Event illustration by Yumiyumyum Illustration
But drama aside, basically as soon as this meet was announced I bought a ticket, because I totally wanted to go to another big meet after the RinRin High Tea earlier this year! The organisers kept announcing more and more good things – raffle prizes, comm members acting as photographers, activities, a vending corner, and finally the fact that the two designers of Peppermint Fox would be attending. And I thought I was excited when the meet was first announced!
My excitement peaked, however, when I was discussing my transport options with James, and mentioned somewhat offhandedly that one option was him coming with me and we stay at the hotel the event was at the night before. And he said he wanted to come! After making sure he was definitely sure I booked his ticket immediately and instantly became at least twice a excited for the whole thing.
As the meet came closer, outfit planning intensified. I decided to go with a Sugarplum Fairy theme with my wedding dress and my Fancy Fairy wings. I though it was a perfect idea, being both Christmas-y and literally a fairy so it fit right into the fairytale theme. In the end, after going through a few different ideas, James decided he wanted to go as my accompanying military bugle boy. He ended up wearing his wedding vest and matching shorts, with a new shirt from Lyris Design and a heavily modified hat. He also grew a beard! In the almost eight years we've been together, he'd never had facial hair and I was surprised how much I loved it. It has gone now, leaving the smooth, kissable face I'm used to, but still...I now know that I actually kinda like beards ^__^
Ahem. Enough rambling about my husband, on to the meet!
On December 1st we packed up our things and in the evening we drove to the Stamford Hotel Sydney Airport. We checked in to our room and rode the elevator to the 10th floor. On opening our door the first thing I said is "I didn't book this!" because we had been upgraded to a suite! We'd booked the cheapest room type and instead got a two room suite! Needless to say, we were pretty pleased about that ^__^
So we settled in, changing into the provided robes and immediately ordering room service. We also checked to see what movies were on and were way too amused about the "All Day Adult" offerings...
Once our room service arrived (and was promptly devoured) we were in full relax mode. James took a bath while I had a shower - simultaneously because the bathroom was massive and had them as two separate things - and then it was sleep time.
Unfortunately neither of us slept too well, so waking up in the morning was a bit of a slog. King beds are just really uncomfortably huge! But the siren call of the breakfast buffet was enough to get me going! If I've never mentioned it before, I will now - hotel breakfast buffets are literally one of my favourite things. And the one at the Stamford was really quite nice! I didn't have room to try their pancakes though #sad.
After breakfast we headed back up to our room to get ready. James had decided the night before that he wanted his nails done if possible, so I made some calls but there was no way we could book a manicure in that late. So we had a bit of time to relax before we had to get ready.
It was really fun getting ready together! I did my make-up while James ironed his outfit (I didn't bother with mine!), then I did his make-up as well. We got dressed and tried to take some selfies together, but the light in the room was pretty bad. I did, however, take this artsy shot of James's accessories!
Then we made sure we had everything packed and left our gorgeous suite behind. We went to the reception desk and checked out, and requested to store our luggage until the meet was over. While we were doing this several lolitas entered the lobby and went upstairs to the event room including Nikarra who I'd met at the RinRin meet and was able to introduce to James. Then it was time to go up and enjoy the meet!
Serra, the organiser, met us at the door and explained a bit of what was going to happen. Four tables had been set up, each with differently themed decorations, and as we knew from posts in the Facebook event there was going to be a range of activities in the day. We went to the least occupied table and claimed some seats. We barely had time to settle before someone (who after introductions later turned out to be Yumi, the wonderful illustrator of the event banner) bustled over to James and gave him a wooden "ask me for photos" badge, which I attached to his lapel.
The room filled up, we started talking to some people (including Ashy, who sat with us and it turns out she was the best-dressed from the RinRin meet!) and then the meet officially started. Our first activity was designed to encourage mingling and creativity - at each place setting there was an angel to colour in and add to the photo corner, but each table only had a few pencils so in order to finish everything you had to go and talk to people on other tables. I had a lot of fun with this, and was very impressed with James's angel - it's his first meet and he's already showing me up, lol!
Once the angels where complete you had to roll them up, staple on a ribbon bow, and add them to the photo corner.
The photo corner was quite cute, but unfortunately as with nearly all indoor locations the light was poor, and it was also a bit small. But still, it was so nice to have it set up and a lovely idea to decorate it with something all the attendees did. We could also take our angels home at the end but James and I didn't - we'd only throw them away but I wanted someone else to do that or I'd feel bad!
Photo by Mai or Yumi
After decorating time, it was the half hour for the coordinate photographers, Mai and Yumi, to do their thing. James and I took the opportunity to get a couple of photos together ^__^
Photo by Mai or Yumi
James was there in the capacity as "volunteer ad hoc photographer" so throughout the day he snapped shots here and there. He also took some coord photos for me...though in return I forgot to grab any of him until we got home! I'll share coord rundowns for both of us (so exciting to write that!) in my usual coordinate post at the end of the month. But I'm very glad the other girls were taking photos so we could easily get one together.
