Tag Archive | photography

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)

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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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Off-site Location Hunting

There is one thing I have been very adamant about recently and that is having an off-site location to take photos with the bridal party and Mr. Sword on our wedding day.

I was never a girl who pictured or thought about a beautiful outdoor wedding.  Sure, I love the sunshine on my skin, I love the smell of fresh air, and a beautiful city skyline, but I have no problems getting married indoors.  I’m an indoors girl at heart.  Plus, the atrium at our hotel has high ceilings and tons of greenery so it feels very lush and homey at the same time.  Perfect.

That said, I really, really want to take some photos outside on the Big Day!  I just can’t stand the thought of every picture taken with indoor lighting when natural lighting is so amazing.  Not to mention, no matter what the weather, I want to have photographic proof of it.  How will I remember how cold or nice it felt on my wedding or how it looked outside if I have nothing to remember it by?

So come rain, snow, sleet, or sunshine, we’ll be outside from about 12-2 PM on our wedding day capturing it all.

Our first off-site location idea was the famous Mall of America (yes this isn’t outside but it was going to be the first stop of two).  This was good in theory but bad in reality.  Mr. Sword loathes the thought of drones of tourists all staring at us (while I’d quite like that) and I loathe the thought of navigating our large group through said drones of tourists.  Plus, my idea for a first look in the theme park was quickly thwarted by the ugly neon colors they have going on in there these days and the fact that you really can’t ask a bunch of people to move out of your way just so you can “get the shot.”

In any case, we tried to find some picturesque spots for photos and took some shots just because we were there scouting.  But you won’t be seeing me in a wedding dress at the MOA anytime soon.  Note the blurry patrons behind me.

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Luckily, we had received a good suggestion from quite a few people who told us Centennial Lakes Park would be a great place for photos!  In fact, our photographer has already shot a wedding there and it’s a very popular wedding venue, especially during the warmer months.  So Mr. Sword and I decided to check it out while we were in town and we were not disappointed!

Centennial Lakes has tons of great photo opportunities for us and for our bridal party!  We plan on doing an hour of just couple portraits and then having the bridal party join us after that and with the many options at Centennial Lakes, we’ll be able to stick with just one off-site location!

The icing on the cake is that Centennial Lakes is literally five minutes away from our Embassy Suites so we won’t be wasting much time in vehicles transporting everyone back and forth.  The goal was to find a location that was less than 10 minutes away and I’m so glad we accomplished that!

NOW you can picture Miss Sword in a wedding dress in all of these photos.  And if anyone has a stellar idea for a “first look” please pass it on!  Right now I’m thinking we could walk up each side of this bridge to meet each other at the top.  If only I wasn’t so damn klutzy…

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Mom Sword is helping me pose in the photo below.  I know they look a bit dirty but I can picture our bridal party standing on these blocks looking quite posh.

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Is anyone else obsessed with more urban or architectural photographs?  I’m dying for photos like these.  Parking garages for the win.

image via Pinterest/ Photo by Tracy Photography

image via Pinterest/ Photo by Tracy Routh Photography

image via PInterest/ Photo by Shannon Nicole Smith

image via PInterest/ Photo by Shannon Nicole Smith

Who knew a car barrier could be so sexy?!?

image via Pinterest/ Photo by Todd Pellowe

image via Pinterest/ Photo by Todd Pellowe

(all photos personal unless otherwise noted)

Are you going to take photos at an off-site location before or after your wedding?  What do you think of photos in parking garages?

My Wedding Crush

I found my wedding crush!!  You know what I’m talking about right?  That wedding that seems to match something of your theme/style/decor and gets you inspired for your own Big Day?

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to view the entire gallery of this wedding but the photos I discovered are truly awesome and affirming.  And hopefully our wedding will look  pretty similar to this except for 50 degrees colder.

Here’s what I found:

MEN IN KILTS THAT DON’T MATCH

It’s no secret I’ve been slightly concerned (but mostly just curious) about how our photos will look with each of the groomsmen and Mr. Sword sporting different tartan patterns.  Furthermore, they’ll all be wearing different jackets with all the groomsmen in the more formal Prince Charlie style and Mr. Sword showcasing the more semi-formal Argyll jacket.  After seeing this photo, I’m happy to report I’m digging the mismatched guys look and I’m SO excited to see how our bridal party pulls it off as well!

Note the different sporrans and how beautiful they all look together!

SHE HAS FOUR BRIDESMAIDS AND THEY ARE IN DARK COLORED DRESSES

My four bridesmaids will be in long dark eggplant dresses and my honor attendants will be wearing short black dresses.  I love the look of these dark dresses next to the bride’s light gown.

THE BRIDE WRAPPED HER BOUQUET WITH TARTAN FABRIC

I just love how it looks and I can’t wait to get photos of all the sneaky places that our family tartan will pop up at the Sword wedding.

SHE HAS INDIVIDUAL SHOTS WITH EACH OF HER GIRLS

I plan to get personal shots with each of my awesome ladies as well.

Finally, THIS PHOTOGRAPH IS AWESOME

Hilariously brilliant isn’t it?  We are so re-creating this shot.  Do you think these men are True Scotsman?  😉

Finding this wedding crush reaffirms how beautiful and unique each wedding is and makes me so happy that I stuck to my dark, kilt-focused theme even though I was initially attracted to all things blush.

Have you found your wedding crush yet?

…What a Weekend Baby: Bridal Shower Photos!

Remember how I said I was waiting on something before I could recap my MN bridal shower?  Well, it’s here!  MY SHOWER PHOTOS!!

