From Muggle to Mrs


Another month has passed which means I’m still pretty much the worst blogger ever. But! I have lots to update you on, so let’s just breeze right on past all the standard contrition and jump right into the good stuff.

My November kicked off with an epic bridal shower which was, much to my delight, Harry Potter-themed!

I had no idea it was Harry Potter-themed, but was obviously VERY happy when I walked in the door. My awesome bridesmaids also pulled off a second surprise when my bridesmaid Holly surprised me by coming for the bridal shower… from Canada! It was all kinds of perfect.


The bridal shower was wonderful — having a whole bunch of my friends all together in one place, sharing memories and, of course, getting to open presents (bahaha). They really went all out with the decorations and special touches — there was a “pensieve” where folks could write down their favorite Gretchen memory, and they made a batch of Felix Felicis as a (super delicious) specialty drink.

We also played a game where I had to answer a bunch of questions that my sister had previously asked Sean. You know, stuff like “What’s Gretchen’s favorite color?” (He got it right) and “What’s the theme of your wedding?” (He got it wrong, hahahahaha.) Then, if I guessed what he answered correctly, I got a doller, and if I got it wrong, I had to stick a piece of Bubble Yum in my mouth.

It was hilarious and terrible. My sister was a ruthless game host — Sean misread one of the questions (the question was “What was your first date?” but he answered it as if it was “When was your first date?”), Jenny still asked me the question, which of course I got wrong because he didn’t even answer it correctly!

So by the end I had 14 pieces of gum in my mouth and 15 dollers. So I still came out ahead!

The only problem I had with my bridal shower was how short it felt! The two-hours literally FLEW by. My friends said that it’ll seem even faster on the actual wedding day, so I guess it was good preparation, but still! It was just that much fun. I’m a really lucky gal to have such wonderful friends and family. 🙂

And speaking of family, the wedding festivities didn’t end there! One week after the bridal shower, my entire family headed down to Houston to see my grandmother.

As most of you know, I am half-Chinese, and for both of my siblings’ weddings, we’ve performed a traditional Chinese tea ceremony at the rehearsal dinner. We’ll be doing the same thing at my own rehearsal dinner, but since my grandmother’s health isn’t too great and she can’t travel, we went down to Houston to do the tea ceremony with her early.

It was really special, and some of Sean’s family who live in Texas were also able to come out and join in!

Everything else that’s been going on over the past month has been just one giant mix of wedding planning and work stuff. I’ve actually got an Elite Event tonight — our annual Yelp Northern Virginia holiday party! So tonight should be full of fun and festiveness — two of my favorite things!

I also finally checked off two of the remaining big ticket items on my wedding to-do list. I finished all of the centerpiece bottles I’ve been working on (my nightmares are nothing but glitter and Mod Podge), and I finally placed my floral order!

Dude, I know that a lot of you think I am certifiably insane for wanting to do my own wedding flowers, but this is what I have to say about that: I’m spending less than $500 on my wedding flowers. And after several multi-thousand dollar quotes from florists, I am perfectly happy to put in the legwork (with the help of a couple of my crafty bridesmaids!) and put this stuff together at home.

At Potomac Floral Wholesale, that amount got me 125 Milky Way roses, 50 Emely roses, 20 White Akito roses, 40 hydrangeas, 6 bunches of stock, 2 bunches of dusty miller, 1 bunch of silver brunia, 1 bunch of wax flowers, 4 bunches of glittered birch branches, and some additional floral supplies. Flowers everywhere!

Also, there are WAY TOO MANY different kinds of roses. Part of the reason it took me so long to place the order was just because I was overwhelmed with how many different kinds of roses there are! I know most brides would never risk doing their flowers on their own in the first place, and even for brides that are into that, they probably don’t have time to research all the different varieties (or they probably just don’t care as much as I apparently do!) But, that being said, if you are one in that small percentage of extra-crazy brides like moi and want to learn more, there are rose comparison studies on the website Flirty Fleurs that I found ridiculously helpful.

Okay, I’ll wrap it up for now, but we’re really getting into the home stretch here! Now that it’s officially Decemeber, I can actually say that my wedding is NEXT MONTH and not be lying.

Unghhhhghghh wait that’s too real I’m not ready ahhhhhhhhhhhh

A Rose By Any Other Name


Sorry for the long hiatus, party people! Things have gotten a little bit crazy ’round the neighborhood lately (I’ve had four Yelp events already this month, and another two to go!), and so both my blogging AND my wedding planning have been pushed to the side for a bit.

But my parents are returning from their amazing 3-week vacation in France (lucky sons of…) which finally means that a lot of the things I was waiting to do with my mom can finally get done! So I’ve got a full week of catering tastings, floral meetings, and the like set up. Hooray!

For those of you who were wondering, by the way, I did end up deciding on that Save the Date. By overwhelming response, the winner is…

So yes, Save the Dates are done and have been sent out (to all the folks whose addresses I was actually able to get, haha), which means the rest of planning is going full-steam ahead! My Big Item Wedding Checklist now looks like this:

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑ (and I ordered my veil, too!)

Caterer: ☐ (tastings this week!)

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers: ☐ (consultation this week, and see below)

Centerpieces: ☐ (in-progress)

Ceremony Musicians: ☑

DJ: ☐

Cake: ☐ (tastings scheduled)

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☐

Lol, notice how the list keeps growing? Hahaha. I hope to have DJ (and lighting) locked up soon, and I also have scheduled a couple of cake tastings, which, along with the catering tastings happening later this week, officially marks the start of the “fun” stuff, I’m told! Our wedding website is also live (although not 100% complete, as I’m meeting with potential hotels to book room blocks this week), which is fun (and gives me a use for all those engagement pictures, hehe.

