Archive | January 2013

Wedding Shoe Reveal!

My custom designed shoes arrived in Chicago early last week and frankly the welcome party is still raging on… I kid of course, but they are gorgeous.  They might not be the wedding shoe for everyone but to me they are beautiful and perfect for an adult princess or a Cinderella wannabe (as opposed to a small child).  And most importantly, they fit.  (phew.)

I used the Etsy shop Design Your Pedestal and I can’t speak more highly of its owner Kate.  Not only did she work with me to help create my dream shoes but she also extended her Black Friday discount so I didn’t have to rush any decisions.  And it was HER idea to incorporate our family tartan.  🙂

My initial thought was to have her make square brooches out of our family tartan to used as shoe clips, but she wasn’t happy with how they turned out so sent me another idea where the fabric was made into a ruffle and highlighted with a sparkly brooch.  Well, I loved it.

And with that I’ll leave you with some photos.  The pictures don’t do really do the shoes justice but I can’t bear to keep them a secret!  And it only makes sense to share them since you’ve all been on this shoe journey with me from the beginning!  Enjoy…

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(all photos personal, my apologies for the dirty floor)

Would you ever consider getting custom-designed shoes?  My shoes were 200 dollars with the discount.  But there’s not another pair like them in the world!  🙂

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Goodies For Our Guests

I don’t believe there are enough ways to thank everyone for attending our wedding, but I figured making OOTG goodie bags was the least we could do for all of our friends and family who are staying in hotel rooms during our wedding weekend.  So before we go any further, I need to ask all Sword guest to leave this blog post.  I mean, they can probably guess some of the items that will be included, but still, I want them to have a slight element of surprise!

sword guests

The first item on the list was finding the right bag.  I was in love with Mrs. Wallaby’s reusable canvas totes but since we have such a large amount of OOTG’s I decided that wasn’t going to be cost-effective enough for us.  So I went hunting for small paper bags in large quantities.  Unfortunately our local dollar store didn’t have any pretty colors so we ended up purchasing a few packs of 8 (half ivory, half dark greenish/brown) from JoAnn’s for six dollars a pack.  Mom Sword and I decided to go with the smallest possible bag size that would fit everything.  It’s a good idea too because it makes the bag look nice and full and it saves on money/paper/space.

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Can I just say I’m super proud of this next picture?  I’m so happy I was able to figure out how to add words to the photo without anyone else’s help!  Big deal for this Sword.  🙂

OOTG bags edited

Our guests will be getting a few chocolate candy bars, a bag of peanuts, a roll of mints, two mini water bottles, a few hand sanitizing wipes, a Chicago postcard, a personalized DND sign, and an information sheet for the weekend (not pictured).

I know our hotel charges something like a dollar or two to have them delivered to each room so we’ll probably just have them handed out as the guests check into their rooms.

These are the OOTG bags all put together (minus the cute tags I made):

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The trickiest part was deciding how many to make, the question being do you make one bag per person, per couple, or per family??  We have hotel rooms reserved that range from one guest to 5 guests.  In the end we made 48 OOTG bags and we have about 30 hotel rooms reserved under our room block.  I figure some people might get two and it’s always good to have extras!

AND  just because I don’t want our guests seeing the boutonnieres just yet (and I’ve found out that people actually pay attention to my “go away” notices)… here is the finished product on those!  Thank you Sister/MOH Big Eyes and Mom Sword!  I like to think I helped but all I did was add anti-fraying goop to the edges of the tartan fabric.  It looks blue in the photo but it dried clear in the end!

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I had a silly idea the other day that we should make a little sign or note asking the guests to locate and count all places we have used or placed the family tartan during throughout our ceremony and reception.  Still undecided on whether it’s an actual idea or just a joke in my head!

(all photos personal)

Are you making little goodie bags for your out-of-town guests?  Do you like the final boutonnieres?  Can you think of all the places we are using tartan at the wedding?  🙂

Six Tips To Make Your “Year of the Wedding” A Little Bit Easier

Unfortunately AND FORTUNATELY, my wedding planning time is almost up.  The Sword’s Big Day is just around the corner and I literally can’t believe I’ve been engaged since last Feb.  Life has flown by in the best of ways during this year and I have enjoyed nearly every second of it.  I’ve also learned a ton about what has benefited us the most while being engaged and I’d love to pass my insight on to you.

