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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)

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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

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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.  😦

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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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dress hanger edited

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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!

Goodies For Our Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(all photos personal)

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

Do Not Disturb DIY

Ohmygosh, I can’t believe it’s almost 2013!  The year of my wedding!  A big congrats to all of the bees who got married in the lovely year of 2012, but I’m pretty excited about the next set of unique weddings that are on the horizon (even though I used to wish I could have been married in an even year.)  OH the battles you never pick and never mean to share on the internet!

Anyway, I can’t wait to get started sharing all of my updates with everyone, so to start things off here is a little DIY (destroy-it-yourself) done by yours truly!  But first:

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Most of the DIY’s for my wedding have been orchestrated and constructed by Sister/MOH Big Eyes.  She is my personal wedding slave craft-er and she did an amazing job on everything.  But these DND signs were my baby!  🙂

I’m not sure where I first saw the Do Not Disturb sign used in a wedding but I knew right away that it was something I was going to incorporate into my OOTG (out-of-town guest) bags.  My search began online trying to find templates and ideas for wording where I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a forum where someone had commented about Vistaprint having a deal that included 50 free rack cards.  So to pay it forward, make sure you go to Vistaprint to get your free rack cards too!  (Hopefully the sale is still going on.)

For those who don’t know what a rack card is (I didn’t realize that’s what they were called), it’s a long skinny brochure cut of paper that is usually used for advertising, but they are also the PERFECT size for hanging signs off of doorknobs.

Luckily, I was able to design both the front and the back of the card and at first I was completely stumped at what to do.  I thought of using another engagement photo but thought that too redundant.  I thought of leaving the background blank while focusing on fancy/fairy tale type of font but thought that too boring.  And then it hit me, the tartan!  OF COURSE!

So I uploaded the image we have of our family tartan and hoped for the best.  Unfortunately, the website informed me that the quality of my photo wasn’t very good so I was not expecting them to turn out the way I pictured them in my head, but in the end, I think they turned out great!  They’re definitely not perfect, one side looks really shiny, and the colors might be a bit too bright  but I’m so happy I found another place to showcase our tartan.

On the one side I put, “Welcome to Minnesota! We are so happy you could make it!”  We added the name of our family tartan (in case there is any confusion haha) in the bottom right-hand corner which is written as Hislastname-Mylastname personal tartan.


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And on the side that will hang facing out on the guest’s hotel room door, I put the standard wording of “Please Do Not Disturb.  We’re still recovering from Mr. and Miss Sword’s wedding celebration.”  And I’m sure most people will be!!  🙂  We also added the date of the wedding in numbers in the bottom right-hand corner.

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Side note: When writing out our wedding date this past year on save-the-dates, invitations, and whatnot, we intentionally chose to spell it out instead of using numbers because the in the UK they put the day first followed by the month.  For example 04/05/2012 would read as the 4th of May in the UK and the 5th of April in the US.  We decided everyone would know the wedding was in March by the time the actual wedding rolled around but my apologies to our guests who have to read the date backwards!  Does anyone else need to be aware of this with their paper products?

Since I’m making about 48 OOTG bags (don’t ask me how I’ve come up with that number when not everyone has RSVP’ed yet), the 50 free rack cards ended up being the perfect amount.

The actual crafting or DIY’ing part came when they arrived in the mail to my parent’s house.  I decided against punching a big hole in the top because I thought adding ribbon would be prettier/fancier.

Here are my supplies (I’ve always wanted to post one of these pictures!):

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Step One: Find a line in your image (in my case the tartan) as guideline for punching holes at the top of the card.  I used the same spots on each one and it made punching holes take no time at all.

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Step Two:  Measure the size ribbon you want after first seeing how low you want it to hang on a door handle.

Step Three:  Thread the ribbon through each hole tying a knot on the side that will not be displayed.  Cut off the excess ribbon.

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And you’re done!  I know this craft didn’t need an explanation (or photos for that matter), but I had to share it because I’m proud of my crafting skills!

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(all photos personal)

Anyone else making DND signs for their guests hotel rooms?  Did my really extensive tutorial make sense!?!?  😉

Finally a favor!

First off, we’re coming to the time in this wedding planning process where I might reveal things I don’t want my guests to know until the wedding.  I’m lucky to have some awesome girlfriends (and some guy friends, I’m looking at you B) who read this blog faithfully.  But that said, I want you guys to scram.  You don’t get to read this post.  I’m serious.  So serious I even spent a ridiculous amount of time making the image below.

(icon by Weddingbee, edited by Miss Sword)

Cool.  They’re gone.  Well, I doubt ALL of them are gone, but we’ll pretend they listened.

Hive, I’ve had the inspirational moment I’ve been waiting months for, I’ve decided on a favor!!  I was beginning to think inspiration would not hit, but it did and with plenty of time to spare.

Favors are not something I’ve discussed here before but they’re something I’ve given a lot of thought to.  I was determined to find the one favor that everyone will enjoy AND use again but that still fit our Highland Fairy Tale theme.  Yeeeaaa, that doesn’t exist.  It’s time to face the truth, the only acceptable favor is something edible (or consumable like Mrs. Wallaby’s tea favors, which I’m in love with btw).

No one wants cheap crap with your wedding date on it!  They just don’t.  Unfortunately, I had a hard time accepting this.

Here are the Sword favor rejects in no particular order:

Luggage tags.  It’s useful, and it’s fitting for all of our guests who are flying in from Scotland, Chicago, and the East Coast.  And it kind of matched the little airplane on our STD’s.  Remember?

But the ones in our price range looked a bit cheap, and to be honest, it doesn’t really fit the fairy tale theme.  You think I’m obsessed with the theme, but trust me when I say Mr. Sword is encouraging us to keep everything cohesive as well!

Playing cards.  While they don’t fit the theme outright we thought it would FREAKIN’ SWEET if we could somehow print the tartan on the back of each card so that everyone could take home a piece of Hislastname-Mylastname fabric.  In the end, that idea was CRAZY, expensive, and implausible.

image via Karmakiss

Sword pens.  Yea, I went there.  I’m not ashamed.  They might show up somewhere at the wedding but clearly they were not right for a guest favor.  We are hosting a wedding,  not throwing a birthday party.

All this time, I kept thinking, I’d really prefer to give our guests something they can keep forever, even though no one keeps wedding favors forever unless maybe they’re  your parents.  Yes, my denial went deep.  I considered donating money to a charity as well but I really wanted a little something to give each guest for taking the time and money to attend our wedding (as if a favor can express enough gratitude, because it most definitely can’t).

FINALLY, one Friday night while talking wedding with Mr. Sword, it hit me:  WALKERS SHORTBREAD!

Duh!!  How could I have missed it before?  OH RIGHT, I was avoiding food favors like they were the plague.

Walkers shortbread is a traditional Scottish treat that is both edible and on theme (highlighting the Highland part of things).  The best part is they can be ordered in small packages making them the perfect size for a favor!

image via Amazon

My first experience with Walkers was during a visit to Scotland when Mr. Sword and I stayed at a little B&B in Carrbridge (near Aviemore, Scotland).  We arrived to find this taste of Scotland waiting for us in our sweet little room.

 

Now if only they came packaged in green instead of bright red- yuck.

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Did you do an edible or consumable favor as well or have you stumbled on the perfect favor that lasts a lifetime?  Have you tried Walkers Shortbread before?