The Big Bad Budget Post- Sword Edition

I want to start this post with a collective groan (ullllhhh) because it’s all about wedding budgets and money.  I’m going to share our real figures accurately as possible, aside from rounding up or down to keep things easier.  (I hate math.)

Obviously, some of you might be like, “HOLY SH&T MRS. SWORD, you spent that much on one day?!?!?”  And some of you might be like, “Wow, that’s barely anything.  My entire budget is two or three times that.”

But hopefully most of you have less extreme reactions to our budget and can find something that relates to your own wedding.  Everyone’s situation is unique to them, and we all know there are two major things that affect the cost of a wedding: location and budget.  That being said, here is the Sword nitty-gritty.

Mr. Sword and I got married in Bloomington, MN in the County of Hennepin (much to the dismay of many of our friends who wanted an excuse to take a trip to Scotland).  I went to this Cost of Wedding website for more information on the average budget for someone getting married in this area.

Average Cost of Wedding in Hennepin County, MN: Between $20,732 and $34,553, with most couples not spending over 10,000 dollars.

The Sword’s Wedding Budget Goal: $25,000

Total Cost of A Highland Fairy Tale: $28,267

For a grand total of 3,267 dollars over budget, we’ll take it!  🙂

Who Contributed: 1/3 Mrs. Sword’s parents, 1/3 Mr. Sword’s parents, 1/3 the Swords themselves.  It was a group effort!

The Budget Breakdown:

Rehearsal Dinner at Cowboy Jack’s: $1,500 (this includes burgers and a drink for about 70 people and Mr. Sword’s tres leches groom’s cake)

Bridal Attire (including alterations, jewelry, and shoes): $1,300

Groom’s Attire (including custom-made kilt from Scotland and accessories): $2,000

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YES, we spent more on Mr. Sword than me!  Love it.

6 yards extra fabric of family named tartan that is really one-of-a-kind and was used multiple times: $645.00

personal photo

personal photo

Flowers: $550 (five bouquets and four corsages)

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Centerpieces: $285 (this is just what we spent, Mom Sword spent more finishing them up)


Venue and Catering: $11,000 (this includes three sections of the ballroom and all that comes with them, one hour open bar, plated dinner for all guests, beer, wine, signature drinks, soda, late night snack, draping behind sweetheart table, purple uplighting, and the cake)

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Atrium rental fee for ceremony: $500

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Officiant: $275

Marriage License: $40 (MN charges $115 unless you show proof of premarital counseling which lowers it to 40 bucks)

Bagpiper: $250

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Photography: $2,160 (after a discount for finding her through a blog)

Videography: $2,300 (for four separately edited films- trailer, full video, ceremony, and Best Man Speech)

Ceilidh Band: $550 (for one hour of playing)

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DJ (including glow sticks, extra lighting, and lapel mic rental): $1,040

Wedding band hers: $600 (white gold)

Wedding band his: $210 (tungsten)

Hair and Makeup: $200 (for a trial and the day of, which was super discounted, I love my girl!)

Hair Extensions: $170 (have worn them a total of four times so far and plan on wearing them again in the future, so worth it!)

personal photo

personal photo

Gifts for bridal party and family: approx. $1,000 (which sounds scary but that is split between 20 people which equals roughly around 50 bucks a person, seems reasonable to me)

Shortbread favors for guests: $115

Invitations and STD’s: $642

Sorry for the blurs!

Sorry for the blurs!

Storybook Guestbook: $90

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Crafting supplies, OOTG bags, stamps, and other misc: $500 (most of which was spent at JoAnn’s)

personal photos

personal photos

Tips for vendors: $370

Accommodations: $260 (for two nights, one before wedding, and one after, wedding night was complimentary)

Sword escort card display: Gifted by Mom Sword


Pre-wedding Mani/Pedi: Gifted by BM L Dawg

Not Included Costs: Honeymoon and engagement ring.  We feel those two items are separate from our wedding budget.

What We Skipped:

Transportation:  One stop shop wedding meant we didn’t need to transport guests at all.  The hotel had a shuttle that ran people to and from the airport as well as the Mall of America.  When we went off-site for photos we had family and friends drive us.

