Catching up on the last 6 months

So I never got around to writing Part 2 of my tips on planning a budget-friendly wedding..

Nor did I blog about my wedding itself..

Nor did I share here that I’ve resigned from a job I held for the past 3 years..

Nor did I update about leaving Malaysia for London, where I currently live..

So, YEAP, lots to catch up on since I last blogged 6 months ago! I know most of my readers know what I’m up to anyway because of my dayre or snapchat, which I regrettably have been slacking on too haha, but my blog is special so I’ll document it here anyway.

So four key updates on the last 6 months:

1. After months of agonizing and planning and running around like headless chickens, we finally got married!

It was difficult because we were trying to do so much with such a small budget, but I’d like to think that we successfully pulled it off! Because we’re an interracial couple, we had a few considerations that we had to bear in mind. In the end, we had a small ROM, a week of Indian traditional ceremonies, a Chinese Tea Ceremony, and a big Indian wedding!

Our ROM was at Thean Hou temple and it was a really quick 10-minute ceremony! Super efficient, we were done by 11am lol

My biggest worry was my white dress, as the dress that I wanted to wear in the beginning didn’t look that great on me. This one is from Doublewoot, and was originally too long for me (which made me look stumpy) so I got it altered at this home tailor called Jess Tailoring (can find on FB) and she did an AMAZING job! I love it so much <3 the dress + alteration came up to be around RM150 so it’s pretty good.

My ROM look :)

We had a Nelengu ceremony during the week as well, to cleanse both of us before the big day. It was so much fun because the whole family came together to prepare the day for us which made us feel super special!

If we were to follow the actual tradition, we weren’t supposed to see each other at all till the wedding. But since I can’t do the Nelengu with my family (who wouldn’t know what to do), we did ours together. All cleansed now!

And then I got my henna done, which took 3 hours :O

This is my amazing bridesmaids who came to my house to prepare the doorgifts for the wedding <3 <3 <3

Doorgifts done! It’s packets of coffee and milk candies, cos it’s a #kopisusuwedding

#kopisusu which means coffee and milk, because we’re known as the kopisusu couple! (Brown and white lol)

Also our initials, K + S #meanttobe

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Then, we had our Chinese tea ceremony where we played the usual hengdai games and all. Giving angpows out for the first time! #likeaboss

Some pics from the tea ceremony, which went really well without glitches! All thanks to my family and bridesmaids, I didn’t have to do much hehe. Makeup was done by my cousin who did a fantastic job <3

And yes, Shanshan came over for the whole week to help out too! She’s finally gracing my blog again hahaha

FINALLY, my wedding day! This was my saree for the day. Indian brides typically change their sarees midway through the ceremony to signify being married, so I got two blouses instead of buying two different sarees (too expensive).

My makeup was done by Kokilah Reddy, who did an absolutely amazing job. Plus, we had a huge drama in the morning too cos the tapestry guys (who were supposed to bring tables and chairs covers) thought my wedding was at night wtf. So I was panicking like mad in the morning and my MUA tried to calm me down.

So while I was panicking in the room, I found out that my wedding GUESTS all came together to help out with the tying of chair ribbons and table covers. This really brought tears in my eyes, knowing that not only did nobody complain, but everyone was genuinely happy to play a part. Relatives and friends in sarees, cheongsams and baju kurungs alike joined hands in making our wedding happen. Sigh, it was truly beautiful.

Anyway, fast-forward, we got blessed by both sides of our families..

Exchanged our garlands..

Walked around the fire 7 times..

And was finally married! By now we’re finally legally married and married according to both Chinese and Indian Gods. Phew, so much effort to tie the knot haha.

We had our Indian wedding in a huge Chinese temple too, which definitely increases the muhibbah factor lol

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With my bridesmaids and some groomsmen <3

Anyway I just realized that I’m supposed to talk about my last 6 months and so far I’m only still at point 1 HAHAHA man it’s gonna be a long night.

Ok fast forward!

2. I made a lifechanging decision to apply for a scholarship to do my Masters

So, sometime last year, both Karthik and I were feeling a little dissatisfied with where we were with our careers and wanted a challenge. We both thought it’d be good to pursue our masters together so started applying for scholarships together. After months and months of refining applications, waiting, interviewing, and more waiting, I found out that I got both the Chevening and Commonwealth scholarships to study in the UK!

I ended up choosing the Chevening over the Commonwealth scholarship, but check it out, I’m the only woman who got it! Mount Holyoke, this is for you :)

By then, Karthik already withdrew his application because he just got an offer to join a very prestigious company which he couldn’t turn down.

