Last weekend, D. and I went to Hakone Gardens, our ceremony and reception location, for their annual Matsuri festival. The gardens were far more lush than they were when we first visited Hakone in December.


Moon bridge where the ceremony will be held. This picture was taken from the covered seating area across the koi pond.


Covered seating area. This photo was taken from the turtle island side of the moon bridge.


Processional stairs.


Waterfall.


Wisteria path.

Overlooking the moon bridge and turtle island from the mountain path.

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Eek. I didn’t expect everything to come together, but it is.

I touched base with the baker, Cero at Cake Expressions, and he is looking forward to creating our cakes. I need to send the final payment out today. We’ve paid the final payment for the florist and worked out the details for centerpieces and the bouquet. I need to make the final payment to the caterer, but she was out of town on Friday.

Instead of a DJ, D. and I decided to take advantage of our vast music collection and create MP3 playlists. I’ve been trying to find a decent sound setup for us. I was considering renting speakers, a sound board, and a microphone, but rentals don’t provide the flexibility as bringing your own setup does. We’re going to play music at the ceremony and the reception, so we need to be able to move the gear.

While I was flying back from a business trip earlier this week, I found this portable iPod PA system in the SkyMall catalog. Amazon.com also sells this product and the reviews are very positive. We ordered it last night, so hopefully, it will be here in time.

At this point, it’s all about tying up loose ends.

I had a makeup trial at my local MAC store scheduled for Monday, but I missed the appointment. (I’ve been crazy busy lately.) I originally wanted to have a makeup artist do up my face on the day of the wedding, but my friend Allez said that I should I do my own makeup since I am capable of makeup awesomeness (which is true). What she doesn’t know is to achieve makeup awesomeness, I need at least an hour and a half to execute. I think I’ll have enough time to pull it off, but I can’t have any dramatic distractions. I may banish my family to the downstairs while Allez and I do makeup with the aid of nerve-numbing Scotch upstairs. We’ll see. (D. says makeup and scotch is a bad combination. He does have a point.)

I went to Sephora today to talk with my favorite salesperson/makeup artist, Gary. He worked with me last December to come up with a twist on a 1940s retro glam look which was awesome. I monopolized his time, and we came up with a bronzey-brown eye, plum cheeks, and a light coral gloss lip. It doesn’t sound like that would go together, but it does. We were able to incorporate products I already own, which is great because I know how they look, and I saved money too.

To start, he said to use eye cream and moisturizer. I already had the Fresh Lotus Eye Gel and Boscia’s Oil-Free Daily Hydration lotion. Then apply the foundation. We picked out the Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet+ Matifying Foundation in shade No. 40 – Natural Beige. For eyes, Lorac Starry-Eyed Baked Eye Shadow Trio – in Superstar (golden beige/golden tan/deep bronze) for the lid, crease, and brow highlight, and Stila Smudge Pot gel eye liner in Bronze to line the upper lid. Gary lined my lower lid with a deep matte brown shadow from the Stila Smoky Eye Palette, but I didn’t want to buy the whole palette just for one shadow. Plus, I have the Espresso eye shadow, which according to MAC, is a “muted golden brown” matte shadow. I also picked up a tube of the Diorshow Waterproof Mascara in black and an angle eye liner brush. We paired this bronzey eye with the Lorac Plum Eye Shadow and the Lorac Tropical Dream Mocktail Lip Gloss (sheer peach champagne). You wouldn’t think the plum blush would work with my eye and lip color, but it does. I have the Lorac Mocktail limited edition sampler, so I can play with a few other colors to make sure there isn’t something better. Gary suggested I also pick up the Urban Decay De-Slick Mattifying Powder compact. I have to say, the De-Slick powder is very impressive. I feel pretty confident that I’ll be able reproduce the look for the wedding. If I can’t, well, I’m not going to think about that right now.

No, I’m not going to post pictures from today. I’ll keep the look a surprise until the big day.

Today was my hair trial at Grasshopper Salon. I love my new hairdresser, Robbie. She’s very exacting, and she has a great personality. I’m so hair-retarded. She knows what looks right, and I trust her.