Chair Covers:  Ah, yea, didn’t miss ’em.

Photo Booth: A good wedding trend, but one I had no desire to indulge in.  Our dance party reception was a hit without it.

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography unless otherwise noted.

Phew!  Hope this post was informative and interesting at the same time.  Tomorrow I’m going to share my vendor reviews and then it’s time for The Swords to say goodbye.  😦

Custom-Made Shoes In Review

Remember how I bought a pair of custom designed shoes from a shop on Etsy three and a half months before my wedding?  Well, I did.  I had a great experience with the owner of the shop and I paid 200 dollars for my gorgeous crystal-covered, tartan highlighted heels.

Wedding stuff and Museum Jan. 2013 037

Wedding stuff and Museum Jan. 2013 039

I know many members of the hive were interested in my shoe journey and I wanted to update you all on how my shoes are doing post-wedding.  I wish I could say my shoes look as amazing as they did when I first received them, but unfortunately, the rainy weather gave them a beating on our wedding day.  The painted eggplant soles took the brunt of it.


However, the fabric had a rough time as well and was left stained from the rain (even though I did spray them with a weather sealer beforehand).  Perhaps I should have used something heavier and/or sprayed them multiple times?


I’m also missing quite a few crystals from the base of the shoe.


This little problem actually began weeks before the wedding day.  I was hell-bent on making my heels as comfortable as possible so I attempted to wear and walk around in them for quite a few consecutive days in a row for fifteen minutes at a time.  I walked up and down our hallway A LOT and then the week of the wedding I noticed that about 7 or 8 crystals had fallen off my shoes.  I’m not sure how normal this is, but I didn’t have to time to get too upset.  Instead, I went to JoAnn’s and bought some crystals and a little device that helped me glue them to the shoe.

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I started to get nervous about losing more crystals so I decided to sit while wearing my shoes to stretch them out without damaging them further.  Every time I put them on they fit more easily and comfortably!

This looks like a bizarre beer ad.

This looks like a bizarre beer ad.

My technique definitely worked too!  I wore my wedding heels from 11:30 AM until it was 7:30 PM and time to switch shoes for the dancing portion of the evening.  Luckily this classy moment was captured.

Could I look anymore like a spoiled princess?!?!

Could I look anymore like a spoiled princess?!?!

I have the BEST friends in the world!  They helped me into my gold strappy heels while I stuffed my face with our wedding cake.  Amazing.

I can think of two big questions in regards to custom-designed wedding shoes:

1) Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  My shoes are divine and I had a fabulous day in them (despite the miserable weather).  I can’t wait to see them in my professional photos and I’m still happy I splurged to make my shoe dream come true when I could’t find what I was looking for in the stores.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get them all fixed up so I can wear them again one day!

2) Would you recommend it to someone else?  Probably not, because you might want shoes you can wear over and over again or you might think 200 dollars is outrageous to spend on one pair.  This route is not for everyone, but if you really want your shoes to be different or unique and you need the help of a professional then I’d definitely say go for it!

(all photos personal)

Would you order custom-designed shoes for your wedding day?  Anyone else’s wedding heels get mangled in bad weather?

The Monumental Task That is Gifting Everyone

It’s time to discuss gifts in this photo heavy post!  I tried to be concise but I also wanted to squeeze it into one post so bear with me and hopefully you’ll get some ideas for gifts for your family or bridal party!

First, three tips:  1) Shop early.  You know you’ll need gifts so no need to wait until the last month.   2) Make a list of everyone you want to thank early so you don’t forget anyone.  3) A theme can help guide your gifting.

Here are the gifts we bought for those involved with the Sword Wedding starting with the ladies!

Bridesmaids and Honor Attendants: Dressing for the wedding.

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The first decision I made was to gift them their jewelry for the wedding (including the infamous tartan necklace which is not pictured in the photo above and a pair of earrings), and from there I added a black scarf/wrap to keep them warm during outdoor photos.  I also added a lip plumper lipstick from Victoria’s Secret, plus notebooks for the maids and mugs for the honor attendants.

