Wedding Wednesday No. 4: The Venue

This is part of an ongoing Journal series about my thoughts and learnings around planning our wedding. Follow along on instagram for all updates and check back every week for blog entries! 

I mentioned before that I'm indecisive — I like to investigate all the options before making a decision. And I'm not kidding around. I'll paint a clear picture for you how painfully I make decisions and let you know I have a spreadsheet with 152 venue options in NYC. You read that right. 152. How I thought wedding planning would be a breeze is beyond me...

If it helps, I only emailed about 50 of those venues, and talked on the phone with about 10. 

A few things I was keeping mind when screening the venues: We want to keep the wedding and reception small and intimate with around 50-75 guests, so massive wedding halls were not part of the plan. I liked the idea of an outdoor wedding, but the last thing this anxious chick wanted to do was to worry about weather and temperature. Most importantly, given my unhealthy obsession with this city, I wanted the venue to feel very New York and ideally, very Brooklyn.

Cue "Empire State of Mind."

My search took me from cozy neighborhood restaurants like Chez Moi, to art galleries, to more "mainstream" venues like the Gramercy Park Hotel (their terrace is to die for!). What I learned is that many venues have food & drink spend minimum depending on season and day of week. For a Sunday in October, the food & drink minimums ranged from $8,000 to $35,000 for the venues on my list.

Word of advice to future wedding newbies like me: get married in the winter. You'll literally pay half price the price of a Summer/Fall wedding for many popular venues in the city.

After crossing off top contenders too expensive, too dingy, too small, too big — Josh and I landed on the DUMBO Loft in Brooklyn!

It doesn't get much more Brooklyn than this, does it? Those brick walls, the industrial, roll-up windows, the location. It's not the glitziest of spaces but I can totally see us along with our friends and family on our wedding day in this space. Just right. It didn't hurt that the price was very reasonable for New York standards. Shoutout to Josh's parents for vetting the space in person.

The venue is a raw space which does mean we'll need to bring in our own catering, decor, florist, etc. To be honest, I'm not sure whether I should be excited or nervous about the flexibility given that we're planning our wedding ourselves, but I guess we'll find out in the months to come. Many more decisions to make, but one thing's for sure...

See you Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

Your Bridezilla-in-the-Making,

For more frequent updates about our wedding planning, follow along on instagram!

Photography credit: Corey Torpie, The Dumbo Loft, Khaki Bedford, Henry + Mac

Life Lately: Going Freelance & Why I Decided to Do It

Some of you might have already figured it out based on my not-so-discrete #freelance hashtags on instagram, but, surprise! After months of consideration, I left my full-time job at the end of December to pursue a freelance career full-time. 


TLDR version: Millennial woes + why not?

It was not a decision I came to easily. If you know anything about me, it's that I'm very indecisive. I like to consider all the options, opinions, and outcomes — I like to be sure. 

For months I was unhappy at work, but I told myself that this was just my problem, something I could work on. The startup mentality of "do more with less" jived too well with my work ethic, and I volunteered myself for responsibilities because, who else was going to do it? I, like everyone else on my team, had too much on my plate, but I saw it as a sign of "growth," an "opportunity for learning." I chose to continue to accept the things about my work environment I knew in my gut were toxic for me because I was too scared to make any kind of decision about it and I didn't want to let my team down.

Of course, I considered applying to other jobs during this time. I scoured job boards and made spreadsheets, but the prospect of another job did not excite me at all. Over the last couple of years, I had been lucky enough pick up freelance projects with clients I love who filled me with a sense of "Yes! You were meant to do this!" And as I put off applying to jobs, I kept coming back to to the idea of freelancing full-time and establishing a design practice of my own. One of my close friends told me something along the lines of, "You give your all to work, why not work for yourself?" But it all seemed like just a dream. Maybe even the dream, the one I would pursue when I was "ready." I didn't think I was ready.

Despite all this and the full support of my family and friends to leave my job, I let my insecurities, fears, and the words of others who told me that it was "not the right time" or that it would "hurt my career" influence me longer than I should have, and so I stayed. 

Then, in October, I went home.

