride eating cake, ~The best man dancing, ~Any couple who's been married for 20+ years, ~The maid of honor doing something silly, ~Guests filling out the guestbook, ~The person who caught the bouquet, ~The bride kissing the groom on the cheek, ~A recently married couple (2 years or less), ~What's left of the wedding cake
  • The idea is that the guests will work together with their table to get the pictures on the list, chat with people to find out who's been married for 20+ years/2 years or less, pass around the camera to take fun pictures that aren't on the list, and generally just socialize and have fun.
  • Sam and I will get the pics developed and probably compile those with the guestbook pages to create a super duper wedding memories book. We'd also try to get them on CD or scan them so guests could view them in an online gallery.

I think if we have too many activities, people won't know what to do with themselves, but I think between the guestbook and the cameras and the dancing, people should have more than enough to keep them active and happy. I really love these ideas too because they'll give us lots of unique, personalized memories that a normal guestbook and professional photographer would certainly miss. I have a poor memory too, so any time I feel like I'm forgetting something, I could always just open up the book and look back on it.

I really hope people get into it. These are the kinds of things I get excited about. I love keepsaking things (which is why I'm such a packrat) and I can't wait to see it all come together.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Lately, I've been spending a lot of my time at wedding websites and communities that have creative ideas. has a smallish section for wedding crafts, and has a great forum for brides who think outside the box.

While flipping through some threads today, I found out that cranes are often used for symbolic reasons in Japanese weddings. Cranes mate for life and are very devoted to their partners. Both cranes work together to build their nest and care for their young. And many people know the myth about the 1000 cranes. They say that if you fold 1000 origami cranes, one of your greatest wishes will come true.

I was thinking I'd like to incorporate them into the wedding somehow. Like setting a crane at each seat, or hanging silver cranes on strings. Or just having two of them on each table. My favorite idea is to have 2 origami cranes act as our cake topper. I'll have to run it by Sam, because I think he wanted something really cool and very personal, but I really like the symbolism, and I think it'll be very pretty. (But I always feel bad because I've kinda run amok with all my wedding ideas and I don't think I've been giving him enough chance to contribute...)

Anyway, here are some pretty pictures of cranes from this origami website:

Like white cranes on parade!

Pretty blue cranes...

The purplish pink ones look like they're having a conversation!

I'm entirely too easily entertained.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wedding Worries and Ramblings

I hate that every time I talk about the wedding, money is always involved in the conversation. And it can't be helped, because we're on such a tight budget that everything we do has to be planned out monetarily. It's like planning a business, only it's a wedding. Ah well. What can you do?

There are good things about being so budgeted. I've been figuring out what's important to me when it comes to all this, and that's good. There's less waste, fewer unnecessary things to get in the way. I think all the excessive details make a person lose sight of what they're really doing that day. It's all about love, friendship, family, and fun. Anything not involving those 4 things are completely unnecessary.

So I'm paring down my big ideas again. I figure that if we have a restaurant cater, that should cut costs big time. In fact, I'd be surprised if the food cost us more than $700 that way. I suppose I will still call a couple catering places, but if they charge more than $15-18 per person for a buffet, it's the restaurant route we go. I just sent a request for information from Buca di Beppo (really yummy, rather inexpensive Italian restaurant), and I figure we could look into a Chinese place too.

Still, I'm worried that we'll screw ourselves over in the cost of rentals, since the restaurant likely won't provide servers or chafing dishes (or even tables and chairs, for that matter). How will we set up the food? How much will tables and chairs and linens cost? It's also tough because we still haven't figured out the reception venue thing, and we might need to rent a dance floor too. So I'm worried all the efforts we put into saving money will backfire because of all the extra stuff we need to rent.

The reason we haven't booked or even been to reception places yet is a combination of laziness and the inability to find something affordable. We've been slackers these past couple weekends, and the affordable places we have called haven't answered or called us back. So frustrating. Of course, I imagine Sam's the one who's really frustrated by this. I get to do the fun searching and investigating part. Sam's the one who actually has to call these fuddy duddies. (I hate phones)

But, I was thinking about the alcohol situation. Sam and I have debated about alcohol for a while now. Open bar is expensive, cash bar is tacky. Select drinks (beer, wine, margaritas) for free is less expensive. But we'd still have to pay for a bartender... Or do we? Since I'm thinking about not getting a caterer, I started thinking maybe we shouldn't have a bar either. I was originally worried about underage people at the reception, but then I couldn't think of any underage guests who wouldn't have their parents there. My cousins' parents will be there. Unless Sam's niece and nephew come, I can't think of anyone we're inviting who's underage from his side... So why not just go to Costco, buy a few cases of beer, Bacardi R's, and some bottles of wine? We could do the same for soda too. The wine can go on the tables, and the other stuff can go in galvanized tubs filled with ice. I think this could be a definite possibility... ^^

Gosh, I hope people don't get too drunk at the reception. I know some people who don't make good drunks...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Cordially Invited

So nearly a year ago, I bought quite a bit of cardstock at Michael's for a total of about $12, thinking that it'd be good for making my own invitations. But I didn't really know what style I wanted to do. I didn't want something very complicated, because it'd be hard to cut up the same way every time. But I wanted to be able to include a lot of information (like reception site, RSVP, directions...), presented in a nice way. After much searching, I think I found what I want, with this creation from

I think it's nice! It's a simple booklet style. Pretty, with a meaningful quote. And each "page" has different information:

I already have some ideas of pictures I'd like to use for the front of the invitation, but most of them require the time of someone who's good with a digital camera. It'd be nice to go to the Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks and just take artsy pictures. Not ones with our faces just plastered over the front, but something understated and romantic. Maybe I could teach Nimalee how to use my camera and we'll go there someday soon.

I had already gathered some quotes about love on my other wedding journal, so I was thinking about using this one for the words on the front of the invite:

"I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age forever." ~Rabindranath Tagore

I think it's very romantic. But I kinda liked the quote the girl used in the above invite, because it sounds like an invitation, you know? I'll ask Sam about it, and we'll look at more quotes too before deciding.

Okay, it's late. Time for bed.