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Alright.. where do I start?

madelise

Ideal_Rock
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Sep 23, 2011
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Seriously? It's been just a week and I already feel overwhelmed. I've been overwhelmed with the idea of planning even from listening to others plan! Is there a step-by-step list of things to do? I'm guessing a guest-count is #1 so I can find a venue that fits, and then work from there, right?

What do I need! Do I join The Knot? WB? Ahhh. :errrr: I have a goal of finding a venue and booking it by the end of this year.
 

nowicanseethemoon

Shiny_Rock
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I'm reading A Practical Wedding and find a lot of stuff really helpful. It isn't really a planner, but walks you through the steps and talks in plain terms about ways to keep from getting overwhelmed.
 

vc10um

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Aug 22, 2009
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You can join the other boards but you'll also find a lot of support over here, mad! The current BIWs are pretty active, and a lot of us oldies drop in from time to time to check in on you!

I would definitely recommend starting with 3 things:
1) A budget
2) A guest list
3) A very general idea of a theme/feel you want for your wedding (ie: rustic chic barn wedding, backyard low-key picnic, super-swanky ballroom with uplighting and crystals, etc etc)...including time of year.

From there, I suggest making a list of the things which are most important to you to have on your wedding day, and have your FI do the same, so you know the best place(s) to spend your money. For example, for me, it was 1) Photographer, 2) Food, 3) Married on our Anniversary. For my DH it was 1) Food, 2) Married in a Church, 3) Accessible for his family, 4) Whatever else makes me happy and stays in budget.

So, that's where we spent the bulk of our budget: The photographer, the food, and the church.

From there, start venue hunting!!!

Good luck!
 

star sparkle

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^^What she said!!

Definitely figure out budget first, then guest count, followed by vibe/venue. Your guest count may be partially determined by your budget, as will the vibe and venue you go for. Formal, casual, or in between?

Once you have those things hammered down, it's easier to deal with the rest. Your venue will help dictate the decorations, the vibe will help you choose a dress, and so on and so forth.
 

msop04

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star sparkle|1380565387|3529668 said:
^^What she said!!

Definitely figure out budget first, then guest count, followed by vibe/venue. Your guest count may be partially determined by your budget, as will the vibe and venue you go for. Formal, casual, or in between?

Once you have those things hammered down, it's easier to deal with the rest. Your venue will help dictate the decorations, the vibe will help you choose a dress, and so on and so forth.
This is true -- budget is important. Also, it may be helpful to have an idea of what certain things cost in your area. Things that I thought would be expensive weren't and vice versa. Food and alcohol were the MAJOR expenses, then venue, and photographer, etc... Here are a few things that helped or that I wish I'd known prior to the fact...

Don't forget to include expenses such as wedding stationery (invitations, save the dates, thank you notes, etc) and POSTAGE. Unless they are very important to you, I would advise cutting costs on the invitations -- you can find really pretty ones online at websites such as http://www.weddingstar.com and http://www.thingsfestive.com for less. Also, check pricing locally... you may be surprised how inexpensive you can find them at this way. I thought they would be the most expensive, but they were very affordable in my area. Just remember, it's the style of the invitation that sets the tone for your event -- not the cost of them.

Although it's important to have pay attention to details, most people won't notice half of them, so try not to stress over every little thing. :)) I know it's hard, but just trust me on this... the things that I let drive me crazy went all but totally unnoticed. :lol:

Don't be afraid to return things you don't use!! This goes for gifts as well as decor items.

GET ORGANIZED!! Do a spreadsheet for your guest list -- it will help tremendously! In addition to names, addresses, and RSVP status, be sure to include Thank You Note status, as well as any gift descriptions or notes you may want to include on the thank you notes.

For decor, a picture is worth a thousand words... find several photos you like for inspiration and go to town. Coming up with a theme on your own can be disastrous -- conceptually and mentally! :errrr: :errrr: :wacko: :wacko: ;( ;(

Flowers... they are expensive. Period. Unless you have your heart set on a specific type, then give the florist a color palette and focus on the whole look and not the specific flower. Accent with what you love (or at least with the more expensive flowers) and use more inexpensive ones for "fillers." You'll still get an amazing look for a lot less. Your florist should be able to work with you.

DO NOT tell your vendors your budget at first -- show them photos and tell them what you want, then ask for a quote... We almost got burned with uplighting at our venue. I told the light guy I had a budget of $X and asked if that would be sufficient for a certain number of lights and effects. His answer was, "Yes, I think that will take care of it..." I found out later that I would have been paying almost FOUR TIMES the actual cost... Don't make the same mistake I made, please!!!! ::)

Don't be afraid to ask for a lower price quote with your vendors. There is almost always wiggle room, and the worst they can say is no.

Take things one at a time if possible.

Understand that you will probably go over budget. A lot. :halo: Keep that in mind when coming up with your "initial budget." ;))

I understand how you feel overwhelmed -- I think we all feel that way while planning!! Good luck to you, madelise!! =) Hope this helps a little! :))
 

maple2012

Shiny_Rock
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Apr 1, 2012
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345
I bought a few bridal magazines and books which had a good check list with everything I had to take care of. I have prioritized the "to-dos" based on what is most important for me to book first with deposits.

For us, we decided on a venue first that felt "us". Then from that, we decided who we were going to invite and if we were willing to cut people to fit our venue/budget. I then picked a budget based on that. My budget ended up doubling in price however. We could have had our wedding at the vineyard we wanted within our original budget but it would have been during the week (M-TH) with 30-35 or so people tops and I wouldn't have really been able to splurge on photography or anything. :-o Apparently weddings in Napa are expensive which I didn't realize.

Goodluck and we are all here to listen to you vent and share ideas! Just look at all my posts on wedding colors, music, photography... haha. I can't make decisions on my own apparently. :bigsmile:

Most importantly... enjoy the process/planning! =)
 

TooPatient

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Congratulations!

I did a combination of what sort of feel we wanted and budget then made the guest list match. We decided we'd rather have a very nice winery wedding with great food for 30 than something less nice for 60+. We ended up inviting those who mattered most.
Date selection started with season, how long we wanted until the wedding, and went from there. I had a carefully done calendar detailing average temperature, number of times over 100 years it rained, holidays, etc. None of it really mattered as it came down to a day the rabbi was available and the winery was available.

