Tag Archive | DJ

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

personal photo

personal photo

Flowers: $550 (five bouquets and four corsages)

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Centerpieces: $285 (this is just what we spent, Mom Sword spent more finishing them up)

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Venue and Catering: $11,000 (this includes three sections of the ballroom and all that comes with them, one hour open bar, plated dinner for all guests, beer, wine, signature drinks, soda, late night snack, draping behind sweetheart table, purple uplighting, and the cake)

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Atrium rental fee for ceremony: $500

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Officiant: $275

Marriage License: $40 (MN charges $115 unless you show proof of premarital counseling which lowers it to 40 bucks)

Bagpiper: $250

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Photography: $2,160 (after a discount for finding her through a blog)

Videography: $2,300 (for four separately edited films- trailer, full video, ceremony, and Best Man Speech)

Ceilidh Band: $550 (for one hour of playing)

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DJ (including glow sticks, extra lighting, and lapel mic rental): $1,040

Wedding band hers: $600 (white gold)

Wedding band his: $210 (tungsten)

Hair and Makeup: $200 (for a trial and the day of, which was super discounted, I love my girl!)

Hair Extensions: $170 (have worn them a total of four times so far and plan on wearing them again in the future, so worth it!)

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

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

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

What We Skipped:

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

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

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

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography unless otherwise noted.

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

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FBIL and a Guitar

Let’s talk about music again.  For someone who only listens to the radio, doesn’t own a music playing device, and self-proclaims that she has bad taste, my wedding is going to have the most wide-range of kick-ass music ever!

For starters, the ceremony will begin with our bagpiper Evan and will also feature my Sister/MOH Big Eyes singing a song from the TV show, Smash.  For the parents processional we’re having this song by Sigur Ros, have you heard of it?  Mr. Sword picked it (obviously), but I love it.

The bridal party is completely stoked about walking into this princess gem, (I say sarcastically).

This brings us to cocktail hour, which I have yet to talk about.  I assume most people have their DJ’s play some sweet tunes during this hour of hosted bar and passed hors d’oeuvres, but we are lucky enough to have my talented future brother-in-law playing his guitar and singing instead!

G performing

FBIL frequently plays his music, both covers and songs he’s written at local bars and coffee shops and he’s really good.  Not like, “Aww he’s good, he’s family so we just say that!”  But good as in he’s a talented musician and I’m proud to welcome another artist into the family this coming June.  🙂  Plus, I love the atmosphere that the live music will offer our guests during cocktail.  This wedding has it all!

Sister Big Eyes and FBIL performing together at an outdoor wedding, aren't they cute?

Sister Big Eyes and FBIL performing together at an outdoor wedding, aren’t they cute?

After cocktail hour ends we’ll have the grand march, followed immediately by the cake cutting, toasts and then dinner.  After dinner it will be time for the first dances and then our Ceilidh band, The Gunn Slingers, will perform an hour of traditional Scottish music and led group dancing.  Dear Sword Wedding Guests, BRING YOUR DANCING SHOES AND YOUR OPEN MINDS!  I want to see everyone on the floor.  I promise I’ll be the klutziest one out there.  Seriously, I have zero idea of how I’m going to dance in my dress.  Oh well, too late to worry about that now!  The night will end with a rockin’ party atmosphere and our DJ playing mostly popular get down and dirty music with a few oldies mixed in for good measure.  Phew!

The only thing I haven’t decided on is what to have the DJ play during the hour we have allotted for dinner time; does anyone have any suggestions?  Our DJ is supposed to call us this week to ask for name pronunciations so I can pass the information on at that time.  The question is, what do you play during dinner when your wedding covers all types of music from princess movie themes to bagpipes to folksy love songs to Ceilidh music to today’s best pop?

(photo from FBIL’s personal collection)

What did you play during dinner?  Anyone else having live music during their cocktail hour?  Anyone else having a smattering of different types of music at their wedding?

