Wedding Wednesdays: What You Should and Shouldn’t Register For

What To Register For: What You Do and Don't Need - JanessaMann.Com

For 9 months leading up to my wedding, I worked full-time as the main customer service person at the nearest Bed Bath & Beyond to me. No, it wasn’t a great job, related to my field, or particularly fulfilling, but I did learn a lot about how to set up your home.

People will tell you tons of things about what you need, pressure you into certain brands or gifts you’ll never use, and make you get ridiculously priced items. Depending what you ask for, you won’t get much of it. Registries are a pretty conventional wedding thing, so some people are trying to step away from it. However, it’s really helpful for guests to know where to go for things you will actually use-it saves headaches, and is less up-front than “please give us cash.”

Here is a standard checklist from, which as some great references, but there are some pitfalls.


1) Items you already have

If you’ve been living on your own or together for a while, you probably already have lots of these things. You have two routes: request replacements/upgrades of your current stuff, or stick with what you have and save gift requests for things you wouldn’t/couldn’t buy on your own.

For instance, my brother and sister-in-law had a terrible toaster that burned the toast all the time since it was like 20 years old. They registered for a new one. However, their microwave was fine. Why bother asking for another one?

2) Things you don’t want

Sometimes your parents, in-laws, or someone else will try to pressure you into requesting gifts that you don’t foresee yourself using. Stay strong. If it’s a gift they really want to give you, compromise is fine. If it’s something they think you need, but wont’ get you, why do they want you to get it? It’s just a waste of someone else’s money.

Nic and I did our registry at my store, and the whole time my managers were pressuring me into registering for china. They figured I would regret not asking for it, and that the IKEA set we wanted would not cut it. To get them off our back, we put it on the registry. Later that night I logged in and deleted it all. I have half of the Royal Dalton Old Country Rose set, and Nic doesn’t like it. Why would I bother getting more or another set? My plan for the long run is to mix in nicer pieces with the IKEA ones, which fits our current lifestyle.


3) Things you don’t need

I will admit that a KitchenAid standmixer was the first thing on my list, and I was super pumped when I found out that my Dad’s family bought ours for us! No, they’re not necessary. Have I loved it completely? Yup. But you don’t need one.

If you’ve never  made juice in a Magic Bullet, you don’t need a juicer. Neither of you bake? You don’t need very much baking stuff.

As greedy as it sounds, the registry should be things that you really want. Don’t fill up a registry of things people are buying for you with things you don’t actually want. Some guests might remember what they got you, and when they visit, will be happy to see you’re using the item on a regular basis.


4) Consider different routes

Nic and I needed towels, sheets, some cooking stuff, so we registered at Bed Bath & Beyond. However, we also registered on and

Honeymoon registries are super cool: if you’re planning a honeymoon, you can get some of your activities paid for! Our camping in Cape Breton was covered, we got money for dinners and ice cream breaks, and whale watching. Writing those thank you cards were so much fun, because we had such a great time doing it all. Honeymoon registries are even more helpful for couples who already have all their home stuff, and don’t want to just get cash.

We used MyRegistry because we wanted a universal registry where we could put our camping supplies from MEC, various items from IKEA, and our Nikon DSLR fund. If you don’t have a specific store you want many things from, this is super helpful, and makes sure gifts aren’t doubled. Are you super into rock-climbing and want some more gear for the two of you? That’s your time, and guests love to give gifts they know you’ll really enjoy. Like to go to art galleries? Request year memberships to places on your universal registry. The sky is the limit.

5) Gift budgets

If you only have gifts above $100, you’d better hope all your guests are rich. For the rest of us normal people, you need to have a variety of budgets so that no one is uncomfortable.

Once I knew some ladies from my church were throwing me a bridal shower, I added some cheaper baking supplies that were $5-20 so people could choose whatever they were comfortable spending. For most of my friends, we all spent an average of $50 per person, so we had a bunch of gifts that were around that range. Relatives who could spend more chose the pricier items (standmixer, towel sets, sheet sets).

