Tag: wedding planning

But What if I Fall?

Fall is finally in the air here in San Diego, and I’ve returned for a new update on my life.  It’s nothing too exciting to the average reader, so I guess I’m writing this more for myself.  It’s more of a reflection I suppose. These past few months have been eventful and eye-opening. Let’s just take a quick look on the past year.

When I first started this blog, I was just married and back from my honeymoon.  Fresh and hot out of law school.  Not long after, I decided to begin pursuing a possible new career because I fell in love with wedding planning while planning my own.  (Never in a million years did I think this was a possible dream I could pursue.)  At the encouragement of my husband, I began contacting countless wedding planning companies and struck gold with the woman I work for now. I had only worked a few weddings before my grandma had a sudden turn in health for the worse, and I had to make next-day flights back home to care for my grandmother.  Around that time, I poured my thoughts and feelings into my blog since it strangely gave me even a glimmer of clarity and a release. (I never wrote an entry of closure since I hadn’t quite processed it at the time, and I intend to at some point.) When my grandmother passed suddenly, I returned to San Diego with a heavy heart I didn’t expect to have; my feelings even took Ryan by surprise. But I carried on and have continued wedding planning. Now, I’m also working for an attorney I worked for last year, and to say that it has been a blessing is an understatement. I couldn’t stop beaming because it was (at least to me) a dream job.

With both jobs, I fall in love even more, and when you work with the right people who push you, inspire you, and are genuinely kind and understanding people, you realize it’s not work if you love what you’re doing. I realize that’s rare after having gone through several jobs over the last few years.

In a strange way, I felt my grandmother’s passing was her nudge at me… telling me that life goes by quickly and that times are changing.  It is possible to do everything I want in this life and that I have to go for it now.  I have to make it happen.  It’s a lot easier said than done, which I’m sure you’ve figured out.  But with my very traditional Chinese background, I felt stuck at a crossroads with tradition and my generation’s views.  To give you a better idea of what I was struggling with, here’s a little background:

My grandma came here from China (essentially a single mom) and worked hard to give my mother and her sister a better life.  In turn, my mother (and father) worked even harder to give me an easier life. All those who came before me had struggles I can’t even begin to appreciate fully.  They didn’t have the luxuries my brother and I were so fortunate to enjoy – watching TV, sleeping in, only having to focus on ourselves and school grades. Their history and the way they were brought up meant working a steady job with good pay and reliable benefits, which to this day is a mindset they have drilled into me.

While I appreciate that it provides comfort, possibly some bragging rights if you can call it that, and the fact that it puts my mind at ease, I am surrounded by dreamers, entrepreneurs, achievers – all of whom are humble and successful. I’m inspired more and more each day so much that might heart might burst, and I just have to do something about. They have each explained to me they have had to take huge risks and have also had naysayers and odds against them.  Their successes were not without multiple failures.  I’ve even read of those who have had similar upbringings and their parents came around to their choice of careers.  Sometimes, I’m afraid my family will say all those dreamers, entrepreneurs, achievers, are all just the lucky few and to not take chances.  But there will be those who always doubt, and I’ve come to firmly believe if you trust in what you’re doing, things will naturally follow. As one of my favorite quotes goes:

“What if I fall?”

“Oh, but my darling, what if you FLY?

Having felt worn out, tired, judged, and looked down upon, I finally decided I am going to pursue wedding planning and other business ventures with Ryan. I’m going to enjoy learning photography, blogging, planning things to do on the weekends with Ryan, stop turning friends down and hanging out more, and continuing to do law. Just living life and enjoying it more. After all, as cliché as this sounds, you’ve only got one life to live and anything can happen at any moment. So, carpe diem!

P.S. Thanks for reading! I can’t believe how many of you actually read a nobody’s blog! I love hearing your feedback. XO!

How Much Are Those Pinterest, The Knot, and Style Me Pretty Wedding Dresses Really?

