Tag Archive | The Gunn Slingers

Cathartic Vendor Review

At first I struggled with whether or not to review my vendors because the information is only relevant to those people getting married in Minnesota.  But being that there are not very many Weddingbee blogger bees from MN, I decided to go ahead and write the post.

The reason this is cathartic for me is because I had a bit of an issue with one of my main vendors.  I’m not sure how to handle my frustration while still being the bigger person and avoiding pointless catty comments other than to be as vague as possible while still letting it all out.

I am disappointed in how things went down with my photographer.  Sister Big Eyes’ and I shrendored her, which makes my frustrations doubly upsetting.

Our photographer is a talented artist no doubt but she was not easy to work with.  For example, my photos were late, multiple other promised deadlines were missed, and there was an overall lack of business savvy.  Days before Sister Big Eyes’ wedding there was an issue via email that could have been easily avoided with better communication.  There were misunderstandings about expectations, excuses instead of apologies, and both of us are still waiting on a part of our package, an album we were promised.

While I do love my pictures and am incredibly thankful for them, it’s hard for me to encourage others to hire her when she caused us both so much unnecessary stress, which is why I’m not linking to her website or recommending her.  (Although her information is not difficult to find if you go to any of my recaps.)

To turn this into something positive, here are a few things to remember that I wish I had known when interviewing photographers besides the usual, look at all the photos from one wedding, not just the favorites, and make sure they match your aesthetic/vision.

Picking the Right Photographer:

  • Get a timeline in the contract so that you have something to refer back to if they are late getting you your photos.
  • Ask them how many weddings they shoot per year, the lower the number the more time they will have to devote to the ones they have booked.
  • Trust your instincts, to quote Oprah quoting Maya Angelou, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
  • Respect them as an artist but remember you have a right to hold them accountable as a paying client.  Be kind but firm with expectations.
  • Finally, do NOT pass their name along to someone else until AFTER you’ve had the full experience of working them.  Unless of course you’re sisters getting married within three months of each other and it makes sense for you both.  🙂

Now that the icky stuff is out of the way, let me tell you about a shrendoring experience that was the complete opposite of the last one.

Laura Westrem: A+

Sister Big Eyes’ and I shared our hair/makeup artist and I would recommend her a million times over!  She was so easy to be around and really focused on making the bride feel special and happy.  She also got to know our family pretty well from doing both weddings and she offered Sister and I discounts at both weddings.  She works really hard but still makes time to respond to emails, and was extremely accommodating of my out-of-town schedule.  If I need a hair/makeup artist in the future, I’m calling Laura.

Midwest Sound and DJ: B

The music selection at the reception was fantastic but they caused us some unnecessary stress by phoning the week of the wedding saying they couldn’t get the legal copies of TWO songs for our ceremony.  I was pretty annoyed because I had sent them our packet of song choices back in February.  The issue was resolved in time but it was still frustrating.

Embassy Suites Bloomington: A-

What can I say?  This hotel knows weddings.  The two ladies in charge are both very nice and great with responding quickly over email.  They worked with me when I had to set up meetings pretty far in advance and they answered all my questions without making me feel stupid.  A few hiccups, one they asked for a payment after I’d already given it (I almost paid them twice for the same thing but luckily we caught it), and they switched my coordinator at the last minute, and AGAIN I found out the week of the wedding.  It wasn’t a huge issue, but being that I’d only met one of the two woman, I felt very much like the rug was pulled out from under me.  Their expertise in the wedding biz came through in the end and it didn’t matter who my coordinator was, it all got done.

Also, one last thing, that doesn’t really have to do with Embassy Suites, or so we think, our bathroom baskets were stolen!  I was pretty pissed at the time, not only because those baskets were from my own house but mostly because we were going to reuse them for Sister Big Eyes’ wedding and instead we had to purchase new baskets and new items and make them all over again!  Dear people who steal bathroom baskets: you make me sad.  Drag your ass to Target and buy a Tide-to-go pen on your own dime!

The Gunn Slingers: A+++

Our Ceilidh band was the highlight of the night.  Hire them.  They rule.  Since they don’t have a website Google them to find their Facebook page or private message me for an email address.

Evan the Bagpiper: A+

He was young, sweet, talented, and on time.  He even came to our rehearsal.  Everyone loved his music.  Private message me for his email address if you want pipes for your Minnesota wedding!

Lake Harriet Florist: A

My bouquets were stunning and she worked within my meager budget.  The first and last place we went to, win win.


I can’t review or link to my videographers because they are done filming weddings and do not want inquires about them, but they rocked.  And if I ever need to film a commercial, I’m calling them.  🙂

Did you have a frustrating experience with a vendor that you need some closure on?  Is anyone else shrendoring?!?!  🙂


A Highland Fairy Tale: We Strip the Willow

You guys, the Ceilidh band was the highlight of our reception.  It was the most fantastic, upbeat, crowd-pleasing, ruckus good time I’ve ever had at a wedding and yes, I’m completely 100% bias but I absolutely LOVED it.  And I know I wasn’t the only one!

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Our ceilidh band, known as The Gunn Slingers, consisted of four guys playing two guitar type things, a drum set, and an accordion.  Neil (the guy in the kilt) is also the caller and he’s from Scotland but lives in Minnesota now.  We found his band by pure luck and the fact that Mom Sword was able to stalk him at the Minnesota Scottish Fair in 2012.

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I am eternally grateful for Mr. Sword’s Scottish friends, both those from the UK and those living in the US, because it was so nice to have a group of people who actually knew what they were doing from the get-go!  Dancing the Ceilidh was difficult at first and all of us Americans were able to watch what they were doing and that made it so much more fun!

