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I am super honored to have today’s blogger bride participate in Behind the Veil.  Cathleya is the Editor-in-Chief of Weddingbee and also the Director of Community Relations at Lover.ly (which, by the way, is such an awesome new addition to this wedding-internet-blogging-universe-community-thing and you really MUST sign up while it is still in beta, like ASAP!)  Given those credentials, and the experience they bring, you are getting some fantastic advice and inspiration today!  Take it away, Cathy!
As a wedding blogger, what is your favorite part of other people’s weddings?
Father of the bride speeches never cease to delight (or sometimes horrify!) me.  I am fascinated by father-daughter relationships, and hearing what a dad has to say about his grown daughter is always something I remember most about weddings I attend. I sometimes think of what my husband might say one day if we have a daughter and she gets married!
What was your favorite part of your wedding? 
What is it with me and speeches? My favorite part of our wedding was hearing my husband give words of thanks to our friends and families at the end of the night. He’s such a soft spoken man of few words, that hearing him pour his soul into words of thanks for so many people made my heart burst with pride. My husband is so good at expressing his love through touch and giving, but rarely puts his emotions into words—I just about died listening to his sweet words.

Sarah K. Chen Photography

What was the first piece of wedding planning you did?
The first thing we did was book a local photographer—which we subsequently canceled (and lost our deposit on, of course) six months later. (No hard feelings with the first photographer, but we ended up finding a photographer (Sarah K Chen) we really loved and who ended up shooting our wedding.  Our engagement was a year and a half long, and the worst part of a long engagement is indecision at every turn! If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t start planning our wedding and booking vendors until I was well within the one-year-to-go mark.

Sarah K. Chen Photography

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In your opinion, what is one vendor no wedding can be without?
A day of coordinator or wedding planner. Even if you’re a DIY bride, you simply cannot take the helm on your wedding day. The peace of mind that comes with a good planner or DOC is always, always worth it and something that I feel like most brides think they can do without. I didn’t have one, and I sorely regret it. Putting the wedding into the hands of my family and friends, who really should have been there enjoying themselves and not sweating it out, was the one thing I wish I could take back.
In your opinion, what is one thing or vendor that you think brides can do without (or at least do sparingly)?
Brides can definitely do without pressure to include or exclude details that aren’t important to them. I know this is really hard to achieve—often times family members are contributing lots of time, effort, and money into a couples’ events and I definitely think that family requests, within reason, should be honored. But I think it’s really important for couples to sit down together and write down 5 things that are really important to include in their wedding days, the way that they want to do them, and provide a united front to not budge on those details. I truly do believe that weddings are not just about a couple, but their entire family and support circle that brings them together, but it’s DEFINITLEY a celebration of you and your significant other, and your personalities and wants should not be lost in the mix. Stand firm on the key things you want, and be willing to compromise on everything else.
What was your favorite source of inspiration for your own wedding?
My fellow bees at Weddingbee were of course my obsession! After that, I’d say that I spent a lot of time on Snippet and Ink, Jordan Ferney’s Oh Happy Day, and Hostess with the Mostess. Not surprisingly, I read a lot of wedding blogs back then…I read even more now.
Do you do an inspiration board? 
Surprisingly I did not! I regret it. It really helps to keep you on track with your vision for the day!
Your favorite wedding memory?
Taking in our friends and family’s faces during our ceremony. I thought having so many eyes on us would make me really nervous; instead I burst with joy seeing all our people’s faces, all in one place, all for us. I distinctly remember who I made eye contact with during our ceremony:)  it was a thrill!

Sarah K. Chen Photography

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Your favorite wedding detail?
I loved our groom’s cake. We were lucky enough to have Lien Sanchez at a Crazy Cake Company craft us a cake as a tribute to our alma mater, the school that brought us together. I gave her a picture of the bear’s face and she took complete creative control and we ended up with this 3D bear defying gravity in a basketball hoop—I couldn’t believe it!

Sarah K. Chen Photography

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Were you a DIY bride? If so, what did you DIY?
Oi. What didn’t I DIY. I think I went a little DIY crazy 🙂 It’s not that I regret it but I got unexpectedly busy at work the month leading up to the wedding and getting everything finished was a real struggle. My favorite project had to be our boxed invitations that I screenprinted.
Describe your wedding style.
We wanted to keep things simple, clean, and modern. If we could get married anywhere, I definitely would’ve chosen a loft space or a museum atmosphere. But, I really wanted to get married near my hometown, and the area is ripe with wineries and Tuscan charm. Plus, so many family members were traveling from Thailand and Minnesota, and we really wanted to give them a Northern California experience, so a winery was a natural choice, but I still wanted to incorporate simple, modern decor.

Sarah K. Chen Photography

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If you could offer one piece of advice to planning brides, what would it be?
Have a clear vision and don’t start buying, booking, or planning anything until you’re SET with your vision! We booked a venue with a capacity of 120 people pretty early in our planning process, naively thinking that we didn’t really even KNOW 120 people. By the time we sat down with our guest lists, our immediate family and cousins alone pushed our list over 100 people! We had to sacrifice a lot of invitations for the sake of our venue capacity, and that was a huge bummer. Know what you want, and what you need, before you book anything!

How did you make your wedding YOU?
Our wedding was a reflection of our everyday style. Mark and I both like things modern, with no muss, no fuss. We tried to keep it simple and guest-centric—as long as the wine was flowing, we knew we’d be happy. 🙂

Sarah K. Chen Photography

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I totally second Cathy’s advice about having a clear vision before you book or buy anything.  I too got super excited when I got engaged and started buying things before I had a clear vision and I wasted a little money doing that.  It is so much easier when you can get focused and stick to whatever that focus is.  I also think a day-of coordinator or wedding planner is extremely important, especially if you have it in your budget.  
Thanks again to Cathy for stopping by and taking the time to share with us.  MUAH!
xx
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