My favorite piece that we gave the ladies was their custom-made reusable tote bags found on Etsy (which you’ll soon notice is a theme with me.)

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I absolutely loved them and would definitely recommend them except I didn’t care for the bows they came with, they seemed too pink and too lacy for our wedding.

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Luckily I already had something else in mind.

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Corresponding princess key chains for each girl!

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Ahh, much better.  I also wanted to get a little something extra for my Sister/MOH Big Eyes to thank her for all her help with our wedding so I went back to Etsy and found this bracelet that had a quote engraved on it from the movie Beauty and the Beast, which is fitting because MOH’s princess identity is Belle.  It says, “I want much more than this provincial life.”  Lovely.

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Groomsmen: Cheers, I’ll drink to that!

This group was easy.  A personalized flask seemed to be the perfect gift for our favorite alcohol-loving men.  I make them sound like a bunch of drunks, but that’s not entirely true.  They just enjoy their libations.  We went to Things Remembered for these and were thrilled with the results.  It’s too blurred to tell but we added each guy’s name and the wedding date, as well “Best Man” for our Best Man.

flasks edited

We also had to throw in a reference to the Chicago Bears as Mr. Sword is a HUGE fan.  I know it seems weird that a Scotsman cares about American football as much as Mr. Sword does but he actually grew up watching NFL in Glasgow with his Dad.  So we went with the drinking theme and got them each a Bears key chain bottle opener.

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Parents: New family member, more love.

I was on the hunt for something different you guys!  I wanted to give the parents something besides a frame.  But when I went to Mom Sword and asked her what she wanted she said point blank, “A frame.”  GAH!  So it was back to Things Remembered with their awesome engraving skills to pick up two gorgeous frames that we will eventually be filled with wedding pictures.  No I.O.U’s included, for some reason they bother me!

frames edited

The names have been edited out but the champagne colored frame is for Mr. Sword’s parents and has his name first, and the silver one is for my parents and it has my name first.  Aren’t we clever?  And of course we included the wedding date!

To supplement the frames we found these beautiful necklaces from Etsy which say “thank you for raising the woman/man of my dreams.”  My heart melted when I first saw them and I just knew they’d be perfect for our moms!  Even if they hardly wear them, they’ll be a sweet reminder of the wedding day and carry such beautiful sentiment.

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Finally, the Dads had to get a little something extra so we went back to Da Bears theme and found these t-shirts!  Dad Sword is a Vikings fan through and through but he’s already worn his Bears shirt once because he likes his son-in-law that much!

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Flower Girl: One of a kind.

Having only one flower girl made it so I could go a bit crazy on Littlest C and not worry about having to buy duplicates, so that’s what I did!  We bought her a book that has multiple pages for adding photos from the wedding and for journal-ling memories and specific details as well as pockets to store the actual petals that she dropped during the ceremony.  (Are you crying yet?)  I also gifted Littlest C her wedding day jewelry like I did for the rest of the bridal party, and the best gift of all, (thank you Etsy, yes, AGAIN), has to be the personalized handkerchief i ordered for her with this inscription on it: Today you are young but the years will quickly pass by And soon you’ll be a bride in the blink of an eye.  So here is something for that time when you will say I need something old for my wedding day.  Cue my sobbing!

Flower Girl book can be found here on Amazon.  Totally worth it!

Flower Girl book can be found here on Amazon. Totally worth it!

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Ushers: Electronic Thank yous.

All four ushers (three cousins and nanny kid Big C) received a gift card, a movie, and of course their piece of tartan, the bow tie.  For my girl cousin usher, she received her bow tie in the form of a hair clip.  Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of their beautiful ties!

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This is getting really long so I’m going to stop with the pictures but I want to mention we also chose to thank our two readers for reading, my cousin for walking our remembrance flowers down the aisle, Boss Lady for making all of the beautiful tartan pieces, and FBIL for playing guitar during cocktail hour.  These gifts ranged from jewelry to gift cards but we definitely put thought into each and every one of them!