Also, since you've now seen them in a picture I wanted to mention that I was really chuffed because I got a lot of compliments on my wings ^__^ I hadn't actually worn them before and found they were really easy to wear just tucked into the back of my JSK, and despite the fact that I bumped into a lot of doorways with them they didn't take a bit of damage. Go wings!
With the photo time officially over (though of course cameras stayed in action all meet) it was time for the next activity - Divinity Treasureboxes. This was a typical Lolita Valentines kind of activity - we each got a jar containing two names. We made and added a name tag to our jars, and put them back on the display. Then we wrote notes for the two people whose names were in there - I thought this was a great twist on the typical Valentines idea as not only did it make sure no-one was left out, it was another opportunity to get to know people.
What's hilarious though is that I managed to pick a jar with my own name in it...so I switched names with James! I ended up writing him a note anyway as well so yeah ^__^
After the official note writing time was over (though people kept going - including me! - for the rest of the meet) it was lunchtime! James and I were some of the last people to the buffet but there was still plenty of good food out there. I got a big plateful and when I was done eating I made James say "where's my wife?" by deciding not to go and try the desert buffet! In my defence, though things looked nice nothing appealed to me all that much so I preferred to stay seated rather than wrangling my wings through the room.
While people were finishing up eating, the raffle was drawn! Always possibly the most exciting part of a large meet. I won a gift card in the end, which was for a greater value than the money James and I had spent on tickets, but there were some really great prizes I would have loved to have won instead...oh well!
My gift card came with this cute illustration.
And then the second most exciting thing happened...the shopping hour! We had five sellers; Serra with The Decora Factory (of course) who was also remote vending for Japanese accessory brand Mystic. Yumi was debuting a new line of brooches with accompanying art prints and stickers, which James and I both loved. Of course, Peppermint Fox were there with their lovely brooches. The last vendor was Taiwanese brand Figlia, and she had so much cute stuff that I had to resist buying!
A shot of the Figlia corner, since I didn't buy anything from her...
Having James there was both good and bad. He stopped me from making purchases I probably would have regretted...but we did end up going to Yumi and saying "we want (nearly) one of everything!" First of all though, I barrelled straight to PepFox, because they had a brooch I wanted and they only had one of it. I even got James to take off my wings so I could manoeuvre better! But I got my brooch, and then bought both prints and all but one brooch from Yumi (some for James, some for me) and sat back down, satisfied.
The rest of the meet passed in the usual fashion; chatting, drifting, drinking tea. Serra also distributed gift baggies! It was nice. I feel like there was a pretty good balance between activities and free time. And it was so nice to have James with me! He's better at socialising than I am ^__^
Well, I drank tea. James on the other hand...
Photo by Mai or Yumi
Now, I'm not sure of when specifically in the meet we spoke with certain people but I just wanted to mention that we met some really lovely girls and guys this day. New friends include Ashy (who carried a sword...like, hell yeah!), Tiana (who was cute in sweet lolita and gave us Tokyo travel tips), Yumi (who reads my blog! Guys! Someone I admire reads my blog!) and her boyfriend Sam, Ashlee (who lives between me and Newcastle...whoo for semi-locals), and Veronica and Sam (who are a gorgeous couple from literally the next suburb over from us! Super locals!). It really was great for me to have James there as it made socialising a lot less terrifying, and it was so good to get to know some people in the community better or meet them for the first time.
Then, in what felt like just the right amount of time, the meet came to an end. I was driving us home, so I ducked into the ladies to change...and was shortly followed by a lot of other lolitas removing some or all of their outfits! Then it was downstairs to pick up our luggage, then into the car park. We got a bit lost getting out of the immediate area due to the hotel exit forcing us to go the wrong way, but resolved that pretty quickly. We grabbed some drinks and snack for the drive on the way and made it home in good time.
At home, I grabbed some cute photos of James in our backyard to show off his outfit then it was time for a well deserved shower and cup of tea. We sat on the couch and looked through our gift bags, purchases, and jarfuls of notes.
One lovely thing is that Serra customised the gift bags for people with dietary requirements, like James, so they included snacks they could eat. It was the usual assortment of postcards, business cards and vouchers, which is always nice.
But what was most lovely was getting to finish off the day by reading the notes we had been left! Funnily enough, we both ended up with seven notes each! Some people had obviously put in the effort to prepare a note for literally everyone, which was sweet, but we also both got some nice personalised notes - in particular James got one from Yumi addressed to both of us, and I got one from Ashy to both of us! It was really nice ^__^
So all in all this was a nice meet. My favourite part of it (in case it wasn't obvious) was that James was with me but it was also great to meet new people and get to know others better, and as always it's fun to frill up and go out!
As a final thing to finish on, here's a quick photo of our haul. Technically the prints and the brooches except for the lute and the PepFox one are James's, but hey, we're married! James also bought some perfect frames for the prints - we just need to decided where to put them!
Have you celebrated the holiday season in any lolita ways this year?