Hannah Drake

Marriage

The Year of Alphabet Dates: G

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

We were a bit stuck for what to do for our G date. We kicked around the idea of Ghetto Golf, but we went at the beginning of May with work, so we weren’t particularly excited about that. In the end, our G activity came to us a bit last minute.

A few weeks ago, our internet cut out on a Friday morning while I was home. They told Luke later that day that something was wrong with the telephone line or something like that, so we wouldn’t have internet for four working days. It made me embarrassingly grumpy at first, but it was actually so nice to go offline for the weekend, even though it was forced. I think by the end of the weekend, we had watched 2 episodes of a Netflix show when Luke tethered the Xbox to his phone, but otherwise, we talked more, we played games, we read books, we played with our foster kittens. It was actually so nice! I need to unplug—literally the router from the wall—more often.

On Friday night, I ordered Pandemic Legacy Season 1 on Amazon Prime. It was delivered Saturday afternoon and we spent the rest of the day playing the board game. We had previously played season 1 with our friends, but Luke started the game with them before I moved, so I wasn’t there for the first three “months”. (You play 12 months, but you might replay a month once if you lose the first time. You move on even if you lose the second time. Obviously you don’t have to play that month in that actual month.) If I remember correctly, we finished the game on New Years Day 2018, so it had been a while since we played that version, which was great because we had forgotten about some of the major plot points. We’re currently playing Pandemic Legacy Season 2 with the same couple. And there are rumours season 3 comes out later this year.

Legacy games are really fun. You’ll want to play with the same people and Pandemic is great as it’s 2-4 players. (We thought about getting a different legacy game for our date, but the other one I wanted—Risk—needed a minimum of three players.) The game will evolve as you play. You might uncover new information and you might destroy—yes, literally destroy—pieces of the game. You can really only play once, even if you don’t destroy the cards and remember where everything goes, since you also update the board with stickers as you go.

When are they going to make a Legacy Settlers of Catan?!

We absolutely crushed the game. We won all 12 months on the first attempt and in the end, only failed to do 2 things that would have gotten us a perfect game. No doubt we lucked when drawing cards a lot of the time, but the two characters we chose and the game end upgrades we added seemed to have been played flawlessly! And while we love playing with the other couple, it’s a lot more difficult to schedule a full day of marathon game play, so it was interesting to try it all in one sitting and not have to set up everything and relearn some of the rules each time.

Sadly we didn’t get too creative for G foods. Although I did invent what might be my new favourite snack: Ritz crackers, Brie, and a blackberry. Holy cow it’s delicious! And I don’t usually like Brie. I guess technically you could say we had greasy takeaway for dinner. Luke went out between games to pick up dinner from Rooster House, a super cheap (though not as cheap as it once was) fried chicken place in our neighbourhood. We usually bring it home, eat it with Chick-Fil-A sauce we bring back whenever we visit the States. I call it Chick-Faux-Le.

ACTIVITIES FOR THE G DATE NIGHT

  • play games - Board games, card games, drinking games, all the games!

  • go off the grid - Maybe that just means get offline (unplug your wifi router for the day—or the weekend) or maybe that means heading out somewhere rustic and roughing it for a few days without the digital luxuries we all love.

  • race go-karts

  • play golf

  • go glamping - Maybe roughing it isn’t quite your style, but you still want to spend time in the great outdoors. There are a lot of cool glamping spots set up all over the place and you don’t even have to try to pitch your own tent.

  • do a gin tasting - If there’s gin distillery nearby, they might do tastings. Maybe a local bar does gin tastings or pairings. But you could set one up for yourselves, whether that’s at home or your favourite bar.

  • go to Ghetto Golf - It’s a Birmingham & Liverpool thing that’s basically black light mini golf inside.

  • have a Game of Thrones theme - Binge your favourite season or a handful of your favourite episodes. Eat and drink themed food.

  • build a gingerbread house - If it’s that time of year, why not?! Do it together or separately. Make a village or just a classic house. Start from scratch or use a kit.

  • try gardening - Whether you have a green thumb or not, spending the day gardening sounds pretty nice. (Okay, maybe more enjoyable if you’re good at it and know what you’re doing. Just do some research first.)

