Notes on a bicoastal wedding

I can’t come up with anything eloquent right now, grip but I do have pictures and a few notes.

condom on Flickr”>Sean and Cindy p/v (por vida). #bicoastalwedding

I’m elated to be married to Sean.

side effects on Flickr”>In the party bus

I’m pretty sure I’ve never smiled so much in one day nor posed for so many iPhones.


Parents meet for the first time

I feel incredibly fortunate and blessed to have such amazing family and friends. My parents were impressed that so many of Sean’s family and friends traveled out from the east coast.

Maid of Honor

Fun with Danny and Cynthia

I’m so glad our guests had a super time. And gained some new friendships in the process.

Ten minutes before going in to the church. A bit nervous and chatting up the altar servers to keep myself calm.    #bicoastalwedding

I felt like a “wedding princess” — according to my niece/flower girl, Isabelle.

Leaving the church

No one lost the bet. Neither one of us actually cried, but we both teared up at different points during the day, mainly during the ceremony (vows, cousin Fabiola singing “Ave Maria”, and hearing that we were a symbol of hope for the St. John Vianney community struggling after the fire).

Super bride and groom

Yes, it was hot. The high was 107, but we managed to stay indoors with the air conditioning on full blast all day except for about an hour when we took photos outside.

See #bicoastalwedding for more Instagram photos.

The wedding reverse taper

health on Flickr”>License to wed

I hate comparing non running things to marathons and marathon training. It makes even less sense these days because I’m not running (like, at all).

The days leading up to the wedding are the opposite of the taper. Rather than spend less time on the wedding prep, I’m spending more. There’s calls, itineraries to tweak, appointments to make, vendors to confirm details and arrival times with, items to pick up from Costco and Smart & Final, etc. Granted, I’m not doing any of these things alone thanks to our amazing family, friends and Carmen, our wedding coordinator.

Still, like with an actual taper, I find I have more free time — mainly because I’m on vacation. Yesterday I spent a good chunk of the afternoon after I got my nails done (and messed up while trying to get lunch together) reading Junot Díaz’s new collection of stories, This Is How You Lose Her. There’s some irony there, I think. But damn, Díaz is an amazing writer. I stopped reading because I didn’t want to finish it all in one sitting. I felt like I should be doing something but things are checked off on our to-do list.

More similarities:

  • Getting a massage on the Thursday before.
  • Trying to eat well and get more rest.
  • Staying off my feet and staying hydrated.
  • Lots of hand sanitizer and other precautions to avoid catching a late summer cold.
  • Getting my day-of clothes and food sorted out beforehand.
  • Reading recaps for some inspiration, ideas and tips.
  • Freaking out about the weather.
  • Lots of prep and waiting around before the actual show begins.
  • Thinking a lot about the music I want to listen to on the day-of.
  • Rehearsal is like an expo, right?


  • I’ll be wearing a totally new outfit.
  • I’ll have much better photos.
  • No awful tanlines.

Okay, I need to run some errands and try and stay cool.

Second guessing

There’s a few things we’re second guessing these days.

approved on Flickr”>Wine for the reception

The first is doing a sorta DIY wedding. Our venue is bring-your-own with pretty much everything except tables, glaucoma chairs and ice. This was a big plus for us, especially when it came to alcohol. Buying beer and wine ourselves and hiring our own bartender was much more budget friendly than going with an in-house service. Fast forward 14 months and we’re grumbling about loading up boxes of wine, cases of water and soda, and picking up kegs. Now we know why they charge so much more… convenience! Duh. Oh well, at least we gave ourselves time to plan this out and have help.

The second is a wedding in September. Last summer was nice and mild. I barely needed to use my fan. I even wrote about the weather making training for an October marathon much easier. That was last year and 2010 as well. This summer has been so much hotter and humid with a thunderstorm every other week.

