Thank you to everyone we met at the Most Curious Wedding Fair who entered our competition to win £100 towards their wedding registry.
Neil and Zoe are both actors and live in South East London with their dog Pickle. They married last summer in a beautiful weekend-long extravaganza. Then, with a little help from their friends, jetted off to one of their favourite places on earth – Japan. We asked Neil all about it.
So how did you two get engaged?
The 11th March is a strange anniversary for us both as it coincidentally marks the date both of us lost our mums. Each year we try and do something special to celebrate their lives and two years ago I thought ‘what could be better than to make this difficult anniversary mean something completely different’. Zoe loves a good treasure hunt, so I planned an epic journey to lead her across London to a lovely vegetarian café. Whilst we ate, my friends laid out hundreds of candles in the beautiful nearby Bonnington Square gardens and as night fell I took Zoe into the square and popped/blubbed the question. Thankfully, she said “Of course!” as I had boldly arranged for all our friends and family to be in a nearby pub waiting for us.
What kind of wedding did you plan?
When we thought about our favourite weddings, the one thing that they all had in common is that we never wanted them to end. So, we decided to have a weekend long wedding where we could have everyone stay on site with us from Friday ’til Monday. We hoped it would be a chance for friends & loved ones to have a mini holiday with us, for them to get to know each other and for us all to share our post wedding hangovers over a game of rounders by a lake and a moonlit cinema. We found a beautiful 22 bedroom house called Colehayes in Bovey Tracey, situated in beautiful acres of stunning Devon countryside.
It was everything we dreamed of and we were so moved by how all our guests threw themselves into the whole thing. It had a glorious feeling of community and connectedness that we wish we could have bottled.
What was your first dance?
We both love the film When Harry Met Sally and Harry Connick Jr, so we went for “It Had to Be You”. We had grand hopes of doing a short dance routine to it but with Zoe’s dress being very long and so much else to plan, we simply didn’t get round to it, so ended up doing the traditional but loving ‘foot-to-foot shuffle”.
Why did you decide to use Patchwork?
We wanted a website that could bring together all our honeymoon ideas and give people a chance to see what was on our honeymoon wish list. Patchwork was so easy to use and helped us put together a beautiful visual itinerary that our friends and family could feel part of. It also made it easier for us plan our trip and start to get really excited about it.
We guess, like many couples who get married, we felt tentative about asking people to contribute to our honeymoon as everyone was already travelling so far to join us for our wedding and we honestly didn’t expect anything in addition to this! However, we were aware that some people kindly wanted to get us something in the way of a gift. We were absolutely over the moon with how generous people were and the simple truth is that without their help, we couldn’t have had such an epic honeymoon in Japan.
Patchwork was so easy to use and gave us something we could easily send to people so they could feel like they were directly contributing to a part of our journey. We also loved that we could create a variety of different value gift options so people didn’t feel pressure to give lots of money and yet were still going to be adding joy to our honeymoon with options like Karaoke and Sink a Sake.
Why did you decide to have your honeymoon in Japan?
Ever since we first went to Japan back in 2014, we had a dream of returning and exploring more. We adore Tokyo and whilst we wanted to go back, we also wanted to travel further afield and see what other parts of Japan were like. Kyoto and Osaka were cities that we wanted to explore and we also wanted to visit snowy Nagano and see the snow monkeys and stay with Buddhist monks up in Mount Koya. We feel so lucky that we got to do all of this and more on our holiday.
Would you recommend your trip to other honeymooners?
Yes. Japan is simply one of the most remarkable places on earth. Their culture is so different to our own but yet strangely familiar at the same time as if visiting a parallel universe. It has everything- epic landscapes, ancient historic temples, futuristic cities and a blend of nature and technology like nowhere else. It’s also inhabited by such polite and gentle people that make travelling around it feel easy and safe. We have fallen in love with Japan, in fact, we have fallen so in love that we’ve even started making a series of vlogs about our trip and all things Japanese called Woman, Man, Japan with the hope of helping likeminded people plan their own trips there and so that we can get back there as much a possible.
Thank you Neil and Zoe for sharing your brilliant story with us. And a huge congratulations from Team Patchwork.
Thank you to everyone we met at the National Wedding Show who entered our competition to win £100 towards their wedding registry.
And a big congratulations to Lauranne Bonnassieux. Thank you for telling us the one thing you want! Your entry of ‘no rain on our wedding day’ won our National Wedding Show competition.
Since Tammy left London for the countryside her friends miss her. Badly.
No more spontaneous sunny days in the park, afternoon visits to cuddle babies, or late nights out on the town.
There are upsides – weekends in the country for long walks, roaring fires, red wine evenings and late mornings drinking tea on the sofa. But these trips need organising in advance and don’t happen as often as everyone would like.
