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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.

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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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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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En Garde: The Swords Celebrate One Year

Hive, how are you all??  It’s been way too long, and I’m soooo excited to be back even if it’s just to pop in for one day.  I know there many lovely new bees reading these days so in case you’re wondering who the Swords are, take a look at these photos of our Highland Fairy Tale.  (All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography unless otherwise noted.)

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OK that’s enough photos for now but if you want to go back and read my recaps, this post has the links to all of them at the bottom.

Being married is well, great!  I will say I’m officially in the camp of those who say getting married definitely changes things.  But for us, it’s been in a good way!  I feel like our admiration and respect of each other has grown, our relationship bond is deeper, our fights (while loud and emotional) don’t last quite as long, and our intimate moments are better and more connected.

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We’ve been through a lot in one year.  Two major moves, me leaving my job as a nanny, adopting our lovely dog McKenna, Mr. Sword finding a new job in a new state, and oh yea, getting pregnant!  What what??

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That’s right, the Swords are expecting their first little dagger and we’re absolutely thrilled about it!  🙂  Baby Sword is due at the end of July and while that’s pretty exciting we’re also in the middle of house hunting.  Here’s hoping we have a nursery and a home set up by summer and aren’t living with my parents anymore!  (Gulp.)

I realize I’ve probably run out on time and relevance to give wedding advice but I truly can’t help myself.  A) I love to talk about weddings and B) I have lots to share!  So do with it what you will.  No wedding is perfect but Mr. Sword and I still get compliments on ours a year later and I get misty-eyed thinking about how lovely a day it was.  I LOVED my wedding day.  Here’s why:

1. It was convenient. We had a perfect, gorgeous, albeit average hotel wedding but because guests were able to get ready, watch the ceremony, party all night, and sleep, all at the same location, they were able to open themselves to having the best time ever.

2. It was personalized.  We had a bagpiper and a Ceilidh band.  Our ceremony was liberal but religious.  I wore a tiara and Mr. Sword wore a kilt.  We had swords as our escort cards and beer bottles for centerpieces.

3.  It was full of love.  Even though it was 30 degrees and raining Mr. Sword and I were so elated to be getting married.  If you’re in love and content and comfortable, your guests will see that and it will spread everywhere.  Of course not everything went as planned (remember when my MOH and bridesmaid got stuck in an elevator?) but our family and friends were so amazing and everyone had such a good time that all I could do was smile.  You don’t need Chiavari chairs (we had ugly ballroom ones), expensive, fancy food (we served chicken), favors or bathroom baskets (OK, so we had both of those but you don’t need them), to have a perfect wedding.

Congrats and happy planning everybody!!  I may not post often but I still love reading Weddingbee!

PS I’d love for all of you to follow my new blog, Drama Happens.  It’s a relationship-focused blog where topics include but are not limited to embarrassing stories from my life, interviews from people in those culturally not-so-typical relationships, pregnancy updates, puke, my sister, bump photos, and Mr. Sword.

Until the next time,

xoxo,

Stephanie

The Swords Live Happily Ever After

It all started on the eve of Thanksgiving 2009.  I met a drunk Scottish guy and I gave him my phone number with the instructions, “I don’t call boys, boys call me.”  A phrase that haunts me still, but believe me, I didn’t mean it the way it sounds!  I was merely expressing my nervousness at my calling him.

He did call and our first date was lunch and window shopping down Michigan Ave in Chicago.  It was amazing.  By June of 2010 I was on a plane leaving the country for the very first time to visit his home in Scotland.   He proposed on February 19th, 2012 at the top of the John Hancock Building and we were wed on March 9th, 2013.  Now we live in the Kansas City area but our ultimate goal is to raise a family in Minnesota.  (Speaking of, go Minnesota for passing a same-sex marriage bill back in May; you make me proud!  Number 12 baby.)

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I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in a big wedding bubble when you’re deep in the middle of planning.  I know that some people in real life have lovingly and not-so-lovingly called me wedding-obsessed and/or crazy, but if I’m going to be crazy about one thing, it’s love. I will always cherish and enjoy weddings.  They represent beginnings, blending of families, and unfiltered bliss.

If I may indulge in one last piece of advice, here are my three best tips for a stunning and fabulous wedding:

1. Personalize, personalize, personalize.

2. Think like a guest.

3. Go for the deal!  (Life is short.  And if you can save ten bucks per head by having a March wedding in Minnesota then go for it, because April will not be any better weather-wise.)

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Blogging for this community has been such a rich blessing for me as a woman, a writer, and especially a bride.  To all of you who have followed my journey since the beginning, I commend you!  (I realize I can be a bit verbose at times.)  To the blogger friends I’ve made along the way, thank you for your amazing support.  To those of you who kept it real with me, your opinions were always appreciated as was the reminder that I can’t possibly please everyone.

From the moment I woke up after a vivid dream with the words “A Highland Fairy Tale” in my head, to the day it was all so beautifully executed, I’ve had a blast.  Mr. Sword, you are the most amazing man I know.  Our wedding was perfect because our relationship is solid and a happy, loving couple is all anyone should expect at a wedding.  I look forward to many more special moments with you as my husband.

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HOLD ON A SEC… who is that sneaking into our family photo???  Oh yes, that’s our new baby girl.  She’s a one year old hound mix with a brindle coat and she’s kind of amazing.  We got her from a shelter in mid-August and we LOVE being doggie parents.  Should we call her our dagger or just a small sword?

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Her name is McKenna.  Of course it’s a Scottish name because that’s exactly something I would do.  Isn’t she the cutest?

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I’m still planning on writing and well, being me, so if you’re so inclined, please feel free to check out my new relationship blog, Drama Happens.  I’d love to be able to share more of my life with you all!

With that, The Swords are leaving the building.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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(all photos personal)

One last thought!  The fact that I could never make a Sword in the Stone wedding reference in my year of blogging really upsets me.  Anyone got anything good?  🙂

Love,
Stephanie

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: 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.

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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!