If you just got engaged over the holidays (congrats) or if you’re still in the early stages of planning, this list is for you!

Miss Sword’s Six Tips for the “Year of the Wedding” (length of “wedding year” can vary from a few months to multiple years)

1. Sign up for a PO Box.  This has been hands down the smartest thing we ever did.  These days it’s not common for couples to be living together before marriage and to be living in an apartment or a condo.  If you live in a place with a tiny mailbox or a slightly unsafe area (heeey big cities!) then a PO Box is the safest way to receive packages, gifts, letters, and wedding response cards.  We reserved one this past August through UPS for 14 months and it was 360 dollars.  Every time we order something important (like a gift for our parents, my shoes, the guestbook, etc) we have it sent to the PO Box.  We also put this address on our wedding website and registries so our personal address isn’t plastered everywhere and our wedding gifts are sent straight to the UPS store as opposed to being stuck on outside in the snow or at another location because they can’t be delivered.  The best part is that they send us an email and a text every time we receive a package so usually once or twice a week I hop in the car and drive the one mile to our PO Box to pick our loot.  This one Thursday was particularly awesome.  See below.

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2. Keep extra thank you cards and stamps nearby for quick return on sending those thank yous out the door.  Most of us are lucky enough to have bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and to receive gifts before the wedding.  The best way to show your appreciation for everyone’s time and generosity is to get your thank you cards out in a prompt and quick fashion.  This also helps your mental state as well because it’s an easy and fast way to check something off your long to-do list.  I gave myself three weeks after each event or party and a week after a wedding gift is delivered to get my thank you note in the mail.  You don’t have to write a novel, just sincere appreciation from the heart.  I try to buy a set of thank-you cards for each event and then to mix and match extras as not everyone is invited to each event.  Does that make sense?  I’m really looking forward to using our Once Upon a Time themed thank yous (yet to be revealed) that we ordered from Minted with our invitations to thank everyone for attending our wedding.

one of my favorite Kate Spade thank you cards/ image via Papyrus

one of my favorite Kate Spade thank you cards/ image via Papyrus

3. Sign up for every coupon and email list you can get your hands on.  This is especially perfect for those of you ladies who are changing your name post-wedding.  If you change your name, you will most likely change your email address and you can rid yourself of the daily or weekly store emails that are bombarding your inbox, and only re-sign up for the ones you truly care about.  In the meantime, don’t buy anything without a coupon!  This is something I learned from reading Weddingbee when I first got engaged.  Many bees were sharing how much they saved by buying their crafting supplies with coupons and I knew I had to try harder to save money.  So I signed up, and I signed up again.  Now whether it’s Kohl’s, Things Remembered, or JoAnn’s I try to use a coupon or a rewards card every time I go wedding shopping!

4. Designate a separate savings account known as “The Wedding Fund.”  For Mr. Sword and I, it’s been really helpful to have two different savings funds, well technically three: emergency, house, and wedding fund.  We also decided on a set budget and have used WeddingWire to track our wedding related expenses.  We still put money into our wedding fund monthly, but once the wedding is over all the extra money (praying there is some) can go directly into the house fund.

I want to digress for a moment and explain another way I would consider myself old-fashioned these days; the combining of finances among couples.  These days, I know many couples who still keep separate accounts after getting married or who have just one account with which they can both access.  After much discussion Mr. Sword and I decided to have access to each other’s bank accounts and the plan is to eventually merge everything together.  I just feel like what’s mine is yours sort of applies to everything in marriage whether it be monetary or emotionally or spiritually or physically.  I’m such a hopeless romantic.  🙂

Last photo of taken of The Swords before getting engaged!

Last photo of taken of The Swords before getting engaged!

Plus, it makes things so much easier because both Mr. Sword and I can access the wedding fund and watch what we spend and what we save.  Finances are a very personal topic so what works for us might not work for someone else.  That said, a set budget and a designated savings account are always helpful when planning an expensive event!

