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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

personal photo

personal photo

Flowers: $550 (five bouquets and four corsages)

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Centerpieces: $285 (this is just what we spent, Mom Sword spent more finishing them up)

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Venue and Catering: $11,000 (this includes three sections of the ballroom and all that comes with them, one hour open bar, plated dinner for all guests, beer, wine, signature drinks, soda, late night snack, draping behind sweetheart table, purple uplighting, and the cake)

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Atrium rental fee for ceremony: $500

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Officiant: $275

Marriage License: $40 (MN charges $115 unless you show proof of premarital counseling which lowers it to 40 bucks)

Bagpiper: $250

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Photography: $2,160 (after a discount for finding her through a blog)

Videography: $2,300 (for four separately edited films- trailer, full video, ceremony, and Best Man Speech)

Ceilidh Band: $550 (for one hour of playing)

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DJ (including glow sticks, extra lighting, and lapel mic rental): $1,040

Wedding band hers: $600 (white gold)

Wedding band his: $210 (tungsten)

Hair and Makeup: $200 (for a trial and the day of, which was super discounted, I love my girl!)

Hair Extensions: $170 (have worn them a total of four times so far and plan on wearing them again in the future, so worth it!)

personal photo

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)

personal photos

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: We Drive in Snow and Tears

Our wedding was on a Saturday but we left for Minnesota on a Tuesday.  We drove in a snowstorm/blizzard.

Highland Fairy Tale Week! 007

That was fun, NOT.  At this point, it’s just devastating comical how many times the weather has interrupted our wedding plans.  For starters, I had rain on both of my shower days (Minnesota one in Oct, Chicago one in Feb).  We drove at NIGHT in a blizzard for our planning trip at Christmas, and then proceeded to press repeat for our final drive the Tuesday of our wedding week, with it all culminating on our rainy and cold wedding day.  Winning.

Mom Sword felt bad for us but she was quick to remind me that we had no trouble getting all of our relatives and friends to the wedding from snowy North Dakota or faraway Scotland so we should be grateful for that (and we were!).

Back to that fateful Tuesday.  You can see why there was snow, but why tears?  While the weather was melting down so was I.  The thing about wedding weeks is that emotions are heightened and everything is a bigger deal than it should be.  Miscommunication can and will happen!  The gist of it was, my feelings were hurt, but in the grand scheme of things, it was nothing.  And true to our overly communicative family, we talked it out and all was fine in the end.

The good news was that Mr. Sword’s parents also arrived that Tuesday despite our crappy Midwestern weather!  It was their first trip to America, and spoiler alert, they loved it!

We spent the next few days organizing all of the reception decor to be dropped off at the hotel, folding ceremony programs, meeting with Pastor P, and showing my in-laws around the Twin Cities!

Oh and we also put them to work!  ;)

Oh and we also put them to work! 😉

My brother, affectionately known as “The Glue” (because he claims he’s the glue that keeps the family together) got to try on his rented kilt ensemble after it arrived just a few days before the wedding.  The funny thing is I think The Glue looked the most Scottish of all our groomsmen despite being the only American (you’ll see what I mean later on).

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Great face Mr. Sword, haha!

The Thursday before the wedding I took my Mom and Mr. Sword’s Mum to get their nails done with Sister/MOH Big Eyes in tow.  It was nice to have a special moment with both of them before everyone else arrived and since neither of them get their nails done regularly it was a real treat!

Mom Sword and MOH Big Eyes

Mom Sword and MOH Big Eyes

Mum Sword

Mum Sword

Did you have a good cry the week of your wedding (I totally recommend it)?  Any out of town brides have trouble getting to their wedding because of weather or something else?

(all photos personal)

Sword Wedding footer FINAL

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

Pre-Wedding
Teaser video!

Butts in Seats

Since we are having a plated dinner at our reception and the thought of free-for-all seating scares me, our guests are going to be given a spot to sit, and I’m happy to report the Sword table assignments have been completed!  Of course our guests are free to sit anywhere at said table, but for the purposes of allergies, and because let’s face it, people like to sit by the folks they know, everyone was assigned a specific table in advance.

And it was so easy that I’m scared it was too easy.  If you’re looking for a quick way to design your table chart, here’s a break down of how my system worked and a rough estimate of how long everything took me.

First off, I have to give credit to Mrs. Mink’s post here because her ingenuity was what inspired me to do the same!  🙂

By putting some effort in ahead of time, Mom Sword and I were able to create the table assignments in a quick 20 minutes.  We started with the tables that we were more certain of and went from there.  Once Mr. Sword arrived home from Kansas City he reviewed our table assignments, made a few slight changes, and with that we were done!

We probably spent a total of 35 minutes making the seating chart and I firmly believe that it went so quickly because of the preparation I did ahead of time.

