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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: 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 Strip the Willow

You guys, the Ceilidh band was the highlight of our reception.  It was the most fantastic, upbeat, crowd-pleasing, ruckus good time I’ve ever had at a wedding and yes, I’m completely 100% bias but I absolutely LOVED it.  And I know I wasn’t the only one!

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Our ceilidh band, known as The Gunn Slingers, consisted of four guys playing two guitar type things, a drum set, and an accordion.  Neil (the guy in the kilt) is also the caller and he’s from Scotland but lives in Minnesota now.  We found his band by pure luck and the fact that Mom Sword was able to stalk him at the Minnesota Scottish Fair in 2012.

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I am eternally grateful for Mr. Sword’s Scottish friends, both those from the UK and those living in the US, because it was so nice to have a group of people who actually knew what they were doing from the get-go!  Dancing the Ceilidh was difficult at first and all of us Americans were able to watch what they were doing and that made it so much more fun!

Basically, the caller explains the dance steps one time and then the music begins and the men start stomping their brogues (shoes) together in rhythm, and it’s GO time!

Here’s me trying to keep up in one of the first dances, I’m so classy.

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Then there were some people who made it look easy, like my in-laws and MOH Big Eyes and BIL.

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I danced every single song because it was my wedding dammit but I probably should have relaxed more often because dancing the ceilidh is exhausting!  Thank goodness I’d already decided to avoid drinking on my big day or things could have gotten ugly.  In between every song I basically collapsed on the bar and begged the bartender for a glass of ice water.  There was no down time and I just HAD to dance with everyone!

My favorite song was the Strip the Willow dance because you basically spin and spin and spin until they grant you mercy and stop playing music.  It’s fantastic.  The dance starts by everyone grabbing a partner and standing across from them in two lines.

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The first couple enters the middle and they spin each other while linking arms, then they separate and each spin with a partner from the opposite line and then back to middle to dance with each other, and then to the next person in the line and so on and so forth with the next pair starting immediately after the couple in front of them “strips” down the line.  It’s utter mayhem and it never stops.

My partner was Cousin Singer and he was awesome!  We got to be the first couple at the top of the line.  Whoo-hoo, being the bride rules.

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But since you spin your way down the line, I got to dance with almost everyone!

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And I found out later that the goal of many a Scottish guy is to swing his gal so hard and so fast that he lifts her off the ground.  Looking back, that makes total sense because the guys who’d done this dance before were the craziest!

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It was awesome watching everyone else Strip the Willow too!

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Action shot of Mr. Sword

Action shot of Mr. Sword

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It was so great to see the dance floor so full with our favorite people.  Of course there’s always those few that just don’t dance but our wedding was definitely a good example of almost everyone participating and that made us really happy.

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I’m pretty sure The Gunn Slingers would have played all night if we had asked them to but after about five songs, it was time to switch back over to the DJ and get the party going in a whole new direction.  Up next, the anniversary dance!

PS, I cannot wait until Mr. Sword’s Wee Sis gets married in Scotland next year, because then I get to attend a ceilidh IN SCOTLAND IN A CASTLE.  Yes.

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Did you have an unconventional band at your wedding or another type of organized dancing?  Do you want to dance at a ceilidh now!?!

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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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Get Slagged Off

This post starts with a Scottish vocab lesson.  While I’m pretty sure “slagging off” is not exclusively a Scottish phrase I’ve only ever heard Mr. Sword and his mates use it, however maybe Miss Jackrabbit can enlighten us about the rest of the UK ?  When I first met Mr. Sword I was always caught off guard with his weird phrases (for exaample: knackered = tired, baltic = freezing cold), and this one was no different.  To slag someone off is to insult them.  Who knew?  It always sounded way dirtier to me.

After attending to the cake, we made our way to our lovely sweetheart table to get royally made fun of during the toasts.

More crazy Mrs. Sword faces!

More crazy Mrs. Sword faces!

These crowns in front of our table were a great addition and given to me by a friend of Mom Sword.  We ended up sitting in front of the wrong crown for the firsts half of the evening though, oops.   I was convinced I was in front of the queen’s but I was actually sitting in front of the king’s.  Sorry Mr. Sword, you were right!

