Tag Archive | A Highland Fairy Tale

The Swords Live Happily Ever After

It all started on the eve of Thanksgiving 2009.  I met a drunk Scottish guy and I gave him my phone number with the instructions, “I don’t call boys, boys call me.”  A phrase that haunts me still, but believe me, I didn’t mean it the way it sounds!  I was merely expressing my nervousness at my calling him.

He did call and our first date was lunch and window shopping down Michigan Ave in Chicago.  It was amazing.  By June of 2010 I was on a plane leaving the country for the very first time to visit his home in Scotland.   He proposed on February 19th, 2012 at the top of the John Hancock Building and we were wed on March 9th, 2013.  Now we live in the Kansas City area but our ultimate goal is to raise a family in Minnesota.  (Speaking of, go Minnesota for passing a same-sex marriage bill back in May; you make me proud!  Number 12 baby.)

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I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in a big wedding bubble when you’re deep in the middle of planning.  I know that some people in real life have lovingly and not-so-lovingly called me wedding-obsessed and/or crazy, but if I’m going to be crazy about one thing, it’s love. I will always cherish and enjoy weddings.  They represent beginnings, blending of families, and unfiltered bliss.

If I may indulge in one last piece of advice, here are my three best tips for a stunning and fabulous wedding:

1. Personalize, personalize, personalize.

2. Think like a guest.

3. Go for the deal!  (Life is short.  And if you can save ten bucks per head by having a March wedding in Minnesota then go for it, because April will not be any better weather-wise.)

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Blogging for this community has been such a rich blessing for me as a woman, a writer, and especially a bride.  To all of you who have followed my journey since the beginning, I commend you!  (I realize I can be a bit verbose at times.)  To the blogger friends I’ve made along the way, thank you for your amazing support.  To those of you who kept it real with me, your opinions were always appreciated as was the reminder that I can’t possibly please everyone.

From the moment I woke up after a vivid dream with the words “A Highland Fairy Tale” in my head, to the day it was all so beautifully executed, I’ve had a blast.  Mr. Sword, you are the most amazing man I know.  Our wedding was perfect because our relationship is solid and a happy, loving couple is all anyone should expect at a wedding.  I look forward to many more special moments with you as my husband.

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HOLD ON A SEC… who is that sneaking into our family photo???  Oh yes, that’s our new baby girl.  She’s a one year old hound mix with a brindle coat and she’s kind of amazing.  We got her from a shelter in mid-August and we LOVE being doggie parents.  Should we call her our dagger or just a small sword?

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Her name is McKenna.  Of course it’s a Scottish name because that’s exactly something I would do.  Isn’t she the cutest?

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I’m still planning on writing and well, being me, so if you’re so inclined, please feel free to check out my new relationship blog, Drama Happens.  I’d love to be able to share more of my life with you all!

With that, The Swords are leaving the building.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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(all photos personal)

One last thought!  The fact that I could never make a Sword in the Stone wedding reference in my year of blogging really upsets me.  Anyone got anything good?  🙂

Love,
Stephanie

A Highland Fairy Tale: Whiskey at Brunch

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

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

This is what we looked like on March 10th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

image via Amazon

image via Amazon

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

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

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

All coming photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

You know you are having a winter wedding when…

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A good place to store a plastic sword.

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

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

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

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

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

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Make Out in the Hallway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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personal photo

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

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

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personal photo

It was an amazing day and a dream come true.

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

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

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography unless otherwise noted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Scottish men got physical in odd-shaped huddles.

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

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

And the bride and groom kept kissing each other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

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

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

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

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

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

A Highland Fairy Tale: We Give Away My Bouquet

Now that the DJ was back on it was time for our anniversary dance!  For those of you not familiar, it’s a dance for all the married couples out there to celebrate/recognize how long they’ve been married.  I really wish I could give you our choice as a song recommendation but to be honest, none of us remember what we picked! The thing is, we had decided ahead of time but then the DJ said the song was too short so he made a different suggestion but we soon changed it again, and now no one remembers the song.  OOPS

Mr. Sword and I got to start swaying but very quickly the DJ said anyone who’s been married less than a day, please exit the dance floor, and then we were done!

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The DJ went on to ask the couples to leave who’d been married less than one year, five years, ten years, and so on until there was only one couple left dancing.

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Since I was so adamant about not tossing my bouquet and singling out my single friends, and since I’ve never been super sentimental about drying or keeping flowers, I knew I was going to find another purpose for my bridal bouquet.

My idea was to gift my bouquet to the couple that’s been married the longest, and surprise, surprise, it was my lovely grandparents who celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary this summer!  (Totally rigged and planned in advance.)  I think there’s something beautiful about honoring the longest marriage at the genesis of a new one.

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I get tears in my eyes when I remember how shocked and happy my Grandma was to find out she was being given my bouquet.

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When I called her weeks later she told me how she’d made some of the petals into potpourri after showing it to all her friends.  So sweet.

After the bouquet was given the DJ played our original song choice for the anniversary dance, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Grandma’s favorite artist, Elvis Presley.  My grandparents are known for their awesome dance skills and still take a cab every Friday night to their local bar for dancing.  They have the best stories of young people trying to cut in with them and buy them drinks.  Haha

Everyone at our reception stood around the dance floor to watch them.  It was beautiful.

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I’ve already mentioned that my Grandpa has Alzheimer’s and how these two are the only set of grandparents at the wedding and how special that is to my family.  Well, another reason The Gunn Slingers (our ceilidh band) got cut a bit short was because my Grandpa was really confused about where he was during the wedding reception.  In fact, he’d been confused since he’d arrived in Minnesota but as the evening went on he was convinced it was time to pack up so he could leave and go home.  His anxiety was getting bad.  😦

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My Grandpa LOVES to dance though. We knew once he got dancing he would be fine. So once he started getting antsy we immediately shifted to the DJ and started the anniversary song. My grandparents ended up staying the rest of the evening AND dancing for the entire reception.

This next picture is incredibly special.  It’s Mom Sword and her sister (Auntie B) watching their parents dance.  Weddings are the best, aren’t they?

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And this is Mom Sword, her sister, and her brother.  Love.

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These are the moments you never forget.  What is one of yours?

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Sword Wedding footer FINAL.jpg

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!

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 Fake Out Our Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Too bad it didn’t work out that way!

"My glass is empty! That sucks."

“My glass is empty! That sucks.”

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

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Dirty little freaks.

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

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

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

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

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

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

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

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

Reception
Cocktail hour!
The pretty details!
Grand entrances!
We get roasted!
Parent dances!