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En Garde: The Swords Celebrate One Year

Hive, how are you all??  It’s been way too long, and I’m soooo excited to be back even if it’s just to pop in for one day.  I know there many lovely new bees reading these days so in case you’re wondering who the Swords are, take a look at these photos of our Highland Fairy Tale.  (All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography unless otherwise noted.)

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OK that’s enough photos for now but if you want to go back and read my recaps, this post has the links to all of them at the bottom.

Being married is well, great!  I will say I’m officially in the camp of those who say getting married definitely changes things.  But for us, it’s been in a good way!  I feel like our admiration and respect of each other has grown, our relationship bond is deeper, our fights (while loud and emotional) don’t last quite as long, and our intimate moments are better and more connected.

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We’ve been through a lot in one year.  Two major moves, me leaving my job as a nanny, adopting our lovely dog McKenna, Mr. Sword finding a new job in a new state, and oh yea, getting pregnant!  What what??

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That’s right, the Swords are expecting their first little dagger and we’re absolutely thrilled about it!  🙂  Baby Sword is due at the end of July and while that’s pretty exciting we’re also in the middle of house hunting.  Here’s hoping we have a nursery and a home set up by summer and aren’t living with my parents anymore!  (Gulp.)

I realize I’ve probably run out on time and relevance to give wedding advice but I truly can’t help myself.  A) I love to talk about weddings and B) I have lots to share!  So do with it what you will.  No wedding is perfect but Mr. Sword and I still get compliments on ours a year later and I get misty-eyed thinking about how lovely a day it was.  I LOVED my wedding day.  Here’s why:

1. It was convenient. We had a perfect, gorgeous, albeit average hotel wedding but because guests were able to get ready, watch the ceremony, party all night, and sleep, all at the same location, they were able to open themselves to having the best time ever.

2. It was personalized.  We had a bagpiper and a Ceilidh band.  Our ceremony was liberal but religious.  I wore a tiara and Mr. Sword wore a kilt.  We had swords as our escort cards and beer bottles for centerpieces.

3.  It was full of love.  Even though it was 30 degrees and raining Mr. Sword and I were so elated to be getting married.  If you’re in love and content and comfortable, your guests will see that and it will spread everywhere.  Of course not everything went as planned (remember when my MOH and bridesmaid got stuck in an elevator?) but our family and friends were so amazing and everyone had such a good time that all I could do was smile.  You don’t need Chiavari chairs (we had ugly ballroom ones), expensive, fancy food (we served chicken), favors or bathroom baskets (OK, so we had both of those but you don’t need them), to have a perfect wedding.

Congrats and happy planning everybody!!  I may not post often but I still love reading Weddingbee!

PS I’d love for all of you to follow my new blog, Drama Happens.  It’s a relationship-focused blog where topics include but are not limited to embarrassing stories from my life, interviews from people in those culturally not-so-typical relationships, pregnancy updates, puke, my sister, bump photos, and Mr. Sword.

Until the next time,

xoxo,

Stephanie

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The Swords Live Happily Ever After

It all started on the eve of Thanksgiving 2009.  I met a drunk Scottish guy and I gave him my phone number with the instructions, “I don’t call boys, boys call me.”  A phrase that haunts me still, but believe me, I didn’t mean it the way it sounds!  I was merely expressing my nervousness at my calling him.

He did call and our first date was lunch and window shopping down Michigan Ave in Chicago.  It was amazing.  By June of 2010 I was on a plane leaving the country for the very first time to visit his home in Scotland.   He proposed on February 19th, 2012 at the top of the John Hancock Building and we were wed on March 9th, 2013.  Now we live in the Kansas City area but our ultimate goal is to raise a family in Minnesota.  (Speaking of, go Minnesota for passing a same-sex marriage bill back in May; you make me proud!  Number 12 baby.)

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I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in a big wedding bubble when you’re deep in the middle of planning.  I know that some people in real life have lovingly and not-so-lovingly called me wedding-obsessed and/or crazy, but if I’m going to be crazy about one thing, it’s love. I will always cherish and enjoy weddings.  They represent beginnings, blending of families, and unfiltered bliss.

