Besides, swords are cool.
April 20, 2006 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Help me find the right sword to wear to my dad's wedding.

Two things you should know about me:
1) I wear a kilt almost every day (for aesthetic reaons--I'm not especially Scottish)
2) My dad is getting married in a month, and I'm the best man.
I suppose that was really four things, but the point is that he thought it would be cool if I had a sword for the wedding to go with the kilt. At first I thought of a crazy, 50" Claymore thing, but really I think that would distract from the ceremony quite a bit, so now I'm leaning more towards a basket-hilt broadsword (rapier?) with one of them ornate guards and such.
  1. For the price range of $50--$200, should I even bother, or will that amount of cash just get me a tin stick? I don't need to fight any battles with it, but I'd rather not humiliate myself with a "Made in Taiwan" number...
  2. Any recommendations of where I should get it?
    • Bounus points if its in or around New Bern, NC.
  3. Finally, airport security won't have any trouble if I ship it as luggage, will they?
posted by Squid Voltaire to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total)
Maybe there's a Scottish dance troupe in your area who would loan/rent you one?
posted by teg at 2:34 PM on April 20, 2006

Not a sword, but need a Sgian Dubh of course...
posted by frogan at 2:36 PM on April 20, 2006

I've never seen anyone wearing an actual sword with their kilt, although the Sgian Dubh is de rigueur. Most people wear a sword kilt pin as well.
posted by matthewr at 2:45 PM on April 20, 2006

I only have peripheral knowledge of swords, but I really think $200 is way below what you'd need to get any decent quality "real" sword. Many of them go for several thousand dollars.

You may be able to find a decorative/stage combat piece that looks alright.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:52 PM on April 20, 2006

As one who owns kilts by heritage, I'd wonder what the hell you were doing and be afraid you were going to chop someone's head off in the dimly-lit parking garage outside the reception. Can you work something into your speech about heart, faith, and skill?

Yeah. I'd go with the mini-sword aka. a Sgian Dubh too.
posted by kcm at 4:58 PM on April 20, 2006

Is you dad cool with the whole kilt and sword thing?
posted by radioamy at 5:21 PM on April 20, 2006

Have a look at Windlass Steelcrafts. These are real, handmade (in India) swords. Quality is good and so is the price. Outsourcing, baby.

Some thoughts:
--how're you going to carry it? Got a sword belt?
--the airlines probably WILL have a problem with shipping it. Even in checked baggage. I know it's silly.
--Swords and alcohol don't mix well. Someone will want to play with it. Cousin Bob will stab Aunt Edna, and all hell will break loose.
posted by jellicle at 5:40 PM on April 20, 2006

Are you planning on hiring/getting a real (i.e. tartan) kilt for the wedding?

I've never seen anyone wear a UtiliKilt before, but I suspect you'd look a bit silly wearing one with Sgian Dubh, kilt pin or sword.
posted by matthewr at 5:41 PM on April 20, 2006

Perhaps a nice polearm instead of a sword? Nothing says, "I'm protecting this person I care about" like a halberd.

Then again, maybe that isn't the impression you wish to make, that you are protecting your father against the person he is marrying.
posted by QIbHom at 5:46 PM on April 20, 2006

Aye, the Sgian Dubh is the way to go. You can get some real big yins too. Stick it in your big hairy socks and do your best to offset that ridiculous excuse for a kilt. Jings, crivvens, help ma boab.
posted by brautigan at 5:58 PM on April 20, 2006

I strongly recommend that you get a prop sword and not a real sword. From vicarious experience, all it takes is one drunk person and an available sword to ruin the fun for everybody. Since you're treating the sword as a fashion accessory and not as a tool, you should purchase a fashion accessory and not a sword.

I did a google search for "prop sword" and filtered out the plastic ones...
posted by plinth at 4:28 PM on April 20, 2006

Museum Replicas swords typically come "ready to be sharpened." Not a knife edge but not safely blunted either. The points in particular are dangerously sharp. If you bring something like this to a wedding, blunt the tip first, keep the sword in its sheath at all times and never leave it unattended.

I travel with swords all the time, airlines do not have a problem (unless you're traveling to Japan where the 400 year old sword laws are still in force).
posted by zanni at 4:57 PM on April 20, 2006

This may sound crass, but if you're thinking of wearing your Utilikilt, there is no 'right' sword. Highland dress at weddings may be a Victorian fantasy of 'the plaid', but it's just like a tuxedo: you can tweak things, but there's an essence to it. Go hog-wild: call up any local Renaissance fair types and ask to borrow a broadsword. Heck, take a battleaxe.

But if you want to go in a kilt, get the tartan (there's probably a clan somewhere in your family tree, and if not, there's a Carolina one) and the Sgian Dubh. It won't be cheap. But clothes for weddings aren't, and you can certainly hire it from somewhere.

From vicarious experience, all it takes is one drunk person and an available sword to ruin the fun for everybody.

