Hair and Makeup: Susie Chhour Studio

I got my first ever makeover during my senior year in high school. It was prom night and my friends and I went over to the then-unknown MAC cosmetic counter at Nordstrom to get our makeup done. We learned that we could get a free makeover if we purchased something there, so we each bought a tube of lipstick (one thing that we could afford) and let the skilled artists turn us girls into a Cinderella for the night.

Well, not so fast.

I don’t know if it was because this was back in the early 90s and not too many makeup artists knew how to do Asian faces (or I just got incredibly unlucky), but my MAC lady ended up turning me looking like a $2 hooker.eekI looked awful … just awful. I wanted to cry and wipe my face clean but we had no time, so I ended up going to the biggest event of my adolescent years looking like a streetwalker with awful raccoon eyes.

So you can probably understand my hesitation when it came to deciding weather I should have my makeup done professionally for the wedding. A part of me just wanted to do my own to avoid any unpleasant surprises, but the optimist inside me was willing to take a chance to see if it will be different this time around.

I found Susie Chhour Hair and Makeup Studio while researching on Yelp. I couldn’t resist contacting the studio because this place had almost 100 reviews with virtually all five stars. I saw the before-and-after photos on its website and I was pleased to see many Asian brides looking absolutely stunning!  This gave me a glimpse of hope!

I sent them an email and received an immediate response from Nicole from the studio, who, by the way, was amazing and kept me informed every step of the way. I was so happy when she told me that Sunny and her team were available on our wedding day because I’d read so many wonderful reviews on Sunny.

Trial Session

I went in for a consultation / dry run with Sunny on an Easter weekend. Shannon came with me, and we drove to an apartment-turned-studio in Culver City at 7:00 in the morning for the hair and makeup test runs. I liked Sunny immediately when I met her. There was something so special about her, like I wanted to be her friend and go out for coffee or something!

I was initially thinking about putting my hair up in a bun but she recommended putting it on the side very loosely for a very natural feel. I couldn’t visualize it at first but fell absolutely in love when I saw the finished style! And she gave me an idea to put a silk flower on it.

Oh, and the makeup? I think Shannon put it best when she said that Sunny turned me into the best version of me. I still looked like myself, but with the volume turned up a bit. I absolutely loved it.

The Wedding Day

On the wedding day, Sunny and her team came to SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, where Kevin and I were staying for the weekend. They came right on time, at 5:00 in the morning (yes, it was early) and they brought all the tools and even turned the wheeled cosmetic bags into chairs! They were precise, efficient, and incredibly professional, and turned us girls into princesses one by one.

My maid of Honor Saori and two of my Bridesmaid Maya and Tiffany all got their hair and makeup done by one artist (I feel awful that I forgot her name because she was absolutely amazing … a part of me thinks her name was Julie … ), and I got all mine done by Sunny. She replicated the looks we agreed on from the trial session and once again made me feel like the best version of myself.

She sent me off with an emergency kit with sample-size lipstick, foundation, and few pieces of blotting paper!

Getting hair and makeup done can be costly, but I think that’s one area that no bride should scrimp on.  Invest the money in great makeup artist even if you have to cut a few friends from the guest list twisted because it’s worth every penny.  And call Susie Chhour and ask for Sunny!

Susie Chhour Professional Hair and Makeup Studio
★★★★★

Wedding Dress Alterations

The wedding dress Serj perfected!

We are almost at a two-month mark since Kevin and I said our “I do’s” in front of the Stanley Cup winning Los Angeles Kings mascot, Baily (LOVE the sound fo that), and 100 of our dear friends and family. Excuse my cliché but it truly is amazing how quickly time flies. It seems like it was just yesterday that I walked down the aisle … yet, on the other hand, it feels like forever (in a blissful way) that we’ve been married. I seriously don’t remember my life before Kevin.

Many people ask me if things have changed since I went from being single to the other half of the amazing twosome … and I have only one answer for them: it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m not sure if I can say the same for my husband, however. It seems like he has more work to do now – cooking, cleaning, and, of course, going on wine purchasing runs for this needy wife!

I’ve been meaning to write reviews for vendors who helped make our dreams into reality, but life got in the way … but now, I’m determined to give credit where credit is due. So, for the next few weeks, I’ll write reviews for each of the vendor who did a magical job. I’ve heard horror stories about how vendors ripped the couples off, or didn’t do the job that they promised. We got incredibly lucky because every single one of our vendors turned out to be incredible … not just incredible but simply the best in their chosen field.

The first hero that I’d like to showcase is my wedding dress alteration guru, Serj, from Serj Costumes and Tailoring in Burbank.

