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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?!?!  🙂

Sister Sword’s Fancy Picnic Wedding

You didn’t think I would leave you all hanging on Sister Big Eyes’ gorgeous wedding, did you?  Sister and Brother-in-law were married on a Sunday in June three months and one week after the Sword wedding.  It was also the same day as our grandparent’s wedding anniversary AND Father’s Day, making it all that more special.

Dearest hive, I will now attempt to do the impossible, I will recap Sister Big Eyes’ wedding in ONE SINGLE BUT INCREDIBLY LONG BLOG POST.  Never mind that recapping my Highland Fairy Tale took about 40 posts, I truly believe I can do this!  Hopefully you’ll recognize a lot of familiar faces but in a whole new setting this time!  Minnesota in the summer is quite lovely.

A Fancy Picnic

Getting Ready

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Does that look familiar?  I have the same shot, see below.  Cool huh?

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cheers

Auntie B’s reaction to seeing the bride:

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Does it remind you of the last time she saw a bride?

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I love this next shot!

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First Look and Portraits

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girls vs guys

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sister faces

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Guess who made it to another Minnesota wedding all the way from Bismarck, ND… our grandparents!  We are the luckiest.  🙂

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Ceremony

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Look who’s escorting his new Mother-in-law down the aisle, a squinty Mr. Sword!

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Yours truly as Matron of Honor.

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They sang their vows to each other- it was amazing!  And they did a God’s knot, which Sister Big Eyes braided during the ceremony.

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Yay, another receiving line, our family loves giving hugs!

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Details

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For their guestbook, they had everyone sign an old guitar, and how cute are their functional yet personalized guitar picks that were used as confetti and available for guests to take home!  An authentic picnic basket was used for cards.

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Reception

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This guy again, killed it with another great Father of the Bride toast- can you imagine having to do TWO in three months?!?

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Sister and BIL had taken lessons ahead of time, and they did a fantastic job on their first dance!

first dance

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Sister Big Eyes invited some of her former students to come towards the end of the day and dance their favorite line dances with her at the reception.  It was really sweet.

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One thing I regret we couldn’t have was a cute send-off!  These ribbon wands were a huge hit with everyone.  🙂

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Mr. Sword and myself drove them away from their reception and to my parent’s house, it was time for our Sister Rock the Frock Photo Shoot!!  Coming up NEXT!

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography because remember, we shrendored.

PHEW, I did it!  🙂  Did you see any details or ideas that inspired you for your wedding?

A Highland Fairy Tale: “We Don’t Even Have to Try”

“It’s always a good time!”  And boy was it ever, but we’ll get to that later.

Our reception started off with the old grand march or announced entrance of the entire bridal party followed by Mr. Sword and myself.

The bridal party entered to the very contemporary and perhaps overplayed song “Good Time” by Owl City featuring Carly Rae Jepsen.  I bet I don’t even need to share a link to the song because it’s one of those that can consume your brain in seconds, but just in case, I will anyway.  You’re welcome.

Aaron, our DJ from Midwest Sound, instructed each couple to choose a quick dance move for their entrance mere seconds before we were all to enter.  Huddled in the hallway everyone came up with something awesome, that is except for the bride and groom.  Our entrance was super lame but that’s OK because people were still into us.  Guess that’s the perk of being the guest of honors!

First up, Wee Sis escorted by The Glue.

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Next up, Jo escorted by J.  We only got the butt shot of them… niiiiice.

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After that came L Dawg escorted by P.

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Finally, our dynamic duo of Best Man S escorted by Sister/MOH Big Eyes.

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Mr. Sword and I danced into “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness.  A bit unconventional yes, but super fun.

For some reason I wanted it to be a celebratory like dance with air pumping and high-fiving (not pictured) but it didn’t turn out the way I imagined in my head.  Crystal also told us to look at the camera after we entered, which is the explanation behind my awkward pose in the third pic and Mr. Sword’s lack of posing.  He dislikes being the center of attention.

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See what I mean?

After entering we went straight to the cake and cut that thing up!  A shout-out goes to Best Man S for this song idea intended for the bridal party entrance which we used for cake cutting instead (or so I think, I don’t actually remember hearing it because everything was happening very fast).  “Life With You” by The Proclaimers.  The Proclaimers are a Scottish band; they had to make an appearance at our wedding for obvious reasons.  Such a good song.

