Archive | June 2012

Get it on film!

Videography.   I think it’s important and I want to tell you why.  This post is based purely on my personal opinions so keep that in mind, but here is MY food for YOUR thought.

I  know I’ve mentioned this before but I do believe the WIC (wedding industry complex)  coerces us into thinking we need certain things to make our wedding day magical, and videography is something that can be  found on that list of “must-haves,” but in this instance, I think they are right!  GASP.

I do feel strongly that this day in age, with all the media and technology advances in recent years, it doesn’t make sense NOT to have your special day recorded on film.  It’s there to be watched over and over again for future generations, for when you have a big fight and need a loving reminder, for your anniversary celebrations, for when your memory begins to fail you, for when you need a nice gift for your parents, and for yourself because it was your wedding day after all!

A few years ago my siblings and I made a special video for Auntie B to commemorate a special birthday year of hers (of which the year shall go unmentioned).  This video is a compilation of all of our families’ inside jokes, but  I can’t tell you how many times Auntie B says to us, “I just watched my birthday video again and laughed all the way through it, it’s SO funny!”  Hearing this makes my heart so happy, it’s been years and she still watches it often!

People videotape everything from their first bungee jumping experience to their child’s first step; your wedding is going to be one of the best celebrations of you and your partner’s love so why not get it on film?  Even if you are an introvert or an extra-shy person (like Mr. Sword) you will still want to see how happy you looked on that day, how much you laughed, how silly you danced, and how well you were loved by family and friends.

“BUT WAIT ONE MINUTE YOU CRAZY BLONDE, what if I can’t afford a videographer??”

Good point.  In fact, price is probably the biggest reason people say no to a videographer.  Did you know some people charge anywhere from 5-8 thousand dollars??  NO THANK YOU.

You can do what Mr. Sword and I did and just scratch out money from your photography fund.  We were lucky enough to be able to fit both in without going over our set photo/video budget (which to be fair, was on the mid to high side to begin with).  Remember how important photography is to me?

Another option is to find a person or a company that is just starting out.  Perhaps a student or someone looking to earn extra cash from a side business?  They might only have a few weddings under the belt, but as long as they can get the important things on film, who cares about the editing.  You don’t need the editing.

In that vein, the third option is to designate a family friend to bring their flip camera and tape certain sections of the ceremony and reception for you.  Now, most people just want to enjoy themselves (which translated means they don’t want to hold a camera to their face all night), but you never know who would be willing to help until you ask them.  My advice is to pay them even if it’s just a little stipend, because it’s the thought that counts and it’s way cheaper than hiring a professional.

Think about it this way, flowers and alcohol only last for that night, but your video will live on and on.  To me, it’s worth the big bucks!  And just like photographers, videographers do a great deal of post-wedding work as well and they deserved to be compensated.

So who did we hire?

A2f Pictures. We immediately clicked with them at our meeting in Minnesota.  They were young, fun, professional, and agreed that every wedding has a unique story to tell.  A bonus is their easy to use application form online that helps you figure out exactly what is important to you and what the “extras” will cost.  The company is owned by three filmmakers who are looking to fund their own feature film someday but are currently work hard making both commercial and wedding videos.  I hope it’s not going to be weird when I ask to audition for their film after my wedding.  I’m only kidding!!  Kind of.  While I was overjoyed that our photographer is a woman (yay), I’m just as happy to give our videography money to aspiring artists!

Our video package includes two cinematographers, a cinematic trailer, a 10-20 minute edited cut of the day, and wedding interviews/stories from family and friends.  AMAZING.  We are so pumped and if you are a guest who is planning to be at our OOTG rehearsal dinner then you better start practicing your cutest “Mr. and Mrs. Sword” story.*

Finally, I hear over and over again (from lovely people like Mrs. Snow Cone and others) that the biggest regret people have is NOT getting their wedding on film.  So if you can squeeze a videographer into your budget I say go for it!

Is videography a priority on your wedding budget?

*Nobody will be forced to do an interview if they don’t want to!!  🙂


Saying “no thank you” to some lovely dresses

The time has come for dress photos!!  Yay!!  I’m so excited to share a few of them with the Hive right now, the thing is, after much contemplation I’ve decided not to share THE dress before the wedding.  It was a tough decision but in the end I want all my guests to be surprised as well as everyone else!  Plus I’m so in love with her that I want to keep her my little secret for as long as I can!