Pick what matters to you. All of the lists out there are great but don't include culture/religion specific items or personal touches you may want. They DO include lots of extranthat you may not need. We chose to skip pre-wedding parties, limos, bridal party, mother of the bride/groom gifts, and lots more "must haves" because we didn't want them and it let us have nicer stuff in other areas.

My flwers are coming from the grocery store (QFC). I met with a florist (and called others) and found basic bouquets nearly $1000. Went in to the store and saw the floral manager making a very similar one (for a wedding) for $30!

Post here lots! We're all around to help. Take a look through "getting lost in stupid stuff" for great ideas, suggestions, things that worked well (or not), "to do" lists, and lots more!
 

madelise

Ideal_Rock
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Okay, I'm already overwhelmed just from these responses! Ugh. How do you even come up with the guest list and budget? I think theme would have to depend on the actual venue, no? I have an idea that I want gold, champagne, ivory, pink.. lace, pearls, bows, etc. But if we host the event at an old theater, that wouldn't work. I can't even make a budget for real because I don't know how many people are on FH's side. It's easy for me to say I'll draw the line at $x, but if his side has a 200 people, it's impossible. Alright, guest list first. Damn it. FH does not give a rat's behind about planning a wedding, and I know it'll be such a pain in the ass to get him to come up with his guest list.

As for flowers, I'm set. My best friend and her cousin own an event floristry company and they already said they'd take care of me. They've already said that they won't let me cheap out on my flowers. I already have all my vases and table # frames that I'll spray paint to match whatever color theme I end up with from WebDiva. The vases are those clear square ones like this: http://www.candles4less.com/product.asp?itemid=62&gclid=CKqLmIiE9rkCFevm7Aod6T4Ayg and I'm probably going to get hydrangeas to take up space, with peonies and garden roses? I'm not a fan of normal roses, and I'm excited about the gradient pink peonies that they were telling me about. I don't know how I'll decorate the vase. Maybe some lace tied into a bow? That seems to be easiest vs. gluing any sparkly or pearl stuff on it. To get some pearls into it, I was thinking those cheapy strings of "pearls", cutting them into maybe 3 feet each, and sorta just putting it around the vase messily to look like pearl necklaces? I have no idea how to do that part. It would have to go around the vase and around the table #.. and maybe a candle or two.
 

star sparkle

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Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
1,706
madelise|1380644765|3530159 said:
Okay, I'm already overwhelmed just from these responses! Ugh. How do you even come up with the guest list and budget? I think theme would have to depend on the actual venue, no? I have an idea that I want gold, champagne, ivory, pink.. lace, pearls, bows, etc. But if we host the event at an old theater, that wouldn't work. I can't even make a budget for real because I don't know how many people are on FH's side. It's easy for me to say I'll draw the line at $x, but if his side has a 200 people, it's impossible. Alright, guest list first. Damn it. FH does not give a rat's behind about planning a wedding, and I know it'll be such a pain in the a$$ to get him to come up with his guest list.
Lol, I don't know how it's working with you, but I think most people only have a limited amount of funding and resources they can put into a wedding, so the budget part is easy. You either have x amount of money to spend, or you don't. I think in general, the budget dictates everything, including how many people you can invite. Obviously if you have unlimited funds, then making the budget as your first step really isn't as important.

But that's just my experience.
 

TooPatient

Ideal_Rock
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star sparkle|1380651098|3530237 said:
madelise|1380644765|3530159 said:
Okay, I'm already overwhelmed just from these responses! Ugh. How do you even come up with the guest list and budget? I think theme would have to depend on the actual venue, no? I have an idea that I want gold, champagne, ivory, pink.. lace, pearls, bows, etc. But if we host the event at an old theater, that wouldn't work. I can't even make a budget for real because I don't know how many people are on FH's side. It's easy for me to say I'll draw the line at $x, but if his side has a 200 people, it's impossible. Alright, guest list first. Damn it. FH does not give a rat's behind about planning a wedding, and I know it'll be such a pain in the a$$ to get him to come up with his guest list.
Lol, I don't know how it's working with you, but I think most people only have a limited amount of funding and resources they can put into a wedding, so the budget part is easy. You either have x amount of money to spend, or you don't. I think in general, the budget dictates everything, including how many people you can invite. Obviously if you have unlimited funds, then making the budget as your first step really isn't as important.

But that's just my experience.
That is how we set our budget!

If you have more flexibility that way, maybe decide if you want just super close family or extended family present and start guest lists from there. Get a rough idea of how many people then look at a few venues (even just online at the $$$ information) and that can help guide your budget.
If you do only have X to spend, look around at smaller and larger venues and see what is out there. That can help decide how many people you can invite.

If you've got flowers, table numbers, and all that ready you're WAY ahead on planning. Don't stress!
 

TooPatient

Ideal_Rock
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Useful stuff I wish I'd thought about:

Shoes take longer to find than you'd expect.
Underwear takes longer to find than you'd expect.
If you look 3 months prior to your wedding, you'll be stuck with mostly off the rack. Look 6-8 months out (maybe 10, but if you are one of us trying to lose weight you don't want to get it too early)
If you use a seamstress NOT affiliated with your dress shop it will probably cost a lot less.
The seamstress can probably do a veil for you for MUCH less than any place with dresses. (my veil cost $40 -- much better than the $600+ I'd seen at the dress shops!)
Read the hints in BWW to know what to expect -- day of, leading up to, and all the little things you never would have thought about (like how to use the bathroom in your dress...)


Oh...
Huge help for me was posting a "to do" list in the "Getting Lost" thread here. I caught all sorts of stuff I forgot about (like a marriage license). Looking at the lists here helps me remember what I still need to do. Updating it is a great way to see the progress and not feel (as) overwhelmed.
 

madelise

Ideal_Rock
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I don't know how to budget because I don't know what to expect these things to cost. I know that average in Southern CA is 30K? Right? So I don't want to spend more than average, but I'd like to cut where I can, too, and figure out which % of the budget to allocate to which areas. Anyway, I don't exactly appreciate the point of throwing a party and paying all this money for other people to enjoy.

But the in-law family has a different culture, and I'm sorta still trying to grasp all these differences. South Asians invite everyone and anyone they have ever heard of. FBIL's wedding is costing already more than 100K, and I think that's absurd. I used to think the wedding was about US, but I've quickly learned that it has nothing to do with me at all. It has to do with keeping peace in the family :nono: :rolleyes: Luckily, they don't drink, so at least we won't have that as an expense. I just need a few bottles of wine and a bottle of Hennessy for my uncle so he doesn't get annoyed and bored of being there.