We had a long talk about this, and decided that I’d go for it since it’s an incredible opportunity, one that I couldn’t possibly turn down. He felt that it wouldn’t be fair that I stay back because he was going to pursue his dreams, even though I’d have to leave TWO MONTHS after our wedding.

After a lot of thinking and consulting a few close mentors…

3. I resigned from my job and the organization I’ve been with for the last 5 years..

As you guys know, Teach For Malaysia has been my identity for as long as I can remember. I’ve been hugely committed to the cause, and joining TFM and having the opportunity to teach for 2 years have been the highlights of my life. I made many good friends, met my husband, found my passion and discovered my life’s work.

So it was indeed incredibly difficult to say goodbye, but I knew this goodbye is needed so that I’d grow to be a better person for TFM. Macam breaking up hahaha

I still have a very good relationship with people in the organization and would love to go back one day so it’s definitely not the end :)

My farewell card with everyone in the office attempting a “suet li selfie”, from the CEO to our mak cik cleaner LOLOL I have the best colleagues!

4. I’m now pursuing my Masters in Comparative Education in London

My school for the next one year

AND my home for the next one year :)

Soooo yeah, I think it’s pretty up to date now! I’ve been here for a month+ now and am still getting used to being a student again. I’ve been out of school for a bit so it’s not easy getting the hang of it yet, with allll the readings I have to do etc. Everyone here is also really young, I feel incredibly old to be 28 and married to be honest!

Long distance marriage is of course really tough too, but technology makes things a lot better. We talk everyday and try to catch up as much as we can, but I can’t wait till he comes visit in December :D

I’m also working 2 jobs here, which makes it better as I’m always busy doing something, plus I get additional $$$ to spend too since London is SO EXPENSIVE.

I update my dayre weekly (really don’t have the discipline to update everyday haha) so check it out if you’d like to follow me there!

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It’s been a crazy 6 months indeed as so much has happened, with 3 major life transitions too in such a short period of time. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have such strong support systems around me, and even more grateful to receive this opportunity from Chevening to study for free in the UK. In fact, the application deadline is soon (8 Nov), so do apply too and you never know what may happen!

I’ll try to blog more about my journey here in London, but don’t take my word for it :P

Until then, thanks for reading!

Planning a wedding (on a budget) Part 1

So it’s about 2 months to our wedding and I thought it’d be good to follow-up on my last pretty frazzled post! You guys who’ve been reading my blog for years probably know me well enough to guess what kind of person I am. If anything, I’ve always defined myself as someone really kiamsiap/stingy/frugal/thrifty – you name it. I think I’m a lot better now as I grow older as my spending power has increased, but money is still something I’m very careful with because.. well it’s just who I am.

So put that trait together with having to plan a wedding, and you can imagine just how difficult it is!

But I think in the last 4 months, I’ve gotten the hang of it and have progressed quite a bit in the planning in a thankfully as pain-free as possible way. I’ve documented a fair bit in my dayre but I still like keeping a footprint in my blog so I’ll write a post here on how I’ve been planning my wedding on a budget!

I know this may not be the most popular post as we’ve grown quite accustomed to elegant, classy, expensive and lavish-looking weddings, all thanks to social media and societal expectations, but if more people can be proud of sensible and more down-to-earth weddings, then perhaps we won’t be in this quandary in the first place.

Anyway, I got comments from a troll recently (gasp! first hater in years! almost forgot how that feels..) on how cheap I am, but I guess what better way to prove him/her wrong by being as proud of it as I can! Hohoho

Troll comments, which admittedly are quite funny:

Anyway, so here goes.

1. You have to just accept the fact that you’ll never get the exact perfect wedding you’ve always wanted/may want

I’m not even the kind of girl who has dreamt of my wedding day since I was a little girl and I didn’t even have any expectations of what I wanted, or so I thought…

When I started researching on weddings, it’s hard to not expect anything when you’re constantly surrounded by all these pretty images on instagram and Pinterest on other people’s weddings and then you start forming these images of what you want in your head too. Nice cosy intimate but elegant dinner by the beach/in the garden with close friends, heartwarming speeches, cute little door gifts and TONS of flowers, long flowy princess-looking dress and perfect hair and makeup, crazily adorned tables with a million candles and dainty-looking trinkets..

Sigh, who doesn’t want this?>

But of course, then the families come in and start talking about how it should be and before you know it, it’s just this MASSIVE thing that you have to do. Doesn’t help that we’re from different cultural backgrounds too so we have to do two kinds of ceremonies (Chinese and Indian) AND neither of them fit into what I wanted (Western)!

