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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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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.  😦

A Highland Fairy Tale: Whiskey at Brunch

The morning after our wedding was awesome!  Despite our lack of sleep, Mr. Sword and I made our way to breakfast a little before 9 am, still riding the high from being bride and groom for a day.

With our package at Embassy Suites we were given a section of the ballroom for all of our guests to join us for brunch the morning following our wedding.  The cool thing about any Embassy Suites is the made to order HOT breakfast that is included in the price of a hotel night.  That, plus the free drinks from 5:30-7:30 pm at the manager’s reception every evening, and the huge rooms complete with a mini kitchenette, and you’ve got a great place for your guests to stay.

This is what we looked like on March 10th.

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Not quite as glamorous, no, but just as happy!  And check our Mr. Sword’s ring shot!  It really is as sexy as everyone says it is to see your husband sporting his new jewelry.

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Our guests nicely joined us in gradual increments and Mr. Sword and I were subjected to the table tango once again.  Only this time, I was wearing jeans and it was way easier to hug people as they came up to tell us they were leaving.

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While Embassy Suites labeled our room as a “gift opening” room, I found that to be a bit off-putting because I just wanted to mingle and not subject everyone to watching us read card after card.  We ended up opening gifts at my parent’s house later that evening instead of in front of everyone.  That is unless, we were asked to open something, then we very happily obliged!

One of the most touching gifts we received was our own uniquely blended whiskey named Hislastname-Mylastname.   HOW FREAKING CUTE IS THAT??

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Two things: I love how the date is written out because to an American like myself it looks like we got married on Sept. 3rd (not March 9th) and that makes me giggle.  Also, this whiskey shares both of our last names just like our personally designed family tartan which is pretty cool right?

By the same group of Scottish friends we were also gifted our very own quaich.  Don’t worry I will explain, I had no idea what it was at first either!  Quaichs are shallow cups usually given as gifts at special occasions.  For example, you might get a quiach when you graduate from Uni.  Ours is beautiful and has a Gaelic inscription on it but alas I didn’t take any pictures of it.  You’ll have to trust me that it’s lovely.  Here is a picture of a wedding specific quaich you can find on Amazon.

image via Amazon

image via Amazon

Another memorable gift was given to us by Dad Sword’s sister, Auntie K.  She has the entire set of their parent’s (who have both passed away years ago) glassware from their wedding.  She is gifting each of us grandkids a few pieces as a gift at our own nuptials.  This is me opening them:

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Ahhh yep, that’s me crying and I’m only reading the card so far!

I feel like this final post about the Sword wedding weekend wouldn’t be complete without a few silly photos.  Here are some pics that didn’t make it into my recaps but are still worth sharing!  Enjoy!

All coming photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

You know you are having a winter wedding when…

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A good place to store a plastic sword.

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These two are the reasons I was able to remain a somewhat calm(ish) bride!  Love them.

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Sharing a laugh with my new Father-in-law post ceremony.

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Looks like Brother-in-law lost his dance partner while stripping the willow!

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And just for good measure, one final shot of Mr. Sword and I at the water fountain doing our sexy model pose.

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That’s it.  I’m officially done with my Highland Fairy Tale recaps but you can’t get rid of me quite yet!  I have a few more things to share before I plan on saying goodbye.

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Did you get any really memorable gifts that were a bit unexpected?

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

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

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

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

Reception
Cocktail hour!
The pretty details!
Grand entrances!
We get roasted!
Parent dances!
First dance fake out!
Stripping the willow!
Anniversary dance!
Dancing and drinking!
Making out and the end!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Take Care of Business

After the toasts it was time for dinner!  We had a three course plated meal of salad, chandelaise (I think our chef made that word up) chicken with steamed veggies and roasted red potatoes followed by wedding cake,  Again it’s clear we aren’t foodies and I know it sounds like boring wedding food but that’s OK because there was nothing else boring about our wedding!  And the food was damn good.

After the salad course Mr. Sword stood up and gave a thank you speech to everyone in attendance.  He was SO nervous but he did a great job.  No idea what he’s saying here or why my arms are like that!

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It  was lovely to stand by his side as his proud wife in a room of our favorite people as he expressed our gratitude.  While I’m the more out-going personality of the two of us and a performer by nature, on my wedding day I just wanted to be a bride, and I think our guests were really happy to hear from Mr. Sword as well.

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After scarfing down our meal at the sweetheart table Mr. Sword and I attempted the table tango to mingle with our friends and family.  Despite our successful receiving line, we knew once the dancing started they’d be no time for chatting so we made use of the dinner time lull.  Crystal followed us around to get some group shots as well.

collage of guests

After everyone had finished dinner we began the parent dances, a tradition that all of us were really looking forward to having at the wedding.  First up, Dad Sword and I danced to “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.  Lucky for me, Dad Sword has some moves!

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After the first minute or so, Mr. Sword grabbed Mom Sword and those two joined us on the dance floor.  We wanted to honor all four of our parents instead of just the Father of the Bride and the Mother of the Groom.