There are no pictures of us feeding each other but it definitely happened.  And there was no cake smashing, chalk that up with bouquet and garter tosses next to Traditions I Don’t Want To See at My Wedding.

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The next post will clear up why there is a huge screen in most of the entrance photos, all for a great reason I promise and it’s not what you’re thinking…

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Did you and your bridal party do a grand entrance?  What song will you choose for your entrance?  Did anyone else choose a cake cutting song that had nothing to do with sweetness or sugar (not that I don’t love all things sugar related)?

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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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Admire the Details

Yay, we’ve arrived at the details post!  Which means less talking, more photo sharing.   I’ve saved all the major detail shots from the whole day for this post, enjoy!

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Sorry for the blurs!

Sorry for the blurs!

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You didn’t think there was any way I would miss out on having our royal wedding RSVP (aka the best DECLINE in the history of declines) included in the details photo shoot, right?  Mr. Sword is still part of the United Kingdom whether his Scottish self likes it or not.  🙂

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personal photo I took the morning after the wedding

personal photo I took the morning after the wedding

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Truth time: That isn’t my wedding band anymore, I traded it in for a new one!

Before we get to the big entrances I wanted to share these reception detail shots as well.

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I’m really happy with how the room turned out and I love the purple uplighting we added.  If you’ll remember, I had two separate centerpieces, beer bottles and hurricanes, but unfortunately I only have good shots of the beer bottle tables.  To be honest, I dislike the carpet and the chairs in some of the pics but I don’t regret skipping on chair covers.  So not a priority!  Having a band AND a DJ was such a better use of our money.

For all you fellow hotel/ballroom brides out there who wish you had chosen a more unique wedding space, remember, the energy and love of your wedding will overshadow even the most bland venue.

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Did you see our Walker’s shortbread favors?  Everyone loved eating them as a wee snack later in the evening.

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Our storybook guestbook was a hit and our guests cracked us up with their awesome comments.

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One of my favorite Destroy-it-Yourself’s:

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The room was filled with love quotes and engagement photos.

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I was so pleased with our AMAZING castle themed escort table complete with tartan flag, a prince and princess, and of course the personalized SWORD escort cards.  My mom and her friends did an amazing job on this!  The detail is insane.  (Note: this started as a plain, wooden dollhouse from Michael’s, and I hope to save it for a future daughter of ours to play with someday!)

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Finally, our cake was simple and geometric and totally fit our theme and it was so cool to see my wirthday gift cake topper in use!

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We used a large piece of our family tartan to cover a square foam that we rented from the bakery as a cake stand and we put up our parent’s wedding photos on either side of the cake.

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All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Next up, we dance in to the reception!

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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!

FBIL and a Guitar

Let’s talk about music again.  For someone who only listens to the radio, doesn’t own a music playing device, and self-proclaims that she has bad taste, my wedding is going to have the most wide-range of kick-ass music ever!

For starters, the ceremony will begin with our bagpiper Evan and will also feature my Sister/MOH Big Eyes singing a song from the TV show, Smash.  For the parents processional we’re having this song by Sigur Ros, have you heard of it?  Mr. Sword picked it (obviously), but I love it.

The bridal party is completely stoked about walking into this princess gem, (I say sarcastically).

This brings us to cocktail hour, which I have yet to talk about.  I assume most people have their DJ’s play some sweet tunes during this hour of hosted bar and passed hors d’oeuvres, but we are lucky enough to have my talented future brother-in-law playing his guitar and singing instead!

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FBIL frequently plays his music, both covers and songs he’s written at local bars and coffee shops and he’s really good.  Not like, “Aww he’s good, he’s family so we just say that!”  But good as in he’s a talented musician and I’m proud to welcome another artist into the family this coming June.  🙂  Plus, I love the atmosphere that the live music will offer our guests during cocktail.  This wedding has it all!

Sister Big Eyes and FBIL performing together at an outdoor wedding, aren't they cute?

Sister Big Eyes and FBIL performing together at an outdoor wedding, aren’t they cute?