There were tons of beautiful dresses that I did not choose and I will share some of those now.  I’ll also give some hints on what my dress looks like and reveal the designer at the end so hang tight!


So… my vision for the Big Day was a fit-n-flare with hints of princess (obviously) and romance.  I wanted something tight and sexy that still felt whimsical and right out of a fairy tale.  It sounded easy enough when I started out but I quickly found that most fit-n-flares come with tons of beading, and I didn’t really want beading, or lace for that matter.  Nothing against beading or lace, but I felt like I needed an understated dress that still had the power to WOW.

Here are some of the fit-n-flare candidates:

And then there were the ball gowns… Sigh, the ball gowns.  I loved them!  They fit the theme of our fairy tale wedding so well and truth be told I almost convinced myself to buy one (of course I don’t have a picture of that one because it was the one place where photos weren’t allowed) but in the end I’m so happy I waited just a bit longer so I could find my dream dress.

Please excuse all awkward and/or chubby photos, not all of the dresses fit 100% correctly.  Did you have a favorite style between the ball gowns and fit-n-flares?

Here are my wedding dress stats:

I went to a total of 6 different bridal salons (one in Chicago, the rest in the Twin Cities), and I found my dress at store number 5, only two days before we were leaving Minnesota on wedding planning trip number two.

Designer is Morie Lee.

Style is to die for fit-n-flare.

Neckline is a slight sweetheart that I plan to dip even further.  (It actually got comical after one consultant told me, “Yes, I get it, we can dip the neckline even lower, all of them can be made lower!”  And so it became a running joke.)

Price is under $1,000… by a little bit.

How it happened:

I don’t think my search was particularly long, it was just that being a long-distance bride I knew my time was limited if I wanted a dress ordered in time to have all my fittings take place  in Minnesota.  I can’t just show up when my dress arrives at the salon, instead I have to make well-planned trips up north that coincide with other wedding related tasks or I’d be there every other weekend!  I know it will be awhile before I see my dress in person and I plan to wait patiently, or as patiently as possible.   Until she arrives I will think of her often and attempt to give her a name… the designer just uses numbers and I really think something so pretty deserves a special name.  How does Evie sound?  I’m leaning towards naming her Evie.

One last thing:

Like other brides, I had the same “I just know this is it” moment when I put on the winning dress.  I know it’s a different experience for everyone, but I usually get strong gut feelings when I know something is right so I was expecting one to occur during my dress search.  I knew from the second I put her on that this was it, but I didn’t say it out loud until about 40 minutes later when I tried her on again.  Everyone else could tell by my face that we had found my dress, but I didn’t want to rush the moment, I wanted to make sure I was still thinking about her when I took her off and when I was in other dresses, and I totally was!!  I even had tears hiding behind my eyes and I was urging them to fall!!  It took a little coaxing but once I saw Mom Sword crying, the tears just started flowing.  I was lucky enough to have Mom Sword, Auntie B, MOH Big Eyes, and BM L Dawg there when I found HER.  It was magical!

(all photos personal)

Did you know when you’d found “the one”?  Did you almost convince yourself to go with a completely different style than you had originally wanted?

Bridesmaids continued…

I’m going to take a slight derailment from my second wedding planning trip updates to finish talking about my awesome bridesmaids.  Back when I first wrote about asking my sister to be my MOH and L Dawg to be a bridesmaid I left you all hanging about the other two ladies!  The reason the whole topic of bridesmaids was brought to my attention again is all due to an email I received yesterday morning from MOH Big Eyes (please note for the future that MOH and Sister are the same person but I use them interchangeably as I feel inspired.  Sister/MOH has big beautiful blue eyes, hence the name).

The email subject was “Question for you” and inside was a bit of text and this photo:

used with permission from Sister Big Eyes, I’m on the right

I LOVE THIS.  IT’S HILARIOUS and AWESOME at the same time.

The other lovely lady in the photo is our cousin, who also happens to be one of my bridesmaids.  I shall call her BM Jo.  She’s an amazing athlete and plays division I soccer at a college that shall go unmentioned.  I have watched grow up over the years, and I’ve loved being around for all the major milestones in her life.  One of my favorite memories of her childhood is the day she told me she didn’t want to be carried around anymore because she wanted to walk, waaaahhhh (that’s me crying).  BM Jo just turned the big 2-1 and she is very special to both Sister and I.