Quite. The keeper of the ceremonial sword for a certain university's Welsh society, now married to a certain politician, ended up in a certain casualty department because she decided to play 'catch' with it.
posted by holgate at 5:24 PM on April 20, 2006

I've done this at some extravagent costume balls in the past. The various swords worked well, were not cheap ones, worked great with the outfit, etc, but from the experience, I generally try to avoid it, and so I would advise you against doing it.

The following are all very minor things, nothing to be worried about, sure, but taken together, enough to make the benefits just not seem all that worthwhile.

Firstly, anything more dramatic than the Sgian Dubh is likely to draw attention from the ceremony, and it's not your day. (Unless perhaps there is some way it ties in beautifully with the best man speech?)

Secondly, you will want to spend a few hours learning how to walk with a sword belt so that the sword doesn't bump people when you turn around, or knock into a pot plant as you walk by, or (if it's full sized) trip someone up or break glassware.

Thirdly, if full sized, you will still have to take care how you move during the entire time. One careless step and you're on America's Funniest Home Videos. You don't want that kind of mental overhead while also being the best man. Being best man is responsibility enough.

Fourth, you'll come to the attention of The Sword Guy, that socially limited guy at every function who believes that swords are his area of expertise, and are what makes him special. He will start an ostensibly friendly conversation with you primarily to let you know that he's the expert, not you. You will waste time on this awkward conversation that you would prefer to be spending in real conversation, and even if you have ten time his expertise you will probably smile and nod rather than debate, because you wish to extricate yourself.

Fifth, depending on the crowd, some people at the wedding will not know you well and may assume that you are The Sword Guy. Ouch.

Sixth, some people may ask about why you have the sword, expecting to find out a bit more about it's connection to your heritage, and if you don't have a charming answer prepared (and even then), they may think it's a tasteless thing to wear to a wedding without an actual reason. Not as bad as someone wearing six-shooters with their boots, since dress swords have historical precident as formal attire, but still heading in that direction. However, I don't know how in/formal the wedding is going to be.

If you are going to do it, I would suggest that you can use a sword in your price range - there are plenty that put the money into faking a nice scabbard and hilt, with a cheap non functional blade to keep the cost down. You shouldn't take it out of the scabbard anyway, so a display piece is fine. At a casual viewing distance of more than 4 feet, even terrible $50-cheap looks almost as good as $500 (but not $2000), though there is a world of difference in other areas. Being able to say "it's just a dress sword" is also a good excuse not to draw it, if/when it becomes the topic of conversation.

As to where to get it. The internet is far and away the best place pricewise if you know what you're after. Failing that, visit knife shops - if you find something there, you can probably get it online at half the brick and motar price.

Also, if you end up going to an after-party at a pub or something, leave it in the car.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:02 PM on April 20, 2006

Possible tip (ie my opinion), if, upon seeing you, the first thing that people notice is that you're wearing a sword, then it's not working, and you would be better off to remove it. If, upon seeing you, they see a good ensemble, and only later realise that part of it was a sword, then it's working. You want the thing to be a fashion accessory, like earrings, not a centrepiece.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:13 PM on April 20, 2006

I can't imagine most venues that sell alcohol will let you in wearing a sword. I know I wouldn't.
posted by fshgrl at 9:23 PM on April 20, 2006

Location: Chicago

Kilt wearer, but not particularly scottish.

You don't happen to work in the city of Prospect Heights, do you?
posted by twiggy at 10:49 PM on April 20, 2006

You could get a dirk, which is basically a big Sgian Dubh.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:40 AM on April 21, 2006

By the way, is a Utilikilt really something to wear to a wedding? If you're going for real Highland dress, then it'll be okay I suppose, although as said above, people are going to ask if you're of Scottish descent, and then be bemused if you're not.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:43 AM on April 21, 2006

Seconding the Windlass. I have the Pappenheimer Rapier I got through them years ago and it's a pretty nice piece that lurks on the wall of the rumpus room. Perhaps something from their military dress swords line? The British stuff looks pretty neat and was designed to be an accessory, not a tool.

I will also second the dangers of booze and blades. I'm normally pretty responsible, but there have been times where the swords came out while folks were trhee sheets to the wind.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:57 AM on April 21, 2006

Good advice, all. I certainly agree about not wanting to steal their thunder, that's an excellent point. And radioamy, it was his suggestion to wear a sword, I wouldn't have thought of it myself. I think his idea is that--possibly to his surprise--I wear a kilt-style skirt every day and manage to look pretty good in it, so I might as well go all out for the wedding.

As for the drunken swordfights, I bet a longer, sheathed sword will be less likely to get drawn at the bar then a dirk would.

And, yeah, I guess my goal would be, as harlequin put it, to say "classy accent", and not "HEY, LOOK AT ME!".
posted by Squid Voltaire at 10:38 AM on April 21, 2006

Get your ushers to carry these, then you won't stand out.
posted by Caviar at 4:49 PM on April 21, 2006

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