And then there’s birthdays. Even worse, weekday-birthdays.
With no chance of popping around with cake and bubbles the girls wanted to make sure Tammy still felt loved from far away. So they used Patchwork to chip in towards a flower delivery and chose a lovely big bouquet to be delivered to her door.
Tammy says: “What a beautiful, gorgeous treat to receive from my lovely friends. I was gutted not to be able to see them on my birthday so it was such a special way to feel loved and an amazing surprise. The flowers were so beautiful.”
With Bloom & Wild delivering flowers across the UK by post you only need to order 24 hours in advance to ensure your seasonal blooms are delivered through the letter box without a hitch. Just customise this flower delivery Patchwork so friends can chip in towards a beautiful bunch. Then gift the patchwork to your friend on the same day as the flower delivery, so they can see everyone’s messages and send their love and thanks.
Patchwork founder Olivia’s son turned ten this month. To celebrate she wanted to throw him a really special party with all his family and friends. Although Manu knew about the party, what he didn’t know was that it was going to be a Back to the Future themed party – an obsession that he’s inherited from his 1980s parents.
So when did Manu’s love of Back to the Future start?
Early. Manu chose his first red ‘life preserver’ at age four, started guitar lessons on a mini red electric at the age of five, owned a skateboard by six, went to the Secret Cinema screening of Back to the Future at eight and still watches the film at least once a month, reciting every line by heart. So, a Back to the Future themed party seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Manu’s past and future.
How did you go about organising the party?
Once I’d fixed the date and booked the local Scouts hall the real challenge was searching the country to track down an original Back to the Future DeLorean to drive Manu to the venue in style.
From that point on it was simple. The Scout hall, a 1950s prefab, was the perfect Hill Valley School hall and although I knew it was going to take a lot of work to recreate the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, with Patchwork it was easy to share the plan and ask everyone to help.
What response did you get from your party patchwork?
Within days of sending out the patchwork invite I had 50 people coming, a local ‘Marvin Berry’ band booked, badges being made, a projector screen and speakers promised, 100 balloons ordered, eight cakes being baked, a banner, two signs and a Flux Capacitor being made.
How did you keep it all a secret?
It was easy to keep the Back to the Future theme a secret from Manu until the day of the party. Getting dressed in his skinny jeans, checked shirt, denim jacket and red gilet was normal for Manu. But he did start to get a bit suspicious when his dad produced an 1980s Walkman and a brand new pair of white Nikes with a red tick.
With everyone waiting at the venue it was up to Manu’s dad to get him there. As they left home Manu said ‘I feel like Marty’, and at that exact moment the DeLorean pulled up and opened its doors, blaring out the Back to the Future theme tune!
How did Manu feel riding a time machine through Brockley?
This was the only Universal Studios DeLorean time machine in the UK and the one used for the 25 anniversary promotional tour, complete with Flux Capacitor. So Manu was speechless. As were the people who saw it driving (at 5 miles an hour over the speed bumps) through the streets of Brockley.
How did you transform the party venue into the Enchantment Under the Sea dance?
I spent Friday night with girlfriends painting the giant banner and two wooden signs. And we arrived at the venue on Sunday morning with a handful of helpers to decorate the hall, blow up balloons, set the tables, fill party bags and get the band set up. So when Manu arrived the scene was set and everyone was outside the hall dressed in 1985 or 1955 outfits to welcome him.
What did Manu think when he arrived at the Back to the Future themed party?
Manu McFly tried his best to play it cool as he stepped out of his time machine to whoops and cheers from the crowd, but he couldn’t hide his surprise and delight. His joy reached new heights when he stepped inside the hall and the band started playing ‘Power of Love’.
He said “The best bit of the party was riding in the DeLorean, seeing all my friends, eating all the cakes and the Flux Capacitor that Eric made me. The funniest thing was seeing Grandad dressed as Doc and the most embarrassing bit was when the band played Earth Angel and mum tried to make me dance.”
We know that you’re the biggest Back to the Future fan really. So what was your favourite bit?
I am. I loved feeling everyone’s excitement as we saw the DeLorean drive up and seeing Manu’s face as he got out of the Time Machine! It was so fun stepping into 1955 as we entered the hall, seeing all our efforts come together and hearing the AMAZING band. We’d made mini clock tower fairy cakes but seeing the incredible sea-themed creations, the Jail Bird Joey cake and the huge red guitar cake that everyone else had made was amazing. And of course Patchwork made it all so easy. I could keep track of all the things people were helping to fund, make and do and contact everyone about the things they’d pledged to do and send updates to everyone along the way.