If I may indulge in one last piece of advice, here are my three best tips for a stunning and fabulous wedding:

1. Personalize, personalize, personalize.

2. Think like a guest.

3. Go for the deal!  (Life is short.  And if you can save ten bucks per head by having a March wedding in Minnesota then go for it, because April will not be any better weather-wise.)

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Blogging for this community has been such a rich blessing for me as a woman, a writer, and especially a bride.  To all of you who have followed my journey since the beginning, I commend you!  (I realize I can be a bit verbose at times.)  To the blogger friends I’ve made along the way, thank you for your amazing support.  To those of you who kept it real with me, your opinions were always appreciated as was the reminder that I can’t possibly please everyone.

From the moment I woke up after a vivid dream with the words “A Highland Fairy Tale” in my head, to the day it was all so beautifully executed, I’ve had a blast.  Mr. Sword, you are the most amazing man I know.  Our wedding was perfect because our relationship is solid and a happy, loving couple is all anyone should expect at a wedding.  I look forward to many more special moments with you as my husband.

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HOLD ON A SEC… who is that sneaking into our family photo???  Oh yes, that’s our new baby girl.  She’s a one year old hound mix with a brindle coat and she’s kind of amazing.  We got her from a shelter in mid-August and we LOVE being doggie parents.  Should we call her our dagger or just a small sword?

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Her name is McKenna.  Of course it’s a Scottish name because that’s exactly something I would do.  Isn’t she the cutest?

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I’m still planning on writing and well, being me, so if you’re so inclined, please feel free to check out my new relationship blog, Drama Happens.  I’d love to be able to share more of my life with you all!

With that, The Swords are leaving the building.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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(all photos personal)

One last thought!  The fact that I could never make a Sword in the Stone wedding reference in my year of blogging really upsets me.  Anyone got anything good?  🙂

Love,
Stephanie

Cathartic Vendor Review

At first I struggled with whether or not to review my vendors because the information is only relevant to those people getting married in Minnesota.  But being that there are not very many Weddingbee blogger bees from MN, I decided to go ahead and write the post.

The reason this is cathartic for me is because I had a bit of an issue with one of my main vendors.  I’m not sure how to handle my frustration while still being the bigger person and avoiding pointless catty comments other than to be as vague as possible while still letting it all out.

I am disappointed in how things went down with my photographer.  Sister Big Eyes’ and I shrendored her, which makes my frustrations doubly upsetting.

Our photographer is a talented artist no doubt but she was not easy to work with.  For example, my photos were late, multiple other promised deadlines were missed, and there was an overall lack of business savvy.  Days before Sister Big Eyes’ wedding there was an issue via email that could have been easily avoided with better communication.  There were misunderstandings about expectations, excuses instead of apologies, and both of us are still waiting on a part of our package, an album we were promised.

While I do love my pictures and am incredibly thankful for them, it’s hard for me to encourage others to hire her when she caused us both so much unnecessary stress, which is why I’m not linking to her website or recommending her.  (Although her information is not difficult to find if you go to any of my recaps.)

To turn this into something positive, here are a few things to remember that I wish I had known when interviewing photographers besides the usual, look at all the photos from one wedding, not just the favorites, and make sure they match your aesthetic/vision.

Picking the Right Photographer:

  • Get a timeline in the contract so that you have something to refer back to if they are late getting you your photos.
  • Ask them how many weddings they shoot per year, the lower the number the more time they will have to devote to the ones they have booked.
  • Trust your instincts, to quote Oprah quoting Maya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
  • Respect them as an artist but remember you have a right to hold them accountable as a paying client.  Be kind but firm with expectations.
  • Finally, do NOT pass their name along to someone else until AFTER you’ve had the full experience of working them.  Unless of course you’re sisters getting married within three months of each other and it makes sense for you both.  🙂

Now that the icky stuff is out of the way, let me tell you about a shrendoring experience that was the complete opposite of the last one.