The highs in Palms and Westwood for the past seven weeks — maybe more — have been in the upper 80s and 90s. It’s worse farther east in Hacienda Heights and Brea, the ceremony and reception locations. I’m worried a high of 97 degrees (!) will kill the party mood. I’ve been to summer weddings where I didn’t feel like dancing because it was too hot. Then I was wearing a short dress. I’m not sure how comfortable I’ll be in a long wedding gown. Ugh. I know how I get in the heat. I get cranky and sweat a lot. I’m not one of those women who “glows.” I sweat just putting on my wedding dress indoors. I am glad we didn’t choose a park location for post ceremony photos and that there is air conditioning at both locations.

While Hacienda Heights will be hot on the 15th, I’m still very happy to be getting married there. It wasn’t enough to be listed in Sunday’s church bulletin. During the announcements, Father Ricky asked the assembly to say a blessing for us in our final days of preparation. I couldn’t help but cry as he recounted the first meeting back in July. “Cindy told me she wanted to get married here despite the fire because it was her home. I was really touched by that,” he said. I meant it then. SJV has always felt like home with so many familiar faces. I definitely felt that sense of community with so many people praying for us in our home for now, the interim tent church.

St John Vianney interim church

And yeah, it is air conditioned.

The questions

noun on Flickr”>To be used 9/15

I’ve been hearing the following questions from friends, buy more about family members, more co-workers.

Are you excited?
Yes, but more nervous.

Why are you not freaking out?!
‘Cause I’m freaking out about work. (This was more the case two weeks ago as there was a lot to do in the last week of the summer programs.)

Are you freaking out?
Actually, no one asks me this. Sean gets this question.

Do you have everything ready?
No. All the “big stuff” is generally done, but there are still plenty of things on the to-do list. Fortunately, we have plenty of people to help and enough time. I thought I’d want to take the whole week off from work, but went in on Monday.

Do you have your dress?
Of course. I’ve had it since early June.

The bet

I don’t remember exactly when we came up with the bet. I might have been talking about walking down the aisle.

“You’re totally going to cry when you see me.”

He disagreed.

I argued again. “Nope, capsule I won’t cry. It’ll mess up my makeup!”

Again, more info he shook his head thinking he wouldn’t need to use the handkerchief in his pocket all day unless it was to dab away sweat.

Since we’re both a bit competitive, we decided to bet on it. The winner gets bragging rights and something else to be decided.

The rules:
Tears caught when we’re getting ready (e.g. reading a note) don’t count
We must both be present

The outlook:
Sean thinks he has an edge being a guy and all. Plus, he knows I get emotional rather easily (see: Toy Story 3) and am not afraid to show tears in public. The site of our wedding is particularly meaningful to me as I grew up in the church ( sorta) and will be surrounded by people I’ve known my entire life, many whom attended my parents’ wedding 35 years ago. I also have to contend with my parents. If they cry — and they will, I know it — I’ll lose it.

Then there’s music, my emotional weakness. There are songs I can’t get through without crying. The music director/organist suggested one of those songs (“Pescador de Hombres”) for Communion during the Mass. I vetoed it immediately. I love the song, but I associate it with Grandpa Bartolo’s passing. A few months after he died, my dad told me Grandpa requested the song on his deathbed. Dad and my tío Johnny sang it for him. I’m blinking back tears as I write this. See!

I can control the tears if it’s about vanity (messing up my makeup) or I have greater concerns. I did it during the final miles of my first LA Marathon. I remembered my sister’s words when I got emotional thinking of my uncle and grandparents. I knew tears and a runny nose would affect my breathing, slow me down and be an unnecessary distraction. If I concentrate on my makeup and the bet I can win.

I told him to leave his sunglasses on, 'cause we're cool like that

If Sean can hold back until the father/daughter dance, he’ll likely win. Maybe I should change the song or follow Grandpa Bartolo’s lead. He wore dark shades at his sons’ and daughters’ weddings.

Are we there yet?