I forgot to mention that I will most likely buy a dress from Jasmine's Bridal in China. I keep following the threads on another forum, and their work looks fantastic. If that doesn't work out, I will just go to DB. I'm also not a fan of spending a crapload of money on a dress I'll only wear once. I still have to try on dresses to see what shapes and such that I like, and then go wild with searching for a design for them to make. Everything looks so pretty and I just can't choose!

One good piece of news: SO has agreed to sit down with me and write down a short guest list of the most important people that he has to have there, and has offered me to go over it and cut people down. This list will be my guide to who has to, has to be there, so at least I know how I can handle FMIL's list when she starts insisting that her 400+ family members need to come or it will look bad for her. :roll eyes:

Oh, another thing.. bridal party? Both SO and I have sorta faded out most our friendships since we've been uber busy the last few years of our lives. I can count about 8 people that I can ask to be BMs, and out of those, about 3 or 4 will be upset if I don't have a bridal party. I think most can understand, though. I never thought I wanted a bridal party, but when I was part of a wedding party this summer, I realized just how much labor you can get from a bridal party. We handled so much! From making sure the bride was okay and her dress, makeup, hair was perfect every few minutes, to refilling the dessert buffet, to entertaining guests, to prepping for the actual event. Will I regret not wanting a bridal party? Will I have to hire people to do these things for me in place of a wedding party? Will I regret not having a wedding party?

Cons:
- SO really doesn't have that many people he can choose. He's an introvert.
- It's costly to spend $ on them.
- Photography would have to sacrifice some time for wedding party photos.

Pros:
- No upset girlfriends or family.
- Free labor day-of and help with planning at least?
- It'd be given that there'd be a bridal shower, bachelorette's party, etc.
- Those bridal party + bride and groomsmen + groom pictures are cute.
- Who else would I get ready with day-of?
 

TooPatient

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madelise|1380683384|3530544 said:
I don't know how to budget because I don't know what to expect these things to cost. I know that average in Southern CA is 30K? Right? So I don't want to spend more than average, but I'd like to cut where I can, too, and figure out which % of the budget to allocate to which areas. Anyway, I don't exactly appreciate the point of throwing a party and paying all this money for other people to enjoy.
Averages are difficult to judge by. It really does turn out to be an expensive party. You've got to figure out what YOU want in your day and not stress over the rest. It is nice for other people to enjoy also, but YOU have to LOVE what you choose.

But the in-law family has a different culture, and I'm sorta still trying to grasp all these differences. South Asians invite everyone and anyone they have ever heard of. FBIL's wedding is costing already more than 100K, and I think that's absurd. I used to think the wedding was about US, but I've quickly learned that it has nothing to do with me at all. It has to do with keeping peace in the family :nono: :rolleyes: Luckily, they don't drink, so at least we won't have that as an expense. I just need a few bottles of wine and a bottle of Hennessy for my uncle so he doesn't get annoyed and bored of being there.
If you have ANY wine, you'll have pouring fees. If you have even a single bottle of any other alcohol you'll be stuck with "bar set up" and "bartender" fees. Skipping all but wine saved us $1,000 in set up alone (all venues are different, this is just the numbers we had).
Families and friends like to thing it is all about what they want. Your marriage IS all about you. Your wedding is a bit more difficult. It should be about what you want (you and FI) but you'll have people all over wanting things a certain way. If you are paying in full for it, you'll have a lot more ability to stick to what you want.


I forgot to mention that I will most likely buy a dress from Jasmine's Bridal in China. I keep following the threads on another forum, and their work looks fantastic. If that doesn't work out, I will just go to DB. I'm also not a fan of spending a crapload of money on a dress I'll only wear once. I still have to try on dresses to see what shapes and such that I like, and then go wild with searching for a design for them to make. Everything looks so pretty and I just can't choose!
DB was an awesome place to go to try on different shapes and styles. I ended up not buying there because I found THE dress for less at another place. Watch the websites (or call) and see if any of the wedding stores are having sales. The place I bought from had a HUGE room of dresses all under $1,000. I actually got mine on sale down from $3,000 to $450! Also watch for the cancer benefit that travels around the country. You can get designer gowns for a tiny fraction of the cost and all proceeds go to cancer research. (Brides Against Breast Cancer?)

One good piece of news: SO has agreed to sit down with me and write down a short guest list of the most important people that he has to have there, and has offered me to go over it and cut people down. This list will be my guide to who has to, has to be there, so at least I know how I can handle FMIL's list when she starts insisting that her 400+ family members need to come or it will look bad for her. :roll eyes:
Great news! You and FI need to have this in mind plus an idea of expenses before you deal with her. Depending on the venue, adding another person could push you into the next category up (higher food/beverage minimums, more expensive rental fees, etc) or they may not be able to fit that many. Be familiar with these things so that you don't feel like you have to cave in when dealing with people.

Oh, another thing.. bridal party? Both SO and I have sorta faded out most our friendships since we've been uber busy the last few years of our lives. I can count about 8 people that I can ask to be BMs, and out of those, about 3 or 4 will be upset if I don't have a bridal party. I think most can understand, though. I never thought I wanted a bridal party, but when I was part of a wedding party this summer, I realized just how much labor you can get from a bridal party. We handled so much! From making sure the bride was okay and her dress, makeup, hair was perfect every few minutes, to refilling the dessert buffet, to entertaining guests, to prepping for the actual event. Will I regret not wanting a bridal party? Will I have to hire people to do these things for me in place of a wedding party? Will I regret not having a wedding party?

Cons:
- SO really doesn't have that many people he can choose. He's an introvert.
- It's costly to spend $ on them.
- Photography would have to sacrifice some time for wedding party photos.

Pros:
- No upset girlfriends or family.
- Free labor day-of and help with planning at least?
- It'd be given that there'd be a bridal shower, bachelorette's party, etc.
- Those bridal party + bride and groomsmen + groom pictures are cute.
- Who else would I get ready with day-of?

See my comments above in random colors!

I decided against a bridal party because I didn't want hurt feelings or the added expense. We don't want the pre-parties or any of that stuff. The winery is doing all set up, serving, clean up, etc. They even have people who can help with my dress or whatever.
The "free labor" comes at the cost (not for everyone, but for some -- read threads here for examples) of added stress, emotions, expectations and other upset.
I do love some of the pictures I've seen of them though!
Getting ready is where I'm hung up now...
My mom won't be there. My grandmother really can't help. "A" is not interested in helping (she doesn't like even the mention of underwear and doesn't want to even button up my back). I waiver between being thrilled for some quiet time for myself to get a massage, have a manicure & pedicure, and in general pamper and relax.... but then thinking it is sort of sad to be alone.
You can always have a couple of people get ready with you even if you don't have a bridal party.