My Vendors and I Are Tight, Yo

At this point in the game, I’m pretty sure I email and talk to my vendors more than I do my friends and family.  I kid, but I do feel like my relationship with the people I’ve hired to do my wedding is growing rapidly.  The closer we get, the more questions they have, the more questions I have, and the more decisions there are that need to be made, which means we need to be in constant contact.

sisko chocolate centrepiece

(All of the photos in this post are just for fun!  I miss the days of browsing for inspiration and I figured pictures of other people’s weddings made sense for this post about vendors.  In the photograph above, those chocolate centerpieces remind me of the my initial decor idea that was thrown out by, wait for it, EVERYONE.  Pine cones.  Sigh.)

Personally, I have to say I’ve had a fabulous time working with the professionals I’ve hired.  I can attribute this to two things, 1) Mr. Sword and I only hired people we liked/got along with/respected.  2) Mr. Sword and I did lots of research in advance before we even met with our vendors in person.  I won’t go into detail about picking vendors, (because well, yawn), but I will give you some advice to help benefit BOTH you and your vendors throughout the planning process.

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(Clearly the above photo needs to be me on my wedding day, surrounded by men in kilts.  Yes.)

Your relationship with your vendors should be symbiotic, which means you both benefit from it.  Here are Miss Sword’s Top Tips for Vendor Success:

  1. Show respect for their art.  Listen to their concerns and ideas, and try to work within their perimeters.  If a vendor explains they need space for this thing or extra equipment for that thing, try to accommodate them.  It will only benefit you if they are comfortable and have what they need!  For instance, my photographer asked to be fed dinner at the same time as myself and Mr. Sword, meaning, before our guests.  This is a bit uncommon as the vendors are usually fed after all the guests have eaten dinner, but Crystal explained that she often misses key events or touching moments if she eats after the bride and groom eat.  She says it’s best if she’s done eating before the guests are done eating so she can take more photographs of the party.  So I asked our hotel coordinator to change the vendor meal time.  Simple as that.
  2. Respond quickly to emails.  Don’t you hate it when you don’t hear back about something you’ve been dying to know in regards to your wedding?  Vendors are the same way.  We all rely on email as a quick way to exchange info and ask questions.  I’m so grateful that the two wedding coordinators at my venue respond right away (usually within an hour) to my questions and therefore I always try to respond as quickly as I can to their emails as well.  It goes both ways and keeps everyone on the same page.
  3. Feed them.  We are feeding all of our vendors, from the photographers/videographers to the DJ and the band.  Even though our Ceilidh band is only playing a one hour set, we invited all four band members to come to the hotel early and eat dinner on us.  They are taking time out of their Saturday evening to play at our event and I appreciate their time.  Speaking of time, it also ensures that they won’t be late because they’ll have to show up early to eat dinner!  And isn’t everyone happier and more fun on a full belly?
  4. Communicate constantly.  This might sound excessive, but every time I think of something that is important to us or to Mom Sword or whomever, I email it to my vendors.  If I’m unsure of something, I ask them right away.  The more you communicate the more likely you are to have a smoother wedding day without too many hiccups.*  I also encourage letting your vendors see your wedding timeline first before showing your bridal party and family, because that way they can give you any necessary changes before you send it out to everyone.
  5. Tip them.  ARGH, TIPPING!!  Side note:  Tipping stresses me out.  I’m big on tipping but I really dislike being asked for a tip (which recently happened and by letter, what??).  I also feel like the wedding standards on tipping are extremely high.  That said, for most vendors, it’s not optional.  What goes around comes around, so tip the folks that worked their asses off for you on your wedding day.  If someone goes above and beyond, then tip them extra.  You might find yourself in a service job one day and will want the same courtesy extended to you.

I can think of 3 extra special things that three different vendors have done for us just because they know we’re going to treat them well and they know we respect the work art they do create.  I can’t go into it because frankly, that’s tacky, but I’m so happy that all of people I have trusted to make our day special are going above and beyond my beginning expectations!  It’s making me so freaking excited for the Big Day!