Laura Westrem: A+

Sister Big Eyes’ and I shared our hair/makeup artist and I would recommend her a million times over!  She was so easy to be around and really focused on making the bride feel special and happy.  She also got to know our family pretty well from doing both weddings and she offered Sister and I discounts at both weddings.  She works really hard but still makes time to respond to emails, and was extremely accommodating of my out-of-town schedule.  If I need a hair/makeup artist in the future, I’m calling Laura.

Midwest Sound and DJ: B

The music selection at the reception was fantastic but they caused us some unnecessary stress by phoning the week of the wedding saying they couldn’t get the legal copies of TWO songs for our ceremony.  I was pretty annoyed because I had sent them our packet of song choices back in February.  The issue was resolved in time but it was still frustrating.

Embassy Suites Bloomington: A-

What can I say?  This hotel knows weddings.  The two ladies in charge are both very nice and great with responding quickly over email.  They worked with me when I had to set up meetings pretty far in advance and they answered all my questions without making me feel stupid.  A few hiccups, one they asked for a payment after I’d already given it (I almost paid them twice for the same thing but luckily we caught it), and they switched my coordinator at the last minute, and AGAIN I found out the week of the wedding.  It wasn’t a huge issue, but being that I’d only met one of the two woman, I felt very much like the rug was pulled out from under me.  Their expertise in the wedding biz came through in the end and it didn’t matter who my coordinator was, it all got done.

Also, one last thing, that doesn’t really have to do with Embassy Suites, or so we think, our bathroom baskets were stolen!  I was pretty pissed at the time, not only because those baskets were from my own house but mostly because we were going to reuse them for Sister Big Eyes’ wedding and instead we had to purchase new baskets and new items and make them all over again!  Dear people who steal bathroom baskets: you make me sad.  Drag your ass to Target and buy a Tide-to-go pen on your own dime!

The Gunn Slingers: A+++

Our Ceilidh band was the highlight of the night.  Hire them.  They rule.  Since they don’t have a website Google them to find their Facebook page or private message me for an email address.

Evan the Bagpiper: A+

He was young, sweet, talented, and on time.  He even came to our rehearsal.  Everyone loved his music.  Private message me for his email address if you want pipes for your Minnesota wedding!

Lake Harriet Florist: A

My bouquets were stunning and she worked within my meager budget.  The first and last place we went to, win win.

Videography

I can’t review or link to my videographers because they are done filming weddings and do not want inquires about them, but they rocked.  And if I ever need to film a commercial, I’m calling them.  🙂

Did you have a frustrating experience with a vendor that you need some closure on?  Is anyone else shrendoring?!?!  🙂

Rock the Frock: Sister Style

Hive, I am THRILLED to share these sister shoot photos with you.  I’ve been daydreaming about them since Sister Big Eyes told me last year that she wanted to do a photo shoot with BOTH of us in our wedding gowns.

I really want to post them without these downer disclaimers but truthfully I feel a bit self-conscious about my appearance in some of the pictures.  I’d been dancing all day at Sister’s wedding and was a bit sweaty and swollen.  Plus, for some idiotic reason I took my hair out of its side up do and it just doesn’t look right with no time or professional to fix it.  (Sorry about the whiny moment.)

That aside, these pictures are so incredibly special to me.  My Sister and I had a rough start to this wedding planning journey but in the end, there is no one in the world I’d rather have shared it with.

The location: Our parent’s backyard at their home in a southern suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

The dresses: Both Mori Lee with ruching and ruffles but hers is white, and mine is ivory.  Hers is a dropped waist, corset back, and beading.  Mine is a fit-n-flare with zip up and buttons down the back.

The men: Both of them officially our husbands now!  We actually hauled Mr. Sword’s kilt ensemble all the way from Chicago for this short shoot but it was totally worth it!

Strike…a…pose!

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This one is just of Mr. Sword and myself because we wanted a picture highlighting his sword cuff links.

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After we sent the guys away it was time for some sisters only bridal portraits.  We had such a blast!

