Our Ceremony

MarriageHannah Drake3 Comments

Our ceremony was short, just the way we wanted it. (It wasn't without awkward moments, though!) But like I've mentioned before, since we weren't getting married in a church and since our friend Tia, who did a beautiful job on the ceremony, hadn't married anyone before, we literally started from square one.

Writing the ceremony was probably the last "big" thing on our wedding to do list, and arguably the most important! As the calendar moved closer to our wedding day, figuring out what would be said and how it would go definitely became a stressor for me. In the end, we worked with Tia to kind of piece together the ceremony. I started by finding an outline that seemingly included nearly anything you could do during your wedding. I put it all in a Google Doc that Luke, Tia, and I had access to and could edit, and we started narrowing things down from there. We cut out things we weren't going to do and rearranged things to make it the order we wanted. After that, it was a matter of finding the right words for everything.

Before the processional started, Tia made a statement about it being an unplugged ceremony. I knew right away that I wanted just the ceremony to be completely camera and phone free. I didn't want people obstructing others' views--especially our photographer's--trying to snap a photo. I didn't want photos of the ceremony to have phones being held up over people's heads or people standing at their seats. I found the perfect statement online that only needed a few tweaks:

I invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology.

Of course there are so many ways to do everything, but Luke knew for sure that he wanted to have all four of his groomsmen standing up with him at the beginning, so all the bridesmaids would walk down the aisle alone.

After my dad walked me down the aisle, I did something that still haunts me late at night. See, our venue doesn't do rehearsals. The closest we got was the bridal party going over where to stand while Luke and I did our first look. So because of that, we didn't practice the whole giving away thing. When we got to the end of the aisle, I started panicking and muttering (apparently not very quietly) "give me away, give me away". I think Luke and my dad shook hands, but then I hugged Luke. I didn't hug my dad! Seriously, it's one of those embarrassing moments that just randomly pops into my head every once in a while. Ugh.

A few weeks before the wedding, I asked people on Instagram what they did at their wedding or have seen at other weddings that was worth repeating. What I got back more than anything was having a moment of stillness. Everyone says the whole day goes by so quickly, you never get enough time with everyone, and it can seem like one big blur. It was really important to us to take a moment to pause and to look at everyone's faces who was there to support us. (This is the #1 thing I would recommend all couples incorporate into their ceremony.)

To honor this wonderful expression of Hannah and Luke’s love and commitment for one another, I would like us all to enjoy a moment to take in our surroundings and the people who have come to celebrate with us.  Hannah and Luke, I invite you two to take a breath, and look around you. See who has traveled to witness this ceremony. This day is made possible in part through the grace and support of your family and friends, who all hope that you find continued fulfillment and joy in each other.  Soak in their love and excitement for you both. I invite the whole room to please be still with me for a moment.

Tia's address was absolutely perfect. She asked us to give a sort of thesis statement to capture what we wanted our wedding to be about. We told her that we didn't want to emphasis the wedding as being the end goal, but instead celebrates everything that has come before and marks our commitment to each other in the future. 

We've talked about it since and she said she was just thinking "Don't lock your knees" the whole time and I was thinking "Don't cry or Tia will cry" the whole time. 

We had asked our friends Adam and Esther to do a reading during the ceremony, but had no idea what we wanted them to read. We were kind of hoping they would have some good ideas from something they had read or something they had heard at one of the weddings they have been to. Instead, they did us one better! Esther wrote a beautiful poem that Adam read during the ceremony. It means so much to us that they were a part of our ceremony, as they've become such good friends to us over the last year. And it's so special that it was something Esther wrote rather than a recycled passage about love that you hear all the time at weddings.

If only love remains, there I am happy.
If the tides have pulled apart the string of my life,
Untangling and removing those things that give me meaning,
But you and your love still remain, there I am happy.

If only love endures, there I am content.
If the storms have blasted apart the earth upon which I have settled,
Destroying my foundations and dirt upon which I rest my head,
But i have your love enduring through this, there I am content.

It is love that roots in the summer but blooms in the winter.
It is love that hides in the light and shines in the dark.
It is love that speaks a shout of rebuke and a quiet word of adoration:

For what else would I be? Without your love, my darling, what else would I have?

