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Finding the perfect dress.

A huge part of my stress and anxiety, besides venue, was our outfits.

We went for our outfit selection two weeks ago, and no one could’ve expected (except me — but I’ll explain later) that I’d leave the boutique feeling…

…INCREDIBLY UPSET!

FM’s dresses, as gorgeous as they were, just weren’t ME.

Now I kind of expected this since I’d stalked their facebook page enough to know that their house style wasn’t quite what I had in mind. For instance, I’d always wanted to wear the classic songket, but I knew their style was more lacy. I had also established very early into my research that I’d have to tailor-make my evening dress because I knew I was going to have a hard time finding more covered-up options in their collection. What I had in mind for this was more red carpet glam than fairytale princessy. In all fairness I already had specific visions of what I wanted, so it made the selection all the more difficult. And my vision was this: a non-white, non-lace and non-poofy sheath dress (hand me the best shapewear please — I’ll need it) that covers my shoulders and upper arms. Non-lace because I don’t want to have to wear an opaque bodysuit underneath the lace just to cover-up because that would just look awful, unless you’re going to be wearing a hijab with it.

I knew there were going to be limitations. Yet I still took the plunge because I adore FM’s make-up. I just had to pray that somehow something will magically appear for me.

But unfortunately, as far as our first visit proved, no magic was conjured. I reserved the outfits I tried on, but believe me, I was not at all happy with my picks.

I had two options: settle, or tailor-make an extra outfit (this was going to be either the nikah dress or the songket — I can’t afford both), on top of the evening dress that I already knew from the beginning I had to tailor-make.

By now I think it’s pretty darn obvious how much I hate the idea of settling, but I did seriously consider going down that path because I didn’t want to spend any more money. Faz was already giving me grief, saying I was “spiralling out of control“.

It annoys me to no end when I excitedly tell him an idea and he immediately kills it, responding with “How much?”. I was merely telling him we ought to just make an appointment with Fatimah herself to discuss the dresses, but he was already starting to give me grief about the costs. What are you talking about? We don’t even know how much it’s going to cost, and that’s precisely what the appointment is for. I think I’m fairly reasonable — if it’s beyond what we’d be willing to pay, I’d decline. But what if it’s actually affordable and we missed the opportunity just because we thought it was more expensive and didn’t bother to find out?

Well, I wasn’t going to let that happen to me, so we made that darned appointment.

I obviously know cost is important, but couldn’t he have been a little more empathetic, try to see it from my perspective first, then get to the cost part later? I mean, it’s the saddest thing when everything else is in place except the dress on your own body — and you’re the bride!

So I took half-day leave yesterday, and we went down to the boutique for the second time. The difference this time was that I left the boutique ALL SMILES, WAY OVER THE MOON.

Alhamdulillah God granted me my (paltry — yes, I realise) wishes because Kak Fatimah brought out a couple of new dresses we hadn’t seen during our first visit, and I fell in love with them instantly!

So there — I’ve got my nikah and songket outfits settled, and as per status quo, I’ll only be tailoring my evening dress. No extra money spent!

As we were leaving the boutique, Faz remarked that this “trial” was a blessing in disguise so that we could come again and be met by these gorgeous new dresses. I can’t agree more, but also the moral of this story is to:

LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE!

I’m using this phrase a lot these days in place of “I told you so“. It’s become sort of a joke now, because he recently realised after almost ten years — would you believe it — that I actually give useful advice! Geez.

Anyway, after that we made a long-awaited trip down to Iris Tailor to make his medium grey three-piece suit. He kept putting it off at one time because he wanted to “tunggu second or third week bulan puasa ah, mana tahu dah slim sikit“. Err, not sure that was actually the case yesterday when they took his measurements, but we’re very excited to see how his suit’ll turn out because we’ve seen a lot of good reviews about this Iris Tailor!

Since this huge chunk of my worries are solved now, I’m feeling sooo much better, and ready to take on other tasks!

Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah. Ya Allah, please let things pan out even better.


Go big or go bust.

I’m almost at my wit’s end here. 

A while ago, Farhana from Kahwin Khronicles posted that my wedding venue, the Grassroots Club, will be undergoing renovations this year. I had zero knowledge of this and was shocked to learn of it. I quickly called our Grassroots Club liaison and he assured me that the renovation of the function rooms that we booked will be completed by mid August, and if for any reason the completion is delayed, they will move us to their multi-purpose hall, which by then would have turned into a ballroom.