I don’t know if I’d be stressing this much if these next few weeks weren’t also some of the busiest at work. I thought I was being smart by picking a date at the end of the summer and during the gap between summer sessions and the fall quarter.

At least we have help. Lots of it.

I’m grateful for the family and friends who are going way above and beyond for us. Sean and I are lucky.

(Note, noun the only thing that’s accurate on that Wedding Wire screengrab is the countdown. We have may more than 1 RSVP, the numbers that begin our budget are not zeroes, and we’ve done a lot more on our checklist.)

August of this year

Status updates:

1. Still not running much. I think the only miles I’ve run in the last few weeks have been while doing intervals at the end of my NROLW workout.

2. I completed stage 2 of NROLW. I didn’t like stage 2 as much as stage 1. I purposely kept the weights lighter and might’ve sandbagged a bit. Additionally, pestilence I began using the gym at work (same as the one the students use). I like the convenience of the gym being 5 minutes away. Plus, there’s no excuse not to go when it’s 5 minutes away and I already have my clothes with me. I like the facility, but the weight room gets just as crowded as my local 24 Hour Fitness. At least it’s bigger and more well stocked with the weights I need. Another downside os the lack of some equipment (e.g. a low step). Since I used different gyms, I wasn’t that consistent with workouts. I took a week off from stage 2 and 3.

3. I started stage 3. Workout A kicked my ass. I’m still sore two days later.

4. There’s some vanity to my change in workout plans. I tried on my dress while meeting with a tailor. I fit in the dress, but didn’t like the look from behind. My butt looks fine thanks to all the lunges and squats. My upper back? Not so much. It’s not just the wedding dress. I really would like to fit in to half of my clothes (especially my business casual dresses).

Ornate flower girl dresses

5. Wedding planning is coming along. It excites and worries me that we’re less than 6 weeks away. Even though I feel like we’ve gotten a lot done, I know there will be stuff to do at the last minute, but I want to minimize the rush in the final days. Things we’ve done lately:
– Bought accessories for the ceremony (unity candle, lasso, ring bearer pillow, etc)
– Bought dresses for the flower girls (not those above, that’s too frilly)
– Selected and bought our wedding bands, fixed my engagement ring
– Planned out the liturgy (readings, prayers) for the Mass and met with the music director/organist to plan the music. My dad helped out here since he’s very familiar with the music selections.
– Applied for a marriage license
– Found a tailor, took in my dress for some minor alterations
– Found someone to do my hair, need to work out details
– Bought my shoes and some accessories for the bridesmaids

6. Work is going well, but it’s overwhelming at times. In my old position I had very few moments where I needed help. After six years, I had figured things out and due to the cyclical nature of the program/academic year I was sort of on auto pilot. That’s not the case in the new job. I’m not complaining. I like the challenges and opportunity to learn new skills. The trouble is that while I’m trying to learn a new job, I’m still filling in the tasks of my old job since a new person hasn’t been hired.

T-minus two months

Two months. That number worries me despite the fact that wedding planning has been pretty smooth so far. Sure, contagion I fret about the numbers, case but overall the decisions on the big stuff have been pretty easy.

From here on out Sean and I will need to make a lot of decisions about the small things. How will I wear my hair? What will the cupcakes look like? How will we structure the day? Where will we take pictures following the ceremony? The last one is a headache. I’ll explain later.

We’ve been getting a lot done lately:

mycoplasmosis on Flickr”>Invitation

We received our invitations two weeks ago. Over the next couple of days we updated the mailing list, printed labels and spent several hours stuffing envelopes and applying labels and stamps. We decided to keep it simple and leave off a second envelope and a separate enclosure for information on accommodations. We printed that on the back of the invite. 

invite process

I love the final product (looks better in person and not with my bad kitchen lighting). Noma did an amazing job both designing the invitations and being the contact person with the printer. She helped us find an affordable printer and even got us a discount.

