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Marriage

Marriage: Year One

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

I know what you're thinking. Didn't you just finish recapping your wedding last week and you're already on about your first anniversary? I know, I know. But to be fair, I've only been recapping our wedding since June since we didn't have a wedding until May. Remember how we had already been married for eight months when we got wedded?

One year of marriage. What do we know, right? I don't subscribe to the idea that young love is superior than everything else. I try not to buy into #couplegoals on social media. But I do think that every relationship can offer an opportunity to learn about yourself and interactions with your significant other, and hopefully an avenue for growth. So even though it was just yesterday that Luke and I celebrated one year of marriage, I have a few thoughts.

If I'm being totally honest, the last year has been pretty easy for us. Over the last year, people have asked me how I'm adjusting to marriage and how I'm finding it living with a man. Most days, it's a cake walk. Luke and I enjoy each other's company. We came into marriage with a solid foundation. We discussed big issues and problem-solving strategies beforehand. Our goals and values align. And we respect one another.

Other times, marriage can be like a mirror showing you the worst parts of yourself. I have a short temper and a long memory and I'm not proud of either. When I snap at Luke or give him the silent treatment because of something he said or how he said something hours earlier, I can see how it hurts him and I can see how ugly those tendencies are.

Our marriage is far from perfect, but it's a choice we make every day and have vowed to make every day forever. (Plus three days!) When I started to reflect on this year, there were four things that stood out to me as the biggest contributors to our good first year.

COMMUNICATION

I don't mean talking things through or communicating calmly and effectively all the time. We (mostly me) are working on that all the time and that takes a lot of practice. Instead, I mean more of the mushy-gushy type of communication that makes you gag unless it's the relationship you're in.

Luke and I say "I love you" dozens of times a day. In text, in person, seriously, tenderly, humorously. We just say it all the time. There isn't a doubt in my mind how he feels about me and I hope there isn't one in his. We constantly compliment each other, thank each other, and build each other up. I try to be respectful when I talk about Luke to my girlfriends and respectful to him when we're with other people. Words matter. How you say them matters. We've made the choice to use them to build the foundation of our relationship and continuously reinforce that same foundation.

GRATITUDE

Months ago, we decided we would end every day with gratitude. Now it's as much a part of our nighttime routine as climbing into bed is! Every night, we ask each other, "What are you grateful for today?" There's no rule about how many things you have to say or how impactful things have to be. We just say what we're grateful for throughout the day. It creates an opportunity to reflect over our day, to maybe catch up on something in the other's day that we didn't yet know about, to look at things in a different light, but most importantly, to vocalise our gratitude for each other. Both of us always start and end with saying we're grateful for the other and even though it's something we do every day, it's not an automated going-through-the-motions kind of gesture. It's true gratitude for our partner and our life together.

SILLINESS

Fun fact: it was nearly impossible for me to type "grateful" every time in that previous paragraph. Why, you're wondering? Because Luke and I always say "grapeful". I'm pretty sure it started with a typo on WhatsApp, but it's an inside joke that's been around so long that I can't even really remember the genesis of it. It's basically like "grateful" isn't a word anymore! And that's just one of the many silly things we do. If I told you all of them, you'd think we were crazy. But what matters is that we have fun together. We're silly together. We have too many inside jokes to count. When people say "home is wherever I'm with you", I feel that. Luke is the only person in my life that I've shown my whole self to. He has seen every side of me and accepts all of me. So I'm my most comfortable, my most at home when I'm with him. Apparently my true self is super silly because that's the tone of most of our time together.

Also, laughing at farts helps.

ALONE TIME

I bet you thought I was going to say that it's important to both of us to still be individuals with individual lives and interests. I mean, that's still true, although a venn diagram of our interests and lives probably overlaps about 99%. What I mean is that we've found a place in our relationship where when we're craving alone time, that still means being together. Like sitting on the couch watching a show or movie together, being in the same room doing different things together, lying in bed reading different books together. We had a house guest for a few days and after the visit, we talked about how we both were craving time alone, together. (That's not to say we don't love having house guests though!) I don't know how we got here, but I hope we never leave. Of course we still have time truly to ourselves, but the overwhelming presence is to be alone together.

Header photo & dancing 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.

CHECK OUT MORE POSTS ABOUT OUR WEDDING:

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.

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

Our Reception

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

A lot of people have asked me what the difference is between an American wedding and a British wedding. One thing is that they often refer to the meal as the "wedding breakfast". I'm sure you've already guessed this comes from tradition when the ceremony was part of or immediately following mass. After, everyone would gather for a meal, but since the wedding party would fast before the ceremony, this was the first meal of the day...breaking...the fast. I was confused at the beginning stages of the wedding planning though, to be sure.

Another thing that's different about British weddings is it's more common to do a whole group shot with all of the wedding guests. The staff at our venue used this as a way of clearing everyone out of the main room to switch the room over from the ceremony to the reception, since everything was in one place. So immediately after walking down the aisle as husband and wife, we went upstairs for probably our only 5 minutes alone the whole day. They served us a glass of Pimm's while we waited for them to set everyone up for the photo.

After the photo, it was cocktail hour! We got really lucky for the weather and didn't have to use the back up plan for rain, which would be to keep everyone inside but not in the main hall so they could keep setting up for dinner. Instead, all of our guests mingled in the beautiful courtyard around the five olive trees. It was perfect. (The only downside was that they don't have speakers inside so you could barely hear the playlist we had spent so much time on.) Of course cocktail hour means more wedding photos, but since we had done photos after the first look, we only needed to do family portraits.