I hated the uncertainty. I hated the fact that we wouldn’t know how our venue was going to look like. Renovating the place doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to like it better. Who knows what colours or patterns they’re going to choose?

And then to make things worse than they already were, yesterday I received a call from Nurin (a friend of mine who had booked the same exact venue) followed by Faz, telling me that they had been dropped THE bomb. The function rooms will not be available for rent anymore because they are going to lease it to some tenant, and that they would have to reallocate us to the multi-purpose hall, which will NOT be renovated into a ballroom till next year!

I just flipped. There are bloody reasons why I chose their function rooms over the MPH in the first place, and now you’re giving me the very place I didn’t want!

I can accept the clause in the terms of agreement that states that they reserve the right to reallocate us in the event that our venue becomes unavailable for whatever reason.

But what I cannot accept is: WHY COULDN’T THEY HAVE INFORMED US EARLIER?!

I had to find out from someone else! According to Farhana, they had started to turn down bookings late last year. Why couldn’t they have informed us about the possibility of renovations then? We could have the option to look for another venue if we wanted! We’re only five months away, and for Nurin, only four — where the F can we find other venues at such short notice?

@#%*!?&%^ man, seriously.

I am dead set on not having my wedding at their unrenovated MPH. I don’t settle, so if we don’t find another venue that we like in the next few weeks, Faz and I have decided to downsize our wedding. We will just nikah, throw a simple lunch or dinner for 400 immediately after, either at the mosque or at home, and be done with the whole thing in 4 hours max.

No sanding, no elaborate decor, no multiple outfits, no photobooth, no kompang. I can’t deny it’ll suck a little because I’ve invested so much time researching, getting ideas, acquiring quotations and writing on this blog, only to have them turn to dust. But we’ll be off to Sri Lanka for our honeymoon after that, and have loads of unspent moolah in our banks. Sounds way better than having to settle, if you ask me.

So my dear BTBs, keep your eyes peeled on this space because I might be selling away some of the packages that I’ve signed up for at a discount!


Panic Mode: ON

I have something to confess.

I had already begun to lose some steam with regards to wedding preparation (GASP!) over the last couple of months, but a meeting with Faz yesterday to discuss outstanding tasks quickly put things into perspective.

Armed with my laptop and kahwin-kahwin file containing invoices and such, we sat for a solid two hours at Starbucks to update our task list. It was truly an awakening. We were identifying a new small and seemingly unimportant task every five minutes, and these sneaky bastards, they just kept coming! I get major palpitations looking at my To-do list now. And I’m pretty sure that’s not the end of it.

We also sorted out and made a list of the due dates and amounts for payments. It’s easy to drop deposits here and there to secure vendors because they’re usually just a tiny fraction of the total payment, but well, you’re going to have to pay the rest of it eventually and this really just made us sick to our stomachs. Can I not part with my money, pretty please?

Looking at the figures on that list is enough to deter us from buying stuff we don’t actually need, so Faz says to refer to the list every time a desire arises. Hell, maybe I’ll even set it as the lock screen on my phone.

It’s now down to 6 months to the wedding. Of this, there are only 53 days in the weekends in total — the actual time I’m really left with to prepare for the wedding, after excluding all my work days. I’m going to have to plan and spend my time very wisely if I want to get everything done….draw up a Gantt chart, maybe?

All this whilst I still have 8kgs to lose! I used to think it was going to be well, not exactly a piece of cake, but at least easy because I’d done it before, but it’s proving to be more difficult this time round. Desk-bound job, lack of healthy food options for lunch, the condition of my knee, and effects of being on the wrong side of my twenties, basically — all these factors are really coming into play and affecting the results.

Are you panicking yet? Because I sure as hell am!


Change is the only constant

So there’s been a change in one of our vendors.

After months and months — no, literally a year — of contemplation (meaning we had thought about it thoroughly), we finally dropped RF for photography. They will still be doing our videography, though, because I feel it’s their strong suit.

And in their place for photography, we’ve engaged An Analog Affair!

I came across An Analog Affair online quite a while ago and it was love at first sight. We met Fadly, An Analog Affair’s one man show, in February last year at his place, and not only were we blown away by his work and its quality, we were also blown away by the interior of his house. I couldn’t stop gushing about how his place looked like a picture right out of a magazine!