Don’t be like many of my friends who requested super expensive dishes, got maybe 2 dinner plates, one soup bowl, and no cutlery. If you request only expensive things, your guests won’t be able to buy them for you unless they all go in together. And you’ll be stuck eating on your old dishes. Giving wedding gifts should be a fun process for the guests-it’s always exciting (for me at least) to look at what they’re asking for, and see if I can top up the gift with something special (gift receipt included, of course).



It comes down to being considerate of your guests’ budgets, what will help you and your partner set up your home together, and what the two of you find important in your lives. Make sure to write in a spreadsheet what gifts you got from whom so you can write a thank you card or email-one of the wedding traditions that I hold firm to!

DIY Wedding Flowers -

Wedding Wednesday:How to DIY Your Wedding Flowers

DIY Wedding Flowers

If you’ve read any of my other wedding posts,(see here) you know that since Nic was in grad school and I was saving up to pay off my debts/get ready for grad school, we had to cut costs wherever we could. One was was to do our own flowers. This is not for the faint of heart. If you’ve never arranged flowers before, you probably should skip this unless you know someone who has. I was fortunate that Moira, the mother of one of my bridesmaids, had done the flowers for another wedding Ally had been in, so she was able to direct us on how to make the centrepieces, bouquets, boutonnieres, and aisle pieces. In all, we spent about $300 on the flowers, containers, and supplies–way cheaper than typical wedding flowers!

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My bouquet

If you think you want to go this route, there are a few steps:

  1. Start a physical or Pinterest board of what floral styles you like
    1. (See mine, here)
  2. Make sure you have friends and family who are willing and able to help with the flowers- we worked on them for 5 or 6 hours on the Friday before, and the day-of people had to make sure there were no dead blooms.
  3. Research places to buy flowers in bulk
    1. Some cities have flower markets, but I wasn’t willing to risk not getting flowers I loved
    2. We went with, who sells bulk orders of flowers online, and then we picked them up at their dealer in Ottawa
    3. Stores like Costco also sell them
  4. Once you know what styles you like, check to make sure you can get your preffered flowers in your wedding season.
    1. My favourite flowers are peonies, so I had this ridiculous dream of having white peonies at the wedding. I knew it’d be tricky for a June 20 wedding, but I held out hope. Moira surprised me with 3 beautiful blooms for my bouquet, and it was one of the best gifts I could have received! However, I didn’t go and order beautiful flowers like anemones, which would have fit the theme, but are in season in October, and therefore much more expensive.
    2. Hope but don’t obsess!
    3. Be willing to give up something you want for something else interesting: I wanted stocks, but BunchesDirect was pricing them too high, so I went with Irish Bells instead, and they ended up being really cool and unique.
DIY Wedding Flowers -
Bridal bouquets – it was a lot of fun for each of us to make them unique. Each bouquet worked together because of the colour theme (white and green) but I had each woman pick wahtever they wanted.

List out what elements you need, then edit it to make sure it fits your budget:

  • Bridal bouquet
  • Bridesmaids bouquets
  • Boutonnieres
  • Corsages
  • Headpieces
  • Centrepieces
  • Altar bouquets
  • Aisle runners
  • Wreaths
  • Garlands
DIY Wedding Flowers -
Nic’s boutonniere – one of my bridesmaids saw what I was putting in my bouquet, and made Nic’s have some of my elements!


  • Flowers
  • Floral wire
  • Floral tape
  • Scissors and wire cutters
  • Vases, bowls, whatever else to put the arrangements in
  • Tubs to put the flowers in
    • When we first got the flowers, they were in boxes and very flat. We let them soak in the water for a while, and they opened up
  • Fridge to keep them fresh in

How to have a floral party:

  • Willing participants
  • Supplies
  • Pictures of your ideas
  • Good instructions on floral care and assembly
  • Lots of time
  • Don’t rush it, have fun!

Two final tips: don’t make your centrepieces super tall, people want to have conversations. Also, stay away from super smelly flowers, or some people might get terrible allergies and sneeze all through your vows!

