Tag Archive | centerpieces

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.


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



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


The room was filled with love quotes and engagement photos.



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!)




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!

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!

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

Cocktail hour!


Pop Quiz: Planning All The Details

Hi everyone!  Today I’m joining the pop quiz series to talk about wedding details!  These don’t include the big stuff like your officiant, photographer, caterer, or buying THE DRESS.  Instead, I want to talk about All The Little Things that go into planning a wedding.  Because it’s a lot of fun and more often than not, the details are where we get to be the most creative!

1. Which of these options best describes your personal wedding theme?
A) Country, Rustic, Outdoorsy
B) Modern, Simple, Elegant
C) Unique, Wild, Bright
D) Romantic, Princess-like, Whimsical
E) None.  To re-quote my fave wedding remark EVER, “Umm, a wedding has a theme!  It’s called a wedding!”

Miss Sword Says: I LOVE THEMES!  I would say our wedding is mostly D with a side of B as well.  Those of you who have been following my posts know that I refer to my wedding as “A Highland Fairy Tale.” Does your wedding have a title? If so please explain in the comment section!

2. What became your favorite detail over the course of your wedding planning?
A) Paper products (invites, STD’s, escort cards)
B) Desserts (cake, candy buffet, late-night snack)
C) Bridal accessories (veil, jewelry, shoes)
D) Decor (centerpieces, favors, lighting)

Miss Sword Says: I would have to say A or D, but to be honest, none of the little details got me as excited as picking my photographer, venue, or dress!

3. What detail of the wedding did you struggle to care about, if any?
A) Paper products (invites, STD’s, escort cards)
B) Desserts (cake, candy buffet, late-night snack)
C) Bridal accessories (veil, jewelry, shoes)
D) Decor (centerpieces, favors, lighting)

Miss Sword Says:  This is going to sound really weird coming from a girly-girl, but definitely C.  I have no idea or vision for my jewelry, I’m still very unsure which route I will use to get my veil, and if you’ve read my one idea for bridal shoes, you know I’m nowhere near solving that one.  At least I have the most important piece (the dress)!

4. Where did you get most of your wedding detail ideas?
A) Blogs of course!
B) Family/Friends
C) Wedding websites
D) Most of my ideas are unique to me!

Miss Sword Says: A. Duh!  I love wedding blogs!!  I like to think some of my ideas are unique, but I’m sure if you tried hard enough you could find someone who’s done it first. But who cares?  Weddings can’t help but be personal reflections of the couple no matter where the details come from!

5. Are you making a lot of your wedding details?
A) Yes! I’m a DIY fanatic! It’s fun and it’s saving me money!
B) NO WAY. I’m a destroy-it-yourself kind of person. I’ll be buying most things.
C) I like to pretend I DIY and sometimes I even buy the materials, but usually I just end up ordering because it’s more time-efficient.
D) I DIY most things but it’s because I’m really good at X, Y, or Z (graphic design, painting, sewing, etc).

Miss Sword Laughs Says: B. Remember when I asked the hive about whether or not I could make my dream cake topper? Well, I’m probably gonna end up ordering that soon. Glad I’ve spent about three months just thinking about DIYing it. FAIL.

6. Who has been the most helpful person with All The Little Things (other than your partner)?
A) Mom
B) Sister or Cousin
D) Wedding Planner
E) Other? Please specify!

Miss Sword Says: A.  Mom Sword ROCKS!  She is constantly on the look out for wedding related stuff and she’s usually spot on!

7. How many times a day do you think about a detail related to the wedding?
A) Once or twice
B) Five times at least
C) Can’t even count, it’s constant!
D) Umm, rarely, my life is too busy for constant wedding planning!

Miss Sword Says: I don’t really want to answer this, but of course I will; I have to say B or C.  I definitely don’t think about my wedding every minute of the day, and I MAKE SURE to talk about other things when having conversations with people outside my bridal bubble.  But my brain moves fast and I get ideas for planning (or for blogging about planning) ALL THE TIME.  It’s a bit exhausting… but mostly awesome.

