Hannah Drake

Our Wedding

The 10 Most Used Items from Our Wedding Registry

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

It’s been almost exactly a year since we got our big registry delivery. We registered at John Lewis, that offers one big delivery after the registry has closed (within 2 months after the wedding) instead of shipping things as they’re purchased. That means that they can’t guarantee every product and only allow you to register about 2 months before the wedding. It’s definitely not what I’m used to from friends and family getting married in the States and registering at Target, which offers a discount on everything remaining on your list or Crate & Barrel (which might do the same), which keeps your registry open for a year after the wedding. Our long list of frustrations with John Lewis have come and gone and what remains are our awesome gifts from loved ones.

Now that it’s been a year, I feel like I can say what’s been good and what’s been…kind of pointless. So today I’m breaking down the 10 most used items from our registry. I’ll go ahead and save you the obvious that our dishes are our most used item. We literally use them everyday.

KitchenAid Mixer

Okay, this one is a bit of a stretch because Luke actually got it for me for Christmas, but we did register for one. It’s also a good reminder that you shouldn’t expect anyone on your list, no matter how closely related or how well off they are, to drop some serious money on a kitchen gadget for you. Maybe you’re lucky and someone will get it for you, so why not put it on “just in case”. It’s probably not a surprise that our mixer is used often in our kitchen since I love to bake. I had one in the States and sold it before I moved because of the weight (for shipping) and the complications with the plug/voltage, but this one is getting more use out of all three attachments, especially the dough hook considering I broke our handheld mixer just before the wedding trying to make croissant dough.

Plastic Funnel

Yes, seriously. Don’t just go big because the little things are really useful (and honestly more affordable for some of your guests). I’m honestly shocked at how often we use this thing and totally baffled as to how we made do without one. We use it for all the usual things. But it’s especially handy because we try to buy dry goods and pantry staples (spices, flour, lentils, rice sugar, etc) in bulk and store them in other jars and containers. You know I love my jars!

Egyptian+Cotton+Towels

My mom hooked us up with new towels for my birthday actually since they weren’t purchased off the registry before it closed. Even after a year of rotating between two towels each, these Egyptian Cotton towels are still so plush. They’ve held up a lot better than the towels we got from TK Maxx when we first moved in together.

Retro Copper Kitchen Timer

We’ve got copper details all over our kitchen, including our kitchen timer. It’s retro in every way, from the look to the sound it makes when it goes off. And it’s magnetic, so it lives on the side of our fridge. We use it all the time, but especially when we’re cooking or baking multiple things at once and need to use our phones as well. It may be 2019, but I’ll never outgrow an actual kitchen timer and I’ll use it over my phone any day.

LSA+International+Oil+%26+Vinegar+Set

This oil and vinegar set lives by our hob and I’m in love with it. It’s so beautiful, and while it doesn’t hold a lot of volume, it’s really practical for us. They pour better than the bottles oil and vinegar come in and are great if we’re serving a simple salad at a dinner party.

Royal Doulton 1815 Small Mugs

Funny story about these mugs. Our friends got us the mugs we originally registered for (the same maker, just different patterns), but between registering and opening our delivery, I fell in love with these mugs that they actually own. We ended up exchanging them for these and I’m glad we did. They’re gorgeous and now our go-to tea and coffee mugs. I’m a firm believer in not having matching mugs—mugs are special and should be collected over time—but I’m counting these since they’re different colours.

John Lewis & Partners 'The Pan' Pan Set

While our IKEA pots served us well for about 10 months, these pots are amazing and beautiful. The frying pan has been difficult to keep clean on the bottom, but Barkeeper’s Friend has been a game changer and has it looking as good as new! And you’re probably noticing a theme with all the cream kitchen stuff. Luke was over the white, so this was a good compromise. We actually bought these ourselves with some of the gift cards we received. Gotta love those gift cards!

John Lewis Dark Blue Ramen Bowl

We registered for four ramen bowls, two this dark blue pattern and two a simpler grey pattern. You know we love soup and I’ve always been a fan of soup bowls. Sadly, one of our blue bowls was the first (and so far only) thing to break from our wedding gifts, so we’re down to three now because they discontinued both patterns. Regardless, we still use them just about every Wednesday night!

John Lewis & Partners Round Soft Close Pedal Bin

It’s always nice to buy people fun kitchen gadgets or pretty linens…I’m definitely the same. But don’t sleep on the insanely useful gifts. I’m so glad our friend purchased a bin for the bathroom off our registry because it’s been insanely useful. It’s smaller than the one we used to have (which has become our recycling bin), so it fits in our tiny bathroom better, but it’s also sleeker, prettier, and you just gotta have the lid.

