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An Intimate $4.7K Multicultural Washington Wedding At Home

Love after grief (with a drive-by reception)

Amber Rose, NetSuite Systems Analyst, CPA + Punthawat, Architect, Chef
One Sentence Sum up of the vibe: Electronic love with organic happiness.
PLANNED BUDGET: $15,000 had planned a small funky hotel party… but Covid.
ACTUAL BUDGET: We spent $4,700.
Number of Guests: 12, but 20 after the drive thru reception
LOCATION: Childhood Home, Vancouver, Washington
Photographer: Katy Weaver

Where We Allocated The Most Funds: Our photographer, yard work needs and rentals.

Where We Allocated The Least Funds: The cake was made by my pastry chef friend. My cousin, who is a designer, decorated the cake. The deejay was a friend. The food was gifted by our Thai family (noodles, catfish, homemade sausage, sticky rice, four different kinds of soup). Punthawat insisted that we have soup. I’m wondering “why are we having soup at a wedding?” Anyways, he made four soups. The booze was gifted by friends (we drink the good stuff, so small batch mezcal, Cristal, and Hibiki were on the menu). The flowers were arranged by extraordinaire, Sergio. Sergio is the go-to make a party look fashionable and operational guy. So, I left it to him to make things “flow”.

What Was Totally Worth It?: The decor, cake, and rentals (chairs, silverware, plates, chafing dishes). What Was Totally NOT Worth It?: Part of the wedding concept was an “suburban editorial style photoshoot”. It required the right placement of the sofa we rented, and the guests who came to offer greetings. We had very little time for the photoshoot, and only about seven guests dressed up. The guests that would have “gone all out” did not come. Historically, I have thrown a lot of themed parties. So, I did not expect that my guests would be dressed in ‘normal’ wedding attire. Then I realized we are in bizarro times and nothing goes the way one would expect anymore. Partway through the photoshoot I gave up on that idea and began to take in this moment.

Also, my new husband didn’t think we needed so many outfit changes. But, you know… I needed the outfit changes.

A Few Things That Helped Us Along The Way: It’s okay to be inflexible. If you have an idea, figure out what is required to obtain what you want. I think one should ask for as much help as possible. We really relied on friends during the day, previous day, and the day after.

My Best Practical Advice To My Planning-Self: It’s Covid, so yeah it’s okay to be totally pissed about not getting the dream wedding. However, you can still have that amazing moment. Even though we had a handful of guests attend in person, we had 120 people streaming live. We had people sending text messages, photos of themselves dressing up, sending us flowers, requesting us to dance… all kinds of things.

Everyone one laughed and cried… believe me, it will be felt. It will be overwhelming. It will be almost too much to bear that day, but you will. Then, you will feel what we felt that day.

It feels just like the air does before a thunderstorm: neurons and electrons, everything is surreal, and you can nearly taste the particles. That is love. Your guests don’t need to be there. Understand that we are energy, it passes through the physical and into time.

Favorite Thing About The Wedding:

From Punthawat: The confetti. Because people were smiling, laughing and supporting us. And everyone celebrating together with my new family. Everyone wanted to play with us and laugh like we do. I loved the sofa photoshoot, where I really was able to meet my new family in an unusual way. We sat on the sofa and looked like models. It was a fun concept. The first pictures, I look back on. I liked to see us getting dressed. My wife dressed me in Chut Thai. She is American and studied a lot about my country, Thailand. I also think about giving rings to each other. She put my ring on and bowed her commitment to our lives and I put a ring on her and I committed myself to her.

From Amber Rose: Funny thing, I think one of my favorite memories was just before the wedding. I was in my dressing room, alone, and Punthawat came in with a mango seed. He knows that mango seed is my favorite part of the fruit. I hadn’t really seen him all day, so just for a moment he came over to give me a sweet reminder of our love.

I think also, when Pong sang to me and I arrived right in front of him. Tears falling and he’s trying not to “ugly cry”. I helped sing the song with him towards the end. It took so much courage to sing in English for me. It was what he wanted to do for our wedding. I think too when I was fumbling through my Thai song that I sang to him. Tears streamed down my face and he blotted my tears away.

The event was so very much full of love and support. I knew that my friends/family online were there to wish us both happy.

Something Else I’d Like to Share: My parents used to tease us as little girls when we would hold a “wedding” in the backyard. My mom would put out the gingham table cloths and daisy flowers. And Dad would be bbq’ing ribs all day. They would have blues blasting out to the neighbors and potato salad on all of the tables. Of course we rolled our eyes…. “Moooom, daaad, no way, how embarrassing.”

Our wedding has been postponed about four or five times this year. My father became sick and he passed away around New Years Day, and a year prior my oldest sibling suddenly passed away. We tried to pick up the pieces and continue on with our lives. I planned a fabulous super funky wedding at the Hilton Canopy, but Covid-19 put the world on hold. My wedding was late August, so I thought we would be in Phase 2 by then. Then, we reduced the wedding list. As time went on, I cancelled the contract. I thought I could find an outside venue somewhere. However, the cases of infection went up. I was forced to cancel the wedding. During this time, my other sibling passed away. I was so focused on this ideal, that I kind of lost focus on what was really about: love, life, gratitude, hope. We then decided to have a wedding in my childhood home.

It was cool though, all that 70’s and 80’s nostalgia and my entire existence in one place. It was perfect because this is the time when I needed to be near family most. They are no longer in the physical world, but I felt they were there with us that week.

Advice For Other Couples In The Middle of Planning: If you choose a backyard wedding, simply embrace it. Our backyard isn’t fancy, but my parents put a lot of work to make something out of that plot of land. Don’t drag out your family’s walnut dining room table, like I did, instead rent everything. Rent the plates, forks, spoons, napkins, chaffers, glassware, chairs, and tables. Everyone wants to help setup, but be sure to recruit the same people to clear up the next day. Of course treat them to lunch, coffee, or a hair-on-the dog hangover cure.

Any advice/tips about planning a wedding during Covid?: If you decide to have a wedding in Covid-times, be clear with your expectations. Also, please make your guest list very small. Only invite people who have not be traveling around, unless they had been quarantining and tested.

We were very strict with the rules: social distance, wear a mask indoors and we strongly encouraged guests to wear masks outside, bathrooms before and after use while keeping guests out of the house and the party outside. Even with everyone being careful, we self-quarantined to ensure that we were not infected with Covid.

Don’t forget to test your video streams and the audio before going live. In fact, test it the previous day. I think I would have embraced social media more and created a hashtag. I encouraged guests to dress up for the event and text us photos. However, I wish that I had asked them to use a special hashtag on Instagram.

We had three outfit changes. Mainly, because that is what I wanted to do. My husband likes to dress up too. So, there were no complaints. The first outfit was Chut Thai. Punthawat was born in Northern Thailand. So, I ordered custom silk from Thailand in Northern Thai style. The second outfit was for the photoshoot. All yellows and bows. It was a bit ridiculous, but that was my intent. I have a fourth dress, but I really need another three months to complete it. So, perhaps it will be for our holiday photoshoot? My final outfit was a white sequin party dress. I loved it.

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