Don’t worry. My hair won’t be this messy and uneven at the wedding. We were experimenting, but by the end, we figured out the general shape and how much hair we want up. I like the volume and balance between traditional up-do and loose ringlets. Plus, there’s something about the way the hair is built up into those mounds that reminds me of Amy Winehouse’s beehive, and I secretly like it. (The hairdresser calls the hair mounds ‘pads’, but there’s no padding inside; it’s all my hair.)

Last night, D. and I met with Nicole from Events of Excellence to finalize the last few details. We picked out linens, china, and flatware.

This linen is called Tatsu Dragon Celadon. The caterer showed us the reverse of this fabric as the right side, and we liked it. The background will be celadon, and the dragon and swirl details will be in gold. All of our guest tables will be covered with this linen. We’re pairing ivory cloth napkins with these linens. The food tables will be covered in a solid celadon linens with either ivory or gold accents.

This linen is for our cake table. We figured with the blue “Such Great Heights” themed cake we should have a blue, whimsical tablecloth to match.

We decided on the square plates instead of standard rounds. For some reason, the square plates work better with the asian fusion theme. Plus, they were only 5 cents more per plate.

We decided on the Torino flatware because the squared handles pair well with the square plates and remind us of chopsticks.

But the best news of all? Nicole will most likely be there at the setup and the beginning of the reception to supervise. Yay! She’s great.

In preparation for the wedding, D. and I were going to whiten our teeth. We don’t smoke or have really yellow teeth, but we both drink tea, and D. drinks coffee. I want us to look as good as we can for our pictures. Originally, we were going to pick up GoSMILE B1 tooth whitening kits from Sephora. I’ve used samples of the B1 product and liked the results. It didn’t irritate my gums and trigger sensitivity in my teeth. However, in the mall, we got distracted by a Spa White teeth whitening kiosk. It seemed similar to the Zoom! whitening process, but it was only $150 (plus tax). D. and I got excited and gave it a shot. During my procedure, my gums felt like they were burning and my teeth were tingling. After the 15 minutes, my teeth were whiter, but they were also very sensitive. Even now, my gums are very tender. D. had a much better experience. Our teeth are definitely whiter, but I am not going to do it again. State dentistry officials across the country are weighing in and shutting down some of these kiosks. In the future, I’m sticking to the whitening kits.

Two weeks ago, our rings from West Coast Jewelry arrived.

D.\'s ring

D.’s ring looked great. The ring has a nice bit of heft, a much better feel than titanium. There aren’t any scratches on it (there’s lint on the ring in the picture).

However, when I opened the box containing my ring, I was surprised and disappointed.

Copper ring

That ring doesn’t look right.

Copper ring

Yup, that’s definitely not the ring I ordered. I emailed West Coast Jewelry, and they quickly responded with an apology and a promise to ship out the correct ring right away.

Less than a week later, I received the correct ring, a padded envelope and a postage paid label to return the copper ring.

The ring looked pretty promising.

Unfortunately, it just didn’t feel like a wedding band to me. It was too wide and looked too much like hematite. 😦 However, some of the benefits of purchasing a ring online is that it wasn’t very expensive and this particular vendor has a decent return policy. I was a little sad though because I wanted to get the rings checked off my list.

On Saturday, I went to my local jeweler to have D.’s grandmother’s engagement ring and ornate wedding band appraised. You see, I don’t want to wear the fancy wedding band all the time. It’s beautiful, but it’s too much bling for me. Plus, I’m really hard on jewelry. That’s why I’ve been looking for a durable band. The jeweler pointed out some repairs that it needed and suggested I have the repairs done before the appraisal. One of the small diamonds in the band was shattered and another diamond was chipped. Also, the tiny prongs holding in the stones needed retipping. I wasn’t expecting this extra expense, but long term, it is definitely a good idea. I’ll be getting the rings back on Friday, so I’ll take pictures of them then.

While I was at the jeweler, I tried on 2.0 and 2.5mm wedding bands. I also compared the white gold, palladium, and platinum bands. To be honest, they all look the same. White gold is too soft for me, and platinum is too expensive, so I’ve ordered a palladium band from e-Weddingbands.com. Palladium is in the platinum group, so it’s close enough, and who’s gonna know, right?