The only thing I had to buy were the little post-it notes to write the guest’s names on, the other stuff, scissors, paper, and a pen were all found in my house.

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I wrote every single wedding guests’ name on their own post-it note.  Color didn’t matter.  This part probably took close to 45 minutes but I did it while watching TV, so it flew by.  Once they were all finished I stuck each name to a piece of paper and set it aside.

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After that I cut each piece of scratch paper into an oval or an oddly shaped circle, I wasn’t particular.  Then I wrote the table names in the center.

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The hardest part for a perfectionist like myself was not starting over when I messed up on a name or wrote the same table name twice (see below as I’m crossing something out).  To make this project worthwhile I had to be quick and a bit sloppy.  It’s not like this was going to be a final product or anything!

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In the end I’m so glad I took the time to set up the tables in a visual way because it was so much easier than all of us staring at the same computer screen trying to make the assignments online, or writing lists of names over and over.  It was so simple to change names by picking up their post-it and moving it from one table to the other.

We also tried to put the guests at tables that we thought fit with them.  For example, we put family at the Family table, and friends at the Friend table, and our church friends at the Faith table.  Not everyone is matched up perfectly, and there may or may not be a few men at the Princess table but hey, our friends have a sense of humor, right?

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We also used coasters to differentiate between the two types of centerpieces will be having at the wedding in effort to arrange how we want the tables positioned in the reception room.  Mr. Sword and I will be at a sweetheart table in the middle of the room and we tried to put our immediate family and bridal party as close to our table as possible.

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If you’re a visual learner like myself, I highly recommend this method of table assigning!  It worked wonders for us and it was so easy to make changes along the way.

Finally, remember when I asked for help with our castle and our escort cards?  Well we really wanted to make the flags as was the most popular suggestion but after A LOT of brainstorming, Mom Sword came up with something pretty brilliant.

This is just a first draft/prototype, but we all love it so far…

sword escort cards edited

(all photos personal)

Are you making table assignments?  If you already have, did you find it difficult or time-consuming?  What does the hive think of our escort card swords?

Charts and Graphs by Mr. Sword

Since Mr. Sword is too scared busy to write a guest post, I am sharing this post on his behalf, but all of the information gathering and graph making done in preparation for said blog post is courtesy of the ever-cute, ever-Scottish, and ever-skinny Mr. Sword.

Mr Sword edited

Awww! Isn’t he adorable in his kilt jacket?

I know everyone loves to see a good breakdown of the guest list and how many people are attending or not attending, and I’m no different.  Except instead of just breaking it down by family and friends of the bride or the groom, I think, especially in our case, it’s equally if not more interesting to look at the breakdown by in state, out of state, and out of country.

Our total number of attendees is officially 122 people not including Mr. and Miss Sword.  We had invited 187 (yes that number went up by one from my last post) guests but this includes children, partners, and plus ones.  Like I said before when I talked about the beauty of online RSVP’ing, sometimes it makes more sense to look at households or invitations that were sent out instead of counting each person.

For the sake of these charts and graphs, we will be counting and including each individual person.  It makes the most sense because, for example, a family of five might only have two people attending so we wouldn’t know whether they counted as a yes or a no.

For future reference: in state = Minnesota, out of state = any state other than Minnesota, out of country = mostly Scotland with one invite going to Canada, one going to England, and one to New Zealand.

Wedding color motif per request of Miss Sword.  🙂

Attending by Location 2

Guests By Location 2

Something I noticed right away was that we actually have more people attending from out of state than in state, but we also invited more out of state folks.  And something that is not clear from this chart is that we only have one family not attending who live in Minnesota, the other three not attending are plus ones that aren’t being used.

Now, for the breakdown of who invited who.  I was hesitant to post these charts because my number is significantly higher than his, but that is mostly because we are getting married in my home country and because Mr. Sword’s family is rather small.

Even though quite a few people from Scotland had to decline, I’m still eternally humbled and happy that Mr. Sword has such great family and friends who are willing to make the long and expensive trip to be with us on our wedding day.  Words cannot express my thankfulness.  This wedding will truly be a mix of BOTH of our favorite people.  We are blessed.

Guests Invited by Total 2

Guests Invited by Attending 2

The most interesting thing to me about these charts is the fact that Mr. Sword does not use a period when he writes Mr. Sword (like I do and just did, twice).  It’s a simple difference based on whether or not you’re using American or British usage, but it’s funny the things you learn about the person you love after years of being together.

I feel bad closing this blog post without a few words from Mr. Sword so I’ve taken the liberty to write out what I’m guessing he would have wanted to share with all of you.

Cheers* mate!  It’s baltic outside right now!  I’m well chuffed to be guest blogging today for my lovely fiancée Miss Sword.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the charts and graphs I was forced asked to make.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty knackered from all my traveling and I have to fill up my car with petrol and load the boot.  Thanks for having me on Weddingbee, Aye!  xx

Translation:  (And yes I know I put in some random crap he would never say on here but it makes me laugh.)

