Hannah Drake

4 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently at Our Wedding

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

Hindsight is always 20/20 and that’s especially true when you look back on your wedding, I think. When we were planning our wedding, it was really important to me that we didn’t pick things that were so trendy that we wouldn’t like them after being engaged for 15 months. We wanted a timeless element to our wedding so it would literally stand the test of time. Sure, a lot of our wedding was trendy (the blush pink colours, the mismatched bridesmaids dresses and groomsmen suits, the venue itself with its exposed brick and fairy lights), but those were things I could see myself liking in 25 or 50 years when I looked back on the day because those trendy elements themselves seemed somewhat timeless. We “cut corners” in appropriate places, for the most part, and I’m glad we did. We didn’t waste time and money on favours. We didn’t go big on centrepieces and instead just had two succulents or cacti from IKEA in little pots that were pink or grey. We still have most of the plants in our house, which means they’ve now lasted over a year and a half! We weren’t really fussed on a lot of the details that wouldn’t last and instead focused on the things that would leave a lasting impression on us and our guests. Still, there were a few logistical things I would do differently now that I have the gift of hindsight.

INVITE EVERYONE WE WANTED TO INVITE

No matter what your budget is, you’ll be restricted to a number of guests. It might be 50, it might be 300. And just like probably every couple, our guest list continued to grow throughout the wedding planning. I had read that you should expect 20 to 25 percent no’s from your guests, but our wedding got about 50 percent no’s due to two contributing factors that we could have predicted. Over half of our guest list was international and it was a Wednesday afternoon. All of our international guests had to make a choice on whether or not to fly halfway around the world and take a significant amount of time off work and our local guests had to decide if they wanted to take one or maybe two days off work in the middle of the week as well.

It was really nice having a small wedding in the end (75 guests), but there’s still a feeling of we should have just thrown all caution to the wind and invited everyone we even brainstormed without making any cuts. We might not have gotten more yes’s, but our goal was 100 or fewer anyway.

ORDER A SMALLER CAKE

Oh man, we thought we were being sooo clever ordering a cake for fewer people than we were expecting at the wedding. We already had a meat and cheese buffet for the evening, so why order either for exactly the right amount of people? I think we still only ate about a third of the bottom tier at the wedding, though, which means the venue just threw the rest away at the end of the night. We took our entire top tier home and saved a quarter of it for our first anniversary (it was really tall, so it was a lot of cake). But we absolutely could have gotten away with a cake half the size of the one we ended up with. It was gorgeous, but in the end it was a big waste.

To be fair, we would have happily taken the rest of the bottom tier home or even sent it home with guests, but it kind of just disappeared since it was being passed around on a platter.

REGISTER ANYWHERE BUT JOHN LEWIS

I’ll spare you the horrendously long story, but registering with John Lewis proved time and time again to be a huge mistake.

There were two main issues with John Lewis and the first was apparent straight away. They restrict how long your registry can be open more than anything I’ve ever seen. (Although I will concede that things might just be different in the UK than in the US.) Our registry was open for about two months, even with a request to extend it after our wedding. The reason they do it like that is they only make one delivery with all your gifts and purchasing a gift off a registry doesn’t remove it from inventory, so they can’t guarantee they would fulfil the purchases from your list. It’s certainly a far cry from Crate & Barrel and Target where my sister registered in 2012. We did all their Christmas and birthday shopping off their Crate & Barrel registry for a while since it stayed open a year after their wedding. And Target lets you purchase items left on your registry at a discount! (We actually opened a Target registry to see if they would ship internationally, but they don’t. So sadly, when we got an email saying we could purchase the remaining items at a discount, there was nothing on there.)

The second issue seemed like a fluke at first, but has been a continuous issue with all orders we’ve placed with John Lewis. We received a number of damaged or broken items, along with a few things with parts missing. It was an absolute nightmare to get replacements for those items. Some had been discontinued. Some of the replacements were sent to us damaged as well, like a replacement for a broken bowl that that was shipped in a bag! We spent hours on the phone with customer service (always being told something different) and at two different stores trying to replace the damaged items (again, always being told something different and being passed along to someone else to fix the problem). John Lewis was kind enough to gift us £50 to use with them as an apology from our seemingly never-ending headache, but that proved to be a headache in its own right when we paid for expedited shipping, guaranteed delivery before 10:00AM on a Friday. I didn’t get the package until I picked it up on Wednesday afternoon. In January, I ordered a pair of earrings from their website using another gift card and was unsurprisingly sent the wrong earrings. Three different customer service reps told me three different things about trying to remedy their mistake. It’s truly the worst experience I’ve ever had with orders and shipping, especially from a major retailer.

It’s a shame because we love the things we chose, but it was an absolute nightmare when we were in the thick of it.

HAVE A CEREMONY REHEARSAL

A rehearsal wasn’t included with our venue, though we were lucky to get access to the venue the day before to bring the decorations and set up a little bit. (I think they told us that starting with our wedding, they were booked with something every single day through mid-October!) However, I really could have used the practice, even if it wasn’t at the venue itself. I really wish we had practiced my walk down the aisle, my dad giving me away, how we would stand during the ceremony, and then the walk back up the aisle. It would have taken about 10 minutes, but it would have made me less nervous during the ceremony. Since we were already married and had already seen each other that day, it was really just a case of “I don’t know what to do with my hands” nerves.

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All photos in this post, including the header photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.