I was happy with my dress purchasing experience but when the dress arrived, it come way too big. I guess that’s a pleasant surprise for a soon-to-be bride but still, the dress needed some major tweaking to make it fit my body properly. I found Serj on Yelp and decided to go with him because 1. he had amazing reviews, and 2. his shop was just a hop and a skip from my place, and boy, am I glad I did. Because of my work schedule, I had to reschedule our meetings a several times but he was so kind and flexible about it. He was incredibly accommodating and never made me feel guilty for pulling a bridezilla on him.

His shop is clean, calming, and serene. There are no fabric pieces or threads on the floor anywhere, and I appreciated that. Serj is soft spoken and a real gentleman … very attentive and listened very closely to my needs. He explained exactly what he was going to do with the dress and the reasons behind the alternation cost. I never felt like I was being ripped off – at all. I have to admit that wedding alternations are not cheap but with Serj and his mad skills, I would have happily paid a million bucks.

I worked with Serj and another seamstress lady. Although I had no idea what there were saying when they were talking in Armenian, I felt comfortable. She and I didn’t have a real conversation, I ended up liking her very much!

On my third and final fitting, I was asked to bring a pair of shoes that I would wear to the wedding, so that they can get a proper hem measurement. I didn’t have the chance to go buy a new pair so I brought a pair of pretty, but not so special black heels. When Serj saw the shoes, he said this to me: “The shoes are nice, but they look like you’re going to someone else’s wedding, and not your own.”

I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed with the way someone phrased an advice in such a non-judgmental way. He could have easily said that the pair is not appropriate for the occasion, but he selected well-chosen words that got the point across, without hurting my feelings! That’s when I knew that I’ve hit the jackpot with Serj.

I ended up with this pair of Basgley and Mischka shoes, thanks for Serj!

I know that I made a short story long, but in conclusion, the dress came out to perfection. I couldn’t have been more happy with the way it fit. It truly made me feel like a princess! I highly recommend Serj Costumes and Tailoring for anyone looking to transform the wedding dress into one of a kind. Serj worked in the entertainment industry before opening his own shop so you can see pictures of celebrity clienteles that he’d dressed on the wall.

Thank you, Serj, for making me feel like a princess at the wedding!

Serj Costumes and Tailoring
1707 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506
★★★★★

The Game Day!

All photos courtesy of Sara Jordan Photography.

Kevin and I were an anti-wedding couple. In fact, we were planning to get hitched at a local Court House, the painless way. I was never one of those girls who dreamed of a perfect wedding growing up. Just between you and me, I actually disliked weddings because I found, not all, but most of them to be unbearably corny.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day last year over turkey dinner, we got trapped by our families into having a formal ceremony and reception (Japanese mothers can be very convincing, I tell you). We fought the idea for a while, but we soon realized that the wedding is not just for us, but for our parents as well, who have perhaps dreamed of this day for many, many years.

We decided to give them the gift of appreciation by granting their wish.

We agreed to have the wedding but Kevin and I figured that if we are going to have it, we were going to do it our way, on our own terms. This meant no traditional things like cake cutting, first dance, garter and bouquet tosses, slide shows, speeches, chicken dance … none of those cheesy stuff.

Instead, we decide to incorporate everything that we love – good friends, good food, good drinks, good dessert, and of course, our beloved Los Angeles Kings  – into the theme, and make it as less wedding-like as possible. For a long time, we didn’t call this event a wedding (the evil “W” word) and referred to it simply as dignified luncheon with friends and family.lol

Now looking back (even though it’s only been a few days), having the wedding was the best decision we’ve ever made. The day was perfect … just perfect.  The moral of this story?  Listen to your mothers.  They know what they’re talking about.

Our friend Gabriel officiated the ceremony and delivered the most heart-warming vows.

Bailey, the Los Angeles Kings mascot, made an appearance at the wedding.  I think Kevin and I were more excited to see Bailey than the actual wedding! lol We LOVE him so much!

Instead of the traditional grand entrance, ours was the players introduction like the one at a hockey game.  The wedding party entered the room with a hockey stick in hand!


Never mind the first dance! This is our first faceoff!

Here’s to best friends anyone can ever have!  Lots of love to Winston, Daichi, Liwei, Saori, Maya, and Tiffany, for making this an amazing day for me and Kevin!

I will post about amazing vendors (photographer, florist, DJ, the venue, alternation, makeup artists, photo booth, etc.) in separate posts!

*********************************************

Speaking of LA Kings, how about those boys!  We are the Western Conference Champions!  WOOT WOOT!  I’m so excited about the Stanley Cup playoffs that’s about to kick off next week.  I’ve waited many years for this moment. Winning the Cup this will be the ULTIMATE wedding gift! Go Kings go!

Wedding Favor: Custom Hockey Puck

To go with our hockey themed wedding, we decided to give away custom wedding pucks as a favor!

Kevin found this online shop called Official Game Puck (OGP) in Canada that makes amazing custom pucks.  For about $2.00 a puck, it was the best gift idea ever. And the pucks came out perfect, with our names and the wedding date on it!