And don’t forget to write a personalized thank you note to go with each gift because sometimes that means more than the gift itself.  Mr. Sword and I sort of split up the thank you cards because I wanted us both to take part in this process.  Even though Mr. Sword complains about writing he’s actually pretty good at it!  🙂

(all photos personal and many of these gifts can be found clicking on the provided links)

Have you finished up buying your gifts for everyone?  Any amazing gift ideas that you want to add to the list?

Hi My Name is Miss Sword and I Can’t Stop Shopping For the Honeymoon

Gah!  There, I said it!  Glad it’s out in the open.  We are so close to the wedding now and I am so excited to be getting married but since we’re so close to the wedding that means we’re also close to our Caribbean honeymoon and suddenly everything I see in the stores is A MUST HAVE!

The Swords will be going back to their regularly scheduled life after the wedding because we purposely wanted to give ourselves a few weeks in between the wedding and the ‘moon.  We thought it would be nice to have some time to unwind in between, as well as have something fun to look forward to post-wedding.  Another big selling point with waiting until the beginning of April was coinciding our trip with my nanny kiddos’ spring break so Boss Lady could take her vacation while she was sans nanny.

In case you’re wondering why I never talk about where we’re going it’s because I have no clue where we are going!  Read this post to catch up, but basically Mr. Sword booked the entire honeymoon by himself, making the big decisions like which island, which resort, which flights, which package, etc.  It was something he was excited about planning, and it was something I was excited about that didn’t have to be on my list!

Back to the shopping… I started off with a big purchase thanks to my tax refund money and a huge sale at Kate Spade.  Isn’t this the perfect handbag for a beach-y vacation?

Unfortunately it's all sold out at Kate Spade but you find here on Amazon

Unfortunately it’s all sold out at Kate Spade but you find it here on Amazon

Then there’s this maxi dress I found at a store called 2b in the Woodfield Mall.  I was shopping for a bridal shower dress and I literally did a double take.  I could totally picture myself wearing this on our honeymoon so I snapped it up.  My particular dress has a different floral pattern on the bottom but you get the idea from this picture.

image via 2b

image via 2b, currently unavailable

I also proceeded to purchase a pair of sandals, some cheap Old Navy flip-flops, and two other dresses over the course of the last few weeks.  I told Mr. Sword I’m just in shopping mode right now!  Coming off of buying lots of wedding gifts for our families and bridal party, I just can’t stop!  I’m also shopping for clothes for him since Mr. Sword has the least amount of summer appropriate clothing of anyone I’ve ever known.

I can also attribute my splurging to the fact that I’m just so excited to go somewhere tropical and warm for the first time!  I live in the Midwest and I vacation in Minnesota, Scotland or NYC.  I’ve been to Florida once when I was 10 years old, and LA once with a few girlfriends 4 years ago. That’s it!  Contrary to the snowy place we live, Mr. Sword and I absolutely LOVE the heat.  You’ll never find us complaining during the summer.  (For the record, my opinion is you can complain about EITHER the freezing cold winters OR the sticky humidity filled summers, you cannot whine about both, pick a side people!)  I choose to complain when it’s cold outside and I can’t wait to go south and sweat glisten for two weeks straight!  YES!

Finally just this weekend after stopping off for my favorite drink, an iced grande skinny vanilla latte, (yes I still drink those when it’s 20 degrees out and I’m wearing mittens) I went by our local Aldo store and picked up this beauty.

It was on sale for five bucks, how could I say no?

It was on sale for five bucks, how could I say no?

The odd part is I don’t own a single hat, and I never wear them!  In our family, there are two types of women, the ones that look good in hats, and the ones that don’t look good them.  I’m officially trying to change teams on this vacation.

Caribbean, here we come!  We’ll be easy to spot as I’m positive we’ll be the two whitest people on the beach.  🙂

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Did you find yourself shopping a ton before your honeymoon?  Any tips on what you think are some Caribbean MUST HAVES?

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?


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?

What Miss Sword Will Do to Save Money

I know I’m sort of rounding the last lap on the way to my wedding date, and at less than three months away is sort of an odd time to talk about saving money (as most of the big bills are coming up), but alas I was prompted by the weather so I’m going to go with it.