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Veils?  Yes please.  And not just to cover up my sunburn from Sister’s ceremony earlier that day…

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This next one has a good view of the differences in our bodices.

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Would you ever do a photo shoot with another bride, a sister, or friend, or otherwise?  I 100% recommend it!

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Fake Out Our Guests

From the second we got engaged I KNEW what our first dance song would be.  “Raise Your Glass” by Pink.  I know, I know, its super mainstream and popular and oh wait, it’s not a slow song!

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That didn’t bother us in the slightest.  Instead of starting with Pink’s song, we would begin by slow dancing to another favorite song (“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri) for about 45 seconds before having the DJ cut off the music completely.  At which point we’d look around confused until he started playing “Raise Your Glass” and then of course we were gonna bust a move.  But how did Pink’s song become our song?  For that story we have to go back to when we first started dating.

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At the beginning of our relationship Mr. Sword and I lived on separate sides of Chicago.  If you know Chicago you will understand that on a good day it took me 35 minutes to get there by car, and an hour on bad days, and since he didn’t have a vehicle Mr. Sword relied on the CTA which meant an hour and a half minimum.  Needless to say, we spent our entire weekends together, usually staying at his place in Wicker Park.  Unless one of us had a friend in town.

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This particular weekend honor attendant and bestie H was in town to visit me.  This meant no crashing with Mr. Sword and to my then boyfriend this also meant going out drinking with his buddies til the wee hours of the morning.

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Late that night after H and I were settled in and sleeping I got a call on my cell phone from Mr. Sword.  It was something like 3 AM and I felt bad that he had woken up H but she encouraged me to answer to make sure everything was OK.  Well he was drunk and told me he just wanted to leave me a message.  So after a quick goodnight I hung up and let him call back and then promptly fell back asleep.

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I woke up the next morning and listened to his message but there was nothing there.  It sounded all muffled and weird.  I’m thinking, “what the hell is going on?”  This static noise goes on for a minute or so and then I hear “raise your glass” being whispered by Mr. Sword and then later I hear him say, “Oh Shit.”  It’s the part of “Raise Your Glass” where Pink says her glass is empty.  I finally realize what he was doing and I start laughing hysterically.  I explain to H that whenever we would go out together and Mr. Sword would come home too wired to sleep we would listen to music while laying in bed sharing one ear bud each.  Well, this time, Mr, Sword had drunkenly put the ear bud up to his cell phone in the hopes that I would be able to hear it and share a song with him before bed even though we weren’t in the same place.  Awww!

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Too bad it didn’t work out that way!

"My glass is empty! That sucks."

“My glass is empty! That sucks.”

Now whenever H hears “Raise Your Glass” she thinks of us and that night and when I thought of dancing with my husband at our wedding I knew our favorite Pink song would be perfect!  Because, hey, we’re all wrong in the right ways sometimes.

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Dirty little freaks.

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We invited our bridal party to join us for the last chorus and it was such a rush to have them invade the dance floor.  I wish I could relive that moment over and over again!

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Such a great way to start the party. Raise your glass!

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Is anyone else planning a more unique first dance, maybe a fake out, maybe choreographed?

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Skipped some of the Sword saga?  It’s OK, catch up today!

Pre-Wedding
Teaser video!
Final preparations, snow, and tears!
Ladies’ Luncheon!
Elevators of anxiety!
Rehearsing and screaming!
Burgers and surprises!
Kisses at midnight!

The Big Day
Bacon for bridal baby!
Hair and makeup!
Men in kilts!
Tiara and bouquet!
Becoming a bride!
Champagne toasts!
First look!
Cold couple portraits!
The Swords with swords!
The men pose!
The women pose!
Altogether now!
Elevator madness!
Big reveal!
Family photos!
Posing with our flower girl!
True Scotsman indeed!

Ceremony
People processing!
Bridal cry/laugh walk!
Ceremony readings!
Vows and handfasting!
Receiving line!

Reception
Cocktail hour!
The pretty details!
Grand entrances!
We get roasted!
Parent dances!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Promise (Ceremony Part Two)

If you missed Part One of the Sword ceremony, click here.

