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The Big Bad Budget Post- Sword Edition

I want to start this post with a collective groan (ullllhhh) because it’s all about wedding budgets and money.  I’m going to share our real figures accurately as possible, aside from rounding up or down to keep things easier.  (I hate math.)

Obviously, some of you might be like, “HOLY SH&T MRS. SWORD, you spent that much on one day?!?!?”  And some of you might be like, “Wow, that’s barely anything.  My entire budget is two or three times that.”

But hopefully most of you have less extreme reactions to our budget and can find something that relates to your own wedding.  Everyone’s situation is unique to them, and we all know there are two major things that affect the cost of a wedding: location and budget.  That being said, here is the Sword nitty-gritty.

Mr. Sword and I got married in Bloomington, MN in the County of Hennepin (much to the dismay of many of our friends who wanted an excuse to take a trip to Scotland).  I went to this Cost of Wedding website for more information on the average budget for someone getting married in this area.

Average Cost of Wedding in Hennepin County, MN: Between $20,732 and $34,553, with most couples not spending over 10,000 dollars.

The Sword’s Wedding Budget Goal: $25,000

Total Cost of A Highland Fairy Tale: $28,267

For a grand total of 3,267 dollars over budget, we’ll take it!  🙂

Who Contributed: 1/3 Mrs. Sword’s parents, 1/3 Mr. Sword’s parents, 1/3 the Swords themselves.  It was a group effort!

The Budget Breakdown:

Rehearsal Dinner at Cowboy Jack’s: $1,500 (this includes burgers and a drink for about 70 people and Mr. Sword’s tres leches groom’s cake)

Bridal Attire (including alterations, jewelry, and shoes): $1,300

Groom’s Attire (including custom-made kilt from Scotland and accessories): $2,000

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YES, we spent more on Mr. Sword than me!  Love it.

6 yards extra fabric of family named tartan that is really one-of-a-kind and was used multiple times: $645.00

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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!)

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personal photo

Gifts for bridal party and family: approx. $1,000 (which sounds scary but that is split between 20 people which equals roughly around 50 bucks a person, seems reasonable to me)

Shortbread favors for guests: $115

Invitations and STD’s: $642

Sorry for the blurs!

Sorry for the blurs!

Storybook Guestbook: $90

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Crafting supplies, OOTG bags, stamps, and other misc: $500 (most of which was spent at JoAnn’s)

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personal photos

Tips for vendors: $370

Accommodations: $260 (for two nights, one before wedding, and one after, wedding night was complimentary)

Sword escort card display: Gifted by Mom Sword

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Pre-wedding Mani/Pedi: Gifted by BM L Dawg

Not Included Costs: Honeymoon and engagement ring.  We feel those two items are separate from our wedding budget.

What We Skipped:

Transportation:  One stop shop wedding meant we didn’t need to transport guests at all.  The hotel had a shuttle that ran people to and from the airport as well as the Mall of America.  When we went off-site for photos we had family and friends drive us.

Chair Covers:  Ah, yea, didn’t miss ’em.

Photo Booth: A good wedding trend, but one I had no desire to indulge in.  Our dance party reception was a hit without it.

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography unless otherwise noted.

Phew!  Hope this post was informative and interesting at the same time.  Tomorrow I’m going to share my vendor reviews and then it’s time for The Swords to say goodbye.  😦

A Highland Fairy Tale: Whiskey at Brunch

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

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

This is what we looked like on March 10th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

image via Amazon

image via Amazon

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

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

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

All coming photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

You know you are having a winter wedding when…

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A good place to store a plastic sword.

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

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

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

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

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

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Admire the Details

Yay, we’ve arrived at the details post!  Which means less talking, more photo sharing.   I’ve saved all the major detail shots from the whole day for this post, enjoy!

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dress hanger edited

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Sorry for the blurs!

Sorry for the blurs!

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You didn’t think there was any way I would miss out on having our royal wedding RSVP (aka the best DECLINE in the history of declines) included in the details photo shoot, right?  Mr. Sword is still part of the United Kingdom whether his Scottish self likes it or not.  🙂

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personal photo I took the morning after the wedding

personal photo I took the morning after the wedding

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Truth time: That isn’t my wedding band anymore, I traded it in for a new one!