I also am continuing to deliberate on what to do with flowers. When I first blogged about trying to figure out my priorities for the wedding, I had flowers pretty far down on the list. In fact, I didn’t even think I was going to have any flowers in my centerpieces at all! But, of course, the more planning and research (and Pinning!) I do, the more I do want some fresh blooms at the wedding, haha.

I’m meeting with a florist on Thursday, but am also still heavily considering DIY-ing the flowers, especially since I have hired a day-of coordinator to help get everything set up, AND I found out from the venue that I will be able to store things overnight on-site (though we won’t be able to set up until a few hours beforehand.)

Everyone I talk to thinks I am a bona fide crazy person for even considering DIY-ing the flowers, but I just honestly don’t think it’ll be that bad! Costco sells bulk flowers (and, as you can see above, their roses are gorgeous, I bought some off their flowers the last time I was there and they were beautiful and lasted a week!) and I am fortunate to have access to more than one wholesale flower market in this area as well. I’ve also found a site that will portion out flowers in smaller amounts than you’d be able to order online, so you can get a wider variety of flowers instead of having to buy like 200 of one kind.

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I’ve also already DIY-ed some brooch flowers to include in my bouquet anyway (more detail to come on this in a later post), and I’ve watched a lot of tutorials on putting together bouquets, which can be done the day before. And my centerpieces are not going to be big floral centerpieces in a vase like you see at a lot of weddings, but instead will only require about a dozen loose flowers per table, which I think will be pretty easy to set up (esp. if we can stage them the night before and just have the coordinator transport them from the storage room to the tables.)

But, again, I don’t know if I may be taking on too much. At this point, it’s still easy for me to evaluate all the various DIY projects I have going on (centerpieces, ceremony backdrop, flowers) and say “I’ve got plenty of time!” but since flowers cannot be done in advance, I may be taking on more than I’ll really be able, or even want, to handle in the days before the wedding.

I dunno. I guess I’ll have a much clearer idea after I speak with the florist later this week — maybe her prices will be fairer than I’ve been seeing from other florists in the area. Who knows?

Did you DIY your flowers, or do you know anybody who has? How much did you end up spending on wedding flowers?

Ireland Part II: Glendalough, Kinsale, and Blarney

Well, when I last left you, we had just finished our epic tour of Dublin, Ireland, made complete with whiskey drinking, Guinness pouring, and lots and lots of potatoes. But I did admit that Dublin as a city wasn’t really my favorite. Luckily, all of that changed literally the minute we piled into our rent-a-car and headed south.

Welcome to IRELAND.

As mentioned, the catalyst for our trip to Ireland was the fact that Sean’s fraternity brother (ZBTs for life, yo!) was getting married in Cork, so we had to make our merry way down the island to get there. Which, as it turns out, is really THE way to see Ireland. It was such a beautiful drive! Well, partly due to the fact that I wasn’t the one driving (wrong side of the car AND wrong side of the road? No thanks.) but seriously. I mean, you can see for yourself:

Our plan was to make our way leisurely down to Cork, which is located on the southern tip of Ireland, so we stopped in beautiful Glendalough en route.

I’m still not 100% sure of the historical significance of Glendalough, but I do know that it was pretty stinkin’ beautiful.

And made for some picturesque photo ops, hehe.

Plus, on our way back down from the lake, it felt like I found Rapunzel’s tower! 😉

We drove through a few adorable towns on our way down to Cork, and eventually made it there late that evening. Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos in Cork, but I definitely remedied that over the next couple of days, haha. The next day, we were off to visit Kinsale, a tiny coastal town about half an hour from Cork.

The entire town was so exceptionally CUTE. And with tons of adorable shops, a handful of old stone churches, a marina, an old prison tower, and a couple of ruined forts, it was a full day!

The next day, we packed up the cars once again and headed out to Blarney, which is only about 15-20 minutes from Cork and happened to super close to where the wedding was taking place! You may have heard of it, if only due to the much-famed legend of kissing the Blarney Stone, hehe.

Which is, of course, exactly what we set out to do!

In order to get up to the Blarney Stone, which is located on the very top of the castle, you have to climb up these ridonkulously narrow and steep stairs — up, up, up! One thing is pretty clear: people back then were not the same size as people today, hahaha. Once we got to the top, though, all the squeezing was definitely worth it. Check out the view!

The actual Blarney stone is a specific “brick”, for lack of a better word, that’s located on the interior of the castle wall, down a bit. In order to kiss it, you have to lay on your back and hang onto these handlebars, then leeeeeeeean back and give it a smooch. There’s an friendly Irish man there to help you, too. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my own picture of me kissing the stone, but I DID get a photo OF the photo of me kissing the stone, hahaha. Fair warning, it is incredibly unflattering, hahaha.

So there you have it! Supposedly I am now blessed with the gift of eloquence, and I can say I’ve kissed the same piece of rock that hundreds of thousands of people have kissed before.


The grounds around Blarney Castle are well worth a walkthrough themselves, even after you’ve finished swapping spit with the stone. It’s just such a beautiful place!

So for those of you who might consider skipping Blarney since it’s so touristy, I still recommend going. There weren’t a ton of people there when we went, and there’s just so much to see! Caves, absolutely GORGEOUS flowers, and even a poison garden!

And, yep, that last photo is of EXACTLY what you think it is, hahahahaha. It was in his huge metal cage so people couldn’t reach through and snag some for themselves.

And thus wraps up our trip through scenic Ireland. Next stop, a true blue Irish Wedding! Which included a tradition that I just might have to adopt for my own future nuptials. But I’ll get to that. For now, you’re off the hook, hehe.