If you know me personally, it’s no secret that I love weddings to the point of obsession. I started daydreaming about my own wedding and reading Weddingbee several long years before I met ST. I even had my own fantasy scrap book in the pre-Pinterest era.
Despite hours of procrastination on the Internet gathering this inspiration, we didn’t end up using any of these ideas.
I don’t remember where these images came from, since I collected them years ago. Apologies, people who are due credit!
Prior to meeting ST, I wanted a beach wedding. I envisioned myself walking barefoot on the beach, on a day when the weather was perfect, wearing an airy confection made by Amsale or Monique Lluillier. That’s the problem with fantasy wedding planning – you have an unlimited, fantasy budget. It isn’t until you’re actually engaged that you find out that weddings cost buckets and buckets of money.
In Chinese culture, the groom’s family picks up the tab for the wedding. In Mexican culture, the couple have padrinos (god parents) and relatives that sponsor parts of the wedding. While both our families contributed generously to our wedding fund, we were still responsible for about half. Luckily (and somewhat surprisingly), we were responsible enough to have savings. Kids, save your money!
Weddings are a big deal in my family. My grandma and aunts always wear beautiful, silk qipaos that are prettier than the bride’s. My mom has special outfits designated for banquets. Everyone whips out a fancy camera and is a “photographer” for the night – especially my dad. It’s always a giant family reunion since we’re scattered across the tri-state area and only see each other a few times per year.
Being the first-born and the first of my sisters to get married, I felt a bit of pressure to show everyone a good time. Fortunately, my wonderful husband wanted to do that too.
It was overwhelming at first, but somehow, we narrowed it down to this – we wanted to include people who loved us, knew us, and were overjoyed that we were getting hitched. That cut our guest list in half – we did not invite our cousin’s then-girlfriend, associate pastor at my church, random coworkers, and many others. We simply refused to invite people we didn’t know to our wedding. This caused my parents to have temper tantrums, but we stood our ground.
This was, and remains, the best decision we ever made about our wedding. Side note: We did allow my parents to invite about ten of their friends but that is nothing compared to how out of control Chinese parents can be about guest lists. Chinese people are infamous for showing up with several uninvited guests in tow but this didn’t happen to us because the people we invited cared about us. We didn’t have anyone show up with a cousin’s son-in-law’s sister’s dentist.
Our next guiding principle was, of course, the beast that was our budget.
We entertained the idea of having our reception at a trendy restaurant like Bacchus or Thalassa. Just to be cute. However, not only were these restaurants too small (they can accommodate less than 100 guests), it just didn’t feel right to serve Greek food at our mostly Chinese and Mexican wedding.
Meanwhile, my parents had been hounding us to have a Chinese banquet.
I never imagined myself as a Chinese banquet bride. Everyone in my family and in our church had Chinese banquet wedding receptions. Nothing thrilled me less than the tacky decor, boring food, and pushy, rude wait staff. But I didn’t want to disappoint my parents, so to appease yet another wedding-related beast, I turned to Google.
Within minutes, I found S. Dynasty restaurant in Midtown East. We weren’t deterred by the average Yelp reviews because it’s mostly silly people whining about not finding authentic Chinese food in Midtown. I still have lots of love for Yelp though. Their decor and prices were spot on, so we decided to have dinner there. Side note: Citysearch reviews are more accurate. But then again, why do you need them? You’re reading mine! I kid… not really.
Long story short – we loved it. The food was delicious, the decor elegant, and the staff courteous. We paid our deposit that night. Not only did it feel right, the restaurant can only accommodate about 170 guests – the magic number. My mom happily chirped, “They’d love to invite you, but the restaurant is just too small!” to all her friends.
Here are some other great things about S. Dynasty:
A few months after we found S. Dynasty, a coworker recommended Tillman Chapel. Everything started falling into place from there.
Up next, our ceremony!
I know I said in my last recap that the ceremony would be next… but it’s next for real this time!