Archive | May 2012

Two sisters + two weddings = ?

Well, since I spilled the beans in my last post I guess I might as well elaborate on something…  my little, baby, tiny, younger sister got engaged!!  OHMIGOSH EXCITING!!!  I guess she’s not so little anymore.   Suddenly we are planning two weddings for the following year and my Mom is more excited than anyone!  She’s not stressed, she’s looking at this as a blessing (as she looks at most things!).  My Sister is looking at early next summer sometime and that means there will be about three months between my wedding and her wedding.  WOW.  That makes me feel a wee bit overwhelmed.

Even though I knew it was coming and I was emailing with her fiancé ahead of time I did have a mini melt down moment later in the evening after initially hearing the news and joyfully screaming on the phone with her, looking at pictures of the ring, and asking about the proposal.  I’m seriously like 99% happy (well now I’m 100 percent happy but at the time I felt a few hiccups).  It’s hard for me to write about this, but I’m a pretty candid blogger, and this is honestly how I felt.  I guess it’s the older sibling/actress in me that wanted this year to be all about ME  for just once (yea I said it).  And then after realizing how selfish that was and realizing that it’s a good thing to share this year with her, I started to  worry about our capacity, now she’s a  Maid of Honor and a Bride, and I’m a Bride and then a Matron of Honor!!   How can we plan two weddings at the same time?  When I go back to Minnesota suddenly I’ve got to split my time doing my planning and her planning because I don’t want to feel left out of her stuff, in fact I want to be there helping every step of the way, but at the same time I don’t live in the city I’m getting married in so my time in Minnesota is precious to me.  There is a lot to be done and minimal time to do it!

And after I went through all of these emotions, I just got insanely and overly EXCITED.  I LOVE her ideas for her wedding and I’m becoming just as giddy about her details as I am about mine.  I GET TO PLAN TWO WEDDINGS AT THE SAME TIME, HELL YEA!

Remember when I wrote about asking my Sister to be my MOH?  Well I meant every word of that, and I am so ecstatic for her and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather share my year of planning with, we will not only make this work, but I’m certain it will be a magical year for us both.  It’s going to be a year filled with amazing memories and just think, we can celebrate our anniversaries together in years to come since we’re both getting married in 2013!

And as for that 1% of jealousy or frustration, well it melted away.  Every emotion I have reminds me how insane it is to be human and how amazing our brains are; and the best part is that my Sister knows me well enough to understand where I’m coming from, and has even experienced similar emotions along the way.  I believe sisters have this amazing, unique connection unlike any other relationship in the world.  I consider myself humbly blessed to have such a wonderful sister, and since I’m already tearing up just writing this I’m sure I’m going to be a mess at her wedding.  AND I LITERALLY CAN’T WAIT!!  I might start on my speech now…

Anyone else dealing with a shared engagement year with someone really close to you?  How did you handle it?

Party time!

I’m so pretty

So, the reception was awesome.  Here is a photo of my food, I forgot to take a “before” picture- oops!

It was good and it was chicken, confirming that everyone likes chicken.  Check!

Instead of cake they had a Coldstone Creamery sundae bar… very yummy, but I do love a good wedding cake.  The fam and I had a great time just hanging out together, making fun of each other, laughing, and talking “wedding.”

The Glue (not the biggest fan of talking “wedding”)

Dad and I

And of course there was dancing!!  The dance floor was a bit scarce at times because they had a beautiful outdoor patio that a lot of guests were taking advantage of, but I had  a wonderful dancing with my Mom and Sister, and who knew The Glue could dance like he can?  I guess a semester in Venezuela teaches you a lot…

Mom and Son

Sister and Brother

Mr. Scottish dancing with his FMIL (hard to see but how cute is that!)

Sister/MOH Big Eyes had a very special moment when a family friend told the DJ it was her birthday and dedicated a song to her.  She and her boyfriend, now fiancé, (more on that later), got to have a special dance all alone on the floor, it was so sweet!

Sister and my FBIL

All in all it was a great evening!  I just love weddings!  (duh!)  🙂  Have you always loved going to weddings or are you much more interested in them when you’re in the midst of planning?

(all photos personal)

Next up, we end the weekend celebrating Mother’s Day with frolfing and grilling!

Wedding snooping at our venue

Our first trip up to Minnesota to see our venue was the same weekend a childhood friend of mine was getting married.  We were really excited to be able to attend her special day while getting a lot of wedding planning done ourselves.