Post Wedding Update:

We placed the puck on every table, on top of the napkin.biggrin

Photo courtesy of Sara Jordan Photography


Photo courtesy of Sara Jordan Photography

OGP Enterprises, Inc
Price: ★★★★★
Service: ★★★★★

DYI Wedding Invitations

Every time I think of wedding invitations, my mind immediately goes back to that painfully funny scene from the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the mother takes the liberty of ordering the invitation against the bride’s will! eekI still don’t know if I should laugh or cringe when I see the cards with a huge blue Greek flag printed on the front!

Wedding invitation is such an important part of letting our guests know who we are as a couple, and we wanted them done just right … so we put on a designer hat and got busy creating our own little cards!  We wanted them to be simple, personal, and no frills, … like us.

We ordered all the cards and envelopes from LCI Paper. I highly recommend this shop if you’re looking to make your own wedding invitations! They offer wonderful products, helpful tutorials, and great customer service, at a very reasonable price.

I accidentally ordered more cards than I needed (I forgot that 90 guests mean 45 set of cards, and not 90 since they come in pairs … duh), so I have enough to make holiday cards for many years to come! lol

Here’s what we created:

Invitation

Save the Date Card

RSVP Card: People seemed to really like the response choices!

Gift Registry: Instead of registering for gifts, we requested guests to donate to their favorite charity.


Direction Card

We also created a Website to house all the information for guests to visit.

Wedding Favor: Original Tote Bags

When I read this post on Fig and Plum and Jessica’s amazing success on creating original tote bags for her wedding, I knew that I had to make them too for our big day! I just loved how lovely and personal these gifts truly were. So, I purchased Gocco, a Japanese print-screen machine, on eBay and blank canvas tote bags, ready to create our own, wedding favors.

That was six months ago.

I don’t know why I procrastinated making the bags for so long … but there was definitely a price that I had to pay for being lazy!

Three days before the wedding, I finally wiped the dust off the machine and got to work. Everything was going great until I transferred the inked design onto the canvas bag. I’m not sure if it was the amount of ink I used or the pressure I was putting on, but I simply could not get the ink to print the design without leaving nasty smears and smudges!  Eeeek!mad

Kevin and I tried for about an hour unsuccessfully, until we realized that time was running out. We needed to make a decision quickly, whether to give up on this project or continue. We were about to throw in the towel on this tote bag project altogether, when we remembered the iron-on transfer we saw at Target. We knew that the bags weren’t going to look as nice as the Gocco version, but we decided to go with this option. We drove to the nearest Target right before closing and bought the entire inventory of the iron-on transfer papers.

Here’s how to iron the design onto the bag:

Step 1: We printed the Wordle design onto the paper.

Step 2: Cut the design into desirable size and shape.

Step 3: Place the iron-on design onto the tote bag.

Step 4: Put the clear paper (which comes in the package) on top of the design and iron at medium heat for about two minutes. Let the bag sit to cool, and you’re done!

We actually really like how these bags came out! We also love the white background. These bags are packed and ready to go.

Special thanks to Kevin for staying up until 3:00 a.m. to get these bags done!

Post Wedding Update:

We put the tote bags in the large basket and placed it on a table by the guest book!


Photo courtesy of Carmela

Official Game Day Program

One thing Kevin and I want our wedding to be is personal, so we created a design that included all of our guest’s names that we can use for wedding program and favors. We used a free program called Wordle to create this cute collage, and inserted black and white silhouettes of some of our favorite things, like hockey, running, meat, fish, and bunny rabbit.biggrin

Note: If you want a name, or a word, to appear larger than others, just type it in multiple times.  It took me and Kevin several tries to figure it out!

Here’s the official wedding program that we created. We actually called it an official “game day” program because our wedding is hockey themed.

I did the program layout and Kevin printed each page and put them together. It was definitely a team effort! We did all this at home, using our color printer. We went through two color ink cartridges, quite a few glossy papers, and we even had to buy a special long reach stapler to staple the papers together … but it was much cheaper than having it done at Kinko’s who quoted about $8.00 per booklet! eek

We put our photos on one side, and the wedding party on the other. We called our Maid of Honor (Saori), bridesmaids (Maya and Tiffany), Best Man (Winston), and Best Men (Daichi and Liwei) the Starting Lineup!

The seating chart was designed to resemble a hockey rink. Instead of numbers, each table gets our favorite Kings player!

The wedding is divided into three periods, just like a hockey game.  First period is the ceremony; second period is the cocktail hour, and third period is the reception!

Official Wedding Day Program: 80 sets

Ink cartridges: $67 x 2 = $134.00
Cardstock (for cover): $10.00
Inkjet Paper (bright white): $10.00
Long Reach Stapler: $45.00
Total: $199.00

Pros:  We still have paper and ink left, and we get to keep the stapler!  It wasn’t cheap to make these programs but it sure beats $640-plus to get them made!