It all started on the eve of Thanksgiving 2009. I met a drunk Scottish guy and I gave him my phone number with the instructions, “I don’t call boys, boys call me.” A phrase that haunts me still, but believe me, I didn’t mean it the way it sounds! I was merely expressing my nervousness at my calling him.
He did call and our first date was lunch and window shopping down Michigan Ave in Chicago. It was amazing. By June of 2010 I was on a plane leaving the country for the very first time to visit his home in Scotland. He proposed on February 19th, 2012 at the top of the John Hancock Building and we were wed on March 9th, 2013. Now we live in the Kansas City area, but our ultimate goal is to raise a family in Minnesota. (Speaking of, go Minnesota for passing a same-sex marriage bill back in May; you make me proud! Number 12 baby.)
I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in a big wedding bubble when you’re deep in the middle of planning. I know that some people in real life have lovingly and not-so-lovingly called me wedding-obsessed and/or crazy, but if I’m going to be crazy about one thing, it’s love. I will always cherish and enjoy weddings. They represent beginnings, blending of families, and unfiltered bliss.
If I may indulge in one last piece of advice, here are my three best tips for a stunning and fabulous wedding:
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:
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 as 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
Hive, I am THRILLED to share these sister shoot photos with you. I’ve been daydreaming about them since Sister Big Eyes told me last year that she wanted to do a photo shoot with BOTH of us in our wedding gowns.
I really want to post them without these downer disclaimers but truthfully I feel a bit self-conscious about my appearance in some of the pictures. I’d been dancing all day at Sister’s wedding and was a bit sweaty and swollen. Plus, for some idiotic reason I took my hair out of its side up do and it just doesn’t look right with no time or professional to fix it. (Sorry about the whiny moment.)
That aside, these pictures are so incredibly special to me. My Sister and I had a rough start to this wedding planning journey, but in the end, there is no one in the world I’d rather have shared it with.
The location: Our parent’s backyard at their home in a southern suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota.
The dresses: Both Mori Lee with ruching and ruffles but hers is white, and mine is ivory. Hers is a dropped waist, corset back, and beading. Mine is a fit-n-flare with zip up and buttons down the back.
The men: Both of them officially our husbands now! We actually hauled Mr. Sword’s kilt ensemble all the way from Chicago for this short shoot, but it was totally worth it!
You didn’t think I would leave you all hanging on Sister Big Eyes’ gorgeous wedding, did you? Sister and Brother-in-law were married on a Sunday in June three months and one week after the Sword wedding. It was also the same day as our grandparent’s wedding anniversary AND Father’s Day, making it all that more special.
Dearest hive, I will now attempt to do the impossible—I will recap Sister Big Eyes’ wedding in ONE SINGLE BUT INCREDIBLY LONG BLOG POST. Never mind that recapping my Highland Fairy Tale took about 40 posts, I truly believe I can do this! Hopefully you’ll recognize a lot of familiar faces, but in a whole new setting this time! Minnesota in the summer is quite lovely.
A Fancy Picnic
The morning after our wedding was awesome! Despite our lack of sleep, Mr. Sword and I made our way to breakfast a little before 9:00am, still riding the high from being bride and groom for a day.
With our package at Embassy Suites, we were given a section of the ballroom for all of our guests to join us for brunch the morning following our wedding. The cool thing about any Embassy Suites is the made to order HOT breakfast that is included in the price of a hotel night. That, plus the free drinks from 5:30-7:30pm at the manager’s reception every evening, and the huge rooms complete with a mini kitchenette, and you’ve got a great place for your guests to stay.
This is what we looked like on March 10th.
Not quite as glamorous, no, but just as happy! And check our Mr. Sword’s ring shot! It really is as sexy as everyone says it is to see your husband sporting his new jewelry.
Around 10:00 PM two things happened, 1) The late night snack was brought out for people to munch and nibble on (definitely recommend this if it’s a possibility at your venue. We went with the bar food option cause well, it made the most sense for us) and 2) Mr. Sword and I slipped away with Crystal to take the last couple portraits of the night.