5.  Go a little crazy.  It’s only one year.  Wanna hear what crazy I’ve been doing? Only if your promise not to judge the fact that I’m telling you to spend money after I’m telling you to save money.

I get my nails done, like, all the time.  And not just manicures, I get pedicures frequently as well.  They just do a better job than I could ever hope to do, and my feet love me for it.  That said, I probably get two haircuts a year, so it all evens out.  Do you have a wedding indulgence?

nails

6.  Thank your friends and family and everyone involved in your wedding often and sincerely.  This is pretty self-explanatory.  Be overly grateful.  If you focus on how wonderful your family and friends have been over the past year you have less time to focus on how mother f*ing stressed out you are!  🙂

Thank those that host your showers or bachelor/bachelorette parties with cards or gifts.  Buy your Mom her wedding jewelry just because you love her and she’s been such a great help.  Call people (even if you hate the phone like I do) and stay involved in your friend’s lives.  Make dinner dates with your partner, go see shows, laugh, craft, and enjoy every second.  It goes by too fast!

BM Jo and MOH Big Eyes showing their excitement to be making tartan jewelry, thank you ladies!

BM Jo and MOH Big Eyes showing their excitement to be making tartan jewelry, thank you ladies!

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

What else is helping you through the “Year of the Wedding?”  Married bees, what am I missing?

Pick Your Battles (even the silly ones)

You can’t get upset about everything.  It will make you crazy.  But sometimes things are worth fighting for, and if you’re like me, you’ll pick the most random, unimportant, and silly battle of the bunch.

Hive, I freaked out about the color of paper.  See, we are framing our signature drink info and a few quotes/e-pics to be placed around the reception room.  One day while we were in Minnesota and I was having my hair/makeup trial with Laura, Mr. Sword was given the job of printing the quotes onto paper and putting them into frames.  (Shout-out to Mrs. Treasure for letting us re-use some of the black frames from her wedding!  Yay Chicago bees!)

The odd thing about the battle I picked is that there are other aspects of the wedding that are turning out a bit differently than I had anticipated, but I’m letting those things go.  The guestbook, the favors, and the bagpipe tunes are not entirely perfect and I’m OK with that!  We’re doing an amazing job planning this wedding and our day will be wonderful no matter what happens.  But as a writer, and a lover of words, I just wanted our framed love quotes and drink menus TO BE PERFECT.

So I threw a fit about the paper color because when I asked for ivory Mr. Sword and Dad Sword came back from Kinkos with this weird buttercup/pastel yellow.  It was terrible.  It just wouldn’t do.  And no amount of words would make me see otherwise.  “There is no yellow at our wedding!”  I exclaimed, frustrated that no one else could see the difference as well as I could.  They all started laughing at me and then I started laughing at me and it became clear I’d lost it over the dumbest thing on earth.

A few days later, Mr. Sword, myself, and Mom Sword went looking for the perfect ivory paper at Archiver’s.  It soon became apparent that there are about 30 shades of white and off-white paper but nothing that seemed to match the ivory matte in the frames.  Some looked too gray, some looked to white, and some looked too yellow.

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And that’s how we ended up with lavender. Ivory be damned!

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Mr. Sword eventually printed on the lavender paper and the cut it down to size using a paper-cutter.

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This is the finished product, didn’t he do a great job?

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As soon as all the papers were in the frames I was convinced I’d chosen the wrong quotes.  Clearly, I over-cared about this project just a little.  We’re letting it sit for now.  And in the end we’ll be married, so who really cares?   🙂

Everyone has a battle worth picking.  Even if it doesn’t make sense to others.

In case you are as enamored with quotes as I am, here are some of the ones we chose to display at our reception.  Steal away!

“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live a day without you.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Some Things Go Together by Charlotte Zolotow
Pigeons with park
Stars with dark
Sand with sea
and you with me.
… Hats with heads
Pillows with beds
Sky with blue
and me with you.

“A person doesn’t have to be perfect to be exactly what you need.”
J.D. from Scrubs

And from one of my favorite movies… Ever After

Danielle: A bird may love a fish, signore, but where will they live?
Leonardo Da Vinci: Then I shall have to make you wings.

