Tag Archive | ceremony

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)


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!)

personal photo

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)

personal photos

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


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: We Listen (Ceremony Part One)

All of a sudden it was time to begin our wedding ceremony and the most important part of the day.  (I’ve broken it up in two parts for your reading pleasure while still keeping everything in sequential order.)  All ceremony photos were taken in the beautiful atrium of our Embassy Suites hotel.

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We ended up taking the bones of a non-denominational Christian ceremony provided to us by Pastor P and made changes where we saw fit.  A little bit about Pastor P, she was my Pastor growing up in the Twin Cities and she guided me through my confirmation years ago when I was in 8th grade.  (Pastor P also officiated Sister Big Eyes’ wedding in June, another example of our shrendoring!)  We really enjoyed working with her and Mr. Sword was able to get to know her through our couple’s counseling sessions and many wedding planning visits to Minnesota.

Regarding the religious aspects: full disclosure here, my husband identifies as agnostic, meaning he’s open to religion and higher powers but desires more scientific proof.  The fact alone that I am a strong Christian while he is not AND we still make it work the way we do is one of the healthiest things about our relationship.  But that’s another post for a different type of blog!  🙂

And with that, I give you the first half of the Sword Ceremony:

Pastor P: Welcome friends and family. We are gathered together here in the sight of God and in the presence of this company to join together Mr. Sword and Mrs. Sword in Holy Matrimony.

 Marriage is an honorable estate, instituted by God and blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a precious relationship, not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, thoughtfully and lovingly. Mrs. Sword and Mr. Sword are standing before us today to make their commitment to one another.

 Let us hold them in our hearts and surround them with our love and affection; let us be with them in “Spirit” just as God is now present with us in Spirit to join them in marriage from this day forward.

Will you pray with me…

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O God, we are awed by the many meanings of this hour and are overjoyed by its promises. We pray that the spirit of trust, understanding and love may be with Mrs. Sword and Mr. Sword through all the years that lie ahead of them.

Whatever trials and testing may come, may they trust each other wholly, for without such trust, marriage is in name only; may they strive to understand each other always, for without understanding there is neither acceptance nor forgiveness; may they truly love each with Your unconditional love, for this is what will make their marriage strong.

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As Mr. Sword and Mrs. Sword build a new life together, may they find peace and contentment. May their times together be full of laughter and joy, and may the years ahead deal gently with them… and walking with each other one day at a time, may they find far more in life together than either of them would have found alone.

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Lord, bless this day and their lives forever, for we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together . . .

We chose to include the Lord’s Prayer using debts.  I actually struggled with how to go about including this prayer as I know many people who are either a different religion than myself (Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, Church of Scotland, etc) or who are not religious at all.  In the end, the day is about us and I believe a marriage should include God, so we had the prayer. My other concern was starting it with “Our Father” because in my feminist hippie ways, I’ve really taken to my church’s way of excluding any and all gender specific language.  That said, I grew up saying, “Our Father,” so it was kept.

After the prayer everyone else was asked to sit and the parents stayed standing for the parental blessing:

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It is only fitting to include the parents of Mr. Sword and Mrs. Sword in this time for they are those who raised these two and nurtured them and helped them to be the couple they are today. The love and warmth and faith they were given will continue to grow as they establish their own family. As their parents, they have you to thank for these roots that are strong and a hope that endures. So I ask you:

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Will you, now and always, from this day forward, promise to continue to support Mr. Sword and Mrs. Sword with your love and care and prayers, upholding and strengthening their marriage. If so, answer, we will.  (We will.)

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AND NOW FOR THE READINGS!  One of the hardest decisions of the entire planning process, I’m not kidding.  Thank you again for all of your amazing ideas hive, it was really fun reading everything!  In the end we ended up going a very simple route with both readings:

Friend of the Bride J read this:

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Mrs. Sword asked me to give a short preface to how she chose this particular poem for their wedding ceremony. Mrs. Sword has been searching for THE perfect ceremony reading since she and Mr. Sword first got engaged.  The problem was she had quite a few stipulations… she wanted it to be unique, not something you’d hear at every wedding, she wanted it to have gender inclusive language, and she wanted it to be straightforward and concise.  After browsing the internet, combing through wedding blogs, and asking around for months, she started to think she’d never find anything quite right.