After her message, Pastor P began the vows and I handed my bouquet to MOH Big Eyes and turned to face my soon-to-be husband.  This photo of the atrium during our ceremony makes me weak in the knees, so lovely.

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Did you notice the people on the top floor watching the ceremony?  We quite a few onlookers during our wedding but luckily no shouting!  I saw later that some people had been sitting in lawn chairs and drinking beers from a cooler, hilarious.  Love it.

Pastor P:

You have chosen each other to be your lifetime partner, to share all your hopes and dreams, your love and commitment, so as it is your intention to make this commitment by entering into marriage, I invite you now to join hands as you share your promises and your wedding vows.

Do you Mr. Sword, take Mrs. Sword, to be your wedded wife? And do you solemnly promise, before God and these witnesses, that you will love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, and be faithful to her, as long as you both shall live?

Mr. Sword:  I do.

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Mrs. Sword do you take Mr. Sword, to be your wedded husband? And do you solemnly promise, before God and these witnesses, that you will love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, and be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?

Mrs. Sword:  I do.

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Since you have shared your desire to join together as husband and wife and made these promises to one another, I now ask you to please repeat after me your wedding vows that you have written for each other:

Quick note on the vows, I actually wrote both sets and you’ll notice they are very similar for the most part but in some cases I changed a few words.  For example, Mr. Sword enjoys my passion for life while I enjoy his patience for life.

In case you’re thinking of personalizing your own (which I highly recommend), I wrote our vows after asking Mr. Sword a series of questions that you can find HERE.  It was important for me to know his thoughts first, but as the writer in our relationship he was more than happy to have me take the reins on this part of the ceremony.  He did have to edit and “OK” them of course!

Pastor P fed us each line split up in parts because she didn’t want us memorizing them but in hindsight, I wish we would have read them from a piece of paper so they could have flowed better (or maybe that’s just the writer in me over-scrutinizing?)

I guess it was nice to just stare into each other’s eyes to and hold hands.  🙂  Vows are in bold because, they’re the VOWS.  ha.  And I won’t write them twice, but we were repeating Pastor P each time:

Mr. Sword’s vows to me:

Mrs. Sword, from the moment I met you I knew you were someone who would fill my life with joy.

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You are my favorite person because of your passion for life and your ability to laugh at yourself.

Today I vow to always respect your opinions, to encourage your dreams, and to build a future with you.

I promise to give you the freedom to change and be supportive when you do.

I promise to love your family as my own and visit them often, no matter how cold it gets. (this line got a nice laugh!)

I promise to try and make you laugh when you cry over important and unimportant things. (chuckles as everyone knows I cry A LOT)

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I promise to be both forgiving and to ask for forgiveness often.

I promise to keep God present in our relationship and to always be thankful for you. (Apparently I mouthed “Thank you.” to Mr. Sword after this line and it brought honor attendant C Fri to tears.  We are an open book for the most part so everyone knew how much this meant to me to have him vow to keep God present in our relationship.)

I promise to be your faithful husband, loving and equal partner and our biggest fan.

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Marrying you is my dream come true.

———————-

My vows to him:

Mr. Sword, from the moment I met you I knew you were someone who would fill my life with joy.

You are my favorite person because of patience for life and your ability to laugh at yourself.

Today I vow to always respect your opinions, to encourage your dreams, and to build a future with you.

I promise to give you freedom to change and be supportive when you do.

I promise to love your family as my own and fly to Scotland often even though I’m a terrible traveler. (Insert HUGE laugh here, thanks everybody, I know, I suck at traveling!)

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I promise to laugh after I cry at both important and unimportant things. (This line was actually omitted by accident because I think Pastor P forgot to add it her script and I only realized it after writing this post!)

I promise to be both forgiving and to ask for forgiveness often.

I promise to keep God present in our relationship and to always be thankful for you.

I promise to be your faithful wife, loving and equal partner, and our biggest fan.

Marrying you is my dream come true.