Personal choice! I can see the nice parts but I can also see how it is nice to not have. You'll have to think about what you picture for YOUR day.


Just for a general idea, we live in the Seattle area but didn't want the expense of a close by place. We are doing 2 hours out of Seattle (over the mountains) and stuff costs lots less there. Mid-week off-season has saved us $$$$!

Dress -- I got on sale for $450. (Regularly $3,000). I saw lots around $1,000 and others well over that (I didn't knowingly try any on!) but also a fair selection of 400-700.

Fitting the dress -- $420 to have the length adjusted to my height, taken in (I bought a bit too big since it was mega sale off rack), veil, wrap to wear with dress.

Photographer -- $1200 for 6 hours + $100 engagement. I loved her portfolio and (luckily!) she turned out to be one of the least expensive around. A good working budget is probably closer to $2,000 (more if you want albums)
videographer -- we aren't using one. Talked to a couple at a show and looked at websites. Some photographers will add on for about $1,000 extra but a stand alone can run $4,000+

Winery -- rental fee is $1,000 + $1,000 for the special ceremony location we wanted to use (this is WAY less than places I'd talked to closer to home)
food -- Running us $3,000 (based on 14 people) including dinner, breakfast, and wine
alcohol -- anything more than wine would have been $1,000 set up fee PLUS actual consumption

DJ -- Cheapest I found (other side of the mountains) was about $1,000 for reception music + lighting. Another $300 to do ceremony (at same location) sound too. DJs on this side (Seattle area) were WAY more than that.

cake -- 3-tier to feed 60 people is costing us $425 (including $100 to deliver 1 1/2 hours from cake shop)

tuxedo -- I don't know! Need to do this ASAP!!!

invitations & STDs -- I did the printing locally and assembled myself. Total cost for all came in at under $100.
If you're inviting lots of people, it isn't too bad (relatively) to order them. For the 20 I needed, it was coming in at $600 to have them done! (jumping up to 50 of the same set only added about $20 and 100 of the same was not much more)

Wedding band -- his was over $1,000 because of the width. Mine is plain gold and was closer to $150.


The little stuff adds up!
Earrings, bracelet, shoes, underwear to go with the dress, hair, makeup, nails, tips (read contracts -- it may be included at 20% or more already), transportation, dress cleaning before and after, his shoes, hair cuts, marriage license, etc!
 

star sparkle

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
1,706
madelise|1380683384|3530544 said:
I don't know how to budget because I don't know what to expect these things to cost. I know that average in Southern CA is 30K? Right? So I don't want to spend more than average, but I'd like to cut where I can, too, and figure out which % of the budget to allocate to which areas. Anyway, I don't exactly appreciate the point of throwing a party and paying all this money for other people to enjoy.
Average costs don't really mean much, I don't think. I think you should pay what you're comfortable paying, not what the wedding industry says you should pay. And re: the bolded, I completely agree with that sentiment, which is why DH and I made our wedding to OUR specifications and nobody elses. We loved everything about our wedding, and not once did we think of it as throwing a party for other people to enjoy. Throughout the entire process, we planned it for US.

But the in-law family has a different culture, and I'm sorta still trying to grasp all these differences. South Asians invite everyone and anyone they have ever heard of. FBIL's wedding is costing already more than 100K, and I think that's absurd. I used to think the wedding was about US, but I've quickly learned that it has nothing to do with me at all. It has to do with keeping peace in the family :nono: :rolleyes:
I know it's easier said than done, but please try not to get too caught up in that. Your wedding IS about the two of you. Your future in-laws might have a pre-conceived notion about what your wedding should be, but I think you need be firm and not be pushed around. Imagine if you and your FI were to go out and just get married one day, just the two of your. The IL's would probably be mad, but I'm sure they'd get over it.

I forgot to mention that I will most likely buy a dress from Jasmine's Bridal in China. I keep following the threads on another forum, and their work looks fantastic. If that doesn't work out, I will just go to DB. I'm also not a fan of spending a crapload of money on a dress I'll only wear once. I still have to try on dresses to see what shapes and such that I like, and then go wild with searching for a design for them to make. Everything looks so pretty and I just can't choose!
Nothing wrong with that! As you know, I was a DB bride because I also couldn't stomach the thought of a pricey dress for one day. They have some super cute stuff!

One good piece of news: SO has agreed to sit down with me and write down a short guest list of the most important people that he has to have there, and has offered me to go over it and cut people down. This list will be my guide to who has to, has to be there, so at least I know how I can handle FMIL's list when she starts insisting that her 400+ family members need to come or it will look bad for her.
Definitely a good place to start!


Re: the bridal party - as you also know, I didn't have one, and I don't regret it for a minute. There were plenty of people who loved me enough to help out with everything I needed without having a "bridesmaid" or "groomsman" title for a day. The same friends you'd ask to be bridesmaids would probably be more than happy to help you with anything even if you don't officially have a wedding party.

I just went to a wedding last month where DH was the best man and I've only met the bride and groom a few times (the groom has been DH's best friend since high school and they currently live in a different state from us), and I helped the bride out with setting up and getting ready just as much as her bridesmaids did. Likewise, they were at our wedding and while we didn't have a wedding party, they also helped us and even picked up our flowers on the morning of the wedding!

Anyway, I guess my point is that people who love and care about you will do everything they can to help even if they don't have a title. So base your decision on whether or not to have a bridal party on what feels right to you, and not on "if I don't, I might not have anyone to help me out."
 

Chewbacca

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Messages
699
Oh madelise, reading this thread has made me anxious! :lol:

To figure out an approximate price for the wedding scenario I was imagining, I made a spreadsheet listing everything - dress, shoes, venue etc, and assigned prices. Some were approximate from what I'd gleaned from the internet, e.g. I was only willing to spend a certain amount on a photographer, and some were actual quotes I'd gotten. That allowed me to get a general shape and cost of the thing (and incidentally more on to wedding scenario B!).

For that, you'll probably need a guest list. I made a rough one at first, so I could price out dinner, favours etc.
 

SC86

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 25, 2011
Messages
195
Madelise, I think it's amazing how much you've got done already!! I also think it's great that you're being strict with your guest list and figuring out you budget.