Then in January at her local Barnes and Noble, Mrs. Sword was perusing the Valentine’s Day themed children’s books when she found one that made her teary-eyed thinking about her favorite person.  And while it’s not the perfect reading (because she realized that didn’t exist) it’s the perfect reading for Mr. and Mrs. Sword.

You by Stephen Michael King.

The world is a colorful place-

yellow, red, blue, and all other colors.

The world is colored with big things, small things, and all sorts of things.

But the most colorful part of my world is… YOU.

The world is a musical place,

with high notes, low notes, and all the notes in between.

But the most musical part of my world is… YOU.

The world is an exciting place,

with ups, downs, around and arounds, and far, far aways.

But the most exciting place in my world

is with…


While J was reading, I started crying.  It was such an intense feeling and the words really hit home.  MOH Big Eyes stepped in to dry my eyes while I clutched Mr. Sword’s hand.

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In between the two readings my beautiful and talented Sister/MOH sang a song I had picked out early on in our engagement. “Crazy Dreams” performed my Megan Hilty in the TV show Smash.

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Honor Attendant H played the lovely accompaniment on keyboard.  I’m lucky to know such talented people!

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“Crazy Dreams” couldn’t be more fitting for Mr. Sword and I.  It’s really, truly crazy that a girl from Minnesota would ever meet a guy from Scotland in a bar in Chicago of all places. Plus, its no surprise I love anything fairy tale- related!

I love this pic of Mom Sword watching Sister Big Eyes singing:

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Cousin of the Groom J read this:

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Scottish Wedding Prayer

Lord help us to remember when
we first met and the strong
love that grew between us.
To work that love into
practical things so that nothing
can divide us.
We ask for words both kind
and loving and hearts always
ready to ask forgiveness
as well as to forgive.
Dear Lord, we put our
marriage into your hands.

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A Scottish Wedding prayer, of course! Such a no-brainer when it finally dawned on me on how perfect this reading was for us.  Plus, Cousin J appreciated its short length.  🙂

Pastor P:

Mrs. Sword and Mr. Sword have chosen for their scripture reading today a passage from the Old Testament, from Ecclesiastes chapter 4: verses 9-12:

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie down together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A three-fold cord is not quickly broken.”

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(Picking a gender-neutral, inclusive, non-offensive, uplifting, wedding-related scripture from the Bible was extremely difficult.  But this one talks about a cord and hints to our handfasting later on.  It was perfect for us and maybe it can work for your ceremony too!)

After the scripture Pastor P went into her homily or message.  I’m not going to include it here for two reasons, 1) This post is already insanely long and 2) It’s personal to us and it won’t be much help in formulating a wedding ceremony for anyone else.

Part Two of the ceremony continues next with vows, the handfasting, and our first kiss as husband and wife!  🙂

Anyone surprised at our choice of readings?  What will you have read in your ceremony?

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Sword Wedding footer FINAL

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!

Why I Love the Online RSVP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kids and Cats

Often times, when it’s time to leave to go somewhere with my nanny children, I like to say something stupid like, “Alright, let’s go kids and cats!”  Or I’ll say, “Do we have everyone?  Kids? Cats?”  As if I was caring for a zoo of children and tigers.  (I’m odd.)

The funniest part about this is I don’t even like cats!  They are so lame compared to dogs; I just never saw the appeal.  Come on, is there anything cuter than my nephew-pup in his doggy life jacket?

Fibonacci and Littlest C

And in an effort for full disclosure, can I just say I would NOT call myself a kid person either?

GASP!!! BUT YOU’RE A NANNY!?!?!?!  Yep.  Naturally, I’m in love with my nanny kids but do I have to like every kid I see on the damn playground?  Not gonna happen.  I know it doesn’t make sense… I have two younger siblings and lots of younger cousins.  I have friends with kids I adore, and despite wanting to have my own kids soon someday, I still can’t say I’m obsessed with children in general (not that there’s anything wrong with those who are).

So why am I talking about kids and cats??  Well, contrary to what you’ve been led to believe in this post, I AM having a kid friendly wedding.   And I’m super pumped about it.

This isn’t the first time this topic has been on the hive, some bees are also having a kid-friendly wedding and some aren’t. What is right for one, might not be right for another.

