Before and After Questionnaire: Mrs. Sword Fills You In

Hello hive!  I’m excited to join this series created by Miss Border Collie and Mrs. Barn!  I still love talking about weddings (always will!) but as a new mama, my brain is mostly focused on parenting and/or sleeping, so it’s been nice to sit back and answer these fun post-wedding questions!  Hope you enjoy!

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography unless otherwise noted.

What was your biggest priority for the event?

I have two answers.  Number one was making sure our guests were taken care of and felt comfortable.   Many decisions were made regarding our wedding because they benefited our out-of-town guests, such as, the rehearsal dinner venue being walking distance from the hotel, the hotel wedding itself that offered transportation to and from the airport and a place to crash after the wedding.  Number two was photography.  I wanted gorgeous photos.

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What was your biggest concern for the day?

Our biggest concern was weather.  Even though all events were taking place indoors, I desperately wanted some photos taken outside.  It was early March in Minnesota and the temperature that day was in the 30’s.  It ended up raining/snowing while we were outside which meant my hair was in danger of falling flat and my dress was soaked at the bottom, but in the end it didn’t matter.  Some of my favorite memories are of cuddling with my hubby under the bridge before our ceremony.

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What DIY project did you care about the most?

None of them, I hate DIY (which in my case stands for destroy-it-yourself).  I loved all the DIY projects from our wedding, I just didn’t work on many of them, haha.  I relied on my amazing family for help in this area, my sister made the bridesmaid necklaces and bouts, my mom made the sword escort cards, a family friend painted the castle, and another family friend helped design the centerpieces.  What did I do you my ask?  I glued the letters C-A-R-D-S on a box.

What was your worst wedding-related nightmare?

I’ll consider it a mental health win that I do not remember any of my wedding related nightmares.  🙂

Did you actually eat?

YES!  I’m proud to say I ate a few apps, and most of my dinner.  The key for us was utilizing a sweetheart table because it allowed us a few moments alone.  And since we did a receiving line post-ceremony there wasn’t a mad dash to make it around to each and every table.


What is your favorite picture?

Ahhh, I have so many!  But I will play the game and only pick one.  This photograph of Mr. Sword and I is dreamy, romantic, dramatic, and beautiful.  I’d say it represents our fairy tale wedding nicely.

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(Bonus: Here is Mr. Sword’s fave wedding photo!  I love that he has one!)

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 What was the worst thing that happened at your wedding?

We were lucky to have nothing major happen, just a bunch of small things.  It rained, our photographer forgot to get a few important shots, they started our first dance song at the wrong part, our bathroom baskets were stolen after the reception, etc.  But the BEST worst thing that happened was my sister and best friend getting stuck in the elevator!  The Embassy Suites’ elevators were slow and terrible and right before family photos these two got stuck!  I was a bit panicked until I realized what was going on and after that I just thought it was the funniest thing ever.  Such a good story to tell!

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(personal photo)

What is your favorite wedding memory?

Again, this is so difficult.  I have so many moments that stick out to me, such as my mom and sister helping me into my dress, my aunt and grandmother seeing me for the first time, walking down the aisle with my dad, saying my vows to Mr. Sword, our handfasting, and dancing the night away with our awesome family and friends.

There is one moment that stands out as supercharged and perfect.  We planned this first dance fake-out where we cut from a slow song (Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years) to a fast song (Pink’s Raise Your Glass) and on the last chorus our entire bridal party joined us on the dance floor.  It was exhilarating and love-filled and I will never forget it!

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What did your guests mention the most after the wedding?

Our guest could not stop talking about how much fun they had!  We still get compliments randomly from guests telling us what a blast they had at our wedding and how convenient it was.  Everyone loved our personalized ceremony, the lovely and funny toasts, and especially dancing to the ceilidh band!

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What did you do after the wedding?

Mr. Sword and I left a little bit before midnight (when the reception ended) and rode the scary elevators up to our room for some alone time and to pass out.  That said, many of our guests went to the hotel bar or the bar across the street to keep on partying!