I'm South Asian also, and I do think wedding costs and guest lists can get easily get out of control. I think it's mainly because culturally weddings are usually a huge community/family event and so the initial thought is to invite everyone and their uncle! Also South Asian weddings usually include multiple ceremonies/festivities over multiple days (which rack up the cost!). I got married earlier this year and although we limited our guest list to about 150, I think we still ended up spending 90-100K because there were 4 days worth of events to plan! I think it's great that you're prioritizing what's most important to you; it's really the only way to stay within budget. I think if your future in-laws insist on something due to their culture (and you're ok with including it), it's fair that they should have to pay for it.
 

madelise

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 23, 2011
Messages
5,294
SC- finally! Someone who understands this debacle. LOTS. OF. EVENTS.

1) Our real engagement party, which is my family + his family + a small small group of friends. This is a cost I need to worry about. I'm unsure if this will be on my family's tab (I don't exactly have parents, and I don't want my elderly grandparents nor my aunt and uncle who already do so much for me, and have their own kids to worry about, to pick up the tab), or if FI will pick up the tab himself. If FI picks up the tab, it eats into our "free money", which is going to decide the budget for the wedding. I'm hoping this will be very low key and just like any ol dinner.

2) His family is throwing a huge (huge to me means anything more than 15 people. I'm guessing about 50 to this thing? But I'm pulling this number out of my butt so I really don't know) Pakistani engagement ceremony. It's just like a wedding, apparently. Both people exchange rings, and there's this whole ceremony or whatever. Both FI and I don't really know what is going on, but we googled "Pakistani engagement ceremony" and got to a few photographers' blog posts about this, so we got to see photos of the whole shindig. This is happening at the end of this year or beginning of next year. This will not be a cost I need to worry about. I didn't want to do it because I don't care for it and FI doesn't care for it…. but I just found out Monday that my FB status update was set as public for some reason… I don't know WHY when everything else in my life is set as private on FB… but distant relatives of FI's found out, and called FI's parents, and they're demanding an engagement party. Yes. In this culture, apparently it's not rude to DEMAND others to throw a party for your ass to attend. :angryfire: Groosfraba. I'm still learning how to not get F*CKINGPISSEDOUTOFMYMIND every time I think about these ridiculous faux necessities of the culture. It's rude like f*ck in our culture, yet it's normal in his. Yeah. Still learning here, guys. Forgive me but I *WILL* be griping about the culture clash quite often.

3) I figured we'd want to celebrate with our friends, too, so over the next holiday break (Veteran's day maybe?), we'll do a get-together at a bar or something. I hope everyone will pay their own tab? Or are we supposed to? :confused:

-------and then the wedding stuff-------

4) Ceremony on 03-14-2015. Western ceremony. Chinese tea ceremony is a big maybe at this point. The Qi Pao is costly, and the beautiful china we need to serve the tea on and stuff is also pricey, though I think my friend would be okay with me borrowing hers. My grandparents have these beautiful, beautiful Chinese red wood furniture that would be so perfect for a tea ceremony, though. They've had it for over 10 years and they still have it covered in saran wrap to keep it pristine, lol! It's calling me to have a tea ceremony.

5) Small dinner "reception". It's still a reception because I still want it nicely decorated and something out of my dreams. Limited guests. Very limited guests. NO WEDDING PARTY. Thank you ladies for helping me figure out that if my friends love me, they'll help me regardless of a title. This is the guest list that I'll be going over with FI this weekend. The reason why I want something uber small is because we really want to be married on this date but I HAVE FINALS 2 DAYS LATER!! Eek!!! Also, I've never dreamed of a huge wedding. I like intimate, I like people that I *love* there. I don't like strangers. I'm not a people-loving person. If I don't love someone, I don't like them, IYKWIM. Also, I have a very very small family. About 15 people max if I start counting people like my aunt's mother, who isn't biologically related to me, but helped raise me. A small, nice reception would be more proportionate with his guests vs. my guests… and would let our families actually get to mingle a little bit.

5) I'll add this after you read 6).

6) I guess if FMIL wants a huge ass South Asian wedding, she can do it during my spring break.. which includes 2 weekends. Preferably during the first weekend, so I can take a short weekender trip as a "honeymoon" to somewhere local before school starts again. I don't think I will let FMIL pay for this. I just don't want her to be forking over $ and delegating every detail. It's not that I don't want her happy, but I really just do not agree with spending money that frivolously. I love spending money frivolously, but not on RANDOM PEOPLE. But mostly, I am uncomfortable being scrutinized by a million people that I don't know. I think I will get the most control if I don't let her pay. At least, if it's max 200 people, it won't be THAT out of control. My FBIL explained to me that she comes from this really weird cultural thinking that if she doesn't throw a presidential ball and invite everyone everyone, then people are going to talk shit about her and us. I don't know why she gives a shit. People talk shit regardless in their culture, is what FBIL says. If it's not fancy enough, they say you're being stingy and cheap, and using the wedding as a fundraiser. If you make it too fancy, they say you're wasting $$ and you should've spent that money to invite more people. Just LISTENING to that logic makes me pissed off and want to cancel the whole thing :roll:

5) The mehndi night. It's usually the night before the wedding, but it can be a few days before, too. It's just close friends and family over, and the girls all get mehndi done in small designs, and I'd get a big crazy one on my hands. I'm actually really really looking forward to this tradition since I get to bond with the females in FI's family… and I think mehndi designs look fabulous and really look so neat with an e-ring on. It makes great hand shots!! The mehndi night would be combined with men to have the tael ceremony for FI, where they massage oils in his hair or something like that.

So.. thoughts please? I will be hiring a wedding planner on top of all this shit because I *am* still in graduate school full-time, and I will be a student clinician soon, too, on top of course work. I keep waffling on thinking the above ideas of splitting events up is fun, or that it's a waste of $$ to be paying for TWO events instead of rolling them all together into ONE.

If you know anything about South Asian culture, there are actually a million parties for the wedding and they can span DAYS. But we'd do the Nikkah (marriage ceremony) on the same day as the Shaadi, or the reception party. Or maybe move the Nikkah also to the same day as the American ceremony/tea ceremony/small reception? But then I wouldn't have my mehndi done for it properly. It would be faded and ugly.