Our venue allowed us to switch out the first course of the meal, a salad, for canapes at no additional cost, so there were plenty of little bites going around the party. One waitress in particular was fantastic because she seemed to beeline straight for me every time she brought out a fresh plate. I really appreciated that! We mixed and mingled with our guests, sipped on more Pimm's, sneaked away for a few more bride and groom photos, and really enjoyed the afternoon.

Dinner was served at 5:00, so everyone took their seats while we waited to be introduced as the new Mr. and Mrs. Drake! For the menu, we chose to go with the roast chicken dinner, served family style with potatoes and seasonal vegetables. We knew everything was going to be delicious at the venue (who did the catering), so we opted for chicken, which was a bit cheaper than other options we might have liked better, like the duck or the steak, so we could spend a bit more in other parts of the budget. It was easily top three chicken of my life! (Sorry, nothing beats fried chicken and Chick-Fil-A sauce.) We also had a dessert served during dinner, which was a brownie and vanilla ice cream. Tom, who is dairy free, said the dairy free brownie was the best brownie he's ever had, so the same waitress who was serving me during cocktail hour brought him the recipe. She was fantastic!

For alcohol, we supplied the tables with a few bottles of red and white wine, in addition to Pimm's at the cocktail party and Prosecco for the toasts later. We ordered the max of everything, which was 1/2 bottle of wine per guest, 1 Pimm's per guest, and 1/4 bottle of Prosecco per guest. (I think that's correct.) The venue bought back any wine that was unopened at the end of the night, which I think was only 2 bottles! It worked out really well, in addition to having a cash bar for beer and cocktails. Some people did purchase drinks, but there was still plenty available to drink if they didn't want to spend the money. I feel like it was a good middle ground for us.

Dinner was schedule for two hours with toasts starting at 7:00. We asked my dad; Luke sister Emily, the best man; and my sister Rachel, the matron of honour to give toasts, in addition to Luke giving the final toast. Luke joked at the beginning of discussions about toasts that women don't speak at British weddings, AKA the maid of honour doesn't usually give a toast. I never considered that option though, I was going to make Rachel do it! All of them did such a great job despite some nerves for Emily and Rachel in particular. During dinner, I went to the bar to order a shot of whiskey for each of them to be brought out just before the toasts to help with some nerves. At Rachel's wedding, the best man and I had done a shot of vodka before our toasts and it definitely helped a bit. Anyway, all four toasts were funny and touching and absolutely lovely. 

Immediately after the toasts, we cut the cake. Somehow a bunch of people ended up missing it as I think the transition wasn't as well executed as some of the others in the day. We had agreed beforehand that we wouldn't do the smashing the cake in the face thing. I wasn't into the mess and since we had a red velvet cake, I definitely didn't want it on my dress. Well joke's on me because during the toasts, after they had cleared the table of everything, including napkins, I dribbled red wine down my chin onto my dress. Luckily Rachel had a few tissues in her pocket to save the day! Still, you can't even tell in our golden hour photos that Brianne pulled us for right after cutting the cake.

During all of this, the DJ, who came highly recommended by our venue, arrived to set up and the staff once again turned over the room for the party. We were introduced to the dance floor as everyone gathered around to watch our first dance. We should have practised just a bit because we weren't sure about what to do with our hands, which made for a bit of an awkward start. The DJ played the intro music from Strictly Come Dancing (the British show that inspired Dancing with the Stars), which was totally unexpected. At first, I worried he had totally messed up our chosen song!

The first dance was easily one of my favourite moments of the whole day. I totally forgot about everyone else being there and Luke and I danced and sang our song, I Don't Mind, to each other. I hope I never forget how perfect that moment was. I was a bit worried everyone would join in halfway through because some people had said that's pretty standard at UK weddings, but I wanted to have the whole floor to ourselves for the whole of the song. Somehow, it managed it work out that way, but I honestly don't know if I would have noticed if they had.

The father-daughter dance was up next, which is an American tradition that's starting to pick up a bit more here in the UK. I definitely wanted to do it and our DJ was happy to accommodate, saying he had done a few weddings which included one. I had the hardest time choosing a song that wasn't too cheesy or cliche or wasn't a country song written specifically for the father-daughter dance at weddings. Ultimately, I chose My Girl, which may be cliche, but The Temptations are also one of my favourite groups and I've loved that song for years. We skipped the mother-son dance, which I think Luke and his mum we're very okay with.

The rest of the evening was spent dancing, chatting, and taking photos in the photobooth. The whole reception went by so quickly, but it was so much fun! The DJ was absolutely fantastic and read the room really well. Even though a lot of people had to leave around 10:00 because they had work in the morning (remember we got wedded on a Wednesday), it was a lot of fun. The dance floor wasn't so packed that it was hot and sweaty, but it was still a lively party.

The kitchen staff cut up the bottom tier of our wedding cake into strips to be passed around on two platters. In hind sight, I wish I had asked them to start by cutting up half or three quarters of the bottom layer because I think a lot of it went uneaten. We also had a meat and cheese buffet and tea and coffee. We ordered enough of the buffet for about 75% of our guests and enough tea and coffee for about 50% of our guests, but I think we definitely could have gotten away with less on the buffet. People just didn't seem to be eating much, even though dinner was at 5:00 and the reception went until 12:00.

The party ended with the DJ playing our first dance song one more time, which I thought was really nice. It was fun to dance to again, this time with everyone. For the final song, he played Bump N Grind because two people had requested The Wobble, which he didn't have, and one responded with "well the bride wants a little bump and grind", which he took literally.

We didn't have an exit planned, which was fine by me. Instead, we just said bye to our guests and left with two of the groomsmen and the top tier of our cake who were giving us a lift home. Luke carried me across the threshold at our house, just like he did after our marriage.  

CHECK OUT MORE POSTS ABOUT OUR WEDDING:

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.

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