Basically, the caller explains the dance steps one time and then the music begins and the men start stomping their brogues (shoes) together in rhythm, and it’s GO time!

Here’s me trying to keep up in one of the first dances, I’m so classy.

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Then there were some people who made it look easy, like my in-laws and MOH Big Eyes and BIL.

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I danced every single song because it was my wedding dammit but I probably should have relaxed more often because dancing the ceilidh is exhausting!  Thank goodness I’d already decided to avoid drinking on my big day or things could have gotten ugly.  In between every song I basically collapsed on the bar and begged the bartender for a glass of ice water.  There was no down time and I just HAD to dance with everyone!

My favorite song was the Strip the Willow dance because you basically spin and spin and spin until they grant you mercy and stop playing music.  It’s fantastic.  The dance starts by everyone grabbing a partner and standing across from them in two lines.

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The first couple enters the middle and they spin each other while linking arms, then they separate and each spin with a partner from the opposite line and then back to middle to dance with each other, and then to the next person in the line and so on and so forth with the next pair starting immediately after the couple in front of them “strips” down the line.  It’s utter mayhem and it never stops.

My partner was Cousin Singer and he was awesome!  We got to be the first couple at the top of the line.  Whoo-hoo, being the bride rules.

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But since you spin your way down the line, I got to dance with almost everyone!

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And I found out later that the goal of many a Scottish guy is to swing his gal so hard and so fast that he lifts her off the ground.  Looking back, that makes total sense because the guys who’d done this dance before were the craziest!

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It was awesome watching everyone else Strip the Willow too!

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Action shot of Mr. Sword

Action shot of Mr. Sword

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It was so great to see the dance floor so full with our favorite people.  Of course there’s always those few that just don’t dance but our wedding was definitely a good example of almost everyone participating and that made us really happy.

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I’m pretty sure The Gunn Slingers would have played all night if we had asked them to but after about five songs, it was time to switch back over to the DJ and get the party going in a whole new direction.  Up next, the anniversary dance!

PS, I cannot wait until Mr. Sword’s Wee Sis gets married in Scotland next year, because then I get to attend a ceilidh IN SCOTLAND IN A CASTLE.  Yes.

All photos by Crystal Liepa Photography.

Did you have an unconventional band at your wedding or another type of organized dancing?  Do you want to dance at a ceilidh now!?!

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

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

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

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

Cocktail hour!
The pretty details!
Grand entrances!
We get roasted!
Parent dances!
First dance fake out!

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?

Time to put on your Scottish dancing shoes!

Since I first started blogging about my Scottish fiancé, many of you have been asking if we will be having a Ceilidh (kā-lē) band at the wedding, and the answer is a resounding YES!!  A Ceilidh is technically a big Scottish party with lots of music and dancing and most of the time (in Scotland), it follows a wedding but sometimes it’s just a stand alone rockin’ good time!  Each Ceilidh band usually has their own caller or person who directs the dancing, and this is KEY for our wedding, because I know this will be the first Ceilidh for most of our lovely guests!

I first alluded to how we found our band back when I wrote about my brother renting his kilt for the wedding.  My parents really saved the day by attending the Minnesota Scottish Fair and hunting down the lead person of our band to ask him if they performed at weddings.  And thank goodness they did, because you’re sadly mistaken if you think there are a plethora of Ceilidh bands roaming the Midwest.  I think I found about three, including the one we booked!  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a hold of any of them, and at one point I was considering nixing the whole idea, but fortunately it didn’t come to that!

Luckily, we found The Gunn Slingers and while we were in Minnesota this summer we met with their accordion player and caller, Neil Gunn.  He is Scottish and married to a girl from Minnesota.  His drummer is Scottish and married to a Minnesota girl as well.  Does any of this ring a bell?  I can’t make this stuff up people!

Meeting with Neil happened to be our latest appointment of the whole planning trip, and only a true night owl (or Scottish person) could stay up this late!  Just kidding, it was like 9 PM, but still, that’s only 1.5 hours before my bedtime.  LAME.  Naturally, we met at a bar, and it was a great time!  We could have chatted all night (if it weren’t for my blasted bedtime).  Neil shared with us that he had a bit of learning curve when he first started calling for Ceilidh’s in Minnesota.  He quickly figured out that people will just stare blankly at you if you say, “Now, turn anti-clockwise!”  Counter-clockwise works much better here.  🙂

Miss Sword and Neil

Neil was nice enough to take a picture with me when I told him I was blogging about my wedding.

Finally I leave you with a video gem of random wedding guests dancing at a Ceilidh.

Mr. Sword really doesn’t like it when I compare Ceilidh dancing to American square dancing but the simple moves, spins, and partnering off just remind me of it!  I know this isn’t the most common type of dancing to be done at an American wedding, but I figure we will have enough Ceilidh dancing veterans to get the party started, and I’m not too worried about people dancing because my family LOVES to dance and are really looking forward to hearing the band.  Plus, the DJ will be taking over after an their hour set to finish out the night with a nice mix of classic and contemporary tunes for everyone to shake their asses to (anything but the chicken dance please!).  Clearly, I want our guests to be sweaty and exhausted by the end of the evening!

I’m so happy that we have a band for our Big Day and I’m super excited about attending my very first Ceilidh!!  Have any of the UK readers been to a Ceilidh before?  What was your experience?  Anyone else have a family that loves dancing?  Anyone else crazy enough to do a band AND a DJ?