I spent a week in Korea with my mom and dad, and of course, going home always gives you that perspective you need. My parents reminded me that all my life, I've done what I was supposed to do. I was always at the top of my class, graduated from a top college, always had internships and jobs lined up, had money in my savings. Your Korean daughter dream come true. But, to paraphrase my dad, I had never taken a break, never did anything for me, and that this was good of a time as any. I had nothing to lose, they reminded me. And so it became clear. Why the hell not? 

So, now what?

2.5 months into the freelance life, I'm just starting to find my rhythm. I still have yet to re-do my portfolio, update my resume and Linkedin, and make my business cards (oops). But I've been lucky enough to have enough clients — including True&Co. — who have made the transition feel real and possible, and I'm looking to find new clients starting in April. 

While freelancing is the farthest thing from a break (hah!), I find every day much more meaningful. I'm living with more intention, choosing how and with whom I decide to spend my time. There's exciting projects and collaborations on the horizon that I know require hard work, but I'm ready.  

I promised myself 2016 would be the year I would take care of me. So hold me accountable. Maybe I'll crash and burn, but I know you'll be there to help me put out the fire. 


"What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?"

I just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi for Book Club, and of all the passages I highlighted in this honest memoir, I find myself coming back to this question: 

"What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?"

A question so simple yet challenging. And before you read any further, I'll let you know that I have no coherent thoughts or answers in this blog post, just a selfish urge to get thoughts down in writing in hopes that I'll be able focus on work thereafter. 

The thing is, to "go on living" is something I've always taken for granted. Not having to confront terminal illness or severe depression will have that kind of effect on you. This book, however, makes me re-contextualize "living" as a choice in that, freak accidents and acts of God aside, most of us choose to "go on living" day after day, I guess, by not killing ourselves. But why? Why do each of us decide to live? 

I acknowledge most of us continue to live likely out of habit, a product of evolution that we have engrained in us as a species. And perhaps, expecting any sort of meaningfulness in life is wistful post-modern thinking. Others might say living is meaningful because we're made in God's image - or something of that sort - that makes living sacred, period.

But tonight, I think you and I have the capacity to evaluate what makes life meaningful enough for each of us to go on living. I personally want to tackle that question for myself. Why? Honestly? Because the question's never even crossed my mind before. 

I'm not asking myself, "What's my purpose in life?" but rather, "What do I find in my life meaningful enough to me to go on living?" It's a less daunting question, but one I don't find any easier to answer. Where do I begin? Where do I end? It's an illuminating exercise in self-evaluation, to stop and think about what you actually value and find to be meaningful enough at your core.

What if all of us were asked to reflect on what was important to us, and shared what we each thought makes life meaningful enough. I wonder if and how that would shape our interactions with one another.

As my friend, and fellow Book Club member Jonathan, poignantly remarked, "I think we are going to learn a lot about each other based on our thoughts of this book." 

I'm really looking forward to this Book Club meeting.

Wedding Wednesday No. 1: Let the Planning Begin!

This is the first post of an ongoing Journal series about my thoughts and learnings around planning our wedding. Check back every week for updates! 

You know those girls who start planning their weddings from the age of 12?* I was not one of those girls. Don't get me wrong, I've thought plenty about getting married, but the wedding itself? Nope. I'm the queen of secret Pinterest boards and I didn't even have a secret Wedding Board until I got engaged (mostly as a matter of some weird principle). That's a big deal, folks.

Having said that, only hours after Josh proposed and I said, "Of course!" I created said pinterest board and started planning the one thing my brain found most exciting about a wedding: the stationery

I quickly realized we needed a venue and date before I could design the stationery (damn). So, a crazy spreadsheet and 80+ venues later, I'm relieved to say we've signed a venue contract and locked down a date. But more on that in the coming weeks.

In the midst of all this, I've been pinning like a mad-woman, trying to figure out what I want from our wedding in terms of look and feel. (I say "I" without shame). And it's actually been a little bit unexpected, for me at least, what I find myself envisioning for our day. 

Josh claims the wedding itself is not a big deal to him, but I think we're both very visual people with strong, intimate relationships, and it's important to me that our wedding reflects us as a couple both visually and experientially. You (theoretically) only get married once, right!? 

Brooklyn Wedding Moodboard

Anyways, enough writing! In typical designer fashion, I want to share an initial mood board pulled from some of my favorite images on my Wedding Board for anyone who might be interested. Believe it or not, our "wedding colors" will not be Rose Quartz and Serenity. 

Until next time.

*According to American movies, such people exist.