We’re only going to have about 10-15 kids if they all come, but the thing is, I really like all the kids we’re inviting.  To me, that is the important piece that makes kid friendly weddings work.  You have to care about them, you must have some sort of relationship with them.  The issue comes when you are inviting all of your relatives that you don’t really see/talk to anymore and they bring their kids and you’re like, who is that weirdo child being obnoxious at my wedding!?!  Why did I invite them!?!  Don’t they know I’m the princess of the day!?!

At my wedding, all the kids coming  are cool.  They range from potentially toddlers to teenagers but they’re all awesome.   They can handle talking to adults, being patient, and eating with silverware (probably better than me if we’re being honest here).

I know there many are reasons why people don’t want children at their weddings but here’s why I’m excited to welcome the kiddos to our nuptials:

1) Kids are spontaneous! They do and say cute things at random times and it’s OK because it tends to break the ice and keep a wedding natural and light-hearted.

2) Kids at weddings have the opportunity to make their parents more fun.  They get their parents to dance, they get their parents to laugh more, they get them to take pictures, and cry happy tears.  They just help keep everyone engaged and present (well for the most part anyway, we all know kids can stress their parents out as well!)

3) Kids add a sense of generation to weddings.  Does that make sense?  Both weddings and children symbolize the future so they sort of go hand in hand.  And isn’t it beautiful to see grandparents and grandkids in the same room?

So, Kids and Cats it is!! Except instead of cats, I mean cake.

(all photos personal)

Are you having a kid friendly wedding?  Why or why not?

Why, hello there!

The first look is probably one of the biggest wedding fads around today.  (Second to maybe the photo booth or candy buffet?)  I am not having a photo booth OR a candy buffet… despite my love of photos of myself family and friends and my love of sugar, but we ARE doing a first look.  And it’s gonna be AMAZING.  Well, at least I hope so.

Currently, I’m low on inspiration and ideas for Mr. Sword’s and my first look.  But that’s not because there is a shortage of cool ways to do it!

image via Mrs. Porcupine on Weddingbee/ photo by Klose Photography

Soft Pink and White Wedding Details Using Baby

My goal is to do something completely different and random.  For our first look we plan on going off-site from the hotel (the only time all day) with our bridal party to take both the couple and bridal party shots.  But most of the crazy ideas I have just don’t seem plausible…

Maybe we should walk through a maze, both of us starting at different points and with photographers in tow, and just wait until we run into each other?  Can’t get more of a genuine surprise than that, but then again, a corn maze in March… in Minnesota?

Or maybe we could use our fake Claymores (yes I went back and bought another one), but how do you hide behind a sword?  And why are we battling each other on our wedding day?

What if we go to the Mall of America and I ride down an escalator into his arms?  It sounds dramatic but also like an accident waiting to happen with my dress getting caught in the stairs, and then’s there the problem of all the random shoppers and no privacy!

Needless to say, I’m stuck.   I’m sure one day it will just hit me, and in the meantime I’ve chosen to focus on a different photography-related dilemma.

The back story is, I’ve known forever that I was NOT going to wait until the end of the day to see Mr. Sword while walking down the aisle.  I was perfectly OK with having him see me before the ceremony and setting aside a special time to make that happen.  But then I started thinking about all the family portraits we want to take, and how we’d rather not squeeze them in post-ceremony since we want our family to enjoy the cocktail hour which starts immediately following the ceremony.  Plus, we had also decided to do the very traditional receiving line with our parents post-ceremony so that we can make some introductions and guide folks to the ballroom.  Because of all this, it was imperative we do all of our formal shots BEFORE the wedding.

But then I started thinking that because of all the pre-wedding photo-taking, Dad Sword might see me reapplying my makeup instead of looking teary eyed, and Grandma Sword might watch me posing doing my ugly laugh (it’s bad) when I’d rather be available to hug her when I see her!  My aunt’s first glimpse of me might be plopped in a chair resting in between shots, and Mr. Sword’s parents might get the pleasure of seeing me trip, cry, or whine the first time they see me as a bride instead of glowing down the aisle! Although let’s be honest, tripping and crying down the aisle seems a lot more realistic, but I’m gonna do my damnedest to keep the whining at bay.  😉

In my mind, none of this seemed right and I wasn’t sure how to fix it.  I was explaining my concerns during a pre-martial session with Pastor P when Mr. Sword came to the rescue with a solution!  As he often does.  🙂  Mr. Sword suggested that I do a first look for the families so they can get a special reveal before the photo taking shuffle commences.  BRILLIANT.  I was in love with the idea, our family first look.

