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Marriage

5 Fun Ideas for First Anniversary Gifts

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

The question Luke and I get asked most about our whole marriage separate from wedding thing is what day we'll celebrate as our anniversary. We talked it over and decided that 16 September is our anniversary. Ten days ago, we were married for one year and we wanted to celebrate that! We'll probably acknowledge 16 May, at least for a while, but maybe with a smaller tradition, like dancing to our first dance song, just the two of us and our record player in the living room.

So now that we know when our anniversary is, it's a matter of celebrating it! In our wildest dreams, we would love to take a trip every year--big or small--to mark our anniversary. This year, we're in Italy for our belated honeymoon, and last year after our marriage, we drove to Wales for a quick weekend getaway, a minimoon. I have an idea for next year, but it might not happen for another few years. Either way, we're off to a decent start on that idea.

It's also nice to mark the occasion with a gift and I'm sure it would be so lovely to look back in a few decades and see what we gave to each other to mark another year of marriage. When it comes to anniversary gifts, I fancy myself quite the traditionalist. Did you know that almost every year of marriage has a traditional gift associated with it and it slightly differs between the US and the UK?

I'm going off the US list, which makes this year our paper anniversary. But what do you even get someone for a paper anniversary? How do you top when Jack got Rosario all those paper towels on Will & Grace? Here are a few ideas that think outside the box:

DATE NIGHT CARDS

Create a set of 12 date night cards to give to your spouse. You can do it one of two ways and either come up with set dates specific to each month, built around the seasons and holidays (like a backyard camp out in July or apple picking in September) or come up with twelve more generic dates and allow your spouse to pick which date they want to go on that month. It's the gift that keeps on giving all year! And if you're not very good at planning ahead, you can literally give your spouse the gift all year and make a new date card each month to give them one month at a time.

A GALLERY WALL

Around our house, we love gallery walls, whether it's graphics I've made, our wedding photos, or photos from our trips together. Maybe, like us, you'll stick to a theme and print out photos from a specific trip or maybe all of your travels, maybe wedding photos or other professional photos, or maybe go more casual and choose a handful of your favourite selfies together. I'm all about symmetry, so for our gallery walls, I've chosen the same frames and had the photos printed the same size, but do whatever is more your style, if you'd rather have a variety of frames and sizes. Either wrap all the photos individually to give your spouse a few gifts to open, or hang them all while your spouse is out to surprise them with new home decor when they're home.

A BESPOKE PRINT

To continue the thread of home decor, maybe there's something special you'd like to have printed for your home. Maybe it's something from your wedding--a reading, a verse, or maybe even your vows (bonus points for both being handwritten!). Maybe it's a special quote or an expert from a book you both love. Find something that captures the essence of you as a couple or commemorates your wedding day from a year ago. If you want something created for you, I can do that! To go a slightly different route, you could also have a watercolour commissioned of a special place, where you met, where you got engaged, where you got married, your first house, etc. (I can't do that for you though.)

TRAVEL TICKETS

Remember when you used to get airline tickets printed out instead of downloading them on your phone? Those were the days, right? If you want to go big and definitely don't want to go home, book a surprise trip for the two of you. Whether you'd be driving, flying, or riding the rails, in this age of e-tickets, you could definitely make your own to give to your spouse and tell them when and where you're off to.

A MAP (OF THE NIGHT SKY)

Two of our friends have a cool thing in their house that I've always loved. They're from two different states and now live in the UK, so they have the two states plus the UK in a frame together, I believe with hearts marking where they're from and where they live now. It says "him", "her", "us". If Luke and I ever lived somewhere other than the UK or Colorado, I'd totally be down to make that, even if Colorado is just a rectangle. Or maybe a heart that is half where he's from and half where she's from. Or if there's somewhere else that's special to you, you can get an antique or illustrated map of that place instead. For our wedding, my sister and brother-in-law gave us a map of the stars above Birmingham the night we got married and I love that. At The Night Sky, you enter the date and location and they'll map the stars for you. You can even add a note to be included on the poster. Since we already have one for our marriage, I would love to add the stars from when any future children are born.

What did you and your spouse give each other for your first anniversary? Did you go the traditional route or do something completely different?

Header Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

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)

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