Pastor P:

The wedding ring is offered as a symbol of love freely given; it is a visible sign of the love and commitment a husband and wife share with each other. The circle of the ring is unending, just as your love is unending. It is freely given, just a you give your lives to one another without reservation. It is worn proudly as you are pleased to share your own relationship with all those in your lives. It is worn in reverence as a gift from God just as God blesses you as you wear this ring.

So Mrs. and Mr. Sword, receive these rings as a sign of the love and affection you share for each other, and wear them proudly as a symbol of your binding union.

Mr. Sword, will you take this ring and repeat after me:

Mrs. Sword, with this ring I promise to share my life with you.

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Mrs. Sword will you take this ring and repeat after me:

Mr. Sword, with this ring, I promise to share my life with you.

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Mr. and Mrs. Sword have chosen to include the Celtic tradition of handfasting into their wedding ceremony today. Handfasting is a wedding ritual in which the couples’ hands are tied together as a symbol of their lives being joined together. Mrs. and Mr. Sword, marriage forms eternal and sacred bonds. The promises made today bind your lives together as these cords hold your hands together.

Please join hands as you make these pledges:

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Mrs. and Mr. Sword, with this first cord, will you honor and respect one another, and seek to never break that honor?  (We will.)

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With this second cord, will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?  (We will.)

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With this third cord, will you share the burdens of each other so that your spirits may grow in this union?  (We will.)

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With this fourth cord, will you share each other’s laughter, and look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?  (We will.)

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Mrs. and Mr. Sword, as your hands are now bound together, so your lives are joined in a union of love and trust The knots of this binding symbolize the vows you have made. Like the stars, your love should be a constant source of light, and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.

May these cords of love remain forever symbolically tied, and may these hands be blessed. May they always be held by one another. May they have the strength to hold on tightly during the storms of life May they remain tender and gentle as they nurture each other. May these hands build a relationship of love, caring, and devotion. May you see each other’s hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide.

Quick note on the handfasting, we simply Googled different ideas until we found a nice frame of questions we liked and had Pastor P tweak it a bit.  We chose to do four cords to correspond with the four questions, two were purchased from JoAnn’s and two were made from our family tartan by Boss Lady.

Mrs. and Mr. Sword as you now have pledged your love and faith to each other, before your friends and family; and have sealed your vows of marriage by the exchange of your rings and the binding of your hands, it is my joy and privilege to declare that you are husband and wife, according to the authority entrusted to me through God and the laws of this state… Will you pray with me…

Mr. and Mrs. Sword may God smile upon you and grant you His love mingled with yours so that it may always be strong and good. May you know God’s blessings in all your days and years ahead as you grow together in friendship and love, and may you weather life’s storms guided by God’s Spirit so that your life may be filled with abundant joy!

At this point we each grabbed two of the four handfasting cords, one tartan and one rope, and presented them to our parents with hugs and thank-yous.  It was a special moment to honor them and now they each have a part of the ceremony they can display in their home (although how does one display handfasting cords!?!).

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Pastor P:

Mr. Sword, You may now Kiss your Bride!  (WHOO-HOO!!)

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(We really took our time and enjoyed our first kiss.)

It now gives me great pleasure to present to you, Mr. Sword and Mrs. Sword Hislastname!

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And with that E started piping again and we recessed down the aisle followed closely by our bridal party.  I want to say our ceremony was a little less than 40 minutes long, it fit us perfectly and was just as lovely as I had imagined it would be!

I love the way Mr. Sword’s kilt looks in the photo below:

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Who else did a handfasting and/or wrote (or is writing) their own vows?  Hope you enjoyed the Sword ceremony!

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

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Skipped some of the Sword saga?  It’s OK, catch up today!

Pre-Wedding
Teaser video!
Final preparations, snow, and tears!
Ladies’ Luncheon!
Elevators of anxiety!
Rehearsing and screaming!
Burgers and surprises!
Kisses at midnight!

The Big Day
Bacon for bridal baby!
Hair and makeup!
Men in kilts!
Tiara and bouquet!
Becoming a bride!
Champagne toasts!
First look!
Cold couple portraits!
The Swords with swords!
The men pose!
The women pose!
Altogether now!
Elevator madness!
Big reveal!
Family photos!
Posing with our flower girl!
True Scotsman indeed!