We hand delivered some local invitations on the 4th and  placed the bulk of them in the mail on Thursday. My parents and grandparents delivered more by hand on visits to family. By Monday, we began to receive our first reply cards. We’ve had a couple of surprises, but most of the yeses were expected as were the few nos. 

Mini carrot cupcakes

It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do with the cake or cupcakes. Mainly, I needed to decide if I was going to use a custom-made cupcake stand my mom borrowed from a friend, Mrs. G. The five-tiered cupcake stand was made for Mrs. G’s son’s wedding in 2009. It holds up to 300 cupcakes and a small cake on top. I liked the stand, but insisted that we change the damask pattern. It’s nice, but doesn’t fit our colors. Last week, my mom and I went shopping in Downtown LA’s garment district. We found navy blue fabric and an appropriate trim. 

 Camera Roll-132

My mom finally chose a dress. (Not this one.) She looked for a couple of months and went to several stores. She’s easily the pickiest member of the bridal party. We found a dress during our downtown shopping trip. 

Wreath for flower girls

Our two flower girls and ring bearer are set. I still need to choose dresses and accessories for the girls. 

Wine for the reception

Sean and I took advantage of BevMo’s wine sale. We might have missed it if not for a reminder from my brother. We ordered online and picked it up in a rental from U-Haul. It’s currently being stored at my parents’ house. After buying 21 boxes of wine, Sean said he could understand why some couples might do a cash bar or have a dry wedding. Sort of. He doesn’t believe in dry weddings or cash bars. At least we got a great deal. Half the bottles we purchased cost us a nickel. 

We still need to buy beer, water and other non-alcoholic drinks. 

I'm a Chicana. I was made to pose next to bombs (old school cars).

In the works. I’ve been to a couple friends’ weddings where they forego the traditional limousine in favor of a “bomb” (restored cars from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s). I love this look and think the backdrop of a beautiful old car would be great for some photos. I’ve found a car club that does rentals, but need to officially book them. Sean has looked in to booking transportation for the wedding party and out of town guests. The best price we’ve found came from a company referred to by friends. 

I feel like we’ve done a lot recently, but know there’s many more items on our to-do list. At least my mom and sister have a bit more free time during the summer.

Not Wedding Wednesdays: Planners and talented friends

A couple weeks ago Sean and I met with Carmen, viagra 100mg a potential wedding planner and day-of coordinator. We’ve been able to handle planning ourselves thus far, cialis 40mg but from the beginning knew we’d likely need a day-of coordinator. There are a lot of organized and on-task people in my family — several family members are experts when it comes to parties — but they’re in the wedding party. I can’t expect my mom to coordinate the set-up at the reception venue if she’s taking photos with the rest of the wedding party.

Enter Carmen, referred last year by Wendy. We met at Carmen’s home in Alhambra. Not only was she organized and informative, she was also a great hostess. She offered us drinks and delicious homemade zucchini bread. I passed on the coffee, but had to try the zucchini bread. I love zucchini anything.

We caught Carmen up our plans, progress thus far, and what we’d need help with going forward. She assured us that we were on task for our timeline. It felt good to know that we weren’t behind, especially as I compare myself to bloggers or brides posting on the Weddingbee boards. I also like that Carmen speaks Spanish, is comfortable MC’ing and didn’t judge us for having a big guest list like other vendors. She’s coordinated 400 people Mexican weddings, this should be easier.

The only thing Carmen admonished us about was the invitations. We’ve just ordered them. Yeah, we know we’re cutting it close but it should be okay since we sent out save-the-date magnets in February. About those…

The minimalist characters were created by our friend Dennis de Groot, a talented illustrator/graphic designer. His recent work features minimalist renderings of pop culture icons like Donatello of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson of The Roots. Fifty illustrations have been included in his book Bare Essentials (2011). ‘Essentials’ is currently on display at Battalion, Lijnbaansgracht 206 in Amsterdam. Sean worked on the layout for the magnets using Dennis’ illustration.