Another negative to this whole split-day events is that a photographer would have to be hired each time! I think it's most important for day #1 and for the nikkah/shaadi day, but I think it'd be nice to have a photographer for the mehndi night, too. I'm wondering if I can contact a few photographers and see if they can cut me a deal to cover the mehndi night as well. I think pictures of me frozen in place with my hands wet with henna and FI with his oily hair would be hilarious and cute to keep forever.

OH. Another curveball. FI's whole family is Muslim and they don't eat pork. My family is Chinese, and most Chinese dishes are pork dishes. The other option is seafood. But FI's family mostly do not eat sea food. It's not in their cuisine often and many of them find it foreign, strange, and definitely not like the delicacy that Americans or Chinese view it. They eat a lot of chicken and beef dishes but they require it to be halal. The easiest way for me to explain that is that it's like kosher food for the Jewish. Their animals need to be prayed for or something before they die. So.. on top of all my other shit, I have to make sure that the vendor who will providing food will be able to use halal meat. Oy.



:rolleyes:

I'll discuss budget with the FI this weekend, too. :wacko: I have an idea of keeping it NEAR the *average* by going uber cheap on both days. I don't know how realistic it will be but I refuse to go anywhere near what my FBIL is going.
 

TooPatient

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 1, 2009
Messages
8,662
:-o :-o :-o

Okay...
I've got to run for a bit and will post in detail later.

Halal meat -- This will cost extra and you need to make sure there aren't other requirements. With kosher stuff, there are all sorts of things you can't mix and the more observant may require a special caterer.

Budget...... Yikes.

I see nothing wrong with friends at a bar paying their own tab as long as they know going in. We had friends do this. No problem.

The rest.... multiple parties are going to be $$$$$ -- especially the one for 200!
 

madelise

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 23, 2011
Messages
5,294
TooPatient|1380857526|3531905 said:
:-o :-o :-o

Okay...
I've got to run for a bit and will post in detail later.

Halal meat -- This will cost extra and you need to make sure there aren't other requirements. With kosher stuff, there are all sorts of things you can't mix and the more observant may require a special caterer.

Budget...... Yikes.

I see nothing wrong with friends at a bar paying their own tab as long as they know going in. We had friends do this. No problem.

The rest.... multiple parties are going to be $$$$$ -- especially the one for 200!

Lol. Yea, that eek face is right.

I remembered something else I've been thinking of.

I HATE TWILIGHT. My ass read all the books for some reason. Mostly because I'm an idiot and my cousin had the books. I sort of enjoyed them, though I knew they were trash. The movies were horrible and made me go from "meh" about Twilight to out flat disliking them. The twihards and the whole Twilight movement and fan base just grosses me out. YICK!

And that Christina Perri song just makes me roll my eyes. The lyrics are almost misogynistic. A woman sitting around, desperately, waiting for this "ONE TRUE LOVE!" to come save her from her misery… because that's what women are! NOTHING without her man! Yuck!

FI never listens to pop music. He listens to classical music or those weird nature-y massage music with those wooden flutes. He listens to comedy or political talk radio in the car. He doesn't know that song is Twilight-y. He's probably never heard Christina Perri's song. But he has heard the Piano Guys' piano and cello version on his Pandora radio many many times. He sent that song to me this week with a very sweet love note telling me that he always thinks of me when he hears that song. I don't think he has connected that he might be thinking of me because I have hummed that song a few times in his presence or that maybe he's heard me sing to it? I don't know. I just can't figure out why he'd think of me for that song when it's instrumental if he doesn't even know it's a love song.

Anyway. He really likes it. Should I sell out, not mention anything negative I think of it, and just opt for using that song as the "walk down the aisle" song? My best friend plays the piano, and she has staff that play string instruments. It won't cost a whole lot for us to hire them, I don't think. I have yet to break his heart and tell him it has anything to do with Twilight. He has shown NO interest in wedding planning, and I don't think that will ever change. Him showing this little bit of interest makes me consider his comment. I'm almost scared that if I shut down this tiny reference to our future wedding, he'll never want to make any other suggestions again.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgaTQ5-XfMM

The song we will either have our first dance to, or that I will sing myself, will be Grow Old With You from the movie The Wedding Singer. I don't think it's slow enough for a first dance, so if we go that route, the melody would have to be changed a bit. But I've loved that song since I was a kid and I've always wanted to use it in my wedding somehow.
 

TooPatient

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 1, 2009
Messages
8,662
madelise|1380858438|3531915 said:
TooPatient|1380857526|3531905 said:
:-o :-o :-o

Okay...
I've got to run for a bit and will post in detail later.

Halal meat -- This will cost extra and you need to make sure there aren't other requirements. With kosher stuff, there are all sorts of things you can't mix and the more observant may require a special caterer.

Budget...... Yikes.

I see nothing wrong with friends at a bar paying their own tab as long as they know going in. We had friends do this. No problem.

The rest.... multiple parties are going to be $$$$$ -- especially the one for 200!

Lol. Yea, that eek face is right.

I remembered something else I've been thinking of.

I HATE TWILIGHT. My a$$ read all the books for some reason. Mostly because I'm an idiot and my cousin had the books. I sort of enjoyed them, though I knew they were trash. The movies were horrible and made me go from "meh" about Twilight to out flat disliking them. The twihards and the whole Twilight movement and fan base just grosses me out. YICK!

And that Christina Perri song just makes me roll my eyes. The lyrics are almost misogynistic. A woman sitting around, desperately, waiting for this "ONE TRUE LOVE!" to come save her from her misery… because that's what women are! NOTHING without her man! Yuck!

FI never listens to pop music. He listens to classical music or those weird nature-y massage music with those wooden flutes. He listens to comedy or political talk radio in the car. He doesn't know that song is Twilight-y. He's probably never heard Christina Perri's song. But he has heard the Piano Guys' piano and cello version on his Pandora radio many many times. He sent that song to me this week with a very sweet love note telling me that he always thinks of me when he hears that song. I don't think he has connected that he might be thinking of me because I have hummed that song a few times in his presence or that maybe he's heard me sing to it? I don't know. I just can't figure out why he'd think of me for that song when it's instrumental if he doesn't even know it's a love song.

Anyway. He really likes it. Should I sell out, not mention anything negative I think of it, and just opt for using that song as the "walk down the aisle" song? My best friend plays the piano, and she has staff that play string instruments. It won't cost a whole lot for us to hire them, I don't think. I have yet to break his heart and tell him it has anything to do with Twilight. He has shown NO interest in wedding planning, and I don't think that will ever change. Him showing this little bit of interest makes me consider his comment. I'm almost scared that if I shut down this tiny reference to our future wedding, he'll never want to make any other suggestions again.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgaTQ5-XfMM

The song we will either have our first dance to, or that I will sing myself, will be Grow Old With You from the movie The Wedding Singer. I don't think it's slow enough for a first dance, so if we go that route, the melody would have to be changed a bit. But I've loved that song since I was a kid and I've always wanted to use it in my wedding somehow.

