Much Ado About Weddings

Monday April 28, 2014 | Culture Musings

If you are planning a small and simple wedding, here’s what you need to know…

Everyone will try to make it into something more complicated!

Wedding pointer

There is truly no point trying to make others happy and fit their mold of how your wedding ought to be.

It’s your wedding. If you stick to your guns, you can make your wedding as simple as you would like it to be.

For my wedding, (which is literally happening in a month–AAaaah!) all I want is:  Beach. Family. Friends… and lots of food!

Yet the simplicity of this idea was at first difficult to get across to our families. I even tried referring to the damn thing as a “beach party.”

But family members balked at this. They protested that we were making too light of a matter that is actually very serious.

Uhm…

Beach wedding archway

Another point of deviation: I did not get an engagement ring.

As I confessed in my previous post, sure! I wouldn’t mind one. I am a girl after all. A silly girl who can still be suckered into hankering after shiny, expensive things even though I am highly educated and progressive and know that engagements rings are a scam.

But ultimately, I would rather save that money for things that have REAL value. Like traveling!

Still, I am amused how whenever I tell people I’m engaged, their eyes will unfailingly trail down to my left hand.

Try it sometime. Tell people you’re engaged. Then watch how their eyes quickly dart over to your left hand in search of the bling.

Who trained us to be like this??

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Not that I have anything against people who follow conventions.

Having a wedding is, by itself, inherently conventional. I just wonder what people used to do for weddings before it became this highly commercialized and contrived affair.

Eventually, we managed (I think) to get the idea across to our family and friends that ours is going to be a very simple and low-key affair.

The idea is… show up at the beach and you’ll probably get fed!

Wedding Cake

Behind the scenes, we’ve been slowly and steadily organizing this wedding over the months.

Details are coming along quite smoothly. Check-lists are being checked. Little fuss has been made. And you know what? It’s been very satisfying to get things done on our own.

How have we been managing to keep our wedding so simple and minimal?

We are keeping a small guest list. Less than 40 people. Of course we are making a little room for wedding ‘crashers,’ so we are counting on 45 to show up at the most.

One thing that has helped has been the use of Pinterest.

You may laugh. Yes, I used to laugh at girls who I thought were just sublimating their fantasies and frustrations on Pinterest. But now I know better. Pinterest can be useful for mapping out your ideas visually.

Just keep in mind that it’s a tool. And stay away from falling into the envious, hate-your-life-it’s-not-as-good-as-Pinterest trap.

Wedding Dress Detail

Dear readers, now you know!

This whole DIY wedding planning thing has been what’s keeping me so occupied these days.

That… and starting a new job!! One that I freaking love!!!

I’ve been staying happy, healthy and busy! And I hope you have too.

I will write more soon. Pinky promise :)

 

 

** Images taken from Pinterest. Obviously.
Beauty Of Our Time: Beauté Du Siècle

Sunday June 9, 2013 | Beauty Culture

You may not know this about me, but… I am absolutely fascinated by the subject of beauty!

Poetry, music, art, science. Everything draws inspiration from beauty. It is not something you can easily define and hold onto. Rather, beauty is coquettish. Full of elusive meanings and flabbergasting  delight.

I always like to know and learn more about the role that beauty has played across time and across different cultures.

So when delving deeply into a subject, I often turn to books, which will forever be a source of enlightenment.

This week, a real jewel of a book arrived and became part of my ever growing collection of beauty literature.

The book is called Beauté du Siecle.

And it is a super shiny 400 page silver monolith of a book.

Beauté du Siecle

Beauté du Siecle is the collaborative work of several journalists and fashion magazine editors.

The book is dedicated to the history of women’s beauty:

“From the heroines of antiquity to the goddesses of modern times… each epoch chooses its archetypes, erects its own myths and invents its new recipes.” 

First, we are taken on a historic tour, which begins in ancient Egypt and guides us along to modern times. Then the book jumps across different domains, from art, cosmetics, magazines to perfumes.

There is a section dedicated to ethnic beauty, which is something that I am particularly interested in, as it is a story that is rarely told.

And of course, what would a beauty book be without a visual component?

The images within this book are truly marvelous and were chosen with exquisite taste.

