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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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(personal photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Usher/Cousin Dancer held their cue cards!

The song selections were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

red eye removed

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

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

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

(all photos personal and still blurry)

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

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

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

I Couldn’t Tell You Before the Wedding

So before we leave on our unplugged honeymoon (more details on that to come next week), I have a few more posts to share about the Sword wedding planning process.

It’s time to divulge that there was one thing that could have been a HUGE problem but luckily turned out perfect in the end.

Truthbomb: We might have invited a few more people to our rehearsal dinner than we could actually fit in the reserved room.  How much more you ask?  Well since our rehearsal dinner goal was to feed anyone who came from out-of-state or out-of-country, we ended up inviting a total of 148 people.

The room on other hand?  It only fit 50-70 people max.  WHAT WERE WE THINKING!?!?!  🙂

We were thinking how much fun it would be see everyone twice, we were thinking feeding everyone twice was a way to thank them for making such a long trip, but in the end it was clear we were NOT thinking because it wasn’t until after the invitations had gone out that Mr. Sword turned to me and said, “How many people can we fit in that room at Cowboy Jack’s?”  My response, “Oh, a hundred or so.”  Wrong!

After checking our emails from the rehearsal dinner venue, it was clear we had over-invited.  Yet, for some odd reason, I wasn’t worried.  I knew it would all work out, and I had to focus on the real concerns of the wedding such as paper color and the weather.  (Really, Mrs. Sword?)

Of course we knew ahead of time that many of our Scottish guests wouldn’t be able to make the long flight, but that still only got us down to like 110, for the rest of the discrepancy we had to rely on US declines, and people who WERE coming to the wedding but who just couldn’t make the rehearsal dinner for whatever reason.  Scary.  Especially since I refused to tell any of our out-of-town guests.  So it remained a secret that we needed over half of those invited to the rehearsal dinner to RSVP a “no.”

I would normally have shouted my faux-pas on the blog in order to warn others against making the same mistake but I wanted to avoid making a guest feel like they weren’t welcome!  All of our amazing guests were so important to us and dammit we were gonna find seating for them all!

And then of course, it all worked out like I knew it would.  Our final number ended up being 66 people.  Four under our room’s max occupancy.  Swords for the win.  And no one had to know.

Did you or do you have something you over-invited for by accident?  Any secrets you care to share post-wedding that you knew would work out in the end?

Tomorrow

Wow.  I’m sitting here blogging in my hotel room in the only moment of quiet I’ve had all day.  It’s a little after midnight and I’m ready to pass out from exhaustion but I wanted to write one last post before I got married.

I can’t believe tomorrow is my wedding.  It’s finally here.

Mr. Sword and I drove in another stupid snow storm this past Tuesday but we made it safely to the Twin Cities and so did all of our family throughout the course of this week.

yuck.

yuck.

We have so many out-of-town guests staying at our Embassy Suites that it’s literally buzzing with talk of our wedding.

I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster and while I’m beyond tired and slightly nervous, the ride is just getting started.  Tomorrow is going to be amazing and wonderful and I really can’t believe it’s my turn to be the bride.

To Mr. Sword, you are my everything.  Not sure how I got so lucky to meet such an amazing man but I look forward to spending all of my days loving you.

To my family and friends, if today is any indication of how much love can be heaped on two people then I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  I would be nothing without all of your beautiful love and support.

To the hive, thank you for all your lovely comments, support, ideas, and sage advice.  This community has made me feel so blessed, and it’s made me feel like my crazy wedding brain had a safe place to call home.

To the 70% chance of rain forecasted in Minnesota tomorrow that is threatening to ruin our two hours of outdoor photos, BITE ME.  (Of course the last two days have been super sunny!)

Before I go, here is a sneak peak from our rehearsal tonight…

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(all photos personal)

Time.for.bed.

Yours (for the last time as),

Miss Sword

Last Minute Plans

How are you spending the day before your wedding?  Are you having a rehearsal followed by a rehearsal dinner like us?  Are you going to a salon with your bridal party to get pampered?  A couple’s massage with your betrothed?  Or are you doing something adventurous and random like rock climbing or go-kart racing?

For our big day before the Big Day Mom Sword will be hosting a luncheon for all of the women in our very small families and the bridal party ladies at her house.  It’s called “Lunch with Princess Miss Sword” and it will be a time for me to relax and chat with 17 of my favorite people in the whole world.  This is the only event that my FMIL and FSIL will be able to attend since they live in Scotland and weren’t able to attend the bridal showers or other planning events for obvious reasons.  Mom Sword wanted them to feel special and included and I know this is going to make for one awesome memory.  How often will I get all of these women in the same room again?  Plus, it’s a great way to kick off the wedding weekend festivities!!

Immediately after the lunch the bridal party and I will head out to get our nails done at Livvy Nails and Spa.

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I’ve said before I’m a bit of a nail salon snob and I’ve gotten spoiled living in Chicago.  I have about three salons I alternate between and I’m really weary of trying new places.  I decided to use Facebook to ask my Minnesota friends for recommendations of fabulous nail salons and went to check them out when I was in town.