We decided that both Mr. Sword and I should be revealed together because this first look is for both of our families, and this will be the first time most people will see Mr. Sword in his kilt!

Unlike our couple first look, I know exactly how to do this one.  There is this clear elevator in the atrium near where our ceremony will be taking place.  My idea is to start from the top of the hotel and take the elevator down to the ground floor, exit, and walk down the staircase to meet our lovely families.  After some hugs and tears the family portraits can start immediately, making use of the beautiful atrium space.  Imagining this moment gives me goosebumps, and I’m so excited for both of our first looks!

What did you do for your first look?  Did anyone else take family photos before the wedding?  How did you make it work?

Flowers for Girls

There are only a limited few wedding details that I’ve had planned for years, (one being that Sister Big Eyes would be my MOH), and one that came about only a few years ago.   It’s a detail I had solidified in my head even before I met Mr. Sword.  Something so right that you just feel it long before you realize it.  My flower girl.  Littlest C.

Littlest C is almost 6 now but I’ve known her since she was 11 months old!

I always end up crying when I look at these old photos!

How I became a nanny is a story for another day but let’s just say I’ve never been a nanny before this family and I probably won’t be one after this family.  It just fit.  And I basically fell in love with the kids right off the bat.  And PS (while it’s expected of me), I’m NOT one of those people who think every kid is cute!  Obviously my two nanny kids are really special to me and I’m actually celebrating my five-year anniversary with my nanny family in October.  Littlest C’s older brother, we’ll call him Big C, is going to be an usher in the wedding, along with three of my awesome cousins.

Anyway, this past weekend my very talented Boss Lady (who’s making all the extra tartan pieces if you’ll remember), Littlest C, and I went shopping for a flower girl dress for Littlest C and boy oh boy was it exciting!  Littlest C is a bit of a girly-girl like myself and after seeing me try on a few dresses this past May, she couldn’t wait for her turn!  Lucky for her (and unlucky for us) she looks good in everything!  We went to David’s Bridal so she could sample lots of different styles but to be honest, we’re probably going to buy online because it’s a better selection at better prices!  Win win.

The goal was to find something that hints at my dress without being an exact replica.  Boss Lady and I think we have figured out the ideal fabric and fit so all in all I’d say the shopping trip was very successful!  Here are some of the dresses Littlest C got to model for us:

I really wanted Littlest C’s opinion and encouraged her to tell us what she felt most comfortable in and what she liked the best.  Littlest C deemed skirt twirling ability to be most important and she loved the princess-like dresses.  Ahhh, a girl after my own heart.  🙂

Once she discovered how much she looked like a cupcake when she sat down we had trouble keeping her off the ground!

The purple was eliminated pretty quickly because we all think she should be in ivory like the bride!

Littlest C is going to be dropping flower petals on the aisle runner just like a traditional flower girl.  We want to find a nice square basket in ivory or light-colored wood to partly cover in the tartan fabric so she gets a bit of Scottish something for her ensemble as well!

Speaking of Scottish, this is what Mr. Sword what was doing while us girls were shopping.  Video games with Big C.  Such a tough life!  🙂

All in all, it was a wonderful and girly afternoon.  I’m so honored to have Littlest C be my GORGEOUS flower girl.  Not sure who is more excited for the wedding day, her or me!


Are you having a flower girl or ring bearer in your wedding?  What are they wearing?

Pastor P Says We Pass!

The test I am referring to is the inventory questions that our Pastor gave us to complete in regards to good ol’ premarital counseling.  I’m actually a HUGE fan of premarital-talking-about-your-future life-together-stuff.  As a full-time observer of relationships, a chronic over share-er and an advocate of open and honest communication, I welcomed any counseling that my childhood Pastor suggested we do.  Luckily Mr. Sword is awesome and just as willing to partake in whatever was asked of us.

But I’d be lying if I said the state of Minnesota hadn’t influenced us as well.  To obtain a marriage license in the land of a billion lakes it’s a staggering 115 dollars but with a mere 12 hours of premarital counseling, you can acquire one for the reduced fee of 40 dollars.  Umm, yes please!  I think it’s a nice way to encourage people who otherwise wouldn’t consider it, and those of us who are already going that route, it’s a win-win.