Hey friend!  It’s freezing outside right now!  I’m very happy to be guest blogging today for my sexy fiancée Miss Sword.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the charts and graphs I was begged asked to make (because she had no clue how to make them).  Unfortunately, I’m really tired from all of my traveling and I have to fill up the car with gas and load the trunk.  Thanks for having me on Weddingbee, yea!  hugshugs

(all photos personal and created by Mr. Sword)

*Before someone from the UK corrects me, yes I know the word “cheers” is normally used as a goodbye or a thank you but I looked it up, it can be a greeting or a hello as well!

Did you or will you have a higher percentage of in state guests attend your wedding vs out of state or out of country guests?  Are you pumped for having all of your favorite people in one room like we are?  Didn’t Mr. Sword write a sweet blog post?  🙂

Goodies For Our Guests

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

sword guests

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

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

OOTG bags edited

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

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

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

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

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

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

(all photos personal)

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

Six Tips To Make Your “Year of the Wedding” A Little Bit Easier

Unfortunately AND FORTUNATELY, my wedding planning time is almost up.  The Sword’s Big Day is just around the corner and I literally can’t believe I’ve been engaged since last Feb.  Life has flown by in the best of ways during this year and I have enjoyed nearly every second of it.  I’ve also learned a ton about what has benefited us the most while being engaged and I’d love to pass my insight on to you.

If you just got engaged over the holidays (congrats) or if you’re still in the early stages of planning, this list is for you!

Miss Sword’s Six Tips for the “Year of the Wedding” (length of “wedding year” can vary from a few months to multiple years)

1. Sign up for a PO Box.  This has been hands down the smartest thing we ever did.  These days it’s not common for couples to be living together before marriage and to be living in an apartment or a condo.  If you live in a place with a tiny mailbox or a slightly unsafe area (heeey big cities!) then a PO Box is the safest way to receive packages, gifts, letters, and wedding response cards.  We reserved one this past August through UPS for 14 months and it was 360 dollars.  Every time we order something important (like a gift for our parents, my shoes, the guestbook, etc) we have it sent to the PO Box.  We also put this address on our wedding website and registries so our personal address isn’t plastered everywhere and our wedding gifts are sent straight to the UPS store as opposed to being stuck on outside in the snow or at another location because they can’t be delivered.  The best part is that they send us an email and a text every time we receive a package so usually once or twice a week I hop in the car and drive the one mile to our PO Box to pick our loot.  This one Thursday was particularly awesome.  See below.

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2. Keep extra thank you cards and stamps nearby for quick return on sending those thank yous out the door.  Most of us are lucky enough to have bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and to receive gifts before the wedding.  The best way to show your appreciation for everyone’s time and generosity is to get your thank you cards out in a prompt and quick fashion.  This also helps your mental state as well because it’s an easy and fast way to check something off your long to-do list.  I gave myself three weeks after each event or party and a week after a wedding gift is delivered to get my thank you note in the mail.  You don’t have to write a novel, just sincere appreciation from the heart.  I try to buy a set of thank-you cards for each event and then to mix and match extras as not everyone is invited to each event.  Does that make sense?  I’m really looking forward to using our Once Upon a Time themed thank yous (yet to be revealed) that we ordered from Minted with our invitations to thank everyone for attending our wedding.

one of my favorite Kate Spade thank you cards/ image via Papyrus

one of my favorite Kate Spade thank you cards/ image via Papyrus

3. Sign up for every coupon and email list you can get your hands on.  This is especially perfect for those of you ladies who are changing your name post-wedding.  If you change your name, you will most likely change your email address and you can rid yourself of the daily or weekly store emails that are bombarding your inbox, and only re-sign up for the ones you truly care about.  In the meantime, don’t buy anything without a coupon!  This is something I learned from reading Weddingbee when I first got engaged.  Many bees were sharing how much they saved by buying their crafting supplies with coupons and I knew I had to try harder to save money.  So I signed up, and I signed up again.  Now whether it’s Kohl’s, Things Remembered, or JoAnn’s I try to use a coupon or a rewards card every time I go wedding shopping!

4. Designate a separate savings account known as “The Wedding Fund.”  For Mr. Sword and I, it’s been really helpful to have two different savings funds, well technically three: emergency, house, and wedding fund.  We also decided on a set budget and have used WeddingWire to track our wedding related expenses.  We still put money into our wedding fund monthly, but once the wedding is over all the extra money (praying there is some) can go directly into the house fund.

I want to digress for a moment and explain another way I would consider myself old-fashioned these days; the combining of finances among couples.  These days, I know many couples who still keep separate accounts after getting married or who have just one account with which they can both access.  After much discussion Mr. Sword and I decided to have access to each other’s bank accounts and the plan is to eventually merge everything together.  I just feel like what’s mine is yours sort of applies to everything in marriage whether it be monetary or emotionally or spiritually or physically.  I’m such a hopeless romantic.  🙂

Last photo of taken of The Swords before getting engaged!