I’m so happy with our choice and so far the owner of Livvy Nails and Spa has been very helpful, and they even have this adorable pink butterfly chair for Littlest C to use.  How adorable!  I can’t wait!

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The big question is what color should I do my nails!?!? I’m definitely doing a gel manicure for my hands (they are addicting) but I can’t decide between bridal white and eggplant purple… any thoughts?  Also I only use Essie nail polish.  I mentioned I’m a snob, right?

For my toes I’m thinking either the eggplant again or lavender?

playdate (perfect name for a nanny!)

playdate (perfect name for a nanny!)

It ended up being a very busy two days during my quick planning trip to Minnesota but somehow I managed to fit in a fitting, and meetings with my florist, bakery, venue, and hair/makeup artist. Everywhere I went I had to drop off a little piece of our tartan so it could be incorporated into the wedding in some way.  We still have a few scraps of it left but I think we’ve used it every single place we could imagine!  I can’t wait to see it all come together.  SO.CLOSE.NOW.

(all photos personal)

Are you doing anything special the day before your wedding?  What color should I paint my nails?  Is anyone else a nail salon snob?

I Miss My Self-Esteem Most of All

We tend to lose a few things during the wedding planning process, but of all the things I’ve lost (free time, spending money, quality sleep, eating whatever I want), I think I miss my self-esteem the most of all.

I’m sorry, but I’m going to talk about body image.  I don’t want to, but I need to get this out somewhere and I figure this is the most ideal place.

Last week I picked up my dress for the rehearsal dinner and not only did it not fit, but the shotty zipper broke while they were trying to get me in and then out of it.  Talk about depressing.  I’ve now had TWO horrible first experiences with ordered dresses and I’m pretty frustrated/annoyed with my body.

This is a 200+ dollar bridesmaid dress from a shop* in downtown Chicago.  I wouldn’t normally spend so much on a rehearsal dinner dress but it was a gift from Boss Lady.  During the summer of 2012 Boss Lady bid on a gift card to this shop and won!  We didn’t have time to go shopping until this past January and we brought Littlest C with us to try on their flower girl dresses as well.  I had Littlest C take a few photos of some of the dresses we looked at that evening.

Wedding stuff and Museum Jan. 2013 007

Wedding stuff and Museum Jan. 2013 008

In the end we found this beautiful strapless color-blocked dress (ivory, silver, black) with a pencil skirt bottom, and we decided it would be perfect for not only the rehearsal dinner, but also to wear again to other semi-formal events!  The problem was I was in between sizes, which is the STORY OF MY LIFE.

This is my ever-constant first world problem, everything on me is two different sizes, my shoes, my bust, my body.  I always seem to need two different sizes which inevitably causes problems when it comes to purchasing clothing/shoes.  Well, I decided to go with the smaller size in the case of the rehearsal dinner dress when I probably should have gone with the bigger size.  Ugh.

In the end it was a crappy zipper that did me in.  Much like the bra fiasco from scenario one.  The ladies at the salon were very nice to me and offered a credit for the broken zipper.  But the irritating part was that they called the designer and she proceeded to blame me for the broken zipper based on the fact that I chose the smaller size, which could be partly true, but it could be partly true that her zipper was crap as well!  Also, the dress has shearing over the mid-section which makes it difficult for zippers to get past seams, AND I remembered the sample I tried on previously had a broken zipper as well.  And seriously, did she have to make me feel like a fat ass two weeks before my wedding?  I think not.

To be honest, I’ve always had pretty awesome self-esteem.  I was raised to feel confident about my self image regardless of “flaws,” and I like my body, if not love it most of the time.  So it sucks that I’ve been picking apart at myself these last few months.  My teeth aren’t white enough, my skin isn’t tan enough, my body isn’t thin enough.

The shocking part is that I’m the thinnest I’ve been in a while and I’m still feeling like crap.  It’s all in my head.  I get this.  I’m smart.  And the brain is a powerful thing.  I know I look damn good, and I know I will be a beautiful bride.  All that aside, can I please wear a paper sack for the next few weeks?

I can’t even blame the wedding industry or bridal magazines/blogs (well, I guess I could…)!  It’s my fault for imagining myself a certain way on my wedding day and it’s my fault for putting unnecessary pressure on myself to be perfect.  Don’t be like me.  Don’t put pressure on yourself.  It’s one day.  And you’ll look beautiful too.

NOTE: I’m not searching for compliments, just some commiseration!  And I literally CANNOT WAIT until after the wedding and I go back to being my normal, confidence exuding bad-ass sexy self (she says with a grin).

*I don’t want to make this a review of the shop but if you live in Chicago and want more information, just send me a private message.

(all photos personal)

Does anyone else feel like their self-esteem did a 180 during wedding planning?  Anyone else have frustrating experiences with ordering dresses and them not fitting or zippers breaking?  Tell me I’m not alone!  🙂

Why I Love the Online RSVP

When I first shared our Once Upon a Time invitations with the hive I talked briefly about my love of online RSVP’ing, but I figure it’s worth sharing my thoughts again and this time in more detail.