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Following the Father-Daughter dance it was time for the Mother-Son dance and Mr. Sword and Mum Sword chose Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.”  I love this picture of them!

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I grabbed my new Father-in-law to join me on the dance floor after the song played for a while and it was a really nice moment.

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The parent dances were the perfect way to kick off the dancing portion of the evening!  Next up, Mr. Sword and I have our first dance!  We wanted to be the finale of three dances instead of the opening act and in the next post you’ll see why.  🙂

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Did your groom do the traditional thank you toast or did you both speak?  Do you each ask your in-law to join in the parent dances too?  Is something you would consider?

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

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

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

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

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

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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Check to See if the Guys Went “True Scottish” and I have to Pee

In Scotland, it’s understood that to be a True Scotsman you don’t wear any underwear with your kilt.  It was actually something Mr. Sword and I got asked A LOT over the course of wedding planning once people found out he’d be wearing one, and it was the butt of many a joke that weekend (har har har).  Most of the guys told us they would NOT be wearing any but hey, us girls still wanted to check for ourselves…

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OK, so we didn’t lift their kilts high enough to gain any concrete proof (cause that’d be weird), but I did confirm that my husband was going commando in our alone time post ceremony, because well, he’s my husband, I had to know!  Also, do you remember my post about my wedding crush?  We stole borrowed this idea from them!

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We also added our own little twist by switching it up and having the guys lift up our dresses!  Ooo-la-la!

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After all group, couple, and other random pictures were completed, it was FINALLY time to separate and prepare for the ceremony.  Crystal and the second shooter headed off to the atrium, the men did whatever men do before a wedding (crack jokes and mingle?), and me and my girls headed to our getting ready room to relax and scarf down a few snacks.  Subway anyone?

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personal photo

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personal photo/MOH Big Eyes joins me

One of my friends on Facebook said I should get paid by Subway for this endorsement!  HA!

After stuffing my face I realized I desperately needed to go to the bathroom.  I have a tiny bladder and was shocked I’d made it to 3:30 PM before thinking about it!  Luckily this moment was also captured for your enjoyment.  Yes, that is TP I’m holding.  Yes, I have no shame.

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personal photo

That’s what BFF’s are for, amirite?

Next up, the ceremony begins!

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography unless otherwise noted.

How did we do on re-creating the “True Scottish” photo?  Who helped you use the facilities on your wedding day?

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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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Eat Burgers and Things Are Surprising

I want to say we wrapped up the rehearsal right around 9 PM, but I can’t be too sure because I was hardly looking at my phone all day and I don’t wear watches.

BEST IDEA EVER: Having the rehearsal dinner location literally across the street.  After everyone was “dismissed,” people started exiting in groups to head over to our location of choice necessity, the loud but fun western bar, Cowboy Jack’s.

They might not have been our first choice in a pub, but their service was impeccable and their staff was amazing.  Immediately upon entering the private room they were asking our guests for their drink order and attempting to give out tickets based on what burger each person had selected in advance (on our wedding website).  I had no idea how they were going to figure out who had ordered what, we had so many options, beef, BBQ, turkey, veggie, cheese or no cheese, but their little labeled cards did the trick!  Our reserved space was essentially two rooms with the sliding door between them fully open.  It was the perfect size and everyone was able to sit by wherever they wanted.

My only complaint was that it was hard to address everyone during the toasts because the bar was so loud (party bar for sure) and because there was no good place to stand and be heard in both rooms.  You really had to keep turning you head from side to side in order to be heard.  The noise level was a bit frustrating to be honest (especially after the screaming teenagers from earlier) but we went ahead as planned.

First up was FIL Sword and his touching and sweet toast to Mr. Sword and myself.  Here is a snippet from his speech:

When Mr. Sword told us he was going out with Mrs. Sword we were quite nervous about the thought of meeting her… after all Mrs. Sword was the first girl Mr. Sword had brought home to meet us so we thought that this relationship must be quite serious!  Especially when they had to travel all the way to Scotland for the introductions!

Anyway as soon as we picked them up at the airport and were introduced to Mrs. Sword, any concerns we had disappeared as we found Mrs. Sword to be a very friendly, warm, and genuine person and our liking for her just grew over the time that they spent with us.

So we were absolutely thrilled that their relationship blossomed and that they are now only a few hours away from being married.

Next up, I spoke, because in case you can’t tell from my lengthy blog posts, I love words and talking and writing.  While I wanted to thank everyone in the room (and the world!) I had to limit myself and chose to thank the three women who occupy the space of a motherly role in my life, all in different and special ways.  I won’t include it here but in my speech I thanked Boss Lady, Mum Sword, and of course my amazing mother, Mom Sword!

There were TWO surprises at our rehearsal dinner.  The first was Sister/MOH Big Eyes and FBIL singing a song medley that chronicled our relationship over the years.  SO cool.  They chose a short verse or chorus from each part of the song to represent each moment written on cards (written in bold below) held by our Usher/Cousin Dancer.