8. Finally, is there a wedding detail that is pretty pointless in your humble opinion?
A) Guestbook
B) Menu cards
C) Bathroom baskets
D) Ceremony programs
E) Welcome bags
F) Favors
G) Nope, all of those things will make an appearance at my wedding!

Miss Sword Says: I have to say G. I am excited about my wishing stone guestbook.  I’m going to attempt to make menu cards (assuming there’s time); I love the idea of DIYing bathroom baskets for your guests, just like Miss Dragon!  My awesome Boss Lady has already agreed to make our ceremony programs, and I plan to have both welcome bags for all of our OOTG’s and favors for everyone!  Phew, so much to do!

Looking forward to hearing all of your answers!!  🙂

Flowers… Meh

I feel like a bad bride for not really caring about flowers, but I know I’m not alone.   While I think flowers are insanely GORGEOUS, they aren’t something I’ve given much thought to in regards to the wedding.  Contributing factors to my indifference stem from NOT being a big fan of the outdoors in general (read: city girl), and it’s tough to spend so much money on things that don’t last very long.  Plus, when we first made a wedding budget we didn’t put much moolah aside for flowers because I knew we needed extra money in the areas of groom’s attire and photography.  Luckily I’ve eliminated the need for floral centerpieces, and for the men in the bridal party, we will be tying fake twigs and greens together and wrapping them in pieces of our tartan fabric which means the boutonnieres can be done ahead of time.  Score!

So our floral needs have been whittled down to 5 bouquets (one for me and 4 for my maids) and then 3 corsages (two moms and a grandma).

My first big decision was to decide to have real flowers.  The second step was decide where to order them and whether or not I want to pay to have then arranged or implore friends and family to help out (which has yet to be decided)!   And that’s as far as I got!  I got time right?!?!  When is my wedding again?  🙂

Fortunately, I have a very amazing Grandma Sword (my mom’s mom) who is into flowers and was willing to do some research for me at her favorite floral shop.  She gave me a few tips:

1. Sometimes brides are mixing real and fake flowers together so that they have something to take home at the end of the night that won’t die!

2. Grandma Sword’s florist recommended mixing both white AND ivory flowers despite the color of your dress.  This mixing of all different shades of white adds dimension and looks better than having just one color that can leave your bouquet looking flat.

3. If I go with all purple for my girls then their flowers will fade away in their dresses, if I go with all purple flowers then your eye will be drawn to the bouquet instead of my lovely face.  Mixing all shades of purple might be a really pretty way to incorporate that color.

All good tips!!  Although, I’m still at a bit of a loss.  I’m really unsure of how light I want my bouquet to be and have no idea what colors my girls should be holding!  Setting up floral appointments and researching ideas is not very high on my list of things to do, and I’m not sure why.  I know I want my flowers to be beautiful but my priorities for the wedding lie in other things, and you can’t make everything a priority or you’ll go crazy!  Next time I go to Minnesota I’ll get my ass in gear.  Yes.

I did find a bouquet that caught my eye though… I’m not even sure what’s going on with it but I like it!!

image via Offbeat Bride/ photo by Megan Clouse

One thing I know for sure is that we will be wrapping the bouquets in our family tartan. YES, IT WILL BE EVERYWHERE!  Scared yet?  It’s unique to us and our wedding so why not showcase it?  OH and one other special thing I want to use is FMIL’s suggestion of incorporating white heather into my bouquet.  She said it represents good luck in Scotland, and since she first shared the idea with me, white heather also reminds me of her!


OK, any words of wisdom regarding flowers?  Should I pay to have them arranged?  Any ideas for bouquets?

Beer bottles and hurricanes

Yep, my centerpieces are going to include beer bottles and candle holders known as hurricanes.  While on a planning trip in Minnesota this past spring, MOH Big Eyes, my Mom Sword, and I all went shopping for centerpiece inspiration. I did NOT expect to buy anything on this shopping trip, but things don’t usually turn out the way I expect them to go so I shouldn’t have been surprised!