The toasts at our wedding were phenomenal.  I feel like this part of the night can be very nerve-wracking for brides and grooms because it’s a part you have no control over.  We weren’t worried and not only were the toasts lovely and heart-warming, but they were also wicked funny and full of jokes at our expense (said with love of course!).  I won’t include the full transcriptions here because it would get too long but I do have one video to share at the end of this post.

Up first, Dad Sword!

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His toast was beyond funny.  He made fun of Mr. Sword for being a Bears fan (I come from Viking country after all!) and told a story from when I was little about how I’d cry every time he left the room and how much he got a kick out of that.  Dad Sword told Mr. Sword I can be a bit clingy and asked him if I cry when he leaves the room as well?  I laughed so hard.  Mostly cause it’s true.  😉

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Traditionally only the FOB does a speech but Mom Sword didn’t want to let Dad Sword have all the fun, and she nailed it with her 15 second quip informing Mr. Sword, that after years of me calling her with life’s stressful problems, it was now his turn to deal with it all and guess what?  TAG, YOU’RE IT!

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Seems to me she’s a bit too excited to pass on the torch!  🙂

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Next up was my lovely Sister, MOH Big Eyes who said some really sweet things including what a saint Mr. Sword is to not mind that I put up personal detail after personal detail about him on my blog.  She also made fun of me because the first time Mr. Sword and I met and exchanged phone numbers, I told him I don’t call boys, boys call me.  I swear I didn’t mean it in a rude way, just that I was too nervous to call him but I guess it didn’t come across that way!  And now it’s a source of entertainment for everyone in the family.

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Our Best Man S gave the best Best Man speech in the history of best man toasts.  He was hilarious and slagged off Mr. Sword a good amount, but then he ended with a poem that was absolutely beautiful.  We actually had many guests rave about this toast and we ended up paying our videographers extra to have the whole thing on film.

Best Man S is also the reason we needed to have a screen and projector set up in the reception room!  HIS TOAST HAS VISUALS HIVE.  The speech is about 8 and a half minutes but I guess in Scotland they can go on as long as 30 minutes, and anyway, I think it’s totally worth watching if you have time.

Did your family and friends knock their toasts out of the park too?  Are you comfortable getting slagged off and made fun in front of everyone you know?

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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We “First Look” Under a Bridge

I wish I could say the Sword’s first look was magical and well-planned, sexy and playful, but it was mostly just freezing cold, rainy, and random.  Womp womp.  That said, it was still very romantic and sweet and I love the photos we have from it.

Our first look was the beginning of two hours of outdoor photos that I insisted we take.  Aren’t I the NICEST bride ever?  🙂

I don’t care what anyone says, I flat-out refused to have every single photo from our wedding day taken in a hotel, no matter how beautiful and lovely.  I wanted to remember the weather on March 9th, and oh boy, did I get my wish!  I will never forget the weather on our special day, mostly because it sucked.

We had arranged separate transportation for Mr. Sword and I to get to Centennial Lakes Park (which was about five minutes drive from our hotel), but no one had picked out a specific location for the first look.  The plan was to have our photographer call both vehicles and tell us where to meet her, but it was sort of confusing.  Mr. Sword thought he knew which bridge Crystal had chosen but in fact he did not, so he ended up walking past our van TWICE with each of us looking away to preserve that special first moment.

To be completely honest, I had been daydreaming about a unique and quirky first look since I got engaged, but unfortunately due to the weather we had to stick with the simple version of girl walking up to guy.  We HAD to be under the bridge or my hair/makeup/dress would have been soaked.  Our options were limited but it all worked out for the best because our first look photos are GORGEOUS.

Poor Mr. Sword, so cold standing there waiting for his bride!

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While Mr. Sword stood with his back facing us, I walked toward him with Sister Big Eyes holding an umbrella, and a videographer recording.

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Is there anything more Scottish than a rainy day?!?  Hell no.  As you can see I was doing my best to hold up my ruffles and keep the bottom of my dress from getting wet but it was literally impossible to do that and enjoy myself so eventually the bottom got soaked.  Luckily you couldn’t really tell unless you looked closely.

I LOVE these shots of myself and Sister/MOH Big Eyes (poor thing holding that umbrella the whole time).  While a first look should be a very private thing, both Sister and I were present (in the distance) for each other’s first looks and I think it just tightened our bond as sisters to be privy to such a personal moment.