Ceremony
People processing!
Bridal cry/laugh walk!
Ceremony readings!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Listen (Ceremony Part One)

All of a sudden it was time to begin our wedding ceremony and the most important part of the day.  (I’ve broken it up in two parts for your reading pleasure while still keeping everything in sequential order.)  All ceremony photos were taken in the beautiful atrium of our Embassy Suites hotel.

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We ended up taking the bones of a non-denominational Christian ceremony provided to us by Pastor P and made changes where we saw fit.  A little bit about Pastor P, she was my Pastor growing up in the Twin Cities and she guided me through my confirmation years ago when I was in 8th grade.  (Pastor P also officiated Sister Big Eyes’ wedding in June, another example of our shrendoring!)  We really enjoyed working with her and Mr. Sword was able to get to know her through our couple’s counseling sessions and many wedding planning visits to Minnesota.

Regarding the religious aspects: full disclosure here, my husband identifies as agnostic, meaning he’s open to religion and higher powers but desires more scientific proof.  The fact alone that I am a strong Christian while he is not AND we still make it work the way we do is one of the healthiest things about our relationship.  But that’s another post for a different type of blog!  🙂

And with that, I give you the first half of the Sword Ceremony:

Pastor P: Welcome friends and family. We are gathered together here in the sight of God and in the presence of this company to join together Mr. Sword and Mrs. Sword in Holy Matrimony.

 Marriage is an honorable estate, instituted by God and blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a precious relationship, not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, thoughtfully and lovingly. Mrs. Sword and Mr. Sword are standing before us today to make their commitment to one another.

 Let us hold them in our hearts and surround them with our love and affection; let us be with them in “Spirit” just as God is now present with us in Spirit to join them in marriage from this day forward.

Will you pray with me…

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O God, we are awed by the many meanings of this hour and are overjoyed by its promises. We pray that the spirit of trust, understanding and love may be with Mrs. Sword and Mr. Sword through all the years that lie ahead of them.

Whatever trials and testing may come, may they trust each other wholly, for without such trust, marriage is in name only; may they strive to understand each other always, for without understanding there is neither acceptance nor forgiveness; may they truly love each with Your unconditional love, for this is what will make their marriage strong.

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As Mr. Sword and Mrs. Sword build a new life together, may they find peace and contentment. May their times together be full of laughter and joy, and may the years ahead deal gently with them… and walking with each other one day at a time, may they find far more in life together than either of them would have found alone.

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Lord, bless this day and their lives forever, for we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together . . .

We chose to include the Lord’s Prayer using debts.  I actually struggled with how to go about including this prayer as I know many people who are either a different religion than myself (Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Church of Scotland, etc) or who are not religious at all.  In the end, the day is about us and I believe a marriage should include God, so we had the prayer. My other concern was starting it with “Our Father” because in my feminist hippie ways, I’ve really taken to my church’s way of excluding any and all gender specific language.  That said, I grew up saying, “Our Father,” so it was kept.

After the prayer everyone else was asked to sit and the parents stayed standing for the parental blessing:

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It is only fitting to include the parents of Mr. Sword and Mrs. Sword in this time for they are those who raised these two and nurtured them and helped them to be the couple they are today. The love and warmth and faith they were given will continue to grow as they establish their own family. As their parents, they have you to thank for these roots that are strong and a hope that endures. So I ask you:

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Will you, now and always, from this day forward, promise to continue to support Mr. Sword and Mrs. Sword with your love and care and prayers, upholding and strengthening their marriage. If so, answer, we will.  (We will.)