This past weekend Minnesota had a nice-sized snowfall.  The photo below was taken at the MSP airport where lots of flights were cancelled due to severe weather conditions.  I guess it snowed like 10-12 inches around the Twin Cities and close to 16 in other areas up north.

image via

image via

Now there is nothing weird about this.  It snows quite a bit during the wintertime in Minnesota.  And you’re only a true Minnesotan if you’ve driven at NIGHT in a BLIZZARD by YOURSELF in what I like to call my “near death experience.”  This is much like the theory that you’re not a true Chicagoan until you’ve had your car broken into (twice myself and most recently MOH/Sister Big Eyes was also initiated into Chicago the same weekend as my Hen Do even though she doesn’t live here).  The snowiest months for Minnesota are usually December to March.

What does this have to do with saving money you ask?  I’m saving a pretty large chunk of money by hosting a rather large event (AKA my wedding) in early March (one of the previously mentioned snowy months). It’s actually a really good deal, and a deal that wasn’t available just few weeks later in April.  You know how hotels and other wedding venues charge for everything per head?  We are getting ten dollars off per person which is HUGE if you’re inviting 150+ people.

Thanks to our awesome venue, The Embassy Suites, we’re going with a package deal, so our amount not only includes a plated meal for everyone, but also our cake, centerpieces (which we took as a credit because we’re making our own), a full hour of free drinks/butler-passed hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour, a hotel room for the bride and groom, and a gift opening room for the following morning.  This package also comes with a recommended DJ and ability to rent the atrium space for the ceremony at 500 dollars.  At the risk of repeating myself, we are adding on to our package with kegs of beer, wine, two signature drinks, purple lighting, draping around the sweetheart table, and the DJ for both ceremony and reception.

Outside our beautiful hotel at a great photo opp, wearing a sundress because it's August.

Outside our beautiful hotel at a great photo opp, wearing a sundress because it’s August.

One stop shop has been my motto since the beginning but it’s going to be a sucky motto if there is a big snow fall the weekend of our wedding and our guests are unable to make it!  I know the weather can be issue anywhere in the world, what with hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, heat waves, and other things that can put a damper on wedding plans, but adding to the winter weather we also have a lot of guests flying or driving in from out-of-town.  Hello Scotland, Canada, Illinois, New York, Virginia, and North Dakota!

Truth is, I wanted a lot of traditional elements, such as a plated sit-down dinner, a large dance floor, and the ability to have my out-of-town guests crash at the same location as the wedding.  To get all of these things we had to compromise on something and that something was time of year.

I have no idea if I’ll get beautiful sunlit pictures outside with Mr. Sword and our bridal party or if it will be snowing/raining/sleeting with a dark sky and ground covered in sludge.  I have no idea if the weather will remain calm enough for all of our guests’ travels or if someone people will have to forgo the trip due to road closures or flight cancellations.  Will there be beautiful snow-capped trees in the background or naked branches flinging about in rough winds?  Who knows?  The average temperature in March can range from 20-40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The weather is not something I can control.  Unfortunately, sometimes my emotions are also something I cannot control.  Bazinga.  (Can you tell I love the Big Bang Theory?)

I wanted to have the wedding of my dreams and still stay within our agreed upon budget.  Hence, March.  I guess we’ll see what happens.  🙂

I wanna hear from the Northern brides out there!  Did you have a winter wedding?  How did it go?  Did you have lots of guests flying in as well?  Anyone else having a wedding in March where the weather is a bit unpredictable?

Black Friday Wedding Day Jewelry

I am so happy to report that I have found my bridal earrings and THREE options for bridal bracelets!  And you’re not gonna believe the deal I got on them!

To back track a bit, Mr. Sword and I spent the entire Thanksgiving holiday weekend alone, just the two of us, making a turkey and a few side dishes, assembling and addressing our wedding invites, decorating our apartment for Christmas, and basically just relaxing together (before he had to leave again for workshops in England-boo!!).  It was the perfect long weekend that also included the terror that is Black Friday Shopping.