Bonus: Did you have a private after-party with your new spouse or crash afterward?

squeezed my swollen and tired body into slipped into my white wedding lingerie after getting out of my dress.  So yes and then definitely yes.  🙂  Getting married is exhausting!!

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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

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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!)

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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)

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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.  😦

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

sisters in robes


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

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Auntie B’s reaction to seeing the bride:


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

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I love this next shot!


First Look and Portraits





girls vs guys


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





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


Yours truly as Matron of Honor.




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.




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



getting ready



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.






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!

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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.



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



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 Begin With Important People Processing

We’ve now hit 4 PM (finally!) and the ceremony is about to begin…

The DJ started by playing a few tunes as guests began to arrive and our adorable ushers (notice their tartan bow ties) began passing out programs.

Usher/Cousin Singer

Usher/Cousin Singer

Usher/Big C

Usher/Big C

Usher/Cousin Dancer reading a program

Usher/Cousin Dancer reading a program

The prelude was led by Bagpiper E who played three songs (Leaving Port AskaigDornoch Highland Gathering, and Amazing Grace) while walking up and down the aisle.

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In Scotland, I guess it’s common for the bagpiper to pipe outside the church or venue to welcome guests as they arrive, but I liked showcasing E and it was great because as soon as he started playing, everyone figured out it was time to get in their seat!

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The family processional song was chosen by Mr. Sword and couldn’t have been more perfect, Sigur Ros’ Hoppipolla, instrumental version.

First up to walk down the aisle was Grandpa F and Grandma J escorted by Head Usher/Cousin Cool.

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Next up came the handsome Mr. Sword escorting Mum Sword and Scottish Dad down the aisle before taking his place up front.  (At the same time Pastor P was entering up the sneaky side aisle.)

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After that it was time for the Mother of the Bride, Mom Sword!  She was also escorted in by Head Usher/Cousin Cool.

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To round out this song we had Cousin Q process in holding two silk roses in honor of those who have passed on before us, one rose for those in my family, one for Mr. Sword’s loved ones.  I had no idea how to explain this in the program so I just labeled this part of the ceremony, “remembrance flowers.”  All the names of those we were missing at the wedding were printed in the ceremony program and as she reached the front Cousin Q put each rose in a tall glass vase.

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personal photo

The bridal party was next and they came in to my very offbeat choice of the opening song from Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses.  You can listen along, trust me, it’s not as bad as you think!

First up, GM The Glue and BM Wee Sis.

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Following them was GM J and BM Jo.

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Next up was GM P and BM L Dawg.

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Finally, these two grinning goofs, our Best Man and Maid of Honor, came down the aisle.  We like to joke they never stopped smiling the entire day (we have lots of photos to prove it too!), but we think it’s super sweet.

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All the while this guy is waiting patiently for me to make my big entrance…

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All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

How did you or how will you honor those who have passed on?  Did you choose any non-traditional processional songs?

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

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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Cuddle With a Cutie

After our families had left the lobby to finish getting ready for the ceremony, Crystal was able to snap a few more pics of Mr. Sword and myself indoors.  By this time, I had fully thawed and was happy to continue smiling for the camera.

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We decided to switch things up and move locations and I’m so glad we did because I love these next few pics.  So romantic and bridal looking.  And for reference, this location is a tiny hallway near a window on the second floor of the hotel.  Nothing special about it in real life but a great spot for some lovely photos!

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On my photography shot list I had also made time for a mini photo shoot with Littlest C, because well, she’s pretty damn important.  I’m pretty sure I was picturing her as my flower girl before I’d even met Mr. Sword!

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We went outside and Littlest C got to wear her beautiful jacket.

MOH Big Eyes and Littlest C

MOH Big Eyes and Littlest C

The next three pictures tend to make me tear up!  Notice our matching tiaras?  🙂  I had this idea for a pose that we should both hold her flower girl basket and I’m so glad they turned out as well as they did!  If you are taking pictures with your ring bearers or flower girls, I recommend getting down to their height level, it makes for better photos!

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I love how much we look-alike (even though we’re obviously not blood-related) and I’m just reminded of how grown-up and beautiful Littlest C looks!