Hey girl! You’re newly engaged and the first thing you want to do is shop for wedding dresses that you’ve been pinning on pinterest! I get it—I’ve been there. For the married ladies, most of us have been there, too. There’s nothing more exciting! (Other than possibly taking that ring bling picture for social media, of course.) Sign me up. Where do I start?! You’re going to have a bunch of questions, so I’ll try to answer some from my own experience and post-wedding research.


(Both images above belong to me.)

How do I find the dress I love from Pinterest, Style Me Pretty, Carats & Cake, and The Knot?

First, you’re going to want to make an appointment at bridal boutiques. You have pictures of the kinds of dresses you want on your phone, and maybe you want to try the same exact ones from Pinterest and screen shots. Most of the pictures usually don’t say the designer name of the dress, but some do. If they do, then head on over to google to find the closest bridal shop with the designer you want. If they don’t, it may be a little hard to find the designer, but you can try and drag the original image into google to see if anything pops up.  Now that you are ready to try on gowns and you have the designer names, you’ve found the bridal salon location, and are about to make an appointment, let’s go! But wait—how much does it cost?

 Okay, I know the exact dress(es) I want to try on… And on a scale of “$ to $$$”, they’re $$$ to $$$$$$$!

When I first started dress shopping, I had the general idea that most wedding dresses were around $1,000. The dresses I pinned on Pinterest had no prices listed, so I blissfully assumed dresses like that were available and somewhat affordable (aka maybe slightly more than $1,500). What I didn’t know was that a lot of the wedding dresses I loved from Kleinfeld or Pinterest were easily over $4,000.

Ladies, keep in mind: THIS IS ONLY THE PRICE OF A DRESS. It doesn’t include a veil and/or headpiece, alterations and bustling, you and your fiancé’s rings, florals, venue cost, a wedding planner, alcohol, cost of food (plated food versus a buffet if it comes to that), linens, chargers, other table settings, décor, invitations and save-the-dates (if you don’t go paper friendly), chiavari chairs, DJ, MUAH (make-up and hair for you and if you choose to pay for your bridal party), bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, photographer, and videographers. Maybe even the cost of a bridal suite for the night before and day-of-the-wedding). Take a deep breath!

Here are just a few of the main designers I pinned when I was dress shopping myself and fell in love with. I’ve seen my girlfriends recently pinning the same dresses as I did, so I thought I’d post the ones I loved (and still do) along with retail prices listed from my research so you’re not caught off guard. (Many of these designers’ main lines have dresses that run well over $9,000. I was completely heartbroken when I found two dresses I had my heart set on were such dresses.) While these are only a couple pictures, I can guarantee just about any picture you click on will be one of these designers’ dresses.

Berta– $8,690. This is my personal all time dream and favorite dress by Berta. (Obviously can’t afford this! Well, I could but how smart am I being at that point?)

Inbal Dror   $8,500 (a close second contender I loved! The back of this dress is just stunning.)

Monique Lhuillier – (This is the designer of my actual wedding dress. I wanted this exact dress, but the cost was $8k – $9k! The horror… this dress was tied for second.)

Hayley Paige – ($5,345.00)

Lazaro – ($5,390.00)  I personally love how flattering this dress can be and the horsehair mermaid structure. While this particular designer never really caught my eye, I’ve seen lots of girlfriends posting his dresses.

Ines De Santo – (This stunning couture gown sold for $6,500. Similar dresses from her line sold for upwards of $8,000) This image is from preownedweddingdresses.com 

And here are some more names of my other favorite designers (check them out future brides! Just beware of the costs):

Pronovias (This stunner sells for $6,500, but Pronovias actually has mostly affordable dresses around $1k – $2k. Do-able!)

Galia Lahav – $11,500 – $12,000

Pallas Couture –  $11,000 – $15,000 (For this particular gown, I couldn’t find the price. But the range this gown lies in is at the very least $11,000. Many of the other stunning dresses from this designer are in the same price range.)


Alessandra Rinaudo
Sareh Nouri
Alvina Valenta
Romona Keveza
Rosa Clara
Rue De Seign

What can I do if I can’t afford the same exact dress I want?!