We had some time to kill after the ceremony before heading to their social hour/reception so we decided to run back to our venue to check out a wedding that was being set up for a reception at the hotel that night.  If you’ll remember when we first visited our wedding site I didn’t post any pictures of the banquet hall where the reception would be taking place.  And I didn’t show any decent photos of the atrium.  Well, that’s because the day before there was a business conference thingy taking place and they were blocking a lot of great photo opps, so it was great to go back the following day and get a few more pics!

So it might look a little something like this (minus the draping).

The high top tables will be located around the dance floor for cocktail hour.  Notice the special lighting in the background!

This is a cute idea for displaying escort cards!  Perhaps I’ll borrow it!

Mom Sword encouraged us to go back to the atrium to get a second look at where we will get married.

Can you picture us like this (only with a white dress and a kilt)?

All in all it was a great second visit!!  We do have one decision that couldn’t be resolved though.  To cover the chair or not to cover it?

I know I know, the chairs they provide are pretty ugly!  But Coordinator A says that people don’t really notice when you don’t have chair covers but only notice when you do have them.  Mom Sword and Mr. Sword are voting “no” right now because they think the money can be put to better uses (read an expensive handmade kilt, a band, the honeymoon, booze, etc).  I’m the one voting “yes” but I’m not sure if it’s because I think I need chair covers because of the Wedding Industry Complex or because they would make the entire room look better.

Poll: Should we splurge on chair covers for our reception?

A) Yes, you only get married once, they’ll really help make the room look fantastic!

B) Not necessary!  Save your money, put it towards something else, no one will notice.

Is anyone else skipping the chair covers? Isn’t it fun to attend a wedding when you’re in the midst of planning?  🙂

Beer bottles and hurricanes

Yep, my centerpieces are going to include beer bottles and candle holders known as hurricanes.  While on a planning trip in Minnesota this past spring, MOH Big Eyes, my Mom Sword, and I all went shopping for centerpiece inspiration. I did NOT expect to buy anything on this shopping trip, but things don’t usually turn out the way I expect them to go so I shouldn’t have been surprised!

First off, let me give you my vision:  I picture my tables as being dark and romantic.  I want to name all of our tables a different inspirational or fun word (as opposed to the ever popular number idea), and I just love Miss Cauldron’s idea of naming her tables with parts of a sailboat!  Beyond that, I knew I wanted to include empty beer bottles as a nod to Mr. Sword’s culture and beverage of choice.  But that’s all I had.  It was all very abstract in my head, and I wasn’t sure how it would look in the end.

Here are a few inspiration photos I’ve found using bottles:

While I think the yarn look is super gorgeous and unique, I feel like it’s a bit too outdoorsy and vintage for our wedding.

As soon as I saw this idea of putting lights IN the beer bottles I fell madly in love!  How beautiful and romantic yet dark and whimsical!?!?!

But how the HECK do you get the lights in there?   My plan was to start saving Mr. Sword’s empty beer bottles and then attempt to de-label them.  But he mostly drinks Stella or Peroni, both which are green in color, and I definitely preferred the brown bottles.

image via Wikipedia

So that fateful day when we were merely hunting for centerpiece ideas, when we waltzed into Kirkland’s Home store we ended up waltzing out with these:

MOH Big Eyes and me

There are six bottles, empty and clean WITH the bottoms cut out, perfect for fitting a string of lights inside!!  And they come in this metal holder crate thingy that seemed just right.

I knew I didn’t want to have all beer bottle centerpieces, and by some miracle I found something else at the same store that I fell in love with:

Gorgeous dark chocolate hurricanes that will shine beautifully with a candle inside!  So, currently the plan is to have half of the centerpieces be hurricanes and half be bottles.

Our next stop was to check out Michael’s for the word portion of the centerpieces.  Here is what we found:

Mom Sword has offered to both HOUSE and FINISH the centerpieces.  Thanks for storing them parents!

A month or so later Mom Sword had made some nice advancements on the centerpieces.  She had confirmed that the lights in the bottles work and look GORGEOUS, she had figured out a way to prop up the words so they are visible to guests, and she had added ivy and ribbon to the overall look to make the bottom appear fuller and wider. She also discovered that Jo Ann Fabrics had a larger selection of word options than Michael’s did and we were able to go with a font we liked even better.  When you are naming about 15 tables you want options!

I would.