After an evening of dancing I could also show Manu the patchwork so he could see how everyone helped to make it happen and read everyone’s messages so he could send his own thank yous. It was a massive success, made super easy with Patchwork. Now I’m just looking for another excuse to plan a big party!
Last year Patchwork founder Olivia was asked if she would contribute to Lonely Planet’s new Honeymoon Handbook. Having become something of a honeymoon expert through Patchwork and being a huge fan of Lonely Planet guide books, she jumped at the chance. And after a lot of hard work, the Handbook is finally here. It’s a brilliant resource for anyone planning their honeymoon. And we couldn’t be more excited about it being released. This guide to honeymoon planning can be purchased on Lonely Planet’s website or you can find it in the shops.
Here’s what Lonely Planet have to say about the book:
“Getting married is the best excuse to take the romantic getaway you and your partner have always dreamed about. The Honeymoon Handbook is an essential planning tool for making it come true. Lonely Planet’s first and only travel guide for newlyweds, The Honeymoon Handbook features over 25 of the most exciting locations for couples – from Andalusia to Zambia. It starts with a quiz to determine what kind of trip to take based on what you two love the most, whether it’s backpacking in Borneo, touring Tuscany or cruising around Cuba.
Beyond the destination sections, The Honeymoon Handbook also offers safari, luxury, island and family-themed getaway ideas – even how-to’s on ‘minimoons’ and getting married abroad. Other features include budget breakdowns and alternative destinations (Can’t afford Italy? Try Croatia) and an LGBT-friendly indicator for same-sex couples.”
Liv had so much fun contributing to this brilliant book (and has fulfilled her teenage dream of becoming a Lonely Planet travel writer) and we may be biased but we think it’s a super useful resource. So make sure you pick it up when you see it on the shelves.
Want to plan a honeymoon on a budget? Why not ask friends and family to help fund it? Check out all of our customisable honeymoon templates on our honeymoon fund collection page.
First things first, pour some bubbly and make a toast to the future with your love. This is such an exciting time and there are lots of plans to make and things to do. But first, breathe. Take a minute to enjoy this time together. Finish the bottle, smile a lot and take all the engagement ring selfies you want. But maybe don’t share them all.
Call your relatives
Yes, you could just send them a quick text, but actually being able to hear your lovely excited voices over the phone will make them so much happier. Pick up the phone and call your nearest and dearest before announcing your engagement on Facebook.
Set a date
Maybe not ‘the date’ but a date, like June.. Or ‘next summer’. Now your friends and family will stop asking ‘when are you going to get engaged?’ and start asking ‘when’s the wedding?’. And who can blame them? It’s exciting! So it’s best to try and come up with a bit of a plan and some brief answers to all the questions you’re going to be bombarded with.
Pick your people
Bridesmaids, Maid of Honour, Best Man/Woman. Decide who you really want to be involved in your day and think about how you’ll ask them. This is a fun job, it’s like a mini proposal of your own. And remember, there are no rules – if you want 10 bridesmaids, go for it (just be prepared for some long conversations about dress choices). If you don’t feel right having any, that’s fine too. And if you want your dog to do the job, well that’s more than fine.
Maybe you’ve had a secret wedding Pinterest board for years, or maybe you don’t know your favours from your fruitcake, but now is the time to go public and get stuck in. Go out and buy a couple of proper paper magazines and flick through them with a cup of tea. Browse some of the brilliant wedding blogs out there (we like festivalbrides.co.uk, rockmywedding.co.uk & bespoke-bride.com to name a few). Bookmark everything you like, discuss the ideas with your partner, then start narrowing things down.
Find a wedding planner
No, not necessarily a person (although maybe you do feel you need some expert advice, in which case we recommend the brilliant Knot & Pop). Buy yourself a notebook/calendar/app to keep track of all the important wedding planning dates and any ideas you collect along the way. Get organised now and your one-month-before-the-wedding-self will thank you.
Set a budget and start saving
You don’t want to get bogged down with numbers at this early stage, but it’s good to get a realistic idea of what you can afford. There’s no point dreaming about castles and bespoke suits if your budget won’t allow them. Just do some quick calculations and figure out what you can both afford to put away each month, open a savings account and get started. The sooner you start, the closer to that castle you can get.
Plan your honeymoon
It’s fun to daydream about your wedding day, but it’s also really fun to daydream about your honeymoon. Jetting off together on your first big adventure as a married couple is so exciting. Whether you want to go on a city break, relax on a beach or go trekking through jungles, the world is your oyster. But if you’re looking for inspiration our honeymoon page is a good place to start.
If you’re worried how you’ll pay for your honeymoon after all your wedding costs check out Lonely Planet’s Honeymoon Handbook for brilliant money saving advice and amazing budget-friendly destinations. Then set up a honeymoon fund to invite guests to chip in towards your dream trip rather than give you physical gifts.