Okay, now you’re in disbelief. While it is discouraging, there is something you can do about it. Actually, there are several things you can do. FIRST: some advice from one bride to another! Tell the bridal consultant your price range so they don’t pull out dresses from a higher range that you fall in love with. (I did this, and it worked until I saw a dress that caught my eye, I tried it on, and had to have it. I gave in, and it was my downfall. Don’t be me!)

Solution #1: Go with the cheaper line of the designer if they have them or go with a dress that can be altered to look similar to your dream dress.
Some of these designers—like Hayley Paige, Lazaro, and Monique Lhullier—make another line to make their dresses a little more affordable. Hayley Paige’s other line is Jim Helm, Monique Lhuillier’s is Bliss, and Lazaro’s is Tara Keely. (The Jim Helm and Tara Keely lines run around $1k-$2k. Much better, right?) Personally, I think it’s wonderful. Heck, I said “Yes to the dress” at first to one of Hayley Paige’s cheaper dress line to make it just like the higher-end $5k-$6K Monique Lhuiller gown I ended up purchasing. To some other bride-to-be’s, they feel a little bitter because they can’t afford the exact designs they wanted. (I totally get it, girl—Pinterest, Style Me Pretty, and The Knot got your hopes up. It’s kind of unrealistic and unfair to us ladies that have no idea what a dress or wedding costs! Nothing but the OG dress will do!)

Here’s the Hayley Paige Blush dress I said yes to at first just to settle… but later changed my mind: 
I planned on adding more layers to make the dress more full-looking, raising the horse-hair and adding a more mismatched layer of horsehair towards my waist line, as well as adding some pretty appliqué on the horse-hair like the Monique Lhuillier dress I loved.

Here’s my actual wedding dress, which was a Monique Lhuillier (all photos below are taken by Lin and Jirsa Photography):

(Below, dress is bustled.)

Solution #2: You don’t need to look to Pinterest for dress goals!
There, I said it. I mean it. When you go wedding shopping, you’ll have ideas of what you want but actually trying on the dresses is a whole other experience. You’ll find that some styles just truly aren’t as flattering on you as you thought. You’ll begin to develop a different taste of what you want. You might have wanted sparkles and then you’ll suddenly realize you want a simple elegant and modest front side with a sexy low-back. That being said, there are other great dresses come from sites like BHLDN, JCrew, and Grace Loves Lace (for boho brides). I absolutely love BHLDN and Grace Loves Lace. Also, sites like Revolve and Missguided now have bridal sections that look just as amazing, couture, and are affordable!

Other huge name brands such as Allure, Pronovias, Paloma Blanca, Watters, Essence of Australia and Maggie Sottero are incredibly gorgeous and affordable.

Solution #3:
You can go to sites like www.preownedweddingdresses.com or similar sites like Still White and Tradesy to get designer dresses at a cheaper price. While they may still be a little pricey, it is certainly a better bargain and you may find some incredible steals if you take the time to look. You can buy a dress a size bigger than you and take it to someone to alter the bottom and take it in. Then begin to add or take away things on your dress. (When I bought my dress, I wanted to add a bow to my dress, and the owner of the salon from where I purchased my gown laughed in my face and said it would look ridiculous. I ended up buying my own fabric, researched on similar fabrics to match my dress material, found a great alterations seamstress, and she made my vision come alive.)

Solution #4:
Buy your dress at full retail price and then sell it later on a pre-owned wedding dress site! Easy as that.

Solution #5:
Go to bridal salon sample sales! Go and ask the shop when and which gowns will be on the sample sale racks! You’d be surprised to see how great the dresses are and how good the prices are. I was surprised myself. This is probably one of the best things hands down you can do!

In conclusion, be careful when you’re getting your ideas off of Pinterest. You’ll fall in love and know the dress you want, but it’s dangerous and will end up in heartbreak. Now that you know what to look for and what to think about, good luck bride-to-be’s!!! And have so much fun!

Xx