(all photos personal)

What was the stupidest battle you picked?  Or what project do you over-care about?  Who else is putting love quotes around their reception?

Off-site Location Hunting

There is one thing I have been very adamant about recently and that is having an off-site location to take photos with the bridal party and Mr. Sword on our wedding day.

I was never a girl who pictured or thought about a beautiful outdoor wedding.  Sure, I love the sunshine on my skin, I love the smell of fresh air, and a beautiful city skyline, but I have no problems getting married indoors.  I’m an indoors girl at heart.  Plus, the atrium at our hotel has high ceilings and tons of greenery so it feels very lush and homey at the same time.  Perfect.

That said, I really, really want to take some photos outside on the Big Day!  I just can’t stand the thought of every picture taken with indoor lighting when natural lighting is so amazing.  Not to mention, no matter what the weather, I want to have photographic proof of it.  How will I remember how cold or nice it felt on my wedding or how it looked outside if I have nothing to remember it by?

So come rain, snow, sleet, or sunshine, we’ll be outside from about 12-2 PM on our wedding day capturing it all.

Our first off-site location idea was the famous Mall of America (yes this isn’t outside but it was going to be the first stop of two).  This was good in theory but bad in reality.  Mr. Sword loathes the thought of drones of tourists all staring at us (while I’d quite like that) and I loathe the thought of navigating our large group through said drones of tourists.  Plus, my idea for a first look in the theme park was quickly thwarted by the ugly neon colors they have going on in there these days and the fact that you really can’t ask a bunch of people to move out of your way just so you can “get the shot.”

In any case, we tried to find some picturesque spots for photos and took some shots just because we were there scouting.  But you won’t be seeing me in a wedding dress at the MOA anytime soon.  Note the blurry patrons behind me.

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Luckily, we had received a good suggestion from quite a few people who told us Centennial Lakes Park would be a great place for photos!  In fact, our photographer has already shot a wedding there and it’s a very popular wedding venue, especially during the warmer months.  So Mr. Sword and I decided to check it out while we were in town and we were not disappointed!

Centennial Lakes has tons of great photo opportunities for us and for our bridal party!  We plan on doing an hour of just couple portraits and then having the bridal party join us after that and with the many options at Centennial Lakes, we’ll be able to stick with just one off-site location!

The icing on the cake is that Centennial Lakes is literally five minutes away from our Embassy Suites so we won’t be wasting much time in vehicles transporting everyone back and forth.  The goal was to find a location that was less than 10 minutes away and I’m so glad we accomplished that!

NOW you can picture Miss Sword in a wedding dress in all of these photos.  And if anyone has a stellar idea for a “first look” please pass it on!  Right now I’m thinking we could walk up each side of this bridge to meet each other at the top.  If only I wasn’t so damn klutzy…

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Mom Sword is helping me pose in the photo below.  I know they look a bit dirty but I can picture our bridal party standing on these blocks looking quite posh.

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Is anyone else obsessed with more urban or architectural photographs?  I’m dying for photos like these.  Parking garages for the win.

image via Pinterest/ Photo by Tracy Photography

image via Pinterest/ Photo by Tracy Routh Photography

image via PInterest/ Photo by Shannon Nicole Smith

image via PInterest/ Photo by Shannon Nicole Smith

Who knew a car barrier could be so sexy?!?

image via Pinterest/ Photo by Todd Pellowe

image via Pinterest/ Photo by Todd Pellowe

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Are you going to take photos at an off-site location before or after your wedding?  What do you think of photos in parking garages?

Why I Love the Online RSVP

When I first shared our Once Upon a Time invitations with the hive I talked briefly about my love of online RSVP’ing, but I figure it’s worth sharing my thoughts again and this time in more detail.

I have a confession to make, I placed a lot more importance on our RSVP deadline date than I originally thought I would.  I ended up attaching some emotion to the RSVP waiting game and frankly, it’s not something I would recommend!

I have secretly been waiting for Jan. 15th for a while now; feeling beyond curious about who will be able to attend the wedding and who will not.  I know many bees before me have written about their disappointment when certain family members or friends submit a “no” response, and I am here to commiserate with them.  But I truly believe that everyone who is meant to be there will be there and the wedding day will be fantastic no matter what.