After the reading, we did the Declaration of Intent. You know, the "I do" part. It was the only time the words Luke and I said to each other differed, as Tia asked us two slightly varied questions.

Luke, do you take Hannah to be your wife? Do you promise to love and protect her, forsaking all others and holding only unto her?

Hannah, do you take Luke to be your husband? Do you promise to love and respect him, forsaking all others and holding only unto him?

I wanted the words "protect" and "respect" to be different because of a teaching I had heard at my church a few years ago and the roles in a Biblical marriage. 

Luke and I wanted to write our own vows, but it was incredibly important to us that we said the exact same words. We've both been to weddings where the couple have said beautiful, wonderful things to each other, but haven't made any promises. Or where they're promising each other different things or silly things and missing out on the big vows. Everyone should do what they want since it's the foundation of their marriage, but for us, we wanted to make promises to build our marriage upon and we wanted them to be the same.

I, take you, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. I will share my joy with you, that it be multiplied. I will share your pain, that it be divided. I will walk by your side as we journey together through life's adventures. I promise to live together in the holy covenant of marriage. I promise to love you, cherish you, comfort you, and keep you. Forsaking all others, I will be yours alone as long as we both shall live.

We did a lot of research about traditional vows from various sects of Christianity, as well as secular vows. We took what we liked and worked it into something we loved. So many of the phrases are pulled from various types of ceremonies. I love what we ended up with.

We read our vows from the vow books I got from Elmo Paperstories. They were an investment, but they're so gorgeous with their velvet covers and silk ribbons and they had exactly our wedding colours. We had also written letters to each other in the books that we read during our first look, so we mostly filled up the pages.

I give you this ring,
As a symbol of my commitment to honour and respect you.
I give you my love, forever.

This might just be my favourite photo from the ceremony. While I was putting the ring on Luke's hand, he mouthed something to me, which made me miss the line Tia had just given me to repeat. I thought for a moment that I knew it well enough to wing it, after all I had written it and Luke had just said the same words, but then I decided I needed to get it exactly right. So I turned to her and said, "Wait, what?" Everyone started laughing immediately. Turns out, Luke was telling me to stop trying to force his ring on. It fit, but it wasn't exactly sliding on. He said while I was distracted laughing, he slipped it on so I would stop pulling his skin. Ha!

So even with a few hiccups, our ceremony was exactly what we wanted it. I love that we were in complete control with the words that were said at the beginning of our marriage. Words are powerful and it was important for us to get it right.

We are so grateful to everyone who was there, and those who were there in spirit, to witness our promise and commitment to each other. We are especially grateful to our friends and sisters who stood with us and to Tia who blessed our marriage.

I really appreciate this is the only photo I have of Rachel and Emily walking back down the aisle together.


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.

20 Questions to Ask Your Spouse on Date Night

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

Today I'm taking a break from wedding recaps to talk about something that you can directly apply to your relationship, no matter what stage your at. But have no fear, I'll be back in a couple of weeks with more wedding photos.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the importance in our marriage to set aside quality time together each week for a date night.  I know, I know, easy for us to say, right? We're less than a year into marriage and have no kids. But the way we see it, we're building a foundation and setting up structure in our marriage that will hopefully carry us through the crazier, busier days ahead. One of the things that makes it sustainable, is that we don't always go big. Sometimes we just stay home and catch up on our shows. More often than not, we head to the cinema where we both have unlimited passes, which sometimes means being able to justify seeing a bad movie that we don't necessarily care about just to get out of the house (and snack on some popcorn). Still, it's the time together that matters, is practising that muscle memory so it actually feels weird if we don't do it.

One way to make quality time together more quality is to continue to date one another. What I mean by that is continue to ask questions to get to know your spouse. Remember when you first started dating and you were still able to ask how many siblings that person had or what he or she studied in school? Well now, with a few years under your belt, you have to get a little more creative. You already know the basics. But do you know all the specifics? All the tiny little details that make this person who they are? Here are 20 questions you can use to get the conversation going, get to know your spouse better, and maybe dive into some fun or even deep conversations.