Pastor P was the first Pastor I really remember when attending church back in the day.  She is the person who guided me through confirmation and my statement of faith, and she’s known my family for decades.  I was super pumped when she first approached MOH Big Eyes inquiring if we had decided on an officiant yet because I was hoping to have someone who knew either Mr. Sword or myself personally because I really dislike generic wedding ceremonies or one’s where the officiant is saying odd things that don’t make sense for that couple.

Being in a LDR with our wedding (and our Pastor for that matter), made finding time for 12 hours of counseling a bit challenging.  Since the beginning of the summer we have met with her three times and that, combined with homework to do in Chicago will get definitely get us to 12.

Sitting in the hot seat


Pastor P

The best part of doing the premarital inventory was knowing that we had discussed all of the issues/questions previously!  The first thing Pastor P said (after grading them) was, “Well it’s obvious you two communicate!”  And by “grade” I mean, line up the answers to see how we both answered in each category.

An example question went something like this: “What will be your partner’s main concern during your marriage? I put “finances” for Mr. Sword and he put that he’d worry about “finances.”  We both agreed we want to decorate our house in a modern/contemporary style, we’d like about 2 kids, we don’t keep any secrets from each other, and that Miss Sword is sort of in charge.  Awkward. 🙂  We had to explain that while I tend to make the majority of decisions, when Mr. Sword puts his foot down, I listen.  Like I’ve said before, he is a laid-back guy, and goes with the flow most of the time, so when he has a strong opinion about something, we both honor it.

To be honest I sort of hate that stereotypical “the man rules the roost” sort of mentality that can be seen on TV and/or observed in real life.  I come from a very matriarchal family, so it only makes sense that I would find someone who fit better into that family dynamic.  This is not to say that I don’t value Mr. Sword’s ideas or that we aren’t equal partners because that is completely untrue.  Sometimes it just comes down to personality differences.  I am outgoing, assertive, and the inspiring motivator for our relationship, he is mellow, sweet, and the loving support for our relationship. We both bring in humor, silliness, heart, and respect, and overall, I think it works for us!  Sister Big Eyes found someone who compliments her just as well, but I would definitely say they fall into the same matriarchal family style as we do.

Speaking of Sister, she and FBIL are having Pastor P officiate their ceremony as well.  Another wedding share.  What are we at now?  Is anyone keeping track?

Because I clearly don’t post enough pics of the two of us. Not!

(all photos personal)

Who has the more dominant personality in your relationship?  Are you doing pre-martial counseling?  Does any other state give a discount like MN?

Ceremony Deets for my Peeps

So far, I’ve shared very little about what our ceremony is going to be entail besides that we have one awesome bagpiper slated to play music.  But there’s a TON more information to share.

For starters, I am writing our vows.  Since I’ve been smitten by the written word my entire life I decided to seize the opportunity to make our vows that much more special by personalizing them for our wedding.  Mr. Sword is chief editor and has final say over the vows, but I planned on writing both sets of them, keeping them mostly the same but changing a few parts.  At first I wasn’t sure how to get started, especially when I was writing something that both of us have to speak out-loud.

My solution was to make a list of questions for both of us to answer so I had ideas and real quotes to steal from.  Here is the list of Q’s we answered:

  • From the moment we met I knew this:
  • My favorite thing about you is:
  • I’m most attracted to your:
  • I plan to love you until :
  • I think it’s weird when you:
  • You make me laugh by doing this:
  • I have always know this one thing about you:
  • You are my best friend because:
  • I encourage your:
  • I miss this when I’m away from you:
  • I ask forgiveness when:
  • I am happy to join your family because:
  • This is my wish for our future:
  • I am thankful for you because:

Then I went to my favorite local coffee shop and wrote out a rough draft.  I didn’t use as much of our answers as I would have liked, but they were definitely inspiring.  Mr. Sword revised them and only eliminated one line.  Overall, I think I was able to write very sincere and touching vows with a hint of humor.  I plan on revisiting them in a month or so to make changes (one of the perks of writing them so far in advance).  Unfortunately, you’ll all have to wait until the recaps to see how I did!  🙂

Another important/unique part of our ceremony is the handfasting.