Some Resources:

Let me know how it goes!

Engagement Pictures with Taylor Clark Photography – Wedding Episode 4

This August Nic and I got our engagement pictures done by Steph and Ben of Taylor Clark Photography. I thought I would share some of our pictures since they turned out so well! We ended up doing our pictures at the Toronto Harbourfront because it was most convenient for us to meet them since they had a client meeting right before in Toronto.

What to Wear for you Engagement Pictures:

  • Plan your outfits together so that they work well
  • Make sure you have backup ideas for rain or snow etc. Don’t ruin your beautiful heels in mud.
  • Have a casual and a fancier outfit
  • Keep your personalities in mind. What do you like to do? How can you incorporate your interests into the pictures?
    • Nic and I had wanted to do some photos in a rented canoe, since we love canoeing, but when we got to the location we realized that it would be too complicated, so we stuck with our other idea of getting the ice cream. 
  • Make a shot “wishlist.” If you’re on Pinterest, take advantage of that, and find pictures that you like. If your photographer is also on Pinterest, let them see that board. They can do their best to get the shots that you want, and will understand your style better.
Here are some links to check out:

My engagement ring is from Peaces of Indigo, and Etsy site
We couldn’t get our pictures IN a canoe, but we used the bright colours behind us anyway.

There was an outdoor salsa concert going on, so I had to dance.

My man is jacked. And look at those dimples. 😉

Planning a Wedding | Episode 2: The Photographer

One of the most important things for a wedding is the photographer, because that’s how your children will get to tease you when your outfits go out of style. Even though it’s a ridiculous idea to print out all the pictures your photographer takes, you still want to like what you’re paying for. Do you want to save on the photos by going under $1000 but have awkward compositions and over-exposed pictures? Do you have a friend or relative who is a freelance photographer and would be willing to do it for free or at a discount? (Or would they prefer to enjoy the day?) Are the pictures extremely important to you and you want to budget more for them?
When Nic and I were researching photographers, we found that there were some in our area that were under $1000 but they had an older style that did not fit the vibe of our wedding or relationship. In Ottawa, the nicer photographers start closer to $2000 including the engagement pictures, so make sure you feel their prices are reasonable.

How to Find Your Style:

  • Search through wedding sites, or even Pinterest’s wedding page, and see what sorts of pictures jump out at you. Are they more formal, candid, or relaxed? Do you want the pictures to be portraiture, journalistic, or candid? Do you want all the little details captured, like buttons on the dress, and the invitations? Not all photographers are good at changing the styles, so when you start looking at their blogs remember that you can’t ask them to change their usual technique. 
  • What is the colouring of the photography like? Is it more realistic, black and white, or some sort of vintage-y vibe? Those differences are easier for photographers to change.
  • Create a collage board or a virtual board like on Pinterest. This way it’s easy to compare people to your style.
Once you’ve determined as a couple what you want your pictures to look like, start searching for photographers in your area. You can very quickly determine if their pictures fit your style by looking at the first page of their site. I also vetoed any page that had music playing in the background, because that fad is so over. 
Create a spreadsheet that includes their name(s), website, email address, what is included in the package you can pay for with your budget, and any other comments you may have. This comparison is challenging because everyone puts their packages together differently. A good idea would be to break down the total by hour so that you know what you’re getting out of it. Don’t forget taxes! Start looking as soon as you can, because when we were emailing people in March 2014 for our June 2015 wedding, many of them were already booked.

Question Guides:

Who is our photographer? Steph from Taylor Clark Photography. Her pictures are stunning, and I am so excited to work with her. I discovered her when I was searching for pictures at the Britannia Yacht Club–I fell in love with her pictures and the BYC.
She got married to her husband Ben this past summer, and it’s the wedding I wish I could afford, so I know that she understands the feel Nic and I are going for with our wedding. Nic and I drove to Kingston at the end of April and had a lot of fun hanging out with her at Starbucks. We ended up not doing our engagement pictures then, because it was pouring rain, but we’re excited for August 9 in Toronto when we’ll try again.