First off, let me give you my vision:  I picture my tables as being dark and romantic.  I want to name all of our tables a different inspirational or fun word (as opposed to the ever popular number idea), and I just love Miss Cauldron’s idea of naming her tables with parts of a sailboat!  Beyond that, I knew I wanted to include empty beer bottles as a nod to Mr. Sword’s culture and beverage of choice.  But that’s all I had.  It was all very abstract in my head, and I wasn’t sure how it would look in the end.

Here are a few inspiration photos I’ve found using bottles:

While I think the yarn look is super gorgeous and unique, I feel like it’s a bit too outdoorsy and vintage for our wedding.

As soon as I saw this idea of putting lights IN the beer bottles I fell madly in love!  How beautiful and romantic yet dark and whimsical!?!?!

But how the HECK do you get the lights in there?   My plan was to start saving Mr. Sword’s empty beer bottles and then attempt to de-label them.  But he mostly drinks Stella or Peroni, both which are green in color, and I definitely preferred the brown bottles.

image via Wikipedia

So that fateful day when we were merely hunting for centerpiece ideas, when we waltzed into Kirkland’s Home store we ended up waltzing out with these:

MOH Big Eyes and me

There are six bottles, empty and clean WITH the bottoms cut out, perfect for fitting a string of lights inside!!  And they come in this metal holder crate thingy that seemed just right.

I knew I didn’t want to have all beer bottle centerpieces, and by some miracle I found something else at the same store that I fell in love with:

Gorgeous dark chocolate hurricanes that will shine beautifully with a candle inside!  So, currently the plan is to have half of the centerpieces be hurricanes and half be bottles.

Our next stop was to check out Michael’s for the word portion of the centerpieces.  Here is what we found:

Mom Sword has offered to both HOUSE and FINISH the centerpieces.  Thanks for storing them parents!

A month or so later Mom Sword had made some nice advancements on the centerpieces.  She had confirmed that the lights in the bottles work and look GORGEOUS, she had figured out a way to prop up the words so they are visible to guests, and she had added ivy and ribbon to the overall look to make the bottom appear fuller and wider. She also discovered that Jo Ann Fabrics had a larger selection of word options than Michael’s did and we were able to go with a font we liked even better.  When you are naming about 15 tables you want options!

I would.

Mom Sword found two different paint colors to try on our words.  While at first I liked the shimmery one better, we quickly concluded that the more matte looking cream color would be easier to see a dimly lit reception room.  It’s hard to tell from this photo but the one we painted in the lighter shimmer almost turned gray in the dark, and you could barely see it!

What started as a random idea was suddenly coming together beautifully!  I’m so lucky to have such a helpful Mom too!  🙂

Who else is going for a more unique and non-floral centerpiece?  Anyone else using words instead of table numbers?  Are my beer bottle and hurricanes going to come together in the end?!?!  We hope so!

(all photos personal unless noted otherwise noted)

Tasting some chick-y and meeting with Coordinator A

After we ooh’d and ahh’d over the atrium (where our ceremony will be taking place), we were ushered into the restaurant to meet with our wedding coordinator A and to taste test our meal options.  Now, we decided right off the bat that chicken was more in our price range than steak, even though Mr. Sword and I both love a good steak!  But my all-time favorite meat is chicken (boring I know) so it seems fitting that we serve our guests chicken at our wedding.  We were served three dishes of chicken: piccatta, champagne, and the hotel’s personalized version, chandelaise. Each chicken came with a different potato and a different veggie option.  For potatoes, we could choose between scalloped, mashed, or roasted red.  The vegetable options were asparagus, green bean almondine, and a medley.

Drum roll please:  We chose the chicken chandelaise with a side of roasted red potatoes and a vegetable medley!!  I know some of our wedding guests are going to read this but I have no secrets when it comes to our wedding dish, in fact, I’ll probably tell most of them in person, perhaps like this, “GUESS WHAT?  We’re having this AMAZING chicken dish at our wedding, I know you’ll like it!  If I was rich you’d be getting an option of steak or fish as well, but as it is I really hope you like CHICKEN cause that’s what we’re serving!!”   Of course we will have a vegetarian option available for those non-meat eaters among our friends and family, and a chicken fingers and fries will serve as our kid’s option.