Last photo of taken of The Swords before getting engaged!

Plus, it makes things so much easier because both Mr. Sword and I can access the wedding fund and watch what we spend and what we save.  Finances are a very personal topic so what works for us might not work for someone else.  That said, a set budget and a designated savings account are always helpful when planning an expensive event!

5.  Go a little crazy.  It’s only one year.  Wanna hear what crazy I’ve been doing? Only if your promise not to judge the fact that I’m telling you to spend money after I’m telling you to save money.

I get my nails done, like, all the time.  And not just manicures, I get pedicures frequently as well.  They just do a better job than I could ever hope to do, and my feet love me for it.  That said, I probably get two haircuts a year, so it all evens out.  Do you have a wedding indulgence?

nails

6.  Thank your friends and family and everyone involved in your wedding often and sincerely.  This is pretty self-explanatory.  Be overly grateful.  If you focus on how wonderful your family and friends have been over the past year you have less time to focus on how mother f*ing stressed out you are!  🙂

Thank those that host your showers or bachelor/bachelorette parties with cards or gifts.  Buy your Mom her wedding jewelry just because you love her and she’s been such a great help.  Call people (even if you hate the phone like I do) and stay involved in your friend’s lives.  Make dinner dates with your partner, go see shows, laugh, craft, and enjoy every second.  It goes by too fast!

BM Jo and MOH Big Eyes showing their excitement to be making tartan jewelry, thank you ladies!

BM Jo and MOH Big Eyes showing their excitement to be making tartan jewelry, thank you ladies!

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

What else is helping you through the “Year of the Wedding?”  Married bees, what am I missing?

Pick Your Battles (even the silly ones)

You can’t get upset about everything.  It will make you crazy.  But sometimes things are worth fighting for, and if you’re like me, you’ll pick the most random, unimportant, and silly battle of the bunch.

Hive, I freaked out about the color of paper.  See, we are framing our signature drink info and a few quotes/e-pics to be placed around the reception room.  One day while we were in Minnesota and I was having my hair/makeup trial with Laura, Mr. Sword was given the job of printing the quotes onto paper and putting them into frames.  (Shout-out to Mrs. Treasure for letting us re-use some of the black frames from her wedding!  Yay Chicago bees!)

The odd thing about the battle I picked is that there are other aspects of the wedding that are turning out a bit differently than I had anticipated, but I’m letting those things go.  The guestbook, the favors, and the bagpipe tunes are not entirely perfect and I’m OK with that!  We’re doing an amazing job planning this wedding and our day will be wonderful no matter what happens.  But as a writer, and a lover of words, I just wanted our framed love quotes and drink menus TO BE PERFECT.

So I threw a fit about the paper color because when I asked for ivory Mr. Sword and Dad Sword came back from Kinkos with this weird buttercup/pastel yellow.  It was terrible.  It just wouldn’t do.  And no amount of words would make me see otherwise.  “There is no yellow at our wedding!”  I exclaimed, frustrated that no one else could see the difference as well as I could.  They all started laughing at me and then I started laughing at me and it became clear I’d lost it over the dumbest thing on earth.

A few days later, Mr. Sword, myself, and Mom Sword went looking for the perfect ivory paper at Archiver’s.  It soon became apparent that there are about 30 shades of white and off-white paper but nothing that seemed to match the ivory matte in the frames.  Some looked too gray, some looked to white, and some looked too yellow.

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And that’s how we ended up with lavender. Ivory be damned!

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Mr. Sword eventually printed on the lavender paper and the cut it down to size using a paper-cutter.

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This is the finished product, didn’t he do a great job?

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As soon as all the papers were in the frames I was convinced I’d chosen the wrong quotes.  Clearly, I over-cared about this project just a little.  We’re letting it sit for now.  And in the end we’ll be married, so who really cares?   🙂

Everyone has a battle worth picking.  Even if it doesn’t make sense to others.

In case you are as enamored with quotes as I am, here are some of the ones we chose to display at our reception.  Steal away!

“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live a day without you.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Some Things Go Together by Charlotte Zolotow
Pigeons with park
Stars with dark
Sand with sea
and you with me.
… Hats with heads
Pillows with beds
Sky with blue
and me with you.

“A person doesn’t have to be perfect to be exactly what you need.”
J.D. from Scrubs

And from one of my favorite movies… Ever After

Danielle: A bird may love a fish, signore, but where will they live?
Leonardo Da Vinci: Then I shall have to make you wings.

(all photos personal)

What was the stupidest battle you picked?  Or what project do you over-care about?  Who else is putting love quotes around their reception?