Yes, I know, excessive consumerism =  bad, and Black Friday can be a waste of time, and a bit crazy.  But guess what?  I actually enjoy shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’ve been doing it with the women in my family since I was little and it gives me sweet memories of all us out shopping in Fargo, ND.  Sigh.  Or maybe it’s the awesome deals?  Because deals = good.  And I love buying anything 50-60 percent off! Or more!

Since I couldn’t find another more shopping-inclined friend to go with me on Black Friday, the always awesome and easy-going Mr. Sword accompanied me instead.  And he gets a shout-out for being the BEST GUY EVER and keeping up with me all day.  He says it gets a bit boring at times, but he was really helpful in spite of that and since we both got new winter coats this year, originally 300 dollars and we both got ours for around 100, I know it wasn’t the worst experience of his life.

Now to the good stuff: I purchased two pairs of earrings (because they were so cheap and they say it’s good to have back-up) for 8 dollars a piece!  Regularly 20 dollars.  Seriously 8 dollars for my wedding day earrings!  I couldn’t believe it!  I actually first saw this style of earring a while back on a pair of clip ons and promptly fell in love.  Since then, I’ve searched for them as regular earrings in every department store I pass.  Who would have thought the first stop on our Black Friday morning was where we’d find them?

Jewelry- Wedding 005

Jewelry- Wedding 001

I also found three bracelets at three separate stores that range in price from 7 dollars to a whopping 13.40.  I mean, COME ON.  I might keep all of them!  Again, back-ups (and options) are key.  I like each one for different reasons!

Jewelry- Wedding 007

Jewelry- Wedding 009

Finally, I’m still undecided on whether or not I need a necklace.  Because now I have a tiara, sparkly earrings, and a bracelet, do I really need a 4th piece?  I don’t want to be excessively bling-y or sparkle-y…right?

Jewelry- Wedding 010

(all photos personal)

What do you all think?  Any preference on the bracelets?  I’m going to try everything with my dress at my first fitting in a few weeks.


My Wedding Dress Doesn’t fit and I Feel Crazy, but My Shower Rocked, What a Weekend Baby: 2

The second edition of my awkwardly titled series is about FLOWERS!  (This is Part One, in case you missed it.)

Back when I started planning, I was in the “I don’t know what the hell to do about flowers camp,” and was waffling between hiring someone to do my bouquets and having a friend arrange them for me.  Then there was the whole flower alternative idea floating in my head where you make flowers out of paper (thank you Miss Gray Wolf and Miss Panda for the awesome inspiration), but considering I gave up on making boutonnieres after a whole 1.5 minutes,  I think I lack both the desire and skill to DIY anything so grand.  I also decided that I’d rather have my friends simply be guests on the wedding day instead of friendors.

Consequently, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and order my flowers through a flower shop.

And boy, was it EASY.  Too easy.  In fact, maybe it was all dream.  No wait, the crappier part of the weekend most DEFINITELY happened so then all good stuff must be true as well!  🙂

My flight into the Twin Cities landed at 9:30 AM and by 10 AM I was seated at a table with BM L Dawg and meeting with C for our first appointment of the day.*

C was a dream to work with, and as L Dawg told Mom Sword, “we were a bit high maintenance” and she still gave us great customer service.  She hopped up so many times to show me flowers that I finally told her it wasn’t necessary, and she could just stay seated!

Get this Hive: I went in with ZERO inspiration photos.  BRIDE FAIL.  But it wasn’t a big deal, I did have a vision and I had a budget.

I’m actually going to share our budget with you because not only is it a great point of reference for those in the Midwest looking for flowers, but it’s also nice to know the actual numbers sometimes if only for comparison sake and curiosity!  In case you’ve forgotten, our centerpieces will be flower free, which means we only needed 5 bouquets and four corsages.

The budget Mr. Sword and I decided on pre-MN trip was 500.00 dollars for all things floral.

When we first sat down I turned to C and said, “I know very little about flowers and what they cost, but our budget is 500.00 dollars, can you help us get all that we want for that amount?”  And she said, “yes.”  Immediately, my heart soared and we got to work picking flowers.

Umm, I think I’m holding stock but don’t quote me on that!