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AND NOW FOR THE READINGS!  One of the hardest decisions of the entire planning process, I’m not kidding.  Thank you again for all of your amazing ideas hive, it was really fun reading everything!  In the end we ended up going a very simple route with both readings:

Friend of the Bride J read this:

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Mrs. Sword asked me to give a short preface to how she chose this particular poem for their wedding ceremony. Mrs. Sword has been searching for THE perfect ceremony reading since she and Mr. Sword first got engaged.  The problem was she had quite a few stipulations… she wanted it to be unique, not something you’d hear at every wedding, she wanted it to have gender inclusive language, and she wanted it to be straightforward and concise.  After browsing the internet, combing through wedding blogs, and asking around for months, she started to think she’d never find anything quite right.

Then in January at her local Barnes and Noble, Mrs. Sword was perusing the Valentine’s Day themed children’s books when she found one that made her teary-eyed thinking about her favorite person.  And while it’s not the perfect reading (because she realized that didn’t exist) it’s the perfect reading for Mr. and Mrs. Sword.

You by Stephen Michael King.

The world is a colorful place-

yellow, red, blue, and all other colors.

The world is colored with big things, small things, and all sorts of things.

But the most colorful part of my world is… YOU.

The world is a musical place,

with high notes, low notes, and all the notes in between.

But the most musical part of my world is… YOU.

The world is an exciting place,

with ups, downs, around and arounds, and far, far aways.

But the most exciting place in my world

is with…

YOU.

While J was reading, I started crying.  It was such an intense feeling and the words really hit home.  MOH Big Eyes stepped in to dry my eyes while I clutched Mr. Sword’s hand.

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In between the two readings my beautiful and talented Sister/MOH sang a song I had picked out early on in our engagement. “Crazy Dreams” performed my Megan Hilty in the TV show Smash.

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Honor Attendant H played the lovely accompaniment on keyboard.  I’m lucky to know such talented people!

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“Crazy Dreams” couldn’t be more fitting for Mr. Sword and I.  It’s really, truly crazy that a girl from Minnesota would ever meet a guy from Scotland in a bar in Chicago of all places. Plus, its no surprise I love anything fairy tale- related!

I love this pic of Mom Sword watching Sister Big Eyes singing:

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Cousin of the Groom J read this:

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Scottish Wedding Prayer

Lord help us to remember when
we first met and the strong
love that grew between us.
To work that love into
practical things so that nothing
can divide us.
We ask for words both kind
and loving and hearts always
ready to ask forgiveness
as well as to forgive.
Dear Lord, we put our
marriage into your hands.

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A Scottish Wedding prayer, of course! Such a no-brainer when it finally dawned on me on how perfect this reading was for us.  Plus, Cousin J appreciated its short length.  🙂

Pastor P:

Mrs. Sword and Mr. Sword have chosen for their scripture reading today a passage from the Old Testament, from Ecclesiastes chapter 4: verses 9-12:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie down together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A three-fold cord is not quickly broken.”

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(Picking a gender-neutral, inclusive, non-offensive, uplifting, wedding-related scripture from the Bible was extremely difficult.  But this one talks about a cord and hints to our handfasting later on.  It was perfect for us and maybe it can work for your ceremony too!)

After the scripture Pastor P went into her homily or message.  I’m not going to include it here for two reasons, 1) This post is already insanely long and 2) It’s personal to us and it won’t be much help in formulating a wedding ceremony for anyone else.

Part Two of the ceremony continues next with vows, the handfasting, and our first kiss as husband and wife!  🙂

Anyone surprised at our choice of readings?  What will you have read in your ceremony?

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Sword Wedding footer FINAL

Skipped some of the Sword saga?  It’s OK, catch up today!

Pre-Wedding
Teaser video!
Final preparations, snow, and tears!
Ladies’ Luncheon!
Elevators of anxiety!
Rehearsing and screaming!
Burgers and surprises!
Kisses at midnight!

The Big Day
Bacon for bridal baby!
Hair and makeup!
Men in kilts!
Tiara and bouquet!
Becoming a bride!
Champagne toasts!
First look!
Cold couple portraits!
The Swords with swords!
The men pose!
The women pose!
Altogether now!
Elevator madness!
Big reveal!
Family photos!
Posing with our flower girl!
True Scotsman indeed!

Ceremony
People processing!
Bridal cry/laugh walk!