Mom Sword found two different paint colors to try on our words.  While at first I liked the shimmery one better, we quickly concluded that the more matte looking cream color would be easier to see a dimly lit reception room.  It’s hard to tell from this photo but the one we painted in the lighter shimmer almost turned gray in the dark, and you could barely see it!

What started as a random idea was suddenly coming together beautifully!  I’m so lucky to have such a helpful Mom too!  🙂

Who else is going for a more unique and non-floral centerpiece?  Anyone else using words instead of table numbers?  Are my beer bottle and hurricanes going to come together in the end?!?!  We hope so!

(all photos personal unless noted otherwise noted)

Murder Mystery Dinner with the Fam

My family and I are HUGE dorks.  And I mean that in the best way possible, because we have together!  And by family I mean immediate and extended, my mom’s side of the family is all really close and relatively small so we get together frequently.  But some of the things we do are a bit unconventional.

We sing, like all the time. We sing in church once a year at my Grandparent’s UCC congregation in North Dakota.  We are sort of famous there, singing the same two songs yearly.  I mean, people stay in Bismarck over the holiday just to hear us sing! We always leaving singing messages of “Happy Birthday” on our family member’s special days. We make up new lyrics to the song, “Dear Abbey,” for all special events, including birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, etc.  And my siblings and I have formed a small band.  My brother, aka “The Glue,” likes to pretend he’s not in it, but he’s our guitarist.  Sister Big Eyes and I are the singers and we harmonize pretty well being sisters and all.  Our group is called BME (beginning, middle, and end).  L Dawg has already requested that BME sing at her wedding. Truth.

We play games, like all the time.   We are hard-core card gamers!  We love card games especially, but also play group games, board games, darts, air hockey, and even poker (with fake money).  On more than one occasions, we have hosted our own family Talent Show.  Yes.  Wow.

We eat a lot of junk food.  Eating crappy food when you’re on a vacation is the way to go!  We even had family shirts made that say, “Food, family, and… FOOD!”  Ain’t no shame in our game.  🙂  We used to have this huge bowl of candy out at Easter and one year the parents decided it should go away, and I’d by lying if I said there wasn’t an official protest.

So, when my Mom suggested we celebrate Big Eyes and The Glue ‘s May birthdays with a Murder Mystery Dinner, naturally I thought it was a great idea.  Mr. Scottish, Sister’s BF, and L Dawg were invited as well and of course we were all encouraged to dress the part!  Here is the proof:

The Glue with Mr. Scottish- beer buddies

L Dawg, The Glue, Mr. Scottish, and me

Mom, Dad, Sister, and Sister’s BF

junk food!

Dad and Sister- check out those eyes! 🙂


While this isn’t directly related to wedding planning and A Highland Fairy Tale, it is related to marriage.  This is Mr. Scottish’s future family, and guess what?  He doesn’t sing, rarely eats junk food, and gets nervous when being put on the spot during games, especially Murder Mystery games where he has to pretend to be another character.  But surprisingly, I’m convinced most of my family like him better than they like me.  (Princess-haters.)

Regardless, this was a wonderful evening and reminds me how much I love my family!!

(All photos personal)


Manicures for my ladies

It’s time to talk about bridal party!  After we got engaged Mr. Scottish and I sat down to see who we wanted to have stand up with us at our wedding.  The thing is we weren’t quite sure how many of his friends would up for making the long flight over to the US, so we decided he should go first.  Well, when we were back in Scotland he asked three of his best guy friends to be his Best Man and groomsmen, and then we knew he was going to ask my little bro as well so that would make a total of four.  Four was my number.

Luckily, I’ve known my sister would be my MOH from the day she was born.  She is one and a half years younger than me and man is she annoying!  I wish I was joking but no, shes’ my sister therefore she’s annoying.  But she’s also one my favorite people in the whole wide world and she knows better than anyone (note, that is why she finds me annoying too).  She and I have bickered our way through years of school, friends, struggles, and joys.  We SHARE everything.  (GROSS ALERT, skip to the next paragraph if you are a guy!)  The only thing I got to do first was graduating from high school and starting my period.  TMI?  I thought so.