Usher/Cousin Dancer held their cue cards!

The song selections were:

Drama Queen by Suzie McNeil- It all started with a girl named Mrs. Sword.

Geek in the Pink by Jason Mraz- And… a boy from Scotland named Mr. Sword.

Closing Time by Semisonic- They met at a bar! (Ironically this is also the song Mr. Sword chose for our DJ to play as our last song of the night at our wedding.)

Window Shopping by Hank Williams – For their first date they decided to go… Window Shopping.  (Our first date was browsing shops on Michigan Ave, specifically the awesomeness that is Nordstrom.)

Crush by David Archuleta- The dating began.  (Duh.)

Cleaning This Gun (Come on in Boy) by Rodney Atkins- It was time to meet the families.  (The funniest part about this song choice is that neither of our Dad’s own guns or the least bit intimidating to meet.)

Woman I Love by Jason Mraz- Mr. Sword decided to pop the question.

I Do by Colbie Caillat- Mrs. Sword said yes!

Going to the Chapel by Crystals- Wedding date set- March 9th, 2013

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri- They plan to grow old together.  (You’ll sing this song reappear later as well!)

The photo below is a good view of the awkwardness that it was to stand in between both rooms.

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The second surprise of the night was from ME to Mr. Sword!

The groom’s cake is a tradition we never really discussed and wouldn’t have missed to be perfectly honest, but I knew my hubby loves a good tres leches cake.  He’d never had one until coming to America and since his first one in 2010 we have to look for tres leches cake on every single dessert menu we see.  If you’ve never had the three milks cake you’re missing out! It’s nothing short of amazing and FWIW I once made one starting with a yellow box cake and simply added the milks to it, and Mr. Sword was in heaven!

Of course I had to have them write “A Highland Fairy Tale” on top!

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Mr. Sword loved his groom’s cake and definitely had no idea it was coming so I was pretty happy!

The woman I worked with to organize our rehearsal dinner at Cowboy Jacks was so sweet and she even offered to pick up the cakes earlier that day so we wouldn’t have to find someone to do it. Cowboy Jack’s also provided us with plates, forks, and an open table to store our bridal party gifts.  They went above and beyond.  I know it might be a bit of a unique place for a rehearsal dinner but I highly recommend them to anyone getting married in the Twin Cities and Bloomington area!  Who doesn’t love a good burger and a beer?

After passing out gifts, hugging everyone, and chatting with our friends, it was time to walk back over to the hotel.  Some of Mr. Sword’s Scottish friends were staying at Cowboy Jack’s to partake in post-dinner shots and being the buzz kill that I am I made to sure to remind our groomsmen of the long day coming up and how they had to look happy and alive for pictures!  (It must have worked because they were all up and ready and perfect gentleman all day and some of them were still trying to get past the jet lag! Such troopers!)

(all photos personal and still blurry)

Did you have any surprises at your rehearsal dinner?  Did you choose convenience too and in the end it was totally worth it?

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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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Are Ladies Who Lunch

Friday marked the beginning of the end.  It was here, our wedding weekend had arrived and I wanted life to slow down as much as possible to enjoy every second of it.

Mr. Sword and I before we kicked him out!

Mr. Sword and I before we kicked him out!

Remember when I mentioned Mom Sword wanted to throw a little shindig for the women in the family/bridal party the day before the wedding?  Well, she did and it was lovely.  All my favorite women in one place.

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Flavored water anyone? I need to get myself a pair of these pitchers!

Flavored water anyone? I need to get myself a pair of these pitchers from BBB!

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Mom Sword and Cousin/Bridesmaid Jo were the hosts and BM Jo even put together a slide show that gave every woman at the luncheon a princess identity.  I thought it was so cute how they wanted to incorporate the fairy tale theme with everyone and I also got to talk about how much each person meant to me which was a great way for the ladies to get to know each other.

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Of course we also wore our princess headbands that MOH Big Eyes gifted everyone in the bridal party.  They made their first appearance at my bachelorette party and were a big hit with all the girls!

Mrs. Sword and Usher/Cousin Dancer

Mrs. Sword and Usher/Cousin Dancer

Mrs. Sword with BM/Cousin Jo

Mrs. Sword with BM/Cousin Jo

We aren't wearing our headbands yet but I had to include this one of Sister Big Eyes and I, we kind of look alike here!

We aren’t wearing our headbands yet but I had to include this one of Sister Big Eyes and I, we kind of look alike here!

The Ladies luncheon was a really sweet and normal speed memory in an otherwise fast-paced weekend.  It was also the only pre-wedding event that Mr. Sword’s Mum and Sister could attend being that they live in Scotland.  It was so special to have our families together in one country if even for one weekend!

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Are you going to have a special get together before your wedding day?  Did anyone notice that the dress I am wearing (from the Loft) was also one of the MANY I wore on my honeymoon a few weeks later?

(all photos personal)

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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!