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Did you see the purple petals?  Those were cut from fake flowers I purchased at JoAnn’s when shopping for boutonnieres.  So easy, and so much cheaper than real petals!

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Did you take extra pics with any of your little ones?

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

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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Make the Men Freeze

Now that we’ve reached bridal party pics I’ve decided to shake things up a bit.  I’m going to include all the groomsmen shots in one post and all the bridesmaid shots in another post, and then I’ll put our full bridal party pics in a different and final post.  Why you ask?

Is it to torture you all with my never-ending Sword recaps?  Absolutely.  But also because it makes the most sense in my crazy head and there are too many pictures for one post.

So I realize I’m biased but we had the handsome groomsmen EVER.  They were so fun, happy, easy-going, and they looked great together in their complimentary but different tartan patterns.  I’m pretty sure I’ve already shared my nervousness about having each guy wear or rent their own kilt (but if not, I’m admitting now that I was nervous) but it’s clear I had no reason to worry!  The guys looked fabulous.  Want to see?

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Note the different sporrans, jackets, and tartans.  We asked them all to wear black bow ties and they’re each wearing one of our DIY’ed boutonnieres.  I think the overall look is gorgeous and hey if bridesmaids can mix and match these days, so can the guys!

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Pretty sure they were then told to fake laugh which led to real laughing.  (Doesn’t it always?)

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I got to join in the manly fun as well to get these great shots:

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I’m not normally a fan of overly trendy wedding photos but I’m glad Crystal got these classic “walking” pics of our groomsmen.

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This is my FAVORITE shot of the handsome Mr. Sword with his groomsmen:

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I love how cute my husband looks in this photo too (notice he’s still trying to warm up his hands!):

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And later, after exhausting all group shots under the bridge it was time to walk to a parking garage for additional photos so we made the men our bouquet bitches and it was awesome.  🙂

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All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Were you as pleased with your groomsmen’s final look as I was?

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

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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Toast to the Day

Since the beginning of our engagement I had known I wanted a moment with all of my favorite women toasting to the day with champagne.  So, after getting dressed and opening Mr. Sword’s gift, I walked back to the girls getting ready room for a quick huddle with my favorite ladies.

And who did I see in the hallway but the faces of Grandma Sword and Auntie B!  They saw me as a bride for the first time and immediately started tearing up so of course I started crying too!  It was a very special moment.

Can you tell they're related?  :)

Can you tell they’re related? 🙂

As if the first picture of them isn’t cute enough, Crystal snapped this one as well!

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Then there’s this one of Mom Sword and Grandma  Sword that makes my heart melt.  I come from a line of strong female figures and a very matriarchal family.  These women have shaped who I am today and I’m so blessed to have their unconditional love and support.

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BM L Dawg was in charge of the bubbly and she got a lovely pink champagne for us ladies.  We all gathered in a circle with our champagne flutes and I took a moment to look around the room at all the women who have had such a positive impact on my life.  It was definitely a surreal moment.

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Mom Sword said a little toast first, and I started to tear up…

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Then Auntie B said, “I remember the day Mrs. Sword was a flower girl in my wedding.”  WAAAHHH!  She and I were a mess after that!

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Before the ugly crying got out of hand we sent the photographers off to the first look location site and Sister/MOH Big Eyes bustled my dress while Boss Lady used an iron to steam out some last minute wrinkles.  Soon, I was heading outside to brave the weather and see my groom!

But don’t worry, L Dawg didn’t forget about the boys, in another room and about 30 minutes prior to our toast, this was happening:

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Men in kilts plus champagne flutes?  TOO CUTE.

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Good thing they were all equipped with knives sgian dubhs!  This was also the moment our Best Man was handed over the responsibility of holding our wedding bands.

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Since a kilt doesn’t have pockets, the Best Man put this wee pouch in his sporran to keep the rings safe until ceremony time.

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It appears there was also a shaking hands check for nerves:

The Glue always has shaky hands though, probably caffeine induced.

The Glue always has shaky hands though, probably caffeine induced.

I leave you with the guy’s version of the artsy shoe pic, showing off their brogues and hose, why?  I have no idea.

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All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Did you have a champagne toast on your big day, or will you plan one?

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

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!