Back to the photo above, I love how Sister Big Eyes added in the blonde hair, because both Jo and I are blondies, and ironically so is Sister’s third attendant.  Her third attendant is our brother, aka The Glue.  She wanted all her family on her side and this day in age, anything goes with bridal parties so I’m super excited about her decision!

Image via Offbeat Bride/ Limelight Photography

See the man of honor on the woman’s side?  Isn’t it great?  Well, obviously that is MY spot (right next to Sister as Matron of Honor by that time) but The Glue will fit in nicely with Jo and I.  🙂

The Glue with Sister’s dog

Back to Jo, here are some photos of us from a few Christmas’ ago.  We like to do photo shoots.

At Grandpa and Grandma’s house in North Dakota.

love this one.

Dressed up for Xmas eve service!

Sister Big Eyes was in living in England that year, we missed her… or at least pretended to miss her. 😉

OK SO WHO IS BRIDESMAID NUMBER FOUR?!?!!?!?  I’ll give you some clues, she’s super sweet, lives really really far away from me, and kind of resembles this guy:

Mr. Scottish and some flowers.

Yes, his lovely sister will also be standing up on my side as a bridesmaid as well!  Mr. Scottish has The Glue on his side and I’ll have his wee sis on mine!  “Wee” is a common word in Scotland, they use it in place of little or small, so I shall call her BM Wee Sis.  She’s a lovely person and such a trooper since she will be getting her dress sent to her without so much as trying it on first or seeing it in person.  Boo.  But anything would look great on her so I’m not worried.

Out for a drink with Wee Sis and her bf on my first trip to Scotland

Phew, clearly this was a busy and picture-packed post!  I have more special people to tell you about but this is it for now!

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Is your bridal party mostly family or friends?  Are you having a man of honor or a best woman?  I’d love to hear about it!!

Documenting the Big Day

The single most important vendor to me regarding our wedding (after finding a venue) is the photographer.  In regards to photography, I like to refer to Mr. Sword and myself as “dream clients” because we don’t want to rush through pictures (in fact we want to take more than the average couple), we value art/artists, and we understand that there is a lot of work to do after the wedding as well, like editing, so we want to provide adequate compensation for the work that is done.

Finding a photographer is a lot about research at the beginning of the process.  It’s about browsing websites, looking at photos, and it really helps Mr. Sword has been interested in photography since before we met and knows waaay more about it than I do.  He even knows what the different lens’ are called.  Whoa.

I believe you should be in total love with your wedding photos because you will have them for a lifetime and with the current fad of photo-journalistic type weddings, amazing and unique shots are becoming are the norm and the expectation.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I love getting my photo taken.  Even if I have to do it myself.  In fact, I have a signature pose that my family and Mr. Sword make fun of me for doing.  It’s called the “extend your arm as far as you can and make an interesting face at the camera pose,” or more plainly, “The Miss Sword.”

Brunette in ’09

Enjoying the sun in 2010

At a winery with girlfriends in 2011

Planning the wedding in 2012

After having such success with our E-session I was even more positive that we were on the right track with our hunt for a wedding day photographer.  And so we decided on a budget for them.  It was on the higher end of things, but not insanely so.  Mr. Sword insisted we meet with people at both ends of our price point spectrum, which is why we ended up seeing FOUR different photographers, two at the high-end of our budget and two at the low-end of it.  We liked three out of the four.

The main reason I didn’t like this one couple is because I thought they were a bit pretentious and weird.  They didn’t include rights to the HIGH-resolution images in their package like most photographers do, and instead they give you the low-res images to put on Facebook and such, but then make you pay an extra 800 dollars for the good stuff.  Don’t pay extra for that, it should be included!!

SIDE NOTE: Obviously the photographers should be cited whenever their work is used and they have rights that prevent you from their selling their images, but your wedding photos are for you and you should have access to them!

So with our three favorites in mind, Mr. Sword and I sat down and discussed what was important to us.

Our main priorities included:

  • originality/uniqueness of photos
  • a second shooter
  • unlimited time/committing to being there the whole day
  • great candid shots
  • creative portraits
  • didn’t totally BREAK the bank

In the end, it wasn’t a very tough decision because only one of the people we met with fit every single one of our criteria!  I won’t reveal the name just but I will say that we’ve hired a woman and I couldn’t be happier about that.  I LOVE supporting women and women who own their own business’.