Beauté du Siecle

Beauté du Siecle describes itself as a book that shows how our appetite for novelty constantly triggers the emergence of ideals of perfection, which are as unrealistic as they are ephemeral.

I only hope my french is up to par to understand all the highbrow and flowery language contained in this book…

But I’m up for the challenge.

More French Beauty Secrets: Two Lipsticks And A Lover, By Helena Frith Powell

Wednesday May 22, 2013 | Beauty Culture

Two Lipsticks And A Lover is a book written by Helena Frith Powell.

It’s a guide to help you “unlock your inner French woman.” Another version of this book was published under the title “All You Need To Be Impossibly French.”

Helena Frith Powell is a British writer and journalist who lived in France at the time of writing this book. In this book, she set out to investigate what exactly makes French women so elegant, glamorous, chic and super thin?

But are they really?

Again, as with my other article on 5 Classic French Beauty Tips, I have to start out with a caveat. These stereotypes of French women are just that. Stereotypes. And during her investigation, Helena mainly talks to illustrious, upper class and super wealthy french women to reinforce these stereotypes.

I would safely bet that the majority of french women do not live according to these stereotypes.

Nevertheless, the book is an entertaining read.

And there are a lot of cultural and lifestyle observations here that we can learn from and perhaps, even adapt into our own lives. 

Two Lipsticks And A Lover By Helen Frith Powell

Personally, I’m a big fan of the zen approach that french women have towards exercise.

The gym culture and the marathon culture really hasn’t taken off in France as it has in the U.S. Instead, women prefer more serene forms of exercise. Like walking, cycling, ballet floor barre exercises, yoga, playing with their children, and especially making love!

As Helena put it, french women “treat exercise rather like they do food; a little everyday.”

When it comes to food, they never deprive themselves. But the key is that they eat some kind of fruit and vegetable everyday, they eat small portions and they stop when they’re no longer hungry.

In order to maintain their figure, they also make use of slimming creams and gels. I’ve seen these a lot in the pharmacies and parfumeries. While I’m here I probably ought to just try one.

If you’re curious as to which slimming creams to try, Helena cites a study that rank L’Oréal’s Plénitude Perfect Slim and Elancyl’s Concentré-Lissant Chrono-Actif as the top two most effective creams. Both are available in the UK.

Vintage Lipstick Ad

Another admirable french characteristic is their positive attitude towards aging.

Older women in France are still looked upon as sexy and desirable. In fact, lots of older women past their 50s still take very good care of themselves and even take on younger men as lovers.

The absolute key to the French way of ageing? Staying natural. French women don’t fearfully cling on to their youthfulness or try to completely eradicate the passage of time. Also, they see beauty as something to work on.

If you want to age gracefully, start early by protecting your skin from the sun and eating well.

The book focused a lot on french women’s obsession with sexy, matching lingerie.

There was also a chapter on fashion and observations about how french fashion has adapted to modern times. These days, it’s quite normal to pair a Chanel jacket with jeans and a t-shirt. Ironically, although haute couture originated in France, french people these days can no longer afford them. Haute couture is now made mainly for the delight of foreigners with money

There were many other cultural observations in the book that I found fascinating, but not really having to do much with beauty or style. Things like cattiness among french women and work ethics (or lack thereof).

It would be interesting to hear what french women have to say upon reading these observations about themselves.

Many times I found myself laughing out loud while reading some of the observations about french people. Especially because I personally have had the pleasure of experiencing the truth behind them. For example, the stereotypes about horrible french customer service? I’d say 75 percent of the time, it’s true.

Vintage Poster

The part that made me laugh the most though were Helena’s observations on the french tolerance for taking on lovers and extra-marital affairs.

While Americans and Brits have puritan and rigid attitudes towards marriage, french people see fidelity as “arbitrary and sterile”. To the french, love (or lust) excuses everything.

French men and women can have lovers outside of their marriage. Provided that they keep things on the DL, of course.

While writing this book, Helena herself flirts with the idea of having an affair with a mysterious french man, who she anonymously refers to as B.

And do their flirtatious games turn into something more serious?

Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Find The Book: Two Lipsticks And a Lover On Amazon.
About The Author: Helena Frith Powell’s Website.