For my bridal bouquet BM L Dawg and C helped me choose white hydrangea, ivory roses, white heather (as a nod to Mr. Sword’s Scottish culture), and mini calla lilies in eggplant as accents.

image via Fifty Flowers

I’m also incorporating some fiddlehead ferns in my bouquet to add in some darkness and drama (they are the curly-q things sticking out of the bouquet shown below).

Source: via Jessica on Pinterest

 And finally we decided to cradle the flowers in these big leaves known as aspidistra (I’d never heard of it before).  The bouquet featured below has leaves at the bottom of it that appear to be aspidistra (although hopefully they’ll be a bit darker), and this is the overall look we are going for in all of the bouquets.

image via The Flirty Guide/ Photo by Karen Hsu

Suddenly, all four wedding colors are represented in my bouquet: eggplant purple, chocolate brown, forest green, and ivory.  Insert happy bride dance here!

Cut to the maid’s bouquets.  Since the bridesmaids are wearing the color eggplant…

Thank you MOH Big Eyes for modeling

it didn’t make sense to have their bouquets dark purple as well, so instead they are going to have a mixture of different shades of purple flowers (I love purple so much), ranging from really pale to lavender to the  dark eggplant calla lilies like in my bouquet.  MOH/Sister Big Eyes will also get a splash of spray ivory roses in her bouquet to make it stand out.

Finally, we ordered wrist corsages using what else but a purple flower (of which I have forgotten the name).

Here is our numbers breakdown in case you’re interested (while calla lilies are expensive, we also incorporated some inexpensive flowers so all in all I think we did good):

Brides bouquet                                                                                                 135.00

Bridesmaids (3) ea, 80.00                                                                              240.00

Maid of honor (1)                                                                                            95.00

Wrist corsages (4) ea. 20.00                                                                         80.00

This comes to $550.00 less 15% discount (-82.50) = 467.50 x 7.775% sales tax 36.35 = 503.85

Did you notice the 15% discount?  Isn’t C amazing?  I can’t speak highly enough of her as she worked within my budget, was flexible in offering different types of flowers, and super easy to converse with!  We even showed C some of the tartan fabric and she agreed to wrap all of the bouquet stems in it as well!  Success!

Table of my stuff including a swatch of the tartan

After BM L Dawg and I left the shop, we promptly got into the car and canceled our next floral appointment (this was pre-estimate btw) because we were confident with C and lesbihonest, we just wanted to get to our movie.  (Random movie plug: Go see Pitch Perfect, you won’t regret!)  Aca-believe me.

(all photos personal)

*I have no problem sharing my vendors and linking back to their websites once everything is fully signed and dotted, but private message me if you are a MN bride in need of great service!

What do you think of our floral prices based on our Midwest location?  Am I crazy for not getting a second opinion?  What can I say, I was going on instinct!

Wedding Bands on a Budget

A few weekends ago Mr. Sword and I ventured out to take a look at wedding bands.  We started at the place he purchased my engagement ring, Wedding Band Co, located on Jewelers Row in downtown Chicago.

To recap, my engagement ring is a princess cut center stone with channel set princess diamonds on either side.  Because, DUH, I’m a princess and Mr. Sword is no fool!  🙂

My first thought was to go with a band that was thick and geometric to match the look of my engagement ring.  Something a lot like this:

image via World Jewels

But besides the high sticker price for that many princess cut diamonds, when I tried on bands of a larger width that had matching princess cut channel diamonds, I found I didn’t like them very much at all!  They were almost too similar and too typical.  I have always been drawn to popular trends but also to the slightly different or unique trends, and found I was no different when shopping for wedding bands.  So I started trying on atypical matches to my E ring, and I ended up falling in love with a very dainty, petite band covered in tiny round diamonds.

I know it’s sounds like it won’t match at all, but the round diamonds are so tiny that the band just looks sparkly and beautiful all the way around.  Unfortunately for Wedding Band Co, their version of this ring was over-priced in our opinion.  I know eternity bands can be expensive, and I know that quality varies from store to store, but I couldn’t justify spending that much on such a tiny band!  Mr. Sword was also adamant that we stay under budget and this ring was almost double!  So we moved on.