And just in case you couldn’t get enough of my awesome photography skillz…

Scotland 2010

Scotland 2011

The sad part is how easy it was to find all of these photos of just me.  🙂

(all photos personal)

Anyone else have certain criteria for choosing a photographer?  What is the NUMBER ONE thing on your list in regards to wedding planning?

To Drink or Not to Drink, That is kind of the question

Guess what?  My parents had a DRY wedding.  Yes, as in, alcohol free!!  Back in 1979, they got married early on a Sunday morning and hosted a late breakfast sort of meal following their ceremony.  They did not serve any booze.  While Dad Sword has a beer every once in a while, Mom Sword never drinks, consequently, I am not a huge drinker myself.  Growing up NEVER seeing alcohol in the house coupled with a phobia of vomiting, leaves little room in my life for binge drinking.  But the thing is, I’m marrying this guy:

In Scotland, at a B&B, pre-dinner drink. June 2010.

He’s from the United Kingdom, or as I call it, The Land of Drinking.

His 28th birthday hotel/massage surprise.

Our engagement party

Mr. Sword is a recreational drinker who drinks a lot.  Does that make sense??  He rarely gets “wasted” these days (as he says the hangovers are worse in your late 20’s), and frankly, just being in a serious relationship leaves less time for going to bars with your buddies.  When we go out, Mr. Sword usually drinks beer, sometimes he gets wine with me, but regardless drinks are ordered.  At the beginning of our relationship I wasn’t used to the frequency (or quantity for that matter) of his beer intake, but now I remind him to pick up his favorite beer when we’re at the grocery store, I brag about his ability to drink most Americans under the table, and I purposely refrain from drinking so I can drive him home if we are at a friend’s place.

My favorite thing about the Scottish people, (and mind you this is based on my limited experience), is their refusal to drive after drinking.  They take great steps to insure that no one is driving even if they’ve only had one or two.  I really respect their diligence and now it makes so much more sense why Mr. Sword chose to live in an urban area that is within walking distance to tons of restaurants, bars, and pubs.

But what does that have to do with weddings you ask!?!?  Well, we have to serve alcohol at our wedding.  Not only would the Scottish folk be lost without it but many of our American friends enjoy drinking as well.  However, I’d like to point out that I really dislike the notion that a wedding is merely an excuse to get drunk.  A wedding is first and foremost about love, the joining of families, and having one hell of a good time, but if a few drinks will add to the overall enjoyment, I’m on board.

Since my family and I aren’t big drinkers, we decided a good compromise would be to serve beer, wine, and have  two signature drinks that contained liquor.  If you’ll remember I’m keeping our wine and beer choices a secret but I’m too excited to not spill the beans on our signature drinks!

One drink represents Mr. Sword and one represents me.  The names will be top secret until the wedding day but I will say they make us laugh and show off our humorous side.  I plan on making a menu of the drink options to display at the bar so people can order them by their fun names.

We will be serving a whiskey sour and a grape vodka chambord with sprite and a lime for our signature drinks.  Can you guess which drink goes with each of us?  Hint: my drink is going to be a shade of purple to tie in one of our main wedding colors.  Yay!!  With all of these options, plus free pop (or soda depending on where you’re from) I’m hoping that everyone will be able to find something they like!  If not, there will be a cash bar available (on Mr. Sword’s insistence) so people can buy something else, but I would prefer if no one had to spend any money at the reception (besides bartender tips)!

Interestingly, when I was discussing the distaste and poor etiquette of having a cash bar at a wedding in the US, Mr. Sword’s family and friends told us they rarely get free alcohol at weddings in the UK.  I guess it’s too expensive to quench the thirst of that many Scots!!  (hehehe)  😉

(all photos personal)

Is anyone having a dry wedding?  If you are doing signature drinks, how are you naming them?

Suit shopping with my Dad- it took all of 10 minutes

Dad Sword never wears a suit.  Never.  His dressy look includes black jeans and a button-up shirt.  He hates the feel of ties around his neck and if he could he’d spend the rest of his days sitting on the couch with his laptop, watching a sports game on TV, or camping in the great outdoors.

Case in point.