Image via Style Me Pretty/Photo by Larissa Cleveland/Designed by Shannon Leahy Events

Way back when, handfasting used to be a Celtic tradition of betrothal, where the couple would have their hands wrapped together and then a year later they could decide whether or not to officially marry.  Many times handfastings are done as pagan wedding rituals.  Whatever the meaning, once I read about the idea on a Scottish website I knew it was just perfect for our ceremony.  Our plan is to use strips of our tartan fabric to wrap around our hands to represent the joining of our lives and families.  Thinking about it makes me giddy with excitement!

Finally music IS big in my family and big in my wedding.  My whole family on Mom Sword’s side actually sing (the same two songs) once a year at my grandparent’s church in Bismarck, North Dakota.  Truth be told we’re kind of celebrities up there.  (no.big.deal)  Sister Big Eyes and I sing a lot together and The Glue usually plays guitar for us.  We’ve even recorded a CD and our “band” is called BME (beginning middle and end).  While The Glue likes to pretend he’s not in said “band,” MOH Big Eyes loves to sing!  In fact, her future husband is a musician as well and their wedding has a lovely musical theme to it.

Wow, that was a lot of back story just to say, my Sister is singing a song in our wedding and I’m so happy about it I could burst!  She’s gonna get her solo on and we’re hoping to find some sort of keyboard to back her up (since we don’t think guitar will sound quite right).  The song she’ll be singing is from the TV show Smash‘s version of “Crazy Dreams” (originally sung by Carrie Underwood).

The lyrics are a bit very unconventional for a wedding, but I just didn’t want the typical sappy love song (yawn fest). PLUS, marrying Mr. Sword is definitely a crazy dream come true for me!  We all know I talk about dreams A LOT on this blog.

Ok, so who is writing their own vows?  Has anyone seen a handfasting at a wedding they’ve been to?  Anyone else having a family member perform some kind of music in their ceremony?

Kids and Ushers

Here’s how it is, I’m having kids be the ushers at our wedding and I’m super pumped about it.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Cousin Frankie is technically the Head Usher and an adult.  He will be walking my Mom and the Grandparents to their special seats up front as well as rolling out the good ol’ aisle runner, but he won’t be seating people or handing out programs.  I know it’s bit un-traditional to have young ushers but I can’t think of anything better than having my two cousins and my nanny kiddo all dressed up and taking part in our ceremony.

My Mom’s brother has two kids, Cousin Singer, a boy age 14, and Cousin Dancer, a girl age 11.  Together with Nanny boy, age 10, these three will make up our adorable group of ushers.  Now I know we aren’t talking about little little kids here, in fact we’re talking about a teenager and two tweens, but I think their energy and charisma is just what we need in an usher on the day of our wedding.

We definitely won’t have seating sides due to our high out-of-town guest ratio and because we have a ton of mutual friends that wouldn’t know where to sit!  I haven’t decided if the ushers will be showing people to their exact row or merely pointing out open and available seats after handing over a program.  Cousin Singer and Nanny Boy will be in black suits and I’m thinking Cousin Dancer will be in a black dress.  Ideally, all the ushers including Head Usher Cousin Frankie will have some of the tartan fabric on their person, but what that will look like all depends on the amount of extra fabric we receive.

Enough blathering, lets put some faces to the fake names I’ve made up!!  (Blathering is a word I’ve heard my FMIL use about herself in Scotland and I have decided to incorporate it into my vocabulary; it means to talk long-windedly without making very much sense.  Obviously, it’s a word made for me.)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my family.  They are talented, hilarious, loving, forgiving, and always there for me when I need them.  Here is a photo of all the cousins with Grandpa and Grandma at a recent gathering to celebrate G and G’s 55th wedding anniversary in Fargo, ND.

Cousin Singer is front and center and next to him is Cousin Dancer.  Cousin Frankie is standing in the back next to Mr. Scottish.  You’ll also recognize BM Jo (who is sister to Cousin Frankie), myself, MOH Big Eyes holding my nephew pup, FBIL, The Glue, and course my Mom’s lovely parents.

Mr. Scottish, BM Jo, Cousin Frankie, and Cousin Dancer

Cousin Singer spraying The Glue during a family water gun fight, yep we’re one fun family

Now, here are some photos of me and my Nanny Boy.  I’ve known him since he was 5 and it’s been amazing to watch him grow up.  He’s one of the smartest kids I know and truly challenges me to think deeper.  He’s goofy and shares my ridiculous sense of humor.  And the best part is?  He is going to have so much fun hanging out with Cousin Singer and Cousin Dancer at the wedding!