  • go geocaching - I only heard about this recently, but it sounds awesome. It sounds like a massive scavenger hunt using GPS. Check out the website for more information.

  • have a getaway - Go away together for a night or a weekend.

  • take a ghost tour

  • shop garage sales - Check Craigslist, local Facebook groups, or even your local newspaper and spend the morning shopping all the garage sales around town. You might end up with some pretty awesome new treasures.

  • do a genetics test - It’s not much of an actual date, but it would be something cool to do together.

  • go to the gym

FOODS FOR THE G DATE NIGHT

  • Greek food/gyros

  • G restaurants/bars - Does your favourite restaurant or bar start with a G? Or what about a spot you’ve been dying to try, but just haven’t found the time yet?

DESTINATIONS FOR THE G DATE NIGHT

  • Glasgow, Scotland

Header Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

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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.

PIN FOR LATER!

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

How We Celebrate Our Anniversaries

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

I’ve genuinely been surprised how many people have asked us about our wedding anniversary over the last few weeks. “Your anniversary is coming up, right? How are you celebrating?” Granted, we’ve spent significant time with family recently, but it’s still nice that people remember our wedding was last May, whether they were there or not!

Our journey to marriage and wedded bliss was a bit different than most in that they were two separate things. Because of the visa I had when I moved to England, we had to get married by the end of November 2017. When it became apparent that we couldn’t plan and pay for a wedding in seven months, we decided to get married at the Register’s Office in Birmingham, with just two friends as witnesses, and then continue to plan a wedding for the spring of 2018 to celebrate with our friends and family. In that, we originally planned to continue to present ourselves as engaged until our wedding, but it turns out, when you get married, it’s freaking exciting and you want to tell people!

So we had a confusing eight months of being already married but still planning a wedding. I’m not entirely sure what our original plan was, but after our marriage, it became incredibly obvious that we wanted our marriage anniversary to be our actual anniversary. Our thinking was on September 16, 2018 when we had been married for a year, we wanted to celebrate being married for a year. Still, we talked about marking our wedding anniversary in some smaller way as well. And with that day upon us tomorrow, let’s talk about what we decided to do to celebrate our two anniversaries. Let me start by saying because so many of our big days are on the 16th of their respective months, I joke that Luke can just get me flowers every month on the 16th and cover them all. (You hear that future kids, you need to be born on the 16th so we remember your birthday!)

For our marriage anniversary on September 16th, we’ve decided to travel if we can. We got married in the morning and then went out for lunch with our friends Tom and Luke who served as our witnesses. That afternoon, we drove to Wales for a minimoon over a long weekend. In 2018 for our first anniversary, we took our belated “real” honeymoon to Italy. (Side note: I highly recommend a delayed honeymoon.) While we were in Italy, we spent lots of time daydreaming about what traveling for every anniversary could look like. We talked about doing smaller trips over a weekend within the UK or Europe each year, but doing bigger trips for the big anniversaries like the 5th or 10th. We’re tentatively planning on a weekend in Europe (possibly Belgium) this year for our 2nd anniversary, but we haven’t gotten very far in the planning process. Other dream trips include:

  • a New England roadtrip starting in Boston and driving through Vermont and New Hampshire, maybe Maine too or even Quebec City

  • a big trip to Asia to visit countries like Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. which could possibly be two separate trips

  • a visit to Australia and New Zealand (“I can travel anywhere—except Cuba—and I will travel to New Zealand and walk the Lord of the Rings trail to Mordor and I will hike Mount Doom.” - Dwight Schrute)

  • also Cuba, which was originally our #1 choice for our honeymoon, but became too up in the air with the political climate (we weren’t sure if I would be able to travel there on my American passport if we planned it too far in advance)

Our wedding anniversary, May 16th, isn’t as big of a deal for us since we were already married eight months at our wedding. The day itself was so special and so fun and we want to do something to mark it. We decided we’d just do something lowkey like make a favourite dinner at home and listen to music from our wedding, especially our first dance song, “I Don’t Mind” by Defeater. We’re big fans of kitchen dance parties, so why not recreate some of the best dancing at our wedding?!

How do you celebrate your anniversary each year?

Header Photo & Wedding Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.