I can’t deny it hurts a little in our pockets and in our hearts because RF’s packaged photography + videography deal we got exactly a year ago was mega cost-saving. We had initially wanted to get them only for videography as mentioned here, but we got reeled in by the deal they offered. At the time we did already have several other photographers in mind (An Analog Affair included), but because we wanted to save cost, we chucked our wants aside.

But over the past one year, our decision kept haunting me. I finally decided that I would regret it if I didn’t go with my heart for this one. Photos immortalise moments, and for a defining moment such as one’s wedding, I felt that it would be crucial to get a photographer whose works you really like.

It’s a little dramatic, yes, but with An Analog affair, we were like soulmates — no matter how many other people you’ve been with, you’ll always come back to that one person. It was the same thing with The Wedding Chateau.

But quite jialat on the pocket lah kan if everyone turns out to be a soulmate. Speaking of which reminds me of a brutally sarcastic remark Faz made not too long ago while I was throwing ideas around:

Faz: Wahlau, everytime you talk wedding, money comes out of your mouth! Senang jer nak pakai duit?
Me: ………………….
Faz: (Rather abruptly) Eh I nak pergi toilet lah. You have a couple of ten dollar notes?
Me: Huh? For what?
Faz: So I can wipe my ass.

Ewah ewahhh punyalah sarcastic! Ideas only mah!

Anyway, in spite of everything, I would still recommend RF for anyone who is looking for an affordable vendor who is honest and approachable, and actually churns out decent photos. Admirable qualities, if you ask me.

It’s just that their style wasn’t quite what I was looking for. Plus, I couldn’t settle with “decent”. I wanted EPIC.

I knew there was no chance of the other popular photographers who were charging a little lesser still being available at this point, so we skipped the enquiries and went straight to Fadly. I don’t know if it’s just the Malay wedding scene that sees this phenomenon of brides-to-be booking wedding vendors way, way in advance, but hoping that Chinese brides aren’t as kiasu (Fadly had shared with us he does more of Chinese weddings), we enquired if he was still available on our dates. And whaddaya know, he was!

EPIC came with its own price tag, but the outcome is going to be worth it.

(Fadly is one of Singapore’s three Malay photographers who are members of world renowned UK’s prestigious Master Photographers Association (MPA), alongside Fandy Razak of Studiodua and Shukri Samsuri of TheProjectPixel Photography.)

I must say I’ve also been lucky with Faz, because he accedes to my requests most of the time — but not without a bit of work on my part sometimes also, lah. In this case, I was able to convince him that change was necessary, even when he didn’t think so initially.

Well either that, or he’s just giving in to make me happy. <insert huge grin>

Anyway because of our new awesome photographer, we now have a renewed zeal to lose weight and look good in photos!


December Mantra

With Christmas sales all around, it’s hard not get all frenzied. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but occasionally I’m still a hazard to myself when I’m on my own.

So this is a lil’ mantra I’ve been chanting to myself:

Keep calm and save your bonus

This year, Alhamdullilah, both Faz and I benefited from the pay review for public healthcare professionals, intended to make the industry — that’s catering to the demands of an ageing population — more attractive. This couldn’t have come at a better time, when we’re saving for marriage!


Wanderlust.

Instead of wedding prep, all I ever seem to want to do these days is…..GOOGLE HONEYMOON DESTINATIONS!

One place that has always, always cropped up in honeymoon talk ever since I can remember is….Turkey. My friends aren’t surprised I picked Turkey. Apparently Turkey “is sooo you“, they say. I’m interested to know how they came to that conclusion, though. Do I have Turkey, like, written all over my face?

TURKEY

I’m not quite sure why I’m drawn to Turkey myself. I haven’t had much opportunity to travel growing up, but when I do get a chance hopefully in the near future, visiting modern cities isn’t exactly on top of my list.

I guess I’m drawn to places that offer a different cultural experience and an escape from urban life.

A honeymoon on some remote island would no doubt be an escape but I doubt I’d enjoy it that much. With me not being able to swim and all, I’d be doing next to nothing on an island honeymoon. (Note to self: Learn to swim, fool!)

A place like Turkey has so much to offer in terms of its people, culture, arts, history, scenic natural landscapes, and food — no problems finding halal food here, which is great!

I’m really looking forward to reveling in the beautiful ancient architecture, staying in a cave hotel, hot air ballooning over the gorgeous landscape of Cappadocia, dipping in the travertine pools in Pamukkale, and ending it with a stay at one of the beaches on the Aegean Coast — Antalya, Marmaris, Oludeniz, Calis, Bodrum….I can’t decide which!