I have a confession to make, I placed a lot more importance on our RSVP deadline date than I originally thought I would.  I ended up attaching some emotion to the RSVP waiting game and frankly, it’s not something I would recommend!

I have secretly been waiting for Jan. 15th for a while now; feeling beyond curious about who will be able to attend the wedding and who will not.  I know many bees before me have written about their disappointment when certain family members or friends submit a “no” response, and I am here to commiserate with them.  But I truly believe that everyone who is meant to be there will be there and the wedding day will be fantastic no matter what.

We chose a deadline early enough to give us plenty of time to track down the stragglers and to be certain that guests had ample time to make hotel reservations and flights.  If most of your guests are in the same state/city, I wouldn’t think you need to know as far in advance as we do.  I’m also anxious to have a real number in my head!  For the past year when talking about our guest list it’s always been a range of numbers, like 110-150 or our best guess, 130ish?  Soon enough, we will have a confirmed number.

Speaking of numbers, out of the 186 people invited, we have heard back from 129 of them with 102 folks attending and 27 declining.  A great start!  Since we are inviting a few families, I think it also makes sense to look at our guests as households or invitations.  We sent out 86 invitations and have heard back from 63.  Out of those 63 households, 50 have accepted and 13 have declined, with 23 households left unknown at this point.

While I love the idea of receiving the RSVP cards in the mail because it’s traditional and beautiful, I have to say going online with our RSVP system was one of the smartest decisions we made! I love the ease of it and the way it keeps track of everything for us.  I can just log in and see our numbers quickly without counting or entering in information myself.

So imagine you are a guest invited to our Highland Fairy Tale wedding.  Your first step is to type in our wedding website URL to find this home page.

website home page cropped
After browsing our engagement photos and reading our proposal story, you’ll locate the “RSVP” tab on the left and click it.  After which, you’ll see this:
household screenshot

At this point you’ll enter your name in the boxes provided to bring up everyone in your household.  For most that means couples or families, but also people who are dating and/or have different last names.  Each name was entered separately into the website and organized under a household name.  For the few plus ones we gave (mostly to friends traveling from Scotland of whom we didn’t know their relationship status) we put them in as Guest Householdname.

NOTE: This can be tricky with family members who have the same last name but are part of different households.  WeddingWire will show you all of the people with your matching last name but since we’ve invited our favorite people in the world, we are just trusting that folks are only RSVP’ing for themselves and no one else.
Once your name comes up and you find the “click here to RSVP” button, you’re taken to this page:
online rsvp screenshot

The example I’m showing is from a two person household that is coming from out-of-town, thus their response is needed for the rehearsal dinner as well.

In case I haven’t spoken highly enough of this system yet, here are my top four reasons as to why I love online RSVP’ing:

1. Instant Gratification:  The second someone’s RSVP is submitted Mr. Sword and I each receive an email complete with their response, meal choices and their personal note (if they left one).  I cannot tell you how much my heart leaps every time I see that WeddingWire has sent me an email saying, “So-and-So has submitted an RSVP to your events.”

2. Endless Meal Options:  This reason makes me laugh because we really utilized this website feature for our wedding, but not in the most typical spot.  I’ve talked before how we are serving chicken or a vegetarian option at our wedding, but our rehearsal dinner is a completely different story.  With one set price and the ability to offer my out-of-town guests whatever type of burger their heart desires, we had many options in our drop down menu.  I’m.not.kidding.

food options two

3. Procrastinators Aren’t Punished:  You know those people who wait until the last-minute for everything (we had a few)?  The online RSVP is amazing because even if they remember at 11:55 PM they can still get their response in on time, without it taking days to go through the mail.  Or they can respond a few days late and we’ll get their RSVP seconds after they submit it.  (See reason number one again.)

4. Money Will Be Saved:  We saved money by not buying reply cards, envelopes, and stamps (both US and UK).  Every little bit of savings helps the overall budget stay on track!

Finally, we chose WeddingWire because when we first picked a site to host our wedding website, Mr. Sword thought WeddingWire had the most customize-able options. We ended up deciding NOT to password protect our site (although it’s probably a good idea) because instead we decided to be stingy with who could see our website information.  We never posted the URL on Facebook or in mass emails, and the first time most guests saw our website was three months before the wedding when we sent out the invitations.

I have to admit I am most curious to see if we got a higher or lower percentage of people to RSVP by our given deadline than if we would have sent out paper response cards.  Since every group of guests is different the only way to really test my theory would be to experiment on the same group of people.  But no one, and I mean NO ONE is going to want to take the time to plug-in every guest’s name to their website AND address and stamp the same amount of return cards.  But if you do, let me know how it goes?

(all photos are personal shots of the Sword wedding website, edited by Miss Sword)

Does anyone else love online RSVP’ing as much as me?  Did you give a deadline and if so, what were your counts at that point?