Funny aside: True story, Sister Big Eyes ended up spraining her thumb due to holding that heavy umbrella for so long in the freezing cold and had to wear a hand brace for a few weeks following the wedding.  Oh the casualties, the horror!  And oh the love.  She gave her body to my wedding day.  That’s dedication people.  Best.sister.ever.

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I’ll the rest of the photos do the talking.  Here it is, The Sword’s First Look:

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I always pictured myself crying at this moment but I was just so happy to see him and so excited to be getting married that the tears decided not to come!  (Plus, even though I’d only been outside for ten minutes or so I was already losing feeling in my toes- VERY distracting.)

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I’m so thrilled with how my tartan shawl came out, thanks Boss Lady!  It really ties our look together.

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All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Did your first look go a different route than you had imagined but still turn out amazing?  Any cool ideas that someone is planning so I can live vicariously through you?

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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!

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Dress in Kilts

Meanwhile, on the fourth floor in a different but similar looking hotel room… the men were getting ready too!

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I asked Mr. Sword for a title to his dude post and he came up with, “It’s pub time.”  A very confusing suggestion because they were getting ready in a hotel room, NOT in a bar and perhaps, “It’s wedding time” would have been more appropriate.

On the other hand, it works because if I couldn’t find Mr Sword during the wedding week, it was a safe bet that he was sitting and drinking at the hotel pub with his friends and family.  He is a Scotsman after all.  😉 Unfortunately, “It’s pub time” doesn’t fit with my “We” themed recap titles hence why I didn’t use it.  But feel free to think about pubs and beer for the duration of this post.

LOOK, boxers shot!

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Apparently you put your kilt on first and then slide your underwear off from underneath.  Getting into a kilt is relatively long process with all of the different layers and accoutrements.  I know most brides talk about how easy their grooms have it in getting ready, and while our guys didn’t have to do hair and makeup, they did have to put together an outfit.  🙂

Love this shot of Mr. Sword and his Best Man

Love this shot of Mr. Sword and his Best Man

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Can I just add that once upon a time in 2009 when Mr. Sword and I first started dating he told me he wanted to get a kilt to wear to formal events, and my initial thought was, “Ullhhh, not cute.”  I couldn’t picture it! I was being narrow-minded and ignorant.  Bad Mrs. Sword!

Fast forward to now and I think kilts are soooo sexy.  Ohmygosh, my husband in his kilt!?!  Makes me melt.  Thankfully my eyes were opened, and now I cannot picture my groom any other way on our wedding day.

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I asked our second shooter to be sure and get lots of photos of the details of the kilt ensembles because I think it is such a unique and personal outfit to wear.  If you’re looking for an explanation post on each piece, I wrote about that HERE. Below is a closeup of Mr. Sword’s carefully place sgian-dubh in his kilt hose, or as I would say, small knife that hides in sock.

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This next picture is a closeup of Groomsmen P’s sporran, or as I would say, man purse.  🙂

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Cute pic of GM J helping fix Mr. Sword’s bow tie:

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Funny aside: We had Subway sandwiches delivered to both getting ready rooms by our family friend J (thank you J) and apparently Mr. Sword, ever the gentleman, didn’t want to take the first sandwich EVEN THOUGH IT WAS HIS WEDDING DAY, so the sandwiches just kind of sat there.  If you can’t eat first on your wedding day, when can you eat first?  Sigh.  He’s a polite guy, what can I say?

Please note full tray of sandwiches in the bottom right-hand corner.

Please note full tray of sandwiches in the bottom right-hand corner.

After he finished getting ready Mr. Sword opened his day of gifts from me (sadly this is the only photo I have from that moment). I got him three items:

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A pair of black socks because when anyone asks him what he needs (or wants) as a gift that’s his stock answer and it just proves he doesn’t need much to be happy.  If he has black socks, he’s set.

A Xbox video game because we all have our vices and I support his like he supports mine.  🙂

A pair of sword cuff links because he will always be my Mr. Sword, and he supports my blogging (and all my dreams) more than I could ever ask of him.

Mr. Sword said the guys kept asking him if he was nervous yet, and he kept saying, “nope.”  He’s not one to get nervous until right before and he’s definitely a live in the moment type of guy, which is one of my favorite things about him!  🙂

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Anyone else have a really calm groom on their wedding day?  Did he or will he wear a unique outfit, or more specifically a kilt?!?!Sword Wedding footer FINAL 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!

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.

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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)

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

Pre-Wedding
Teaser video!