So, part of BM L Dawg’s shower gift to was hire her friend to take photos!  Such a great idea, especially, since I was worrying about who would take photos at the shower and didn’t want anyone to be stuck behind the lens the whole time!  BM L Dawg knew it’d be the perfect gift for me so she asked her friend (who does photography as a hobby) to capture all of those special moments and now we have tons of great detail, candid, and posed shots!  (This is a photo heavy post BTW, in case that’s not obvious yet.)

All of these lovely photos are courtesy of Meagan Maue.  (thank you Meagan!)

My bridal shower was held at my home church up in suburbs of the Twin Cities and the day turned out to be pretty rainy and gross but that didn’t stop us or the guests from having a wonderful time!

The black and white theme was incorporated EVERYWHERE which made me so giddy and excited when I first walked into the room!  I was given a corsage to wear which made me feel even more special!

There is a funny story attached to the pine cones… since I got engaged in Feb. of 2012 I have been talking about incorporating pine cones into my decor because my March wedding is at the tail end of winter, and their natural brown color would go well with our centerpieces, plus I just really like the look of pine cones!  Well most of my family did not like this idea (Mom Sword was very verbal about her dislike of pine cones at a wedding) so you can imagine my surprise when I saw a bowl of them at my shower!  Yay, I finally got my pine cones!

My shower hostess’ are some of the best people I know.  I wish there were enough words to thank them for everything!  My two aunts, cousin, and BM L Dawg really out-did themselves!  And since the shower was Black and White themed, my beautiful and AMAZING hostess’ all wore a splash of red to make themselves stand out.  Brilliant.

BM L Dawg, Auntie B, Cuz-E, Miss Sword, and Auntie N

Of course I had to get some photos with Mom Sword.

And of course MOH/Sister Big Eyes had to photo bomb us!  It was pretty hilarious.

I thought there was the perfect amount of games (another post on that coming soon) and the perfect amount of eating and chatting.  Opening gifts was a blast although I sort of rushed through them because I was worried about people getting bored!  I guess I over-compensated a bit and soon MOH Big Eyes and BM L Dawg were telling me to slow down!  At least I entertained everyone with my dramatic and exaggerated faces.

Even the food was black and white and red.  Can I just say they did a fantastic job considering the options out there?  Pretty sure I’m the only person who had jicama at their shower.

Auntie B did a great job creating these letters to highlight my princess theme.

After gifts and games, it was time for toasts and champagne!  I love this photo below of my adorable hostess’ getting ready in the kitchen!

 

Hearing the heartfelt toasts was such a beautiful way to end the event.  I am so blessed to have such great family and friends!

And then Mom Sword said I should speak!  Normally I’m a bundle of nerves when I have to say something off the cuff (yes I know, despite being an actor), but instead of freaking out, I took a deep breath and thanked everyone from the bottom of my heart.  It looked a little something like this:

Finally, because no one had to play photographer, we were able to get a group shot at the end!  Everyone was asked to wear black and it looked really great!

Sorry for the wait, but I hope you enjoyed photos!  Did you have a themed shower?  What was it?

Up next, my dramatic dress appointment story.  Get ready.

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?

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!!  🙂

Documenting the Big Day

The single most important vendor to me regarding our wedding (after finding a venue) is the photographer.  In regards to photography, I like to refer to Mr. Sword and myself as “dream clients” because we don’t want to rush through pictures (in fact we want to take more than the average couple), we value art/artists, and we understand that there is a lot of work to do after the wedding as well, like editing, so we want to provide adequate compensation for the work that is done.

Finding a photographer is a lot about research at the beginning of the process.  It’s about browsing websites, looking at photos, and it really helps Mr. Sword has been interested in photography since before we met and knows waaay more about it than I do.  He even knows what the different lens’ are called.  Whoa.

I believe you should be in total love with your wedding photos because you will have them for a lifetime and with the current fad of photo-journalistic type weddings, amazing and unique shots are becoming are the norm and the expectation.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I love getting my photo taken.  Even if I have to do it myself.  In fact, I have a signature pose that my family and Mr. Sword make fun of me for doing.  It’s called the “extend your arm as far as you can and make an interesting face at the camera pose,” or more plainly, “The Miss Sword.”

Brunette in ’09

Enjoying the sun in 2010

At a winery with girlfriends in 2011

Planning the wedding in 2012

After having such success with our E-session I was even more positive that we were on the right track with our hunt for a wedding day photographer.  And so we decided on a budget for them.  It was on the higher end of things, but not insanely so.  Mr. Sword insisted we meet with people at both ends of our price point spectrum, which is why we ended up seeing FOUR different photographers, two at the high-end of our budget and two at the low-end of it.  We liked three out of the four.

The main reason I didn’t like this one couple is because I thought they were a bit pretentious and weird.  They didn’t include rights to the HIGH-resolution images in their package like most photographers do, and instead they give you the low-res images to put on Facebook and such, but then make you pay an extra 800 dollars for the good stuff.  Don’t pay extra for that, it should be included!!

SIDE NOTE: Obviously the photographers should be cited whenever their work is used and they have rights that prevent you from their selling their images, but your wedding photos are for you and you should have access to them!

So with our three favorites in mind, Mr. Sword and I sat down and discussed what was important to us.

Our main priorities included:

  • originality/uniqueness of photos
  • a second shooter
  • unlimited time/committing to being there the whole day
  • great candid shots
  • creative portraits
  • didn’t totally BREAK the bank

In the end, it wasn’t a very tough decision because only one of the people we met with fit every single one of our criteria!  I won’t reveal the name just but I will say that we’ve hired a woman and I couldn’t be happier about that.  I LOVE supporting women and women who own their own business’.

And just in case you couldn’t get enough of my awesome photography skillz…

Scotland 2010

Scotland 2011

The sad part is how easy it was to find all of these photos of just me.  🙂

(all photos personal)

Anyone else have certain criteria for choosing a photographer?  What is the NUMBER ONE thing on your list in regards to wedding planning?