BUT Dad Sword has a wedding to attend next March (an important one), and then he has ANOTHER wedding to attend next June (equally important).  With two daughters engaged it seemed like the perfect time for Dad Sword to purchase a suit.  Mom Sword thought so too, and on our second wedding planning trip to Minnesota we took an evening to go to Kohl’s (PS I love Kohl’s) to look at suits.  We found him a jacket, the matching pants, and a belt, and with my Mom Sword’s coupons and the additional percentage off for using the Kohl’s card, it was A STEAL.  I think we ended up buying the second outfit he tried on, hence the 10 minute shopping time.

Outwardly Dad Sword grumbled but secretly he was happy as a clam.  Both of my parents are beyond excited for both sets of upcoming nuptials and it was great to see him step out of his comfort zone a bit.  The one thing Dad Sword said (after asking that it be a quick shopping trip), was to wonder whether or not he could pull off a pinstripe suit.

What is this?  A request?  An opinion?  We were not expecting this, but we were excited that he had put in some thought into it and went in search of a nice looking pinstripe suit.  While my wedding is on the semi-formal sides of things, Sister/MOH Big Eyes’ wedding is more on the more dressy casual end of the spectrum, but in the end we both wanted Dad Sword in a suit at our weddings and the man wasn’t going to buy two (obviously), so he’ll be wearing the same suit at both of our weddings.   Maybe he’ll even get a third time out of it if it still fits it by the time our little brother aka “The Glue” gets married.


Much better.

After we found one we all liked, I decided I had to see how we’d look together walking down the aisle.  I’m going to be keeping entirely with tradition and have Dad Sword walk me down the aisle on the day of my wedding.  People have asked if Mom Sword will be joining us, but I’ve said no, it’s just for me and him.  It’s something I’ve been excited to do with Dad Sword since I was little and I get to do plenty of special things with Mom Sword.  Plus I don’t want to be crowded walking down the aisle in my dress, plus I’m a big klutz and the more feet nearby the more likely I am to trip, and PLUS I don’t need any reasoning behind my decision!

Sometimes I feel like it’s becoming too “conservative” and/or “boring” to have just one person walk you down the aisle, let alone to have it be your father when so many brides are thinking outside the box by having their brothers, their moms, or even themselves do the honors!  And hey, more power to them.  Everyone should do what is special to them.  I am incredibly blessed to have a great relationship with my father and when I walk down the aisle on my wedding day, there’s only one person’s arm I want to be on.

Umm yea…

OK wait,  NEVER MIND, can I get a sub??  Anyone?  Oh well, I guess I’m stuck with him.  🙂


Finally we had to see it all come together with the pants.

So handsome.

(all photos personal)

Does anyone else have a Dad who prefers sports and the outdoors to fine and fancy things?  Who is walking YOU down the aisle?

We’ve hired the youngest bagpiper EVER

It’s time for a vendor update!  If you thought we would be having a bagpiper in our Scottish themed wedding then you are correct!  We are having a piper play at our ceremony and I’m pretty pumped about it.

Meet E.

He’s awesome, willing and able to perform at our wedding ceremony, and is youthful 18 years old.

I have to say, when I was referred to him by another bagpiper I assumed he would be middle-aged and a bit more rotund.  After arriving at his home I was curious to meet this piper who we could hear warming up as we walked into the house.  Imagine my surprise when I see this nice-looking, young gentlemen!  Luckily, Mom Sword was able to start conversation while I took a moment to soak it all in.  Of course we had to ask how long he’d been playing the bagpipes and it turns out he’s been playing since he was 13 years old.  He pipes for the Minnesota Police Pipe Band, and it was their free lessons that first helped E learn this wonderful yet VERY LOUD instrument.  (I think Mom Sword is looking into ear plugs for the Big Day.)

photo from E, used with permission

After we chatted for a bit, E played a few songs for us and we tried to figure out where in the ceremony we would place them.  It was decided then that I would walk down the aisle to the bagpipes and the rest of the bridal party will walk down the aisle to something different (guitar, DJ played, or otherwise) to make a nice contrast.  I’m super excited about how dramatic and awesome it’s going to sound!  We will also have E play some music for the prelude part of the ceremony as well as our big recessional walk down the aisle, and we’re toying with the idea of having him do his own sort of processional down the aisle to begin everything.  What to know the icing on the cake?  E already has a kilt he can wear for the wedding so he’ll fit right in!

Excited because we found a bagpiper!

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

We met with one bagpiper on our trip and luckily he was a perfect fit!  Anyone else having unique or cultural-specific music at their ceremony?