This was probably the first time I sat down in hours and boy did it feel good!
OK. OK, so this was a bit posed but it was still fun! Gotta love a dramatic swoon amid purple lighting.
OK, enough with the sappiness, let’s get this party started!!! From about 9:30 pm until we were kicked out at midnight, the dancing was energized and non-stop!
“Looking for cute and affordable favors? Put the treat of your choice in adorable boxes from Weddingbee Favors!”
Now that the DJ was back on, it was time for our anniversary dance! For those of you not familiar, it’s a dance for all the married couples out there to celebrate/recognize how long they’ve been married. I really wish I could give you our choice as a song recommendation but to be honest, none of us remember what we picked! The thing is, we had decided ahead of time, but then the DJ said the song was too short, so he made a different suggestion…but we soon changed it again, and now no one remembers the song. OOPS
Mr. Sword and I got to start swaying, but very quickly the DJ said anyone who’s been married less than a day, please exit the dance floor, and then we were done!
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% biased, but I absolutely LOVED it. And I know I wasn’t the only one!
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.
From the second we got engaged I KNEW what our first dance song would be—”Raise Your Glass” by Pink. I know, I know, its super mainstream and popular and oh wait, it’s not a slow song!
That didn’t bother us in the slightest. Instead of starting with Pink’s song, we would begin by slow dancing to another favorite song (“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri) for about 45 seconds before having the DJ cut off the music completely. At which point we’d look around confused until he started playing “Raise Your Glass” and then of course we were gonna bust a move. But how did Pink’s song become our song? For that story we have to go back to when we first started dating.
After the toasts it was time for dinner! We had a three course plated meal of salad, chandelaise (I think our chef made that word up) chicken with steamed veggies and roasted red potatoes followed by wedding cake. Again it’s clear we aren’t foodies and I know it sounds like boring wedding food, but that’s OK because there was nothing else boring about our wedding! And the food was damn good.
After the salad course, Mr. Sword stood up and gave a thank you speech to everyone in attendance. He was SO nervous, but he did a great job. No idea what he’s saying here or why my arms are like that!
It was lovely to stand by his side as his proud wife in a room of our favorite people as he expressed our gratitude. While I’m the more out-going personality of the two of us and a performer by nature, on our wedding day I just wanted to be a bride, and I think our guests were really happy to hear from Mr. Sword as well.
This post starts with a Scottish vocab lesson. While I’m pretty sure “slagging off” is not exclusively a Scottish phrase, I’ve only ever heard Mr. Sword and his mates use it. However, maybe Miss Jackrabbit can enlighten us about the rest of the UK ? When I first met Mr. Sword I was always caught off guard with his weird phrases (for example: knackered = tired, baltic = freezing cold), and this one was no different. To slag someone off is to insult them. Who knew? It always sounded way dirtier to me.
After attending to the cake, we made our way to our lovely sweetheart table to get royally made fun of during the toasts.
More crazy Mrs. Sword faces!
These crowns in front of our table were a great addition and given to me by a friend of Mom Sword. We ended up sitting in front of the wrong crown for the firsts half of the evening though, oops. I was convinced I was in front of the queen’s but I was actually sitting in front of the king’s. Sorry Mr. Sword, you were right!
“It’s always a good time!” And boy was it ever, but we’ll get to that later.
Our reception started off with the old grand march or announced entrance of the entire bridal party followed by Mr. Sword and myself.
The bridal party entered to the very contemporary and perhaps overplayed song “Good Time” by Owl City featuring Carly Rae Jepsen. I bet I don’t even need to share a link to the song because it’s one of those that can consume your brain in seconds, but just in case, I will anyway. You’re welcome.
Aaron, our DJ from Midwest Sound, instructed each couple to choose a quick dance move for their entrance mere seconds before we were all to enter. Huddled in the hallway everyone came up with something awesome, that is except for the bride and groom. Our entrance was super lame but that’s OK because people were still into us. Guess that’s the perk of being the guests of honor!
Yay, we’ve arrived at the details post! Which means less talking, more photo sharing. I’ve saved all the major detail shots from the whole day for this post, enjoy!