We decided to check out a Rogers and Hollands in Water Tower Place and found the same exact ring for a fraction of the price!  Knowing that Mr. Sword never makes a quick purchase, we went home empty-handed that day to let things settle, and so I could make sure I was still in love with my petite band before we did anything rash.  I’m happy to report I was truly smitten, and we went back one week later to buy the less expensive ring from Rogers and Hollands!  While I love that my engagement ring is such a quality stone and while it would have been ideal to have all of our rings cleaned and under warranty at the same store, it just wasn’t meant to be.  I’m so relieved we decided to shop around because we both think my wedding band is gorgeous and Mr. Sword is thrilled that we came in UNDER budget!

How do you think it matches up next to my engagement ring?

Both our jeweler from Wedding Band Co and the lady from Rogers and Hollands thought that another petite sparkly band would look just lovely on the other side of my ring and make a wonderful anniversary present.  Aren’t they smart??  🙂

As this post is already getting long, I’ll tell you the short version of how we picked Mr. Sword’s ring.  At first we looked at white gold, but Mr. Sword refused to spend that much money on himself.  Plus, he doesn’t even care  that much about jewelry.  So we decided on this masculine tungsten ring in white.  Done.

What do you think of our set, hive?  Anyone else shop around for their wedding band?

Flowers… Meh

I feel like a bad bride for not really caring about flowers, but I know I’m not alone.   While I think flowers are insanely GORGEOUS, they aren’t something I’ve given much thought to in regards to the wedding.  Contributing factors to my indifference stem from NOT being a big fan of the outdoors in general (read: city girl), and it’s tough to spend so much money on things that don’t last very long.  Plus, when we first made a wedding budget we didn’t put much moolah aside for flowers because I knew we needed extra money in the areas of groom’s attire and photography.  Luckily I’ve eliminated the need for floral centerpieces, and for the men in the bridal party, we will be tying fake twigs and greens together and wrapping them in pieces of our tartan fabric which means the boutonnieres can be done ahead of time.  Score!

So our floral needs have been whittled down to 5 bouquets (one for me and 4 for my maids) and then 3 corsages (two moms and a grandma).

My first big decision was to decide to have real flowers.  The second step was decide where to order them and whether or not I want to pay to have then arranged or implore friends and family to help out (which has yet to be decided)!   And that’s as far as I got!  I got time right?!?!  When is my wedding again?  🙂

Fortunately, I have a very amazing Grandma Sword (my mom’s mom) who is into flowers and was willing to do some research for me at her favorite floral shop.  She gave me a few tips:

1. Sometimes brides are mixing real and fake flowers together so that they have something to take home at the end of the night that won’t die!

2. Grandma Sword’s florist recommended mixing both white AND ivory flowers despite the color of your dress.  This mixing of all different shades of white adds dimension and looks better than having just one color that can leave your bouquet looking flat.

3. If I go with all purple for my girls then their flowers will fade away in their dresses, if I go with all purple flowers then your eye will be drawn to the bouquet instead of my lovely face.  Mixing all shades of purple might be a really pretty way to incorporate that color.

All good tips!!  Although, I’m still at a bit of a loss.  I’m really unsure of how light I want my bouquet to be and have no idea what colors my girls should be holding!  Setting up floral appointments and researching ideas is not very high on my list of things to do, and I’m not sure why.  I know I want my flowers to be beautiful but my priorities for the wedding lie in other things, and you can’t make everything a priority or you’ll go crazy!  Next time I go to Minnesota I’ll get my ass in gear.  Yes.

I did find a bouquet that caught my eye though… I’m not even sure what’s going on with it but I like it!!

image via Offbeat Bride/ photo by Megan Clouse

One thing I know for sure is that we will be wrapping the bouquets in our family tartan. YES, IT WILL BE EVERYWHERE!  Scared yet?  It’s unique to us and our wedding so why not showcase it?  OH and one other special thing I want to use is FMIL’s suggestion of incorporating white heather into my bouquet.  She said it represents good luck in Scotland, and since she first shared the idea with me, white heather also reminds me of her!


OK, any words of wisdom regarding flowers?  Should I pay to have them arranged?  Any ideas for bouquets?