After cocktail hour ends we’ll have the grand march, followed immediately by the cake cutting, toasts and then dinner.  After dinner it will be time for the first dances and then our Ceilidh band, The Gunn Slingers, will perform an hour of traditional Scottish music and led group dancing.  Dear Sword Wedding Guests, BRING YOUR DANCING SHOES AND YOUR OPEN MINDS!  I want to see everyone on the floor.  I promise I’ll be the klutziest one out there.  Seriously, I have zero idea of how I’m going to dance in my dress.  Oh well, too late to worry about that now!  The night will end with a rockin’ party atmosphere and our DJ playing mostly popular get down and dirty music with a few oldies mixed in for good measure.  Phew!

The only thing I haven’t decided on is what to have the DJ play during the hour we have allotted for dinner time; does anyone have any suggestions?  Our DJ is supposed to call us this week to ask for name pronunciations so I can pass the information on at that time.  The question is, what do you play during dinner when your wedding covers all types of music from princess movie themes to bagpipes to folksy love songs to Ceilidh music to today’s best pop?

(photo from FBIL’s personal collection)

What did you play during dinner?  Anyone else having live music during their cocktail hour?  Anyone else having a smattering of different types of music at their wedding?

Showered in Chicago

As you can probably guess from the title of my post, I had my Chicago shower this past weekend.  Although I mean it both figuratively and literally, because we had a whole day of rains showers to match my event!  It was a wonderful afternoon and I’m so grateful to all of the beautiful ladies who came to celebrate with me!

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When I first got engaged early last year Boss Lady told me she wanted to throw me a LLLL shower here in Chicago for all my Chicago peeps, and I was so touched!  I know bridal showers are a bonus as not everyone gets one, and I was thrilled when she made the generous offer.

Boss Lady is also Mom to my flower girl Littlest C.  Littlest C was so adorable at the shower, I heard she helped set up, I saw her greet and talk to guests, and when she wasn’t bonding with Sister/MOH Big Eyes she was being the cutest, most adorable and mature 6-year-old ever!

Miss Sword, Littlest C, and Boss Lady

Miss Sword, Littlest C, and Boss Lady

The LLLL stands for Ladies Linen and Lingerie Luncheon.  Like the name implies you aren’t limited to buying off registry because sexy late night outfits and panties are encouraged as well!  I received lots of beautiful and clever gifts, and some awesome pieces of lingerie.  I think the raciest one was given to me by my mother!  AWKWARD.

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Boss Lady had the luncheon catered and the food was amazing!

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Boss Lady decorated the space with gorgeous purple and white flowers, and made the sweetest treat bags for everyone.  They included a nail polish from Victoria’s Secret, scented drawer fresheners, and adorable hankies.  All in different colors.  So clever!

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She really put together a classy event and I’m so lucky so many of my friends could make it.  Mom Sword and Sister Big Eyes were also in attendance having flown in from MN for the weekend.

This was taken at my church the morning of the shower, apparently it's the only pic I have of the three of us!

This was taken at my church the morning of the shower, apparently it’s the only pic I have of the three of us!

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT CAKE.  I have to give a shout-out to my friends S and A for bringing the most amazing cake I’ve ever seen!!!

S and A are the sisters on the left.

S and A are the sisters on the left.  Can’t you tell?

Isn’t this thing adorable???  It’s got a tartan sash and a little sword.  I mean, COME ON.  I’m in love.

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The tartan sash definitely looked more purple in person than it showed in photos!

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Another shout-out goes to my girl M for coming up with the most unique shower game I’ve ever played!

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She actually printed out status’ from Facebook and had everyone guess if Mr. Sword or myself had written them.  Hilarious, smart, and perfect for our social media crazed era!  Of course most of the longer posts belonged to yours truly, but I think I was the only person who got 100%, go figure!  🙂

Mr. Sword showed up at the end of the shower so he could carry gifts to the car and help me thank everyone for coming.  I mean, most of the lingerie is a present for him anyway, right!?!

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Finally my favorite photos have to be from my sneaky Sister Big Eyes.  She was in charge of taking pictures during the shower and she decided to surprise me with an abundance of my famous “Miss Sword” poses using her own mug.  I definitely laughed out loud when I saw them on my camera later that night!   🙂

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Did you just have a bridal shower?  Has anyone played the Facebook status game before?  Isn’t the cake just perfect??