The landscape of Istanbul.
Source: gribbly on Flickr

I can almost see us haggling for souvenirs here at the Grand Bazaar! I shall observe my mother more closely during her durian-bargaining — she always gets her way!
Source: Alaskan Dude on Flickr

Castle Cave Room at Museum Hotel Cappadocia with a view of hot air balloons flying over Cappadocia!
Source: Museum Hotel Cappadocia

Another gorgeous room at Utopia Cave Hotel, Urgup.
Source: Utopia Cave Hotel

A sight to behold — hot air balloons floating over Cappadocia.
Source: To Uncertainty And Beyond on Flickr

A contrast of pristine white of the travertine pools against the hills of Pamukkale.
Source: BennBeck on Flickr

Just might pick Oludeniz over the other beaches because of this breathtaking paraglider’s view of the beach set against the Babadag mountains!
Source: stevec77 on Flickr

But there is a dilemma.

I haven’t done the full research yet but judging from the currency conversion and hotel rates, I’m thinking it may be out of our comfort zone to go for a Turkey honeymoon immediately after the wedding. We would’ve spent a fair bit for the wedding, and we think it would be more sensible to replenish our reserves a bit more first.

Another justification for putting Turkey on hold is the weather! It’ll start to get cold in October, and winter lasts right up till April. Just so you know, I can barely survive air-conditioning. A good time to go weather-wise would be sometime from May to September, which also means it’s the high season — hotel rates will be at their highest. You can’t have it all I suppose, but if you were to spend on anything, might as well make it worthwhile.

We could actually wait till May to go, but by the wedding we’ve anticipated that we’ll be itching for a getaway so bad that we’re thinking to go for a short one somewhere nearer to home and less expensive. Friends tell me I should just put the money in the Turkey fund. But…but…I haven’t gone on a holiday for yonks to save up for marriage, leh! The boyfriend on the other hand, has managed to visit China and Cambodia during this time. How unfair! Fortunately for him they were both family trips, so I couldn’t retort…

Anyway after a very intense examination of Southeast Asia on my globe, we decided that Sri Lanka would be an interesting place to go.

At first we weren’t really sure about putting Turkey on hold, but Faz already had to choose his 2013 leave slots the other day so we had to make a decision fast. In the end, we decided that we should take a week’s leave before the wedding to tie up any loose knots — which we expect to be many — as well as a week after the wedding, for our honeymoon. This pretty much cemented the fact that Turkey had to wait because there was absolutely no way we could be done with Turkey in just one week (his leave slots are in blocks of one, or two weeks max).

SRI LANKA

Also known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. To me, Sri Lanka seems a little off the beaten track because I rarely hear of people honeymooning there. Obviously there are people who do, but I don’t personally know anyone who has, and this makes it even more mysterious.

After reading up about Sri Lanka, I really do think it’s one of the gems in Southeast Asia. There are so many things to be done in one place! You get all these scenic, historical landscapes, and all these awesome activities like taking a train ride through the lush valleys, tea-picking in Nuwara Eliya, going on a jeep safari in one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks, and visiting a turtle hatchery and releasing baby turtles into the sea, among many other exhilarating experiences.

The Sri Lankan railway offers some of the most scenic routes in the world.
Source: Garret M. Clarke Photography on Flickr

A magnificent view of the Nuwara Eliya hill country, famous for its tea plantations.
Source: the very honest man on Flickr

Tea pickers going about their job, picking the finest tea leaves. Staying atop the Ceylon Tea Trails, I imagine, would be one of the highlights of the trip!
Source: hceebee on Flickr

A chance to get upclose with wildlife at Sri Lanka’s many national parks.
Source: bpreece on Flickr

Again, hoping we can end the trip with at least two nights of beach retreat, before finally heading home to start a new beginning as husband and wife.
Source: Aditya Resort Hotel

There is some concern about weather during this period though because it’s the monsoon season. I gather from research the monsoon season doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to rain torrentially for days. It’s much like Singapore’s monsoon season, where it could be raining just a couple of hours a day, or maybe even no rain at all on some days. But we’re willing to take our chances.

Of course these are just plans, subject to budget (god, don’t you just hate that word?), time, and so on.

So there. Now that I’ve let off some steam, I hope I can finally function normally and resume wedding prep!