Mason Cash Bakewell Mini Bowls

I’ll never forget when my sister and brother-in-law unpacked all their wedding gifts in their apartment and realised they ended up with SO.MANY.BOWLS! Literally, a human has never owned so many bowls. I took their tale as a tale of caution and tried to limit the number of bowls we registered for, but it turns out bowls are super handy. And I’m so glad we registered for these mini bowls. I use them when I pretend I’m on an internet cooking show like Tasty and pre-chop all my ingredients. We use them for soy sauce when we bring home sushi. We use them for just about anything you would need a mini bowl for. And when they’re not in use, they’re displayed next to the coffee mugs and it makes all my pretty pastel dreams come true. (We also have the 4L version of this bowl in the same powder blue that we use as a serving bowl.)

I’ve been hearing rumblings online that registries are outdated because couples often live together before the wedding, but it seems like they’re not really going anywhere. Instead, they’re evolving a bit with the times. Luke and I were in an odd situation of living together, but not really having a ton of stuff already. Luke had lived in furnished flats and houses since uni and I was obviously moving across the ocean and not bring over a whole lot. We lived together at his last house for about two weeks, then sublet a friends’ house for about a month before finding an unfurnished house to rent. When we moved into that place (almost two years ago!) we pretty much had nothing. A bedside table, a lamp, and some miscellaneous kitchen stuff and home decor pieces that my mom shipped over in November. We made multiple trips to IKEA to get the basics, got a bunch of free furniture from friends and family and strangers online, and tried to plan ahead for our registry.

In case you find yourself living with your fiance and unsure of what to register for, I’ve got four tips just for you:

TAKE INVENTORY OF WHAT YOU’RE MISSING

We held off on investing in items with a bigger price tag until we registered. Things like small kitchen appliances (a stand mixer, a blender, a food processor) were out of the question before our registry closed. We also waited to get some speciality items or things we would use for entertaining a bigger group.

Maybe you’re moving to a bigger place shortly after your wedding or are already in a place you haven’t finished furnishing. What else do you need? Does your guest room need linens? A lamp? Maybe you have a breakfast counter that you haven’t found the right stools for yet.

DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO UPGRADE

We actually had a lot of things we wanted to upgrade. Like I mentioned, we had purchased a lot of things at IKEA or TK Maxx or even got them off Freecycle because I was unemployed during my first six months abroad and we were setting up an entire house. The idea what to kind of “tide us over” until we could register for nicer things. We upgraded our pots, our pans, our towels, our dishes, and our vacuum, among other things.

We prioritised our upgrades and ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it having really nice bedding when we could get some more kitchen gadgets or glasses for our bar instead. But if you’re sleeping on sheets from your college days or drying off with the same scratchy towels he had while he was a bachelor, maybe it’s time to upgrade.

CONSIDER WHERE YOU SPEND MOST OF YOUR TIME

After already living together for some time, you probably have a better idea of how you live. If you’re registering for items before you move in together, in a way, you’re just guessing how to prioritise your time and life as a couple. In the eleven months we were living together before the wedding, we discovered that our priority was the kitchen and entertaining. I would say that 90% of our registry was for things that are kept in our kitchen today. We wanted things like margarita glasses and martini glasses, Balti dishes, dip bowls, and bed trays that we probably won’t use all the time, but are great to have when we’re having Mexican food or Indian food, or even just chips. And the bed trays encourage breakfast in bed on the weekends—my favourite!

Maybe you spend a lot of your time in the back garden. Do you need gardening tools or grilling tools? Maybe you like the simple life of lounging in the living room and need a few more items to make it feel like home. Get some decor pieces you really like. Some artwork, a big mirror, or a new floor lamp.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

Like I said, registries are evolving. Nowadays you can register for all kinds of stuff. So many stores offer wedding registries now, like Amazon (they have everything!) or REI (perfect for the outdoorsy couple)!. You can register on one site for multiple stores, like Zola. You can register for money for your honeymoon or a home renovation or even just to have some seed money on sites like Honeyfund. There are so many options out there now. These are your mama’s wedding registries!

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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.

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

Our Wedding Portraits

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

Well, my friends, it's the end of an era. It's the l a s t wedding recap post, only four months after our wedding. (I made an early decision that instead of bombarding you with recap posts, I'd space them between other content.) Since I've already blogged about the vendors (part one & part two), the details, getting ready, our ceremony, and our reception, I figured I'd wrap up by showing off the beautiful portraits captured by Brianne Haagenson, most of which I haven't previously posted on the blog.

Our ceremony started at 15:00, but we did a our first look at 13:00, which gave us plenty of time to do photos before the wedding. We got many of the portraits and all of the wedding party photos done before the wedding even started! The forecast all day said it would start raining right at 13:00, but it never did! We had literally picture-perfect overcast skies all afternoon, which provided even lighting for the photos. Hallejuah!

Our first look was in the beautiful courtyard at the venue, so we started with our photos there. There were so many reasons we loved the venue, but much of it was because of how beautiful it was on its own. We both loved the exposed brick and natural wood and it provided the most picturesque background for photos. I said this in my post about the venue itself, but so many of our friends got new profile photos after our wedding because the background was perfect for their next Instagram shot!