We got our ears pierced at the same time, my parents helped us buy cars the same summer, and we were invited to the same birthday parties.  We shared every family friend that was a girl in our age range, because for some reason no one else had two daughters close in age, and that meant we spent A LOT of time together.  We are really different people.  I am the center-of-attention hogging oldest child with a need to protect and care for everyone around me.  She is the unloved and moody middle child who loves to nurture and nest, but works uber-hard at everything she does.  Sister Big Eyes is a teacher like my Mom and an amazing one at that.  She’s getting her master’s degree right now (which is stressful enough by itself), raising my nephew-pup, and maintaining a serious relationship, how does she do it!?!?!  I call her Big Eyes because, well, her eyes are HUGE, and even more so when next to my squinty eyes.  My sister and I have different noses, different mouths, different hair colors, and most people can’t tell that we’re sisters at all.  But on the phone we sound exactly the same.  My sister is a strong, smart woman with a huge heart and even writing this I’m starting to tear up because I CANNOT wait for her to stand up next to me and be my MOH.  Also, she’ll probably be singing at the wedding, she is a sister of many talents!

Photo montage ahead: Look for the Big Eyes.  🙂

BFF L Dawg and I met our senior year of high school.  I was feeling lonely because my two closest friends had recently gotten boyfriends and were ditching me a lot to hang out with them, and while BFF L Dawg was in a relationship at the time, after she met me we become inseparable.   We had a science course together and for some reason I was absent one day and she had sat on my stool and apparently did an impersonation of me while I was gone.  The next day she told me all about it, laughing at her own impersonation and hoping I wasn’t mad.  Me, mad?  I totally loved her sense of humor and after that day we started hanging out all the time, and soon after became really close friends, only for me to leave for the University of Illinois that following fall.

BFF and I have had our low points, and the interesting thing is we’ve spent 9 out of our 10 year friendship in a LDR or long distance relationship (that was for my mother, she’d never have known what that meant!).  I can still tell her anything without her judging me, and I look forward to every visit with her.  She knows all my secrets, good and bad, she holds me accountable for things, and is a tiny bit over-protective, as all good BFF’s should be!  L Dawg is not only a great friend but she is also a wonderful person.  In her spare time she volunteers, fosters dogs, landscapes her own home (which she bought in 2009, same year as me), and gets invited to most of our family gatherings.  That is why she will be standing up next to me on the big day.

Photo montage ahead:  Yes, I have brown hair in the first two, those were taken after I dyed my hair for a show I was in!

Since these two ladies live in Minnesota and I was going to be in Minnesota to stalk my venue, I thought I would do something fun to ask them to be in my bridal party.  That is how we came to get manicures that Friday evening after our appointment with Coordinator A.  It was a blast (although the manicure was nothing like the manicures I get here in Chicago– said precisely in the condescending tone that was implied), and I’m so happy they both said YES!!

BM L Dawg on the left and MOH Big Eyes on the right.

So, if you’re keeping track, that is only two girls so far, but you’ll have to wait to hear about the other two on a later post!  I’d like to point out though, that my bridal party is going to be all family (L Dawg being pseudo-family).  I have some of the most AMAZING girlfriends on the planet.  The problem is I have too many of them and there was no way I was going to entertain the thought of having a 14 person bridal party, no way, no how! So I’m going to find other ways to recognize some of them, but for the record, I know so many fabulous women and they all mean the world to me.  I don’t know where I’d be without ALL of them!!  🙂

(All photos personal)

Next up, Murder Mystery dinner with the family!

Tasting some chick-y and meeting with Coordinator A

After we ooh’d and ahh’d over the atrium (where our ceremony will be taking place), we were ushered into the restaurant to meet with our wedding coordinator A and to taste test our meal options.  Now, we decided right off the bat that chicken was more in our price range than steak, even though Mr. Sword and I both love a good steak!  But my all-time favorite meat is chicken (boring I know) so it seems fitting that we serve our guests chicken at our wedding.  We were served three dishes of chicken: piccatta, champagne, and the hotel’s personalized version, chandelaise. Each chicken came with a different potato and a different veggie option.  For potatoes, we could choose between scalloped, mashed, or roasted red.  The vegetable options were asparagus, green bean almondine, and a medley.

Drum roll please:  We chose the chicken chandelaise with a side of roasted red potatoes and a vegetable medley!!  I know some of our wedding guests are going to read this but I have no secrets when it comes to our wedding dish, in fact, I’ll probably tell most of them in person, perhaps like this, “GUESS WHAT?  We’re having this AMAZING chicken dish at our wedding, I know you’ll like it!  If I was rich you’d be getting an option of steak or fish as well, but as it is I really hope you like CHICKEN cause that’s what we’re serving!!”   Of course we will have a vegetarian option available for those non-meat eaters among our friends and family, and a chicken fingers and fries will serve as our kid’s option.