I always loved that movie! Such a great song! (The Wedding Singer!)

Never cared much for Twilight. Tough situation! It is sweet that he is interested but I would hate to have a song I didn't like for one of the major songs...
Can you find another couple you do like and make a list that you can go through together? Maybe that way he'll feel like you listened to his idea but you'll both be able to go over songs together?
Don't stress too much yet -- we changed songs for walking down the aisle and first dance a dozen times over the last year!
 

SC86

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jul 25, 2011
Messages
195
Ahh madelise, welcome to the craziness that is planning a multicultural SA wedding!!

I think the most important think for you to do is to finalize exactly what events/ceremonies are happening and then figure out the schedule for them (ie. what can you combine on one day, how many days will you need to plan for). How many days your events will take plan over hugely impacts your budget, planning, etc.

It seems that right now you'd like your personal engagement party, the pakistani engagement party, the Western/Chinese ceremony and reception, the mehndi, and the Nikkah and Walima. Lots to plan!! See what you can realistically have on one day...for example your Mehndi can be on Friday, the Western/Chinese ceremony and reception on Saturday and the Nikkah and Walima on Sunday maybe.

I know it seems like a lot because it is! I'm not pakistani but just being Indian I know there are many cultural ceremonies and weird traditions to adhere to! Some of it you can get away with not doing and some of it will be kind of insulting to his side of the family if you both don't do....the challenge is figuring out that those traditions are are only doing the minimum! I know it's a PITA because they aren't necessarily important to you and your fiancé, but you kind of have to understand that this wedding is seen as a family affair to them. I think it might be a good idea to talk to you fiance about the most important parts of a pakistani wedding. That'll make it easier to figure out what has religious significance and what is just for fun. For example, although it's lots of fun you don't HAVE to have a mehndi party. Or if you really want to get your mehndi done, you can just have an artist come to your house and apply it for just the bride; you don't have to make it an whole party and invite everyone. And your fiance and do his oil ceremony separately with his family.

Ok you might not agree with this, but I think you should let your future in-laws plan and pay for most of the pakistani engagement party, nikkah and walima. Yes, it totally won't be what you are envisioning, but this way two large events are their responsibility to plan and pay for. You can just pick out what Indian/Pakistani outfits you would like to wear and have fun at them! It's going to be a lot of work to plan the western ceremony and reception and Chinese tea ceremony, so you can put most of your time/efforts into it, which seems more important to you. You can have this wedding be the one that you have dreamed of! Also his family will probably enjoy planning the pakistani wedding events and feel like they are included. Also they can make the decisions on their budget accordingly...and you don't have to worry about them spending too much or too little to show off to others, which is ridiculous! And they can also invite who they want to.
Maybe this is not what you want to do, but it's just a thought! Being in grad school and exams should be what you're focusing on, in my opinion, so any free time for wedding planning should at least be for the ceremony and reception that's more significant to you! That's just my 2 cents! I personally had a heavy work/travel load when I was planning my 4 day wedding events over a year and it was tough finding enough time to plan everything!

About the food....I had a similar situation during my planning because many of my husband's family are vegetarian and don't eat beef at all, whereas my friends and family will eat anything. You really can't please everyone all the time! We ended up having a large variety of food for each event, where half of it was vegetarian and the other was non-veg. We did have beef during one of the more casual events too and it was all fine. I think as long as you give people choices that respect their food restrictions it will be fine. For example, for the pakistani events maybe you can get an Indian caterer and have all traditional indian/pakistani food that is halal. For the western/chinese wedding you could have a menu that you and your fiancé really enjoy but also have half of the food be vegetarian, so that anyone that keeps halal can still enjoy all of the veg items (as I understand it halal only applies to meat, so vegetarian dishes are considered halal...but I could be wrong). Then you don't have to worry about getting halal meat for every event.

Remember to try to have fun planning too and not to stress about it all! It will all come together and your wedding will be amazing! Focus on the things that are most important to you (like maybe your wedding dress or the cake) and delegate the rest to other people. Oh and I highly recommend getting a planner! I had a planner and it helped a lot.
 

TooPatient

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 1, 2009
Messages
8,662
Okay...
I came back to give a more detailed response, but will save myself the extra typing and just ditto everything SC said!


I know you want to plan the details how you want, but the parts that are huge and really matter to FI's family are going to just drive you batty (and cost HUGE amounts of $$$) as they insist on detail stuff. Let them handle those parts and put your energy and money into the other parts.

My FI is from CA and is familiar with the area you're talking about. He suggested looking around Lake County for some great but less expensive wineries. Steele is very good and might be a bit less $$$.
 

madelise

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 23, 2011
Messages
5,294
Thanks TP and SC. I thought I wrote a reply, but I guess PS ate it?


TP: you're right. I have plenty of time. I didn't shut down his idea, but I also didn't egg it on. I'm sure we'll have plenty of options as time goes on.

SC: I'm confused what's the difference between the shaadi and the walima? Are they the same thing? Yes, there are a lot of things going on, but luckily, after the engagement parties, I will have over a year to plan for the other things. And luckily, I am most likely going to hire a coordinator/planner to help me figure it out. I mentioned in my previous post how the timing will occur:

Saturday, March 14: the Western/Chinese ceremonies and small reception.
Thursday or Friday, March 19 or 20: the mehendi and tael ceremonies.
Friday or Saturday, March 20 or 21: the large reception.

The waffling on it being Thurs+Fri or Fri+Sat is there because Thurs+Fri will be more affordable. Many venues have huge discounts for Friday events. But the Fri+Sat is more easy on time since people usually work Fridays. I guess it wouldn't hurt to consider a Friday mehendi/tael, then a Sunday reception, too? I don't really care for the dates here specifically. I think we already cut down the cultural stuff to the bare bones: mehendi/tael night, then the nikkah/reception. All other crap got cut out, and I think his family, himself, and I are on the same page that they're not necessary or cost-efficient. I really do want the mehendi/tael night since I think of it as a combined Bachelorette/Bachelor's night with family and friends. It's the *one* thing I've been looking forward to the most about marrying a South Asian/having a South Asian wedding. I don't think it will be a large event. I think it will only include the same people that I want to include in the first small reception… and definitely not all of them.