Before we get to the big entrances I wanted to share these reception detail shots as well.

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I’m really happy with how the room turned out and I love the purple uplighting we added.  If you’ll remember, I had two separate centerpieces, beer bottles and hurricanes, but unfortunately I only have good shots of the beer bottle tables.  To be honest, I dislike the carpet and the chairs in some of the pics but I don’t regret skipping on chair covers.  So not a priority!  Having a band AND a DJ was such a better use of our money.

For all you fellow hotel/ballroom brides out there who wish you had chosen a more unique wedding space, remember, the energy and love of your wedding will overshadow even the most bland venue.

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Did you see our Walker’s shortbread favors?  Everyone loved eating them as a wee snack later in the evening.

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Our storybook guestbook was a hit and our guests cracked us up with their awesome comments.

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One of my favorite Destroy-it-Yourself’s:

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The room was filled with love quotes and engagement photos.

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I was so pleased with our AMAZING castle themed escort table complete with tartan flag, a prince and princess, and of course the personalized SWORD escort cards.  My mom and her friends did an amazing job on this!  The detail is insane.  (Note: this started as a plain, wooden dollhouse from Michael’s, and I hope to save it for a future daughter of ours to play with someday!)

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Finally, our cake was simple and geometric and totally fit our theme and it was so cool to see my wirthday gift cake topper in use!

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We used a large piece of our family tartan to cover a square foam that we rented from the bakery as a cake stand and we put up our parent’s wedding photos on either side of the cake.

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All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Next up, we dance in to the reception!

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

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

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

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

Reception
Cocktail hour!

Wedding Bands on a Budget

A few weekends ago Mr. Sword and I ventured out to take a look at wedding bands.  We started at the place he purchased my engagement ring, Wedding Band Co, located on Jewelers Row in downtown Chicago.

To recap, my engagement ring is a princess cut center stone with channel set princess diamonds on either side.  Because, DUH, I’m a princess and Mr. Sword is no fool!  🙂

My first thought was to go with a band that was thick and geometric to match the look of my engagement ring.  Something a lot like this:

image via World Jewels

But besides the high sticker price for that many princess cut diamonds, when I tried on bands of a larger width that had matching princess cut channel diamonds, I found I didn’t like them very much at all!  They were almost too similar and too typical.  I have always been drawn to popular trends but also to the slightly different or unique trends, and found I was no different when shopping for wedding bands.  So I started trying on atypical matches to my E ring, and I ended up falling in love with a very dainty, petite band covered in tiny round diamonds.

I know it’s sounds like it won’t match at all, but the round diamonds are so tiny that the band just looks sparkly and beautiful all the way around.  Unfortunately for Wedding Band Co, their version of this ring was over-priced in our opinion.  I know eternity bands can be expensive, and I know that quality varies from store to store, but I couldn’t justify spending that much on such a tiny band!  Mr. Sword was also adamant that we stay under budget and this ring was almost double!  So we moved on.

We decided to check out a Rogers and Hollands in Water Tower Place and found the same exact ring for a fraction of the price!  Knowing that Mr. Sword never makes a quick purchase, we went home empty-handed that day to let things settle, and so I could make sure I was still in love with my petite band before we did anything rash.  I’m happy to report I was truly smitten, and we went back one week later to buy the less expensive ring from Rogers and Hollands!  While I love that my engagement ring is such a quality stone and while it would have been ideal to have all of our rings cleaned and under warranty at the same store, it just wasn’t meant to be.  I’m so relieved we decided to shop around because we both think my wedding band is gorgeous and Mr. Sword is thrilled that we came in UNDER budget!

How do you think it matches up next to my engagement ring?

Both our jeweler from Wedding Band Co and the lady from Rogers and Hollands thought that another petite sparkly band would look just lovely on the other side of my ring and make a wonderful anniversary present.  Aren’t they smart??  🙂

As this post is already getting long, I’ll tell you the short version of how we picked Mr. Sword’s ring.  At first we looked at white gold, but Mr. Sword refused to spend that much money on himself.  Plus, he doesn’t even care  that much about jewelry.  So we decided on this masculine tungsten ring in white.  Done.

What do you think of our set, hive?  Anyone else shop around for their wedding band?