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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

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 Make Out in the Hallway

Around 10 PM two things happened, 1) The late night snack was brought out for people to munch and nibble on (definitely recommend this if it’s a possibility at your venue, we went with the bar food option cause well, it made the most sense for us) and 2) Mr. Sword and I slipped away with Crystal to take the last couple portraits of the night.

This was probably the first time I sat down in hours and boy did it feel good!

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OK. OK, so this was a bit posed but it was still fun!  Gotta love a dramatic swoon amid purple lighting.

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After sitting down for a few minutes we slipped out of the reception room and into the hallway.  I love these photos because they’re relaxed and different.  My make-up might have worn off and I might have been veil-less but I was feeling exhilarated!  Also, my dress was still rockin’ after hours in the rain and tons of sweaty dancing.

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Crystal then encouraged us to get frisky.  Normally my man isn’t into PDA but he looks mighty comfortable in these next few pics, haha.

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We also managed to get one bridal portrait taken, and shockingly this is the only full-length picture of me by myself all day!

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The last photo of the night was taken in the lobby of the Embassy Suites.  It’s definitely become a family/friend/fan favorite!  Hopefully you an see why!

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Since this photo is also Mr. Sword’s favorite I had it made into a canvas to display in our home.  Can you find it?

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After returning to the reception it was time for Crystal to leave.  Our final song of the evening was chosen by Mr. Sword, “Closing Time” by Semisonic.  He picked this song because he said it always reminds him of an American bar since it’s played so frequently at closing time.

The party kept going until midnight at which time people either left to go home or went up to their rooms to crash while others continued drinking at the bar.  And with that our wedding was over!  Mr. Sword and I rode the elevators of doom one last time to our 8th floor hotel room where we were met with this:

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It was an amazing day and a dream come true.

The next post is the final one of our wedding recaps!  Thanks for hanging in there everybody.  🙂

Did you take any sneaky late night photos during your wedding reception?

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography unless otherwise noted.

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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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Dance and Drink the Night Away

OK, enough with the sappiness, let’s get this party started!!!  From about 9:30 pm until we were kicked out at midnight, the dancing was energized and non-stop!

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It was a pretty typical wedding reception.  The DJ kept it mostly fresh with new hits but threw in a few old school songs for good measure.

Girls in their late twenties danced to “So call me, maybe” with no shame.

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Scottish men got physical in odd-shaped huddles.

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The flower girl, who LITERALLY danced all night, took the prize for most adorable.  To this day, people still tell me how cute Littlest C was at the reception.

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Note: Littlest C has a glow stick attached to her dress.  We added a whole bunch of glow sticks to our order with Midwest Sound and it was definitely worth it!  They were a big hit with kids and adults.

And the bride and groom kept kissing each other.

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Now I wasn’t too picky about the music at our reception BUT I did have one major stipulation!  NO ORGANIZED LINE DANCES!!!  But wait, Mrs. Sword, wasn’t the ceilidh dancing one big line dance after big line dance???  Yes and no.  Those were culturally specific and more intricate.  Right!?

Well, Mom Sword and MOH Big Eyes LOVE American line dances and my cousins actually requested one but I had to lay down the law and emphatically tell them that line dances were on my “Do Not Play” list!

I ended up seeing the error in my ways (and apologizing to said cousins) because apparently the girlfriends of Mr. Sword’s buddies from Scotland were the ones who were DYING to try an American line dance.  They’d shown us theirs, it was time to reciprocate!  So I lifted the ban and we taught the Scottish folk the Cha Cha slide.  Fun was had by folks from both sides of the pond.

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While I was dancing up a storm this was also happening:

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Pretty sure that’s the best picture ever.  This wouldn’t be a Scottish wedding reception without a platter of shots now would it?!?!

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Cheers everybody!  Our wedding day was jam-packed and super fun, but it was the dancing portion that really flew by for me.  Up next, Mr. Sword and I sneak away for a few more pictures and the Sword wedding comes to an end!

Did you or do you hope to have an epic dance party as well?  Who else put a ban on American line dances?

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

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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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Fake Out Our Guests

From the second we got engaged I KNEW what our first dance song would be.  “Raise Your Glass” by Pink.  I know, I know, its super mainstream and popular and oh wait, it’s not a slow song!

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That didn’t bother us in the slightest.  Instead of starting with Pink’s song, we would begin by slow dancing to another favorite song (“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri) for about 45 seconds before having the DJ cut off the music completely.  At which point we’d look around confused until he started playing “Raise Your Glass” and then of course we were gonna bust a move.  But how did Pink’s song become our song?  For that story we have to go back to when we first started dating.

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At the beginning of our relationship Mr. Sword and I lived on separate sides of Chicago.  If you know Chicago you will understand that on a good day it took me 35 minutes to get there by car, and an hour on bad days, and since he didn’t have a vehicle Mr. Sword relied on the CTA which meant an hour and a half minimum.  Needless to say, we spent our entire weekends together, usually staying at his place in Wicker Park.  Unless one of us had a friend in town.

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This particular weekend honor attendant and bestie H was in town to visit me.  This meant no crashing with Mr. Sword and to my then boyfriend this also meant going out drinking with his buddies til the wee hours of the morning.

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Late that night after H and I were settled in and sleeping I got a call on my cell phone from Mr. Sword.  It was something like 3 AM and I felt bad that he had woken up H but she encouraged me to answer to make sure everything was OK.  Well he was drunk and told me he just wanted to leave me a message.  So after a quick goodnight I hung up and let him call back and then promptly fell back asleep.

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I woke up the next morning and listened to his message but there was nothing there.  It sounded all muffled and weird.  I’m thinking, “what the hell is going on?”  This static noise goes on for a minute or so and then I hear “raise your glass” being whispered by Mr. Sword and then later I hear him say, “Oh Shit.”  It’s the part of “Raise Your Glass” where Pink says her glass is empty.  I finally realize what he was doing and I start laughing hysterically.  I explain to H that whenever we would go out together and Mr. Sword would come home too wired to sleep we would listen to music while laying in bed sharing one ear bud each.  Well, this time, Mr, Sword had drunkenly put the ear bud up to his cell phone in the hopes that I would be able to hear it and share a song with him before bed even though we weren’t in the same place.  Awww!

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Too bad it didn’t work out that way!

"My glass is empty! That sucks."

“My glass is empty! That sucks.”

Now whenever H hears “Raise Your Glass” she thinks of us and that night and when I thought of dancing with my husband at our wedding I knew our favorite Pink song would be perfect!  Because, hey, we’re all wrong in the right ways sometimes.

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Dirty little freaks.

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We invited our bridal party to join us for the last chorus and it was such a rush to have them invade the dance floor.  I wish I could relive that moment over and over again!

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Such a great way to start the party. Raise your glass!

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Is anyone else planning a more unique first dance, maybe a fake out, maybe choreographed?

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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!