*This is mere speculation as I have not yet had my wedding day and cannot confirm this to be true!  🙂

Pink Vintage Wedding Inspiration

Photo by: Couture House of Imagery on Every Last Detail via Lover.ly

(I pretty much fainted when I saw that cake.  Breathtaking!!)

How is your relationship with your vendors?  Will you or did you tip them?  Is there such a thing as too much communication?

What Miss Sword Will Do to Save Money

I know I’m sort of rounding the last lap on the way to my wedding date, and at less than three months away is sort of an odd time to talk about saving money (as most of the big bills are coming up), but alas I was prompted by the weather so I’m going to go with it.

This past weekend Minnesota had a nice-sized snowfall.  The photo below was taken at the MSP airport where lots of flights were cancelled due to severe weather conditions.  I guess it snowed like 10-12 inches around the Twin Cities and close to 16 in other areas up north.

image via Kare11.com

image via Kare11.com

Now there is nothing weird about this.  It snows quite a bit during the wintertime in Minnesota.  And you’re only a true Minnesotan if you’ve driven at NIGHT in a BLIZZARD by YOURSELF in what I like to call my “near death experience.”  This is much like the theory that you’re not a true Chicagoan until you’ve had your car broken into (twice myself and most recently MOH/Sister Big Eyes was also initiated into Chicago the same weekend as my Hen Do even though she doesn’t live here).  The snowiest months for Minnesota are usually December to March.

What does this have to do with saving money you ask?  I’m saving a pretty large chunk of money by hosting a rather large event (AKA my wedding) in early March (one of the previously mentioned snowy months). It’s actually a really good deal, and a deal that wasn’t available just few weeks later in April.  You know how hotels and other wedding venues charge for everything per head?  We are getting ten dollars off per person which is HUGE if you’re inviting 150+ people.

Thanks to our awesome venue, The Embassy Suites, we’re going with a package deal, so our amount not only includes a plated meal for everyone, but also our cake, centerpieces (which we took as a credit because we’re making our own), a full hour of free drinks/butler-passed hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour, a hotel room for the bride and groom, and a gift opening room for the following morning.  This package also comes with a recommended DJ and ability to rent the atrium space for the ceremony at 500 dollars.  At the risk of repeating myself, we are adding on to our package with kegs of beer, wine, two signature drinks, purple lighting, draping around the sweetheart table, and the DJ for both ceremony and reception.

Outside our beautiful hotel at a great photo opp, wearing a sundress because it's August.

Outside our beautiful hotel at a great photo opp, wearing a sundress because it’s August.

One stop shop has been my motto since the beginning but it’s going to be a sucky motto if there is a big snow fall the weekend of our wedding and our guests are unable to make it!  I know the weather can be issue anywhere in the world, what with hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, heat waves, and other things that can put a damper on wedding plans, but adding to the winter weather we also have a lot of guests flying or driving in from out-of-town.  Hello Scotland, Canada, Illinois, New York, Virginia, and North Dakota!

Truth is, I wanted a lot of traditional elements, such as a plated sit-down dinner, a large dance floor, and the ability to have my out-of-town guests crash at the same location as the wedding.  To get all of these things we had to compromise on something and that something was time of year.

I have no idea if I’ll get beautiful sunlit pictures outside with Mr. Sword and our bridal party or if it will be snowing/raining/sleeting with a dark sky and ground covered in sludge.  I have no idea if the weather will remain calm enough for all of our guests’ travels or if someone people will have to forgo the trip due to road closures or flight cancellations.  Will there be beautiful snow-capped trees in the background or naked branches flinging about in rough winds?  Who knows?  The average temperature in March can range from 20-40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The weather is not something I can control.  Unfortunately, sometimes my emotions are also something I cannot control.  Bazinga.  (Can you tell I love the Big Bang Theory?)

I wanted to have the wedding of my dreams and still stay within our agreed upon budget.  Hence, March.  I guess we’ll see what happens.  🙂

I wanna hear from the Northern brides out there!  Did you have a winter wedding?  How did it go?  Did you have lots of guests flying in as well?  Anyone else having a wedding in March where the weather is a bit unpredictable?