The apprehension about his parents paying for the large reception comes in to play that I don't want them to invite whomever they want. I had a huge conversation about this with the FI this weekend. Many of their family members (as you can imagine, a large ass family = much more drama) are *******s. And I don't like *******s. I'm the type of person that doesn't believe blood is thicker than water. I don't care if you're related to someone; if they're a jerk, they deserve to be excised from my life. I want nothing to do with them. You're right, I have very limited time on my hands. But I feel so strongly against having *******s present on the supposedly happiest days of my life that I'd rather pay, handle, everything ourselves than let these people be there to ruin our day. During that huge conversation, I made sure that FI was on my side and will continue to be on my side. I mean, besides that one thing, really, I don't mind if FMIL plans everything else. She's a very very very picky woman, so I know whatever aesthetics or style she chooses, it won't be the worst thing on earth. It might not be to my tastes, but at least it won't be outright ugly. The second apprehension about them paying is that, they would have just paid for a huge wedding for FBIL. I just feel guilty, really. I'm sure FI feels this way, too. FI always gives them money whenever can, and he really feels like he owes his parents everything. I don't disagree.

For the food… halal does only apply to meat. Honestly, not a single person on the small reception's guest-list will have problems with meat being non-halal except for his mother. Halal food is flipping pricey. Finding a caterer or worse, limiting my choices of venues because of this is not really ideal. I think at the end of it, I'm just not going to give a hoot and let her worry about what she's going to eat herself. She can eat before she attends. I won't have any pork dishes, but asking for a specific type of meat is too much IMO. My grandfather has problems eating any foods that are hard to chew since he's super old, and my grandmother can only eat pork (no other red meats, no seafood) due to a medication she's on. If my 90 year old grandparents aren't making it a PITA, I don't see why FMIL should be allowed to. We're probably going to bring my grandpa some spicy tofu and rice ourselves. At the large wedding reception, I'll let her deal with the menu. I think a buffet-line is more ideal for a large reception, since more dishes can be offered and there won't be any confusion over who wants to eat what. It's also more affordable. I just request that there's nothing too pungent smelling (I've gotten sorta used to smelling all the spices, but my family and our friends surely haven't!) and nothing too spicy. I think going half-vegetarian is a great idea. I actually love vegetarian Indian food the best out of all of FMIL's cooking!! There's this one okra dish that is to-die for. Mmmmm… I need to learn how to cook that!

I hope my wedding will be amazeballs. It's in my nature to freak out over everything, though :razz: so that will never change. Honestly, I probably don't need a planner at all… just because I'm still going to be going over everything. But I just need someone to do the calling of venues for quotes and that kind of stuff, and someone to make sure everything runs smoothly days-of.

But thank you for all of your advice. It's greatly, greatly appreciated.

TP: Lake County is north of San Francisco? That's hours and hours and hours away from where we live, lol! But thank you for asking your DH anyway! Wineries are definitely not on our list of places to host any events, since alcohol is "haram" and I don't need FMIL throwing a fit.



----------------


Conversation with FI:
- We came up with a guest list! YAY! 25 per side. I have 25 already, but a good handful of them are probably not going to come because they are out of country. FI has a list of 20 by being very strict with himself. People that he wanted to invite, I asked him if he was ok with them only going to the large Pakistani wedding reception, so a few were removed on the list. He has yet to fill out the last 5 spots on his side because he doesn't know who to choose. I have friends and family on my list, FI has only family on his. I'm trying to encourage him to fill up the last 5 spots with friends instead of family. Our small reception will be guests only, with no +1s unless they have long-long-long-term boyfriends/girlfriends or are married/engaged. I'm thinking 50 tops is a great # for our small reception!
- We came up with a budget for the small reception and ceremony. :appl: Yay. The number is pretty much arbitrary, though, as we are both encouraging to keep the number down, but quality up. We will aim low and will be very happy to spend less, but we will also budge if we need to in order to get the wedding of our dreams.


and then:
- Grandmother is yelling at me already to find a location for our small family-only engagement dinner/party. I wanted it low key, and suggested an Islamic Chinese restaurant, but my grandmother yelled at me cus those places really are ugly and messy looking restaurants with beat up interiors and ugly exteriors. They're also very very small restaurants. I asked her if my grandfather will attend, and she said she really wants him to and he really wants to attend. Everyone is realistic that grandpa may not be alive in 2015… and if he is, he may not be mobile. He can currently walk short distances in his walker. He also can't "hold it" til the bathroom quite often. He doesn't feel his urges til last minute, and since he walks slow, he has accidents quite often. He doesn't want to wear an adult diaper. Yikes. So…. that's my short-term goal for this month. Find a place for dinner that doesn't cost too much per person, is "nicer", yet is close enough to my grandparents home as can be.




OK! That's all for now, folks. My November goal is to hire a planner, and my December goal is to secure a venue for the small Western/Chinese ceremony and reception.
 

SB621

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 25, 2009
Messages
7,863
I think the most important part is to sit down with your man and plan out your (meaning both of you) vision. What you would like, what feel would you like. A saturday club atmosphere wedding, a sunday church wedding etc.... then talk about budget. From there you can start look at places that are within your budget.
 

Chewbacca

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 9, 2012
Messages
699
You are already making great progress, mad! :appl:

Re Twilight music: That is super sweet of Mr. madelise! I'd put it on the potential wedding music list and leave it for now! You've got lots of time to decide on smaller details.

Re halal food: It sounds like you should just do your own thing for the Chinese/Western wedding, since its only FMIL who requires halal perhaps its for the best to just treat her dietary needs as vegetarian in this case. For the SE Asian reception, I agree that buffet is the way to go! I've been to a couple of SEA weddings and it works so well. Half vegetarian sounds great too.

Re wedding activities schedule: Your initial timing plan looks good! I'm a little nervous for that final tucked in there though! :errrr:

Re FMIL vs. you paying for SEA reception: So you are thinking you/FI will pay for it, and FMIL will plan the bulk of it? I'm wondering if its for the best that you allow her to save face and invite the entire neighborhood, just so you start off your relationship as an official DIL on the right foot? Idk. In theory you should be in a happy-wedding-bubble and not notice any family shenanigans on the Big Day, but thats easier said than done amirite. But if it won't make too many waves, I think you've got the right idea!
 
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