The venue is next to a field owned by someone else, but the owners have no problem with the happy couples using it for photos. After we finished our individual portraits, we grabbed the wedding party, who had been going over where to stand during the ceremony, and headed out to the grass.

We chose this photo as the cover of our wedding album.

My dear friend Tia has been such an amazing support for me in my time abroad and through the distance, it feels like we're closer than ever. She was a great friend for years before I moved and has been instrumental in my faith as a small group leader and a sister in Christ. We originally asked her to do a reading at our wedding, but then decided we wanted her to marry us. I FaceTimed with her one day and we spent about 55 minutes of the hour catching up and probably talking about Game of Thrones, but we both had intended to talk about the wedding on that call. She started to talk about the reading, but I interrupted her saying, "So we've decided we don't want you to do a reading." Her face immediately fell and she very graciously said, "Oh...okay..." I quickly exclaimed, "Because we want you to marry us!" She burst into tears, which was exactly what I was hoping. I know it was cruel, but truth be told, it was a very memorable moment for me. Ha! She did such a fantastic job and worked very hard to ensure our ceremony was beautiful, memorable, and exactly what we wanted.

I'm confident this will be forever my favourite photo of me and my mom.

My older sister Rachel served as my Matron of Honour. She did a wonderful job, offering me support and help throughout the planning, lending me her phone so I could do a meditation just before the ceremony, praying for our day and blessing my marriage, and giving a beautiful toast after dinner.

My sister Cady has been my babysitter, my mother-figure, my protector, my refuge, my Chipotle hook-up, my sister, and most importantly my friend. Because of our age difference, our relationship has taken many forms and I've treasured it all, but I'm most proud of our constant friendship.

If I'm being honest, there was a while I didn't think Sam would be a bridesmaid at my wedding. She's seven years younger and it used to be obvious. But over the last few years, she has matured beyond her years and become a wonderful friend. I don't think she even understands how much I lean on her and look up to her.

My childhood friend Julie has been through it all with me. We've known each other since elementary school and even though she was two years behind me in school, I'm the one who looks up to her. She an inspiration in all areas of life and it's safe to say when I grow up, I want to be Julie. 

Luke's twin sister Emily served as his Best Man. (She requested that still be her title at the wedding.) Despite tremendous nerves, she gave a lovely toast about my husband, where I learned what he thought of himself in school and even some knew facts about him! We were both so honoured she accepted Luke's request to stand up there with him and word on the street is she can hang with the guys. I'm so excited to have a new sister, and especially one on the same continent!

It's not my place to speak to Luke's relationship with his sister and these three guys, but the four of them have all been so warm and welcoming to me. They've been supportive and encouraging of our relationship and I have seen them all be incredible friends to my husband.

During the cocktail party, Brianne pulled us to finish our portraits since it wasn't looking good for golden hour photos. We took a few shots in the parking lot. (Yeah, seriously, this is the parking lot!) And also took advantage of the tree-lined winding road to the venue.

We picked this photo in black and white for our thank you cards. It went perfectly with rose gold foil lettering.

We did our family photos during the cocktail party in the courtyard. Even though there were cocktails and canapes going around, everyone was great and we were able to get them done quickly so we could get to the party. We're so grateful to our parents who helped make our special day happen and to our siblings for their love and support. It was a seamless merging of the two families and we couldn't be happier!

After we cut the cake, Brianne pulled us aside again to tell us that the clouds had broken and we were blessed with golden hour. I'm so happy we were able to get these shots because they're some of my favourite. Not only is the lighting a dream, but I love that they're more casual with Luke just in his waistcoat and my dress bustled in most of them.

I'm saving the best for last. It was the last of our portraits and it is undoubtedly our favourite photo from the wedding. This is the one we're going to have printed on a HUGE canvas. We just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Bridesmaids' Dresses: Weddington Way (US)
Cake: Amerton Cakes (UK)
Cuff Links: Tesoro Jewelry (US)
DJ: Benny Smyth (UK)
My Dress: Allure Bridals via The Bridal Connection (CO)
Engagement Ring: ROX (UK)
Florist: Penny Johnson Flowers (UK)
Hair + Make Up: Sam Larson Hair (CO)
Paper Flowers: Lia Griffith (US)
Photo Booth: Peter Horrox (UK)
Photographer: Brianne Haagenson Photography (CO)
Ring Box: Amonie (AUS)
Robes: David's Bridal (US + UK)
My Shoes: Hobes (AUS)
Stationary: Minted (US)
Luke's Suit: Next (UK)
Venue (Catering & Alcohol): Shustoke Barn (UK)
Vow Books: Elmo Paperstories (UK)
My Wedding Band: Ernest Jones (UK)
Luke's Wedding Band: LuxuriaJewelers (US)

This post contains affiliate links, so I may make a commission off any purchase you make through the link. Some linked items are similar to what has been shown. Thank you for supporting my blog!

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