Category Archives: wedding

Getting ready for a new adventure


I didn’t think about weddings when I was growing up. I didn’t clip pictures of pretty dresses or fantasize about flowers. I thought I had to choose between making a big difference and living a “normal” life—with a great relationship, perhaps, but still constrained by the obligations of joint decision-making. I didn’t dream of white gowns and lace. I dreamt of living in an apartment, perhaps near a university or a library, and perhaps with two or three cats.

I was surprised to learn that a great relationship can help you grow in unexpected ways.

For example: I was beginning to feel the tic of stress building up around the typical tensions of planning a wedding. We had wanted to keep the guest list small in order to avoid overwhelming ourselves and our guests. Limiting the guests to just our families seemed to be the easiest and least stressful way to do it. A clear boundary. No difficult decisions about who to include and who not to. And perhaps W-, I, and our two families would get to know each other better without the distraction of other friends. I still wanted to host a get-together thanking my friends for helping make Toronto a second home, but a second party could do for that. Limiting the wedding and the reception to family seemed like the least stressful way to plan that day.

Then my mom asked if we could invite four close family friends, people she hadn’t seen in a while but whom she has kept in touch with and who have been wonderfully supportive throughout the years.

I wavered. Should we offer to host another party? Should we include them, even if they might feel a little left out? Should I then go ahead and invite some of my closest friends as well?

I explained the situation to W-.

He said: “It’s their wedding, too.”

In that moment, all that stress went away. All it took was the right perspective.

As much as all those wedding planning websites and blogs would have us believe that it’s our day—or worse, that it’s the bride’s day—our families are the reason why we’re celebrating a wedding instead of heading down to City Hall with two witnesses.

It’s our wedding. By that, I mean it’s not just W- and my wedding, but it’s our families’ too. And friends. And worlds.

(Friends are wonderful and I’d love to include as many as possible, too, but once I start including friends, I get tempted to throw a party for 150+ people, and then my introverted side hides under the imaginary table and eats chocolate. So we’ll plan one party at a time, and maybe have lots of small parties instead of one big one. =) And there are even more friends I’d like to include as a way of thanks for helping me get here as well as for future insights and advice. Challenge: I don’t know everyone. It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child, and y’all are an amazing village.)

English is quite limited when it comes to this idea of “ours”. A tangential story: My mom once told my sister, “We’re going to Hong Kong.” My sister was excited about the idea of going there. My mom clarified: “No, we—your dad and I—are going to Hong Kong.” In Filipino, it’s the difference between kami and tayo. We-exclusive versus we-inclusive. Namin versus natin. Our-exclusive versus our-inclusive.

And I love that W-, for  whom English, Cantonese, and French do not capture that distinction between our-exclusive and our-inclusive,  reminded me of that and helped me get an even better perspective on things.

See, this is one of the wonderful things that gives me a lot of hope about the scary thing called commitment. Making decisions with another person, having another person’s perspective, sharing experiences with another person, and being inspired by another person—by golly, that really can make life even more amazing.

‘round the bend

You know those moments in formulaic movies. Our heroes hit their lowest points. Everything looks stressful. Then something changes, and everything starts looking up.

This week feels different from last week. I think we’ve finally made it ‘round the bend in terms of wedding planning. With two weeks to go until the wedding, it’s about time. =)

We’ve cleared most of the woodworking tools from the living room, so there’s space for guests. We reinstalled the shoe cabinets in the newly-painted hallway. We have a detailed plan for things to do until the big day. We’ve got a definite answer for the drama we’d been struggling with, and everything else looks like it will work out.

Things are looking up. I’m even excited – it might not be the stressful day I’d been dreading. It might even be fun. =)

Systematically eliminating choices

I confess: I sometimes feel overwhelmed when researching choices. I find it really helpful to write options down and then systematically eliminate them as I learn more.

For example, we’re planning how to take 11 people (ourselves included) to Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Based on a few Internet searches, we identified the following options:

  1. Rent a 12-passenger van and take everyone.
  2. Rent a 7-passenger minivan and go in a convoy.
  3. Charter a yacht and go across the lake.
  4. Charter a private tour van from Toronto.
  5. Take a pre-determined Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake tour.
  6. Go to Niagara Falls by bus.
  7. Skip Niagara entirely.

Decisions are less stressful when you’ve got a basic plan in place, like the way that writing is easier once you’ve written a first draft, and like the way negotiations are easier when you’ve identified your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA).

Our “first draft” was option 6: taking an inexpensive bus to Niagara Falls, and then doing a self-directed tour. That beat option 7, which might’ve involved making more preserves. ;)

We briefly looked at option 5 (public bus tour), too, but it didn’t feel like a good fit. So we struck that out.