So after months of researching and compromising, we’ve decided to combine everything into ONE wedding. Yeap, just the ceremony followed by a luncheon, the end. It was quite hard for me to agree with it as I really wanted the intimate dinner, but the cost was just too much + we can’t do away with the cultural ceremonies so..*shrugs

 

2. Lots of compromise

Now that you know you can’t have THE perfect wedding, it still costs a lot to plan A wedding. There are so many items to consider and it gets a bit too overwhelming, which I find really unnecessary but necessary at the same time? As in, you need the photographers and you need a dress no matter what, but why oh why do they cost so much??

So in the end, you either just have to compromise on not getting the best, or be willing to put in the time and effort to search like crazy for a good deal. And you have to know what you’re willing to spend on and just try not to fuss over the rest.

I knew there were 3 things I’d spend more on:

1. Food

2. Photography

3. Make up

And we spent the most time and effort on these, and were lucky to have found vendors that charge quite reasonable prices for all of them.

Next came the hardest thing I had to compromise on: decorations.

So so pretty, but also so so expensive

I think this is probably the bane of all weddings. They cost SO MUCH and it’s very hard for us girls to not care about it cos..well PRETTY THINGS!

But the prices just don’t make sense and no matter how hard I looked (trust me, I received quotations from at least 30 vendors!), they’re all averaging at RM8-10,000 (for decorating the entire hall as we’re not doing it in a hotel/restaurant). We just couldn’t possibly imagine spending that much on something that is so…temporal and impermanent.

Working in a non-profit, we know how much that means to the people we serve and it can probably feed 3-5 families for months.

Anyway, long story short, we found a much cheaper vendor and had to compromise a little on the quality (using fake flowers, minimizing the decor and forgoing things like photobooth, pretty table set ups etc).

The dress is also one of those potentially expensive things, so I finally settled with a mid-priced saree (RM500) and a nice bridesmaid dress for my “white dress” during the tea ceremony (RM180), instead of renting (~RM800) or buying (~RM2000).

 

3. Negotiate your way out of things

I know negotiating may not be the most comfortable experience, but if it involves money you don’t have/can’t afford/can’t imagine wasting, then you gotta do it. We first had to negotiate quite a bit with our parents to reach a middle ground with what they want for our wedding to be, and what is practical for us. That means cutting down the guest list, not doing everything like giving dowries etc)

Then there was also negotiating with the vendors to decrease the budget. For eg, the makeup artist was going to charge me RM1,600 but I cut out the two saree changes and two sets of accessories so we brought down the price to RM800. The photographers and videographers were RM3,500 and RM4,000 respectively in the beginning but we reduced the hours and other offerings like albums etc and brought it down to RM4,700 for both (~RM3,000 saved!).

 

4. DIY/get help where ever you can

I’m not a huge fan of DIY-ing stuff cos it takes a lot of effort and energy (especially for things like decorations) and I don’t want to impose on our friends/family for help but there are really some items that you can totally do yourself.

We’re DIY-ing our invitation cards (thanks to help from a reader, Dayna, who does beautiful calligraphy and is incredible nice and patient) and our door gifts (with help from my best friend, Esther).


RM0.37 each card, as opposed to the usual RM2-3/card that shops charge. But will be a pain tying them up lol

Oh! We also cut out the redundant pre-wedding shoot and just got our friends to take our pictures for us during our holiday in Bali (destination pre-wedding woot! lol).


Pretty good innit? Thanks to the talented Ida!


Connie took this beautiful one at the beach 🙂

They’re definitely not like the usual pre-wedding shoots with beautiful white dresses and great lighting, but hey it’s free! We also took a few with self-timer which turned out quite ugly hahaha but we had a lot of fun trying it out 😀

Anywayyyy, I think that’s all I have for now, and I’ll write another one after the wedding to see if there’s anything else (and hopefully everything goes well so I can share more tips after) and I’ll share with you guys some of the vendors and their prices k! I did a lot of online research looking for them and really wished there were more reviews so I’ll do my part to add to that collective knowledge management.

Until then, hope it’s been helpful and if you’re on this journey as well, good luck and let’s rejoice in the fact that we’re all embarking on an exciting life journey together and the wedding is but a small part of it all!

p.s: disclaimer: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to spend more on your wedding, if you want to and can afford to! I love attending nice weddings and secretly feeling the real flowers and admiring the beauty of it all, but I’m writing this for people who can’t and don’t want to spend too much on their wedding but feel like they have to.