NOTE:  The chandelaise chicken comes with mushrooms, but Mr. Sword and I HATE mushrooms with a passion, so we are getting a special version of the dish without any ‘shrooms.  I’ve always been a picky eater and 9 times out of 10 I have to ask for something to be removed from a dish at a restaurant (yes I’m THAT girl), so why should it be any different on my wedding day?  🙂

I only got one decent photo of the food before myself, Mr. Sword and my parents devoured it all!

The thing is I barely had time to eat a bite from each plate because I was too busy talking to our awesome Coordinator A.  I call her a coordinator even though her real title is something along the lines of Catering Manager.  She’s been really helpful, especially talking to me on the phone before I’d even met her, assuring me of this thing or that thing since I hadn’t yet seen the hotel.

These are just a few of the things Coordinator A and I discussed!

White, Ivory, or Black linens?  Ivory.  Since ivory is one of our colors  it was an easy decision!

Napkin color: Chocolate brown.  While a  purple color sounded great, they only had one very ordinary shade of purple available, and I am scared that it wouldn’t  match the purple in the kilt we’ve ordered!  I don’t mind weddings that incorporate different shades of one color throughout their day, but I want to be intentional if I decide to go that route, not accidental.  Therefore, until we see the kilt in person there will be no buying of anything purple colored!  That includes bridesmaid dresses, ribbons, etc.  Plus, I think the chocolate napkins will compliment our centerpieces nicely, (more on that to come in a later post)!

Alcohol?   This one of Mr. Sword’s BIG decisions, because well, he drinks beer, and I don’t.  Since he’s European there will be no Bud or Miller at our wedding.  He knew he definitely wanted a more premium option of beer, but since we also have a lot of Americans attending the wedding, and we also know that most girls who drink beer prefer light beer, we had to have one Scottish appropriate beer and one American appropriate beer.  I’m keeping those decisions secret for now!  My Dad came up with the American light beer choice and Mr. Sword agreed that out of the possible crappy American beer options, that was one of the better ones!

Between the beer and the potatoes (his other BIG decision) Mr. Sword was a very helpful groom-to-be!  He listened when he needed to listen, supported when he needed to support, and offered his input fairly often.  I got to choose the wine, but we didn’t even discuss how many bottles to order and we barely touched on our idea of having a signature drink, but we are super excited about the concept of it!  This is Mr. Sword in front of the bar area of the restaurant in the hotel!

DJ: We will be using theirs. It’s just so much easier that way!  Plus, there’s a nice discount.

Cake: Buttercream (It’s part of our package luckily!)

Gift opening room for the day after the wedding:  Sure!!  Even though we aren’t expecting a lot of gifts, (they might be shipped to Chicago ahead of time and we think that people buying a flight to our wedding will be gift enough), we decided this would be a nice way to say hi to everyone one last time.  Mr. Sword and I are postponing the honeymoon until a few weeks after the wedding so we can tie up loose ends and continue to enjoy our out-of-town family before they return home, so a private brunch with everyone the next morning sounded like a great plan!

Draping:  No.  It was going to cost us 1000 dollars to have draping all through the banquet hall, and we couldn’t justify that cost.  Plus, Mr. Sword was complaining that the draping appeared to be hung so low it might hit his head (Mr. Sword stands at a tall 6’2″).  Alternatively, Coordinator A did suggested putting up a waterfall of draping behind our sweetheart table (we are opting against the traditional head table) that’s only 15 feet wide at 10 dollars a foot.  Once we heard that option, we were sold!  Now our table will stand-out from the rest with its own little backdrop!

Lighting:  This was a tough decision.  To put up extra lighting around the room is 600 dollars, but in the end we decided that wasn’t too much to give the room some nice ambiance and a good romantic feel!

Flowers: We opted to not use their floral centerpieces and instead we are going with something more unique to us.

Coordinator A and I also discussed things like TIMELINE and guest count.   It felt like the appointment went too quickly and I know we will probably end up meeting again before the wedding, but it felt great to be making decisions and it made me really excited for the BIG DAY!

(all photos personal and used with permission)

How did your first meeting with your coordinator or reception place go?  Did you find a package deal or are you booking things separately?