We chose a deadline early enough to give us plenty of time to track down the stragglers and to be certain that guests had ample time to make hotel reservations and flights.  If most of your guests are in the same state/city, I wouldn’t think you need to know as far in advance as we do.  I’m also anxious to have a real number in my head!  For the past year when talking about our guest list it’s always been a range of numbers, like 110-150 or our best guess, 130ish?  Soon enough, we will have a confirmed number.

Speaking of numbers, out of the 186 people invited, we have heard back from 129 of them with 102 folks attending and 27 declining.  A great start!  Since we are inviting a few families, I think it also makes sense to look at our guests as households or invitations.  We sent out 86 invitations and have heard back from 63.  Out of those 63 households, 50 have accepted and 13 have declined, with 23 households left unknown at this point.

While I love the idea of receiving the RSVP cards in the mail because it’s traditional and beautiful, I have to say going online with our RSVP system was one of the smartest decisions we made! I love the ease of it and the way it keeps track of everything for us.  I can just log in and see our numbers quickly without counting or entering in information myself.

So imagine you are a guest invited to our Highland Fairy Tale wedding.  Your first step is to type in our wedding website URL to find this home page.

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After browsing our engagement photos and reading our proposal story, you’ll locate the “RSVP” tab on the left and click it.  After which, you’ll see this:
household screenshot

At this point you’ll enter your name in the boxes provided to bring up everyone in your household.  For most that means couples or families, but also people who are dating and/or have different last names.  Each name was entered separately into the website and organized under a household name.  For the few plus ones we gave (mostly to friends traveling from Scotland of whom we didn’t know their relationship status) we put them in as Guest Householdname.

NOTE: This can be tricky with family members who have the same last name but are part of different households.  WeddingWire will show you all of the people with your matching last name but since we’ve invited our favorite people in the world, we are just trusting that folks are only RSVP’ing for themselves and no one else.
Once your name comes up and you find the “click here to RSVP” button, you’re taken to this page:
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The example I’m showing is from a two person household that is coming from out-of-town, thus their response is needed for the rehearsal dinner as well.

In case I haven’t spoken highly enough of this system yet, here are my top four reasons as to why I love online RSVP’ing:

1. Instant Gratification:  The second someone’s RSVP is submitted Mr. Sword and I each receive an email complete with their response, meal choices and their personal note (if they left one).  I cannot tell you how much my heart leaps every time I see that WeddingWire has sent me an email saying, “So-and-So has submitted an RSVP to your events.”

2. Endless Meal Options:  This reason makes me laugh because we really utilized this website feature for our wedding, but not in the most typical spot.  I’ve talked before how we are serving chicken or a vegetarian option at our wedding, but our rehearsal dinner is a completely different story.  With one set price and the ability to offer my out-of-town guests whatever type of burger their heart desires, we had many options in our drop down menu.  I’m.not.kidding.

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3. Procrastinators Aren’t Punished:  You know those people who wait until the last-minute for everything (we had a few)?  The online RSVP is amazing because even if they remember at 11:55 PM they can still get their response in on time, without it taking days to go through the mail.  Or they can respond a few days late and we’ll get their RSVP seconds after they submit it.  (See reason number one again.)

4. Money Will Be Saved:  We saved money by not buying reply cards, envelopes, and stamps (both US and UK).  Every little bit of savings helps the overall budget stay on track!

Finally, we chose WeddingWire because when we first picked a site to host our wedding website, Mr. Sword thought WeddingWire had the most customize-able options. We ended up deciding NOT to password protect our site (although it’s probably a good idea) because instead we decided to be stingy with who could see our website information.  We never posted the URL on Facebook or in mass emails, and the first time most guests saw our website was three months before the wedding when we sent out the invitations.

I have to admit I am most curious to see if we got a higher or lower percentage of people to RSVP by our given deadline than if we would have sent out paper response cards.  Since every group of guests is different the only way to really test my theory would be to experiment on the same group of people.  But no one, and I mean NO ONE is going to want to take the time to plug-in every guest’s name to their website AND address and stamp the same amount of return cards.  But if you do, let me know how it goes?