NOTE:  The chandelaise chicken comes with mushrooms, but Mr. Sword and I HATE mushrooms with a passion, so we are getting a special version of the dish without any ‘shrooms.  I’ve always been a picky eater and 9 times out of 10 I have to ask for something to be removed from a dish at a restaurant (yes I’m THAT girl), so why should it be any different on my wedding day?  🙂

I only got one decent photo of the food before myself, Mr. Sword and my parents devoured it all!

The thing is I barely had time to eat a bite from each plate because I was too busy talking to our awesome Coordinator A.  I call her a coordinator even though her real title is something along the lines of Catering Manager.  She’s been really helpful, especially talking to me on the phone before I’d even met her, assuring me of this thing or that thing since I hadn’t yet seen the hotel.

These are just a few of the things Coordinator A and I discussed!

White, Ivory, or Black linens?  Ivory.  Since ivory is one of our colors  it was an easy decision!

Napkin color: Chocolate brown.  While a  purple color sounded great, they only had one very ordinary shade of purple available, and I am scared that it wouldn’t  match the purple in the kilt we’ve ordered!  I don’t mind weddings that incorporate different shades of one color throughout their day, but I want to be intentional if I decide to go that route, not accidental.  Therefore, until we see the kilt in person there will be no buying of anything purple colored!  That includes bridesmaid dresses, ribbons, etc.  Plus, I think the chocolate napkins will compliment our centerpieces nicely, (more on that to come in a later post)!

Alcohol?   This one of Mr. Sword’s BIG decisions, because well, he drinks beer, and I don’t.  Since he’s European there will be no Bud or Miller at our wedding.  He knew he definitely wanted a more premium option of beer, but since we also have a lot of Americans attending the wedding, and we also know that most girls who drink beer prefer light beer, we had to have one Scottish appropriate beer and one American appropriate beer.  I’m keeping those decisions secret for now!  My Dad came up with the American light beer choice and Mr. Sword agreed that out of the possible crappy American beer options, that was one of the better ones!

Between the beer and the potatoes (his other BIG decision) Mr. Sword was a very helpful groom-to-be!  He listened when he needed to listen, supported when he needed to support, and offered his input fairly often.  I got to choose the wine, but we didn’t even discuss how many bottles to order and we barely touched on our idea of having a signature drink, but we are super excited about the concept of it!  This is Mr. Sword in front of the bar area of the restaurant in the hotel!

DJ: We will be using theirs. It’s just so much easier that way!  Plus, there’s a nice discount.

Cake: Buttercream (It’s part of our package luckily!)

Gift opening room for the day after the wedding:  Sure!!  Even though we aren’t expecting a lot of gifts, (they might be shipped to Chicago ahead of time and we think that people buying a flight to our wedding will be gift enough), we decided this would be a nice way to say hi to everyone one last time.  Mr. Sword and I are postponing the honeymoon until a few weeks after the wedding so we can tie up loose ends and continue to enjoy our out-of-town family before they return home, so a private brunch with everyone the next morning sounded like a great plan!

Draping:  No.  It was going to cost us 1000 dollars to have draping all through the banquet hall, and we couldn’t justify that cost.  Plus, Mr. Sword was complaining that the draping appeared to be hung so low it might hit his head (Mr. Sword stands at a tall 6’2″).  Alternatively, Coordinator A did suggested putting up a waterfall of draping behind our sweetheart table (we are opting against the traditional head table) that’s only 15 feet wide at 10 dollars a foot.  Once we heard that option, we were sold!  Now our table will stand-out from the rest with its own little backdrop!

Lighting:  This was a tough decision.  To put up extra lighting around the room is 600 dollars, but in the end we decided that wasn’t too much to give the room some nice ambiance and a good romantic feel!

Flowers: We opted to not use their floral centerpieces and instead we are going with something more unique to us.

Coordinator A and I also discussed things like TIMELINE and guest count.   It felt like the appointment went too quickly and I know we will probably end up meeting again before the wedding, but it felt great to be making decisions and it made me really excited for the BIG DAY!

(all photos personal and used with permission)

How did your first meeting with your coordinator or reception place go?  Did you find a package deal or are you booking things separately?