The ridiculousness of planning a wedding

Hi all, today I’m going to talk about the ridiculousness of wedding planning (yes, call me Capt Obvious haha. I can’t possibly be talking about how to bake a cake with a suggestive title like that).

It’s 1 am and I should be sound asleep or at least be in bed playing Plants vs Zombies as per my usual nightly routine, but I’ve been on my laptop since god knows when doing research upon research on makeup artists, photographers and wedding venues.

So, when 2016 came around 3 weeks ago (which I never got to wish everyone! So belated Happy New Year all!), instead of writing a reflective post on how 2015 has been for me, I was busy panicking about my wedding. You see, we haven’t done much the last 8 months since we got engaged because well..planning a wedding can’t be that hard right…..

I mean, you’re essentially just planning for a weekend only, why need a whole year to do it? I saw the checklist, we made an excel etc, but we just never got why the rush and stress. I also never got how people had to take loan, or blew more than RM100k for their wedding. Man….now I know why.

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So I started with doing plenty of googling, Pinterest-pinning, Facebook-stalking all all that modern planning jazz. Ok, doesn’t look that hard. All I need to do is find a random place, decorate it with flowers, get ready, done!

But then I started realizing that the options are limitless! Do we wanna do it in a restaurant (chinese? western?), a hotel, a hall, a bungalow, a cafe…?? Do we want a rustic wedding, a traditional one, a quirky one, a romantic one..?? How many ceremonies/events do we want to have? What kind of decor? What color? What kind of dress? Who to invite?

AND IT JUST GOES ON.

AND ON.

AND ON.

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There are so many insane things going on at the same time, and so many different opinions! I’m sure you married ones can attest to this stress, and you unmarried ones are wishing that it’ll never come down to this for you.

Worst of all? We are two SUPER thrifty people. You guys know how stingy I can be..I never buy anything more than RM50 and if I have to, I take a long time deciding and it drives me crazy. Karthik on the other hand, is just a minimalist. He doesn’t spend if he doesn’t have to. And in his opinion, this whole shebang is unnecessary.

We had an honest conversation about how much we are willing to throw in for our wedding. We reluctantly came up with RM20,000 total, cash we’re willing to part for this wedding.

HAHAHA it was impossible to plan with that amount. Plus, we have to do the Chinese ceremony, the Indian ceremony and we’d like to have a dinner too.  3 events for 20k. We can’t hire a wedding planner with that budget, neither can we afford ANYTHING. Plus, we don’t want our parents to pay for anything if possible, since this is our day after all (well, not all of it is..actually almost 80% of it isn’t lol)

I started emailing for quotations and when the rates came back, my heart sank.

Venues cost RM150-200 at least per person, my budget is RM100 including alcohol.

Makeup artists cost RM1000+. My budget is RM500.

Dresses cost RM1500-2000. My budget is RM500. Plus I have to get a saree too whoopdeedoo.

Photography…oh gosh, photography costs RM3000 PER session. I have 3 sessions (granted, I don’t need them all to be photographed..) and my budget is RM3000 for all 3. Including videography if possible.

Man how naive we were. Cherry on the cake? The Indian makeup artists are all booked already. I thought I could get them so I could do makeup, hair and saree draping altogether, but they’re all booked!!! One of them even told me that I should’ve booked a year in advance.

How..is…that..possible.

Why does this cost RM1500?? I mean it’s absolutely stunning and I’d love to look like that on my wedding day, but..RM1500? Some of my students’ parents earn half that amount a month to feed 5 in the family!

Since when did weddings become so expensive? Most importantly, how do people afford this?

The vendors I’ve asked are probably not the most expensive in the market, so how much can it actually go up to?

This is unfathomable insanity. And what’s even worst is obviously there’s a part of me that’s just desperately hoping that I can have a fairytale wedding too. One that people would go “wow this wedding is the best I’ve been to ever!”. One that would get my heart racing everytime I think about it, years down the road. One that we would show videos and pictures to our kids and grandkids and they’d hold their breath, marvelled at such beauty and showcase of love.

But who am I kidding?

My wedding is one of many my friends would attend this year.

Our memory of our marriage will not be based on the wedding, but on the love and life we’ve built together.

Our kids and grandkids would probably skim through the pictures halfheartedly, distracted by fancier gadgets and cooler stories.

I just need to tell myself to let go and let live a little. Yes, it’s once in a lifetime, but so are many things like my first step and my first period. I didn’t have pictorial proof of either but they did happen and were both equally as momentous in my memory.

So I guess here starts my #budgetwedding planning! I’ll document it as much as possible so I can hold myself accountable to this post and this possibly shortlived realization on a late somber night.