  • What would you do if we won the lottery?
  • Who was your childhood hero?
  • What was your biggest fear as a child?
  • What is your biggest fear now?
  • What is your favourite memory of us dating?
  • If you could time travel, which year would you travel to and why?
  • How would our theme song go?
  • Who's marriage do you really admire and why? What could we do to get closer to that?
  • If we had a boat, what would you name it?
  • What one thing do I do that makes you feel most loved?
  • Besides our engagement or wedding day (and the births of our children), what is your best day ever?
  • What is one thing you'd like to accomplish in the next year?
  • What is one new hobby you'd like to try?
  • What is your ideal meal for your last supper?
  • What is your favourite outfit that I wear?
  • What three things would you bring on a desert island? What if you could only bring three movies and nothing else? (It's a desert island with means to watch movies, of course!)
  • What is your dream holiday destination?
  • What is your biggest pet peeve?
  • If you had one super power, what would it be?
  • What is the ideal number of times to have sex per week?

Header Photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

How We Made Our Wedding Incredibly Personal

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

Planning a wedding made me realise just how sentimental I am, all the way down to the smallest details. We had so much fun brainstorming ways to add personal touches throughout our day and we're so happy with how things turned out in the end. The whole day is about you together as a couple, so I took full advantage to add in things that were special to us throughout the entire day, down to the last details. Today, I wanted to share some of those small details that even some of our guests may have missed!


Most people who know us know about our obsession with the 16th when it comes to our relationship. So when we were choosing a date, we knew it had to be on the 16th of the month. We had considered September, February, and March before finally settling on May, which was actually two years to the day that we met. Almost everything monumental in our relationship--except for our dating anniversary--took place on the 16th. We met 16 May 2016. We started dating (long distance, via phone) on 1 August 2016. We got engaged on 16 February 2017. We got legally married on 16 September 2017. We got wedding on 16 May 2018. I always joke Luke can just play it safe and get me flowers on the 16th and he's sure to hit a special occasion for us. Neither of us were born on the 16th (though I was the 6th and Luke was the close), but we're confident that any future children we may have will do the right thing and be born on the 16th.


I may have mentioned this before, but I knew right away that I wanted to do a first look, while Luke wasn't completely sure at first. Looking back, I think we absolutely made the right choice. We decided that during our first look, we would read letters that we had written to each other, and later our photographer suggested we do so back-to-back before we had seen each other. We decided on a structure to the letters--something about when we first met, something from when we started dating, when we knew the other was The One, and our hope for our future--so they would be similar, but still personal. I'm really glad at how we chose to do it because we still got to write something to each other on our wedding day, but it didn't take the place of our vows. (Even though the letters were in our Elmo Paperstories vow books.)


One of the most important things to us during the entire day was that we write our own vows to say during the ceremony and that they be the same vows. Because our friend Tia, who married us, had never done a wedding before, so the three of us worked together to write the ceremony. It was quite freeing since we weren't stuck with anything we didn't want to include because of who was marrying us or where we were getting married, but it was also really stressful and quite daunting. Through our declaration of intent, our vows, and our ring vows, there was only one word that was different. During the declaration of intent, Tia asked Luke if he vowed to love and protect me and Tia asked me if I vowed to love and respect Luke. The difference came from a teaching at my church in Colorado about the difference in callings for husbands and wives. To write both our vows and our ring vows, we did a lot of research of traditional vows from different denominations of the church, and even from other religions and no religion at all. We took what resonated with us and what we connected to in order to craft the words our marriage would be built upon. 

I, take you, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. I will share my joy with you, that it be multiplied. I will share your pain, that it be divided. I will walk by your side as we journey together through life's adventures. I promise to live together in the holy covenant of marriage. I promise to love you, cherish you, comfort you, and keep you. Forsaking all others, I will be yours alone as long as we both shall live.