Our ideal would’ve been to rent a 12-passenger van, but the companies that listed them as available seemed sketchy (mixed reviews on the Internet, complaints about transactions), and the larger rental companies didn’t have any 12-passenger vans available during that period. (Update: the smaller companies reported not having any vans for those dates, either. Moot point, then.)

We played around with the idea of taking a yacht (3) because it would be an awesome experience, but we decided it wasn’t worth it.

  1. Rent a 12-passenger van and take everyone.
  2. Rent a 7-passenger minivan and go in a convoy.
  3. Charter a yacht and go across the lake.
  4. Charter a private tour van from Toronto.
  5. Take a pre-determined Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake tour.
  6. Go to Niagara Falls by bus.
  7. Skip Niagara entirely.

Renting a minivan and going in a convoy (2) was much better than going to Niagara Falls by bus, so we made that our current working option.

A bit of digging turned up the IBM discount for Enterprise Car, which was okay. (I found out from Ian Garmaise that Enterprise also has 12-passenger vans, but none were available for the period we were looking at.)

W- reasoned that it made more sense to rent a minivan for the entire time than to hire a van and a driver, considering many people in our family can drive.

  1. Rent a 12-passenger van and take everyone.
  2. Rent a 7-passenger minivan and go in a convoy.
  3. Charter a yacht and go across the lake.
  4. Charter a private tour van from Toronto.
  5. Take a pre-determined Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake tour.
  6. Go to Niagara Falls by bus.
  7. Skip Niagara entirely.

When you feel overwhelmed with choices, it helps to list those choices and then get rid of them one by one.

Quick catch-up

Too many things going on. Haven’t been able to sit down and properly write for almost a week, and probably won’t get a chance to do so until people have left. Fortunately, my parents (already awesome storytellers) have gotten addicted to writing, so I can probably piece together the important bits from their Facebook news feed. (It’s really cool. You can almost see my dad go, “Hmm, I should share that.”)

Everything turned out even awesomer than we’d planned. =D

Back on the writing wagon

From October 6:

It’s been a whirlwind week. My family flew into Toronto to celebrate our wedding. I’ve been jotting quick notes in my ever-growing text file, rough sketches of things I’d like to tell stories about. I just haven’t made enough time to sit quietly and turn quick thoughts into something longer. I chose sleep, which turned out to be a good decision.

I’d normally choose to do fewer things so that I could write and sleep, but my family just overflows with awesomeness and stories. I can think of this as braindump mode – cramming a year’s worth of interaction into a week.

Besides, I can review my parents’ Facebook posts for stories to tell. Yay social media!

A few quick stories:

Languages: I like how undistinguished I feel around them. For example, my sister Kathy jokes around in English, Tagalog, German, Dutch, and Afrikaans. I can’t understand everything she’s saying, but I’m glad she has fun, and it nudges me to learn Cantonese and review my Japanese. I am going to learn Cantonese because I want to be able to listen and talk to W-‘s family, and because it’s fun to pick up a new language. I also want to learn how to write it eventually.

Halibut: My dad says he will only eat fish he can spell. My sister once tried making him halibut, but it was a no-go. But Gene Hattori deep-fried cubes of halibut (that he had caught himself in Alaska!) in a beer batter, and it was scrumptious. So my dad learned how to spell–and eat–halibut.

School: J- ended up skipping a week of school and then some. She had a bad cold and cough for the first few days, so her dad kept her home from camp. She felt a little better by Thursday, but she was learning so much from my dad and the rest of my family that W- decided it was better for her to take advantage of those learning opportunities. He also got her excused from Monday afternoon’s classes so that she could come with us to the Hattoris. After all, it’s not every day that one gets to chat with someone who has been an official photographer for the Queen. =) (… is how W- explained it to J-‘s teacher, I think. Not that there was much talk of government over the excellent food the Hattoris prepared.)

Everyone: It has been so much fun having everyone over. This is the first time my entire family has visited me here in Canada. I don’t think our kitchen has ever been this busy – or smelled this good — before. Tita Gay and Kathy treated us to days of constantly eating gourmet home-cooked food, and everyone regaled us with stories.

Stories: W- and I like the way people tell stories. There are several parts to that: developing confidence and fluency in free-flowing conversations; developing an archive of stories; and connecting stories to each other. We’d like to get better at that. We can do that by hosting or hanging out with storytellers, going on our own adventures, and practicing telling stories around the kitchen table. I also enjoy writing.

More snippets as I make time to write.