(all photos are personal shots of the Sword wedding website, edited by Miss Sword)

Does anyone else love online RSVP’ing as much as me?  Did you give a deadline and if so, what were your counts at that point?

Consummating Without Libations, Whaaa?

(Here goes a really awkward and embarrassing post.  Especially as I have lots of family who read this blog.  Please continue to read my entries after today, I beg.  Thank you.)

I want to talk about the wedding night.  The ooo la la, after the party ends, sexy post-reception time of the night…

I know this subject can be a bit taboo, especially on public websites, but when we plan our wedding day we tend to think about all the parts of it, even the late night parts.

And my disclaimer is this: Everyone’s situation is different and completely unique to them, but at the top of this blog post it says by Miss Sword, so remember these are my thoughts on the subject and my thoughts only.  Let’s dive in, shall we?

While I consider myself to be sexually liberal, when it comes to my wedding night I consider myself to be quite old-fashioned.  I believe that it’s important to consummate your marriage, and that’s exactly what we Swords plan on doing.  (Yes, we’ve talked about it.)

At the same time I understand that for some couples, wedding night sex just isn’t a priority whether it be because of exhaustion from a long day of hosting, familiarity/years together, or getting a little bit too drunk and passing out before anything can happen.  I’m sure it’s different for every couple!

For me, it’s not only about sex, it’s about intimacy.  It’s the only first night of marriage we’ll have, and as a true romantic, I can’t help but think it will be an extra special night.

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I’m so excited to dance and party with all of my awesome guests as well as my awesome soon-to-be-husband so I imagine the amount of quality time Mr. Sword and I will get together during the reception will be pretty limited.  I look forward to being alone and relishing in the last few moments of our wedding day together.

But what about my wacky post title??  Here goes the most embarrassing thing I will put on the internet probably ever.  One can only hope.

When we were in MN over my holiday break I was out to dinner with BM L Dawg and this conversation really happened.  I swear.

(Wedding chatter that somehow led to this topic)

L Dawg: Are you going to drink on your wedding night?
Miss Sword: Well yea, probably.
L Dawg: Are you sure?
Miss Sword: Why?  I’ll just have like one or two drinks.
L Dawg: Do you really want to spend your wedding night in the bathroom?

BAHAHAHA.  The funniest part is that she’s not implying I’ll be in the bathroom throwing up due to excessive drinking, but because I’ll have to go, go, go… number 2.  That’s right.  Alcohol makes me have to poop.  Like right away.  Like a couple of hours or so after I start drinking.  Like I can’t sleep because I have to get up every hour to go to the bathroom to either pee or poo.  Needless to say, that doesn’t scream sexy times to me or Mr. Sword for that matter!

And yes, I realize everyone needs to get rid of the toxins in their body post drinking, but I’m talking about one or two girly cocktails, not a night of beer and shots!  Clearly something is wrong with me.  Blame it on years of vomit related anxiety from drinking, a quick digestive system, a nervous tummy, or a slight allergy, but that’s the icky truth.

Mainly, I just want to feel good about myself and I want to wear my wedding night lingerie without feeling bloated or sick.  For me, having some uninterrupted private time with Mr. Sword is much more important than getting tipsy.  Trust me when I say I’m equally IF NOT MORE fun without booze.  Remember my post on drinking?  It’s just how I was raised.  And while I want everyone else to have fun and get totally hammered if they so choose, I want Mr. Sword and I to remember our Big Day and enjoy it without any fuzziness.  (Luckily for Mr. Sword, his tolerance is pretty high.)

Of course I will definitely pose with our signature drinks and have some champagne during the toasts but I’m pretty much set on staying hydrated with water and having the time of my life sans alcohol.

And I look forward to being one of the most loud, obnoxious, and hilarious people at our wedding.  Look for me, I’ll be the one hanging on Mr. Sword, drinking diet coke, and flashing my cleavage at all my girlfriends.  Mom Sword will be so proud.

How important is wedding night nookie to you?  Does anyone else plan on not drinking at their own wedding but still having a rockin’ good time?  Tell me I’m not alone!