When we were first talking (texting, Snapchatting, etc.), we used to send each other a song almost every day. We called it the Jam du Jour. Music played a big part in the connection we formed at the beginning and still does in our relationship to this day. But it also made it kind of difficult to pick a song to dance to and other key moments of the day. We have a two hour playlist of some of the more special songs to us and we included each and every one on the playlists we made for the cocktail hour and then dinner. Ultimately, we chose two songs for the processional, one for the recessional, one for us to dance to, and one for me to dance to with my dad. 


We chose the song I would walk in to first, so we wanted to pick something that would complement it well. This was one of the first songs that I got from Luke and I remember listening to it (plus maybe two more) on repeat for an entire flight from Denver to Phoenix and then the entire flight back. 


I actually can't remember when Luke sent me this song, but I immediately fell in love with the song. I think the reason it resonated with me so much was because it was back in the days of just dreaming of when we could be together in real life and wake up next to each other, and those days sometimes feeling so far away.


We definitely wanted a bit of a jam to walk out to. We had a few options, but chose this one in the end because some of our other choices had weird lines or turned out to be about breaking up. Our original plan was to dance back down the aisle and for the wedding party to follow suit, but like two days before the wedding we realised we had never practised, so we scratched that idea. Our friend Pete who was in charge of the ceremony music timed it perfectly to start the song during our first kiss!


This has always been a special song for us. I think we've both always felt like it captures our relationship really well. We always sing it together, except for one line toward the end that Luke always sings to me that says, I will beg and steal and borrow to keep you safe your whole life. It always brings tears to my eyes, no matter how many times we listen to that song together. While we were dancing together, it was like everything else melted away. It was just us and our song. I'll never forget that moment. It was absolutely perfect. (I only wish the line that says Something I've been meaning to tell you, 'bout three years and a day was actually 'bout two years today since we it was two years to the day of knowing each other.)


I'll be honest that this was the hardest one to choose. My sister had the most epic father-daughter dance at her wedding six years ago and I knew I wouldn't be able to top it. They danced to Somewhere Over the Rainbow--and she even had the ruby slippers--but then it morphed into a Led Zeppelin song and the two of them just rocked out. It was unforgettable! And while there are so many songs and artists that I associate with my dad, none of them seemed to fit. In the end, I chose this song because we both like The Temptations, though I like them more than him, and it was the best one on the many lists of father-daughter dance suggestions that I could find.


The flowers were the biggest undertaking for our entire wedding. I've mentioned before that we made paper flowers and wrote notes, texts, letters, cards, etc. on them that we had written to each other while we were long distance. Later, we also wrote song lyrics for the music that would be a part of our ceremony on some as well. It felt like the perfect way to honour how our relationship started and consider how far we've come. Our florist worked those paper flowers into the bouquets and other decor, as well as making the button holes for the guys out of a paper flower and some fresh greenery. We also wanted her to incorporate alstroemerias, my favourite flower, into the bouquets along with beautiful garden roses. Alstroemerias have been a special flower for my entire life, as my mom kept some by my bed while I was in the hospital as a baby. They've been a part of the decor for every major event in my life and my mom and I still give them to each other for special occasions. Using the paper flowers also made it really easy to save my bouquet and so far it's kept really well. Our florist also suggested we do the guestbook the same way, allowing guests to write on the petals, so we can save them with some of our flowers in a shadow box.



On the back of all the table numbers, I added a map and coordinates of special moments in our relationship. We had nine tables, so I included The Meet Cute, The First Date, The First I Love You, The First Adventure, The Proposal, The Move, The Marriage, The Minimoon, and The Wedding. Looking back now, I wish I had done The First Home instead of The First Adventure. 


I had the hardest time coming up with my something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. In the end, I didn't even have a something blue, so I'm claiming Luke's tie as my something blue. Whoops! However, my something old was a necklace that Luke gave me after we got engaged. The stone had belonged to his paternal grandmother and were given to her children and grandchildren. Luke's parents had been saving his for him to give to his future wife. My something borrowed was 14 karat gold studs that my mom let me borrow.


I gave Luke cuff links when I visited him the first time after our engagement. The have the coordinates for where we met. Originally, I wanted to have one with the full coordinates for where we met and the other with the full coordinates for where we got engaged, but the shop I found on Etsy only allowed for one location. Still, they turned out perfectly and mark where it all began for us.


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.