At a restaurant in Chicago.

Hitting the pool!

We’re awesome and we know it.

(all photos personal)

PHEW!  Anyone else doing something unique with their ushers?  Anyone else lucky enough to have the best family in the world too?!?!

Get it on film!

Videography.   I think it’s important and I want to tell you why.  This post is based purely on my personal opinions so keep that in mind, but here is MY food for YOUR thought.

I  know I’ve mentioned this before but I do believe the WIC (wedding industry complex)  coerces us into thinking we need certain things to make our wedding day magical, and videography is something that can be  found on that list of “must-haves,” but in this instance, I think they are right!  GASP.

I do feel strongly that this day in age, with all the media and technology advances in recent years, it doesn’t make sense NOT to have your special day recorded on film.  It’s there to be watched over and over again for future generations, for when you have a big fight and need a loving reminder, for your anniversary celebrations, for when your memory begins to fail you, for when you need a nice gift for your parents, and for yourself because it was your wedding day after all!

A few years ago my siblings and I made a special video for Auntie B to commemorate a special birthday year of hers (of which the year shall go unmentioned).  This video is a compilation of all of our families’ inside jokes, but  I can’t tell you how many times Auntie B says to us, “I just watched my birthday video again and laughed all the way through it, it’s SO funny!”  Hearing this makes my heart so happy, it’s been years and she still watches it often!

People videotape everything from their first bungee jumping experience to their child’s first step; your wedding is going to be one of the best celebrations of you and your partner’s love so why not get it on film?  Even if you are an introvert or an extra-shy person (like Mr. Sword) you will still want to see how happy you looked on that day, how much you laughed, how silly you danced, and how well you were loved by family and friends.

“BUT WAIT ONE MINUTE YOU CRAZY BLONDE, what if I can’t afford a videographer??”

Good point.  In fact, price is probably the biggest reason people say no to a videographer.  Did you know some people charge anywhere from 5-8 thousand dollars??  NO THANK YOU.

You can do what Mr. Sword and I did and just scratch out money from your photography fund.  We were lucky enough to be able to fit both in without going over our set photo/video budget (which to be fair, was on the mid to high side to begin with).  Remember how important photography is to me?

Another option is to find a person or a company that is just starting out.  Perhaps a student or someone looking to earn extra cash from a side business?  They might only have a few weddings under the belt, but as long as they can get the important things on film, who cares about the editing.  You don’t need the editing.

In that vein, the third option is to designate a family friend to bring their flip camera and tape certain sections of the ceremony and reception for you.  Now, most people just want to enjoy themselves (which translated means they don’t want to hold a camera to their face all night), but you never know who would be willing to help until you ask them.  My advice is to pay them even if it’s just a little stipend, because it’s the thought that counts and it’s way cheaper than hiring a professional.

Think about it this way, flowers and alcohol only last for that night, but your video will live on and on.  To me, it’s worth the big bucks!  And just like photographers, videographers do a great deal of post-wedding work as well and they deserved to be compensated.

So who did we hire?

A2f Pictures. We immediately clicked with them at our meeting in Minnesota.  They were young, fun, professional, and agreed that every wedding has a unique story to tell.  A bonus is their easy to use application form online that helps you figure out exactly what is important to you and what the “extras” will cost.  The company is owned by three filmmakers who are looking to fund their own feature film someday but are currently work hard making both commercial and wedding videos.  I hope it’s not going to be weird when I ask to audition for their film after my wedding.  I’m only kidding!!  Kind of.  While I was overjoyed that our photographer is a woman (yay), I’m just as happy to give our videography money to aspiring artists!

Our video package includes two cinematographers, a cinematic trailer, a 10-20 minute edited cut of the day, and wedding interviews/stories from family and friends.  AMAZING.  We are so pumped and if you are a guest who is planning to be at our OOTG rehearsal dinner then you better start practicing your cutest “Mr. and Mrs. Sword” story.*

Finally, I hear over and over again (from lovely people like Mrs. Snow Cone and others) that the biggest regret people have is NOT getting their wedding on film.  So if you can squeeze a videographer into your budget I say go for it!

Is videography a priority on your wedding budget?

*Nobody will be forced to do an interview if they don’t want to!!  🙂