Sean’s friend and former co-worker, Noma, agreed to design our invites last fall. A couple weeks ago, she sent us ten (!) different options — she said she got a little carried away. The various invitations differed in printing costs and how they incorporated our colors and other ideas. Although we don’t have a particular theme, we wanted the invitations to reflect the bicoastal and long distance origins of our relationship. We sent her these cards from Etsy for some inspiration: a tale of two cities and you and me city skyline. Dennis got married to his girlfriend, Sherisa, in 2010; their invitation was an inspiration as well.

Noma did an amazing job. We loved all of her designs, but picked two that would fit our budget and be less work to assemble. The invitation above was one of our favorites, but not the one we’re gong with. Last week, Noma priced printing options for everything including the envelopes and designed the reply cards. On Monday she put in the order. We should have invitations soon!

Sean and I haven’t been trying to make our wedding aesthetics “us” since that’ll be taken care of based on the fact that we’ll be the ones at the altar. How much more “us” can it be? I understand reflecting taste, personality and relationship history in weddings, but it seems like a lot of extra work. The invites and save the dates, however, were areas where wee knew we could express our personalities and relationship without trying too hard. I’m grateful we have friends like Noma and Dennis who are willing to use their time and talent to help us achieve that goal.

100 days and 300+ guests

When Sean and I checked in at the engaged couples retreat last month, gynecologist the volunteers told us about the optional scavenger hunt in our notebooks. The scavenger hunt — more like people bingo — was a 3×4 grid with descriptions in each square. These included “went to the movies in the past week”, ampoule “is having a live band at their wedding,” and “is having a large wedding (more than 200 guests).” If you chose to participate, you could ask another couple to fill in a square. It was a nice ice breaker.

Ureño Saldivar grandkids, 1983

Although we could fill out most of the squares, Sean and I filled out the big wedding option when it was open. While two hundred guests is well over the average guest list — 152 according to the 2011 American Wedding Study — it’s not much more than my family only list. I could have a bigger wedding than average just including my family (with no small children).

Cousins, 1984

Of course, numbers came up. One of us would sheepishly mumble 300, less than the actual total. The other couple would look scared for us and then explain that they were ruthless with cutting the guest list. I felt judged in a way, as if they thought we were going crazy inviting anyone and everyone we had met since kindergarten and friends of our parents we’d never met. It’s not the first time I felt like I needed to explain myself. I’ve heard similar reaction from wedding vendors.

Lots of aunts and uncles

All I need are three simple words: Mexican Catholic family.

More specifically, a close-knit Mexican Catholic family concentrated primarily in Southern California.

Familia Ureño Saldivar

My mom and dad are both one of eight kids. Thus I have a bunch of aunts and uncles and even more cousins. I’m one of the younger kids in my generation. Many of my cousins are married and have their own families. The bisnieto (great grandchildren) generation ranges in age from newborn to mid-20s.

Just a few of my cousins

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Now that we’re adults, I still spend a lot of time with my cousins. Rather than play hide and go seek, we go out to baseball games or have game nights. I’ve never dreaded seeing my family at holidays. I don’t get that trope in holiday films. Christmas and Thanksgiving are just like other gatherings throughout the year except with a Santa Claus visit, turkey, and tamales.

Cousin group shot

After adding in my friends, friends of the family, Sean’s family, Sean’s friends (not too much overlap among friend groups due to our bicoastal relationship) the total on our guest list was well over 300. Yeah, even we were surprised by the number.

Sure, we could have gone smaller. We could have chosen a location in New York, and greatly decreased my family’s presence. We could include only mutual friends and family members we’ve both met. We could go to a courthouse with our immediate families. We don’t like any of these options.

We’re going big.

Note: Today marks 100 days until our wedding. Check out Sean’s current concern on his blog. It’s not about the guest list, but it does involve our guests.