Set up a honeymoon fund
Patchwork honeymoon fund allows you to create a gorgeous ‘patchwork’ of images to represent all the experiences you want to enjoy while you’re away. A bit like creating a Pinterest board it’s a great way of making plans and keeping track of all the little things you’d like to do. And when you’re ready to send out your invitations you can include a link to your honeymoon fund so everyone can share in your adventure.
With Patchwork friends and family get to choose which aspect of your honeymoon they’d like to fund – whether it’s £10 for coffee and cake in Stockholm, £50 for surfing lessons in Hawaii, or £100 for a night in a hotel on the Cote D’azur. So it’s easy to thank everyone with photos of you enjoying individual experiences while you’re away. And with cash contributions coming direct to your PayPal account you can book your honeymoon when and how you like.
So, if you’re newly engaged, congratulations. And remember; enjoy this exciting, romantic time together, drink Champagne and fizz with excitement, then have fun making plans.
We’re looking for a Customer Service and Studio Manager to join our team.
Weekday mornings from 9.00 – 12.30 | £9.75ph
Patchwork is online platform that lets friends contribute cash, time and skills to help make something amazing happen. Our studio is in Brockley SE4.
You can learn more here: patchworkit.com
About the job:
We’re looking for an organised, kind and confident person to help with the running of our studio and to look after our customers.
As an online business the successful candidate will naturally be comfortable in a digital role but no specific tech experience is required. We’re just looking for a bright, friendly, helpful human.
The Patchwork platform is designed to be user friendly so it’s rare that users need to call or email to ask questions or to ask for help. But when they do, we want to make sure a real person is at the end of the phone or on email to assist them. We also need to monitor the site daily to ensure the patchworks being created are not offensive or fraudulent and manage our database of users.
Alongside ensuring that our customers are happy, this role is also important because it allows us to engage with our users, get feedback, constantly make improvements to our site as well as implement new user-generated ideas. So the role also involves working alongside our tech team to test new features as we release them.
In terms of studio management, we’re all pretty self-sufficient really and are perfectly capable of making tea for ourselves – and each other. But it’s our studio manager’s overall responsibility to ensure we always have printer paper, loo roll and biscuits in the tin. And that the space is generally well organised.
Alongside general customer service and studio jobs the role requires image sourcing, creating and uploading site content and some bits of research for features that we are asked to write – mainly for wedding and travel magazines.
An eye for detail is essential is this role and an interest in design and photography would be an advantage. The ability to spell and communicate well in person, on the phone and over email is essential. The ability to write nice copy would be a bonus.
We’re a startup so everyone in our small company has an important and valuable role to play in helping us to grow. So while this is the perfect job for someone who wants to fit in work around study or parenting, we also really want to find someone who will be committed to working with us, who is genuinely interested in the role, excited by the Patchwork concept and the vision and values that drive our business.
Think you could be right for this role? Send your CV with a brief cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We love baby showers. There are few occasions in life that are so full of love and excitement. And cute baby things. If you’re organising a shower for one of your bezzies we’ve got some ideas you’re going to want to steal. Take it from us, if you include just one of these in her shower, you’ll have a lovely day. Do them all and you’ll go down in history as the best mate ever. So get your organising-head on and take some notes:
Fill your venue with fresh flowers. This is a foolproof way to make the occasion feel super special. Get friends to help you gather the mum-to-be’s favourite flowers from the market and arrange them around the place – it will look and smell incredible.
Make a delicious non-alcoholic drink
Invent a fresh and fruity non-boozy drink for the occasion and name it after your bezzie. We love the sound of this ombre grapefruit mocktail from handmademood.com, but why not do a bit of experimenting yourself with different juices – you can’t really go wrong.
Throw an outdoor picnic
Picnics make for a practical and relaxed baby shower (weather depending!) with enough room for everyone to spread out and for big kids to run around. Just head to a local park, or ask a friend with a nice garden if you can use their space. Keep things casual by asking friends to bring a blanket and a dish, then make your little area feel special with balloons, twinkling lights and pretty decorations. Don’t forget to bring a garden chair and lots of cushions for the mum-to-be in case she’s not comfy sitting on the ground.
Baby themed snacks!
Like these incredible baby biscuits by the genius Tuck Box Cakes. Order enough for everyone and they will be amazed by their beauty. Or if you’re a star baker, whip out your whisk and make some little cakes of your own. We’re not huge fans of the whole pink for girls and blue for boys cakes – why not make some in your friend’s favourite colour instead. Or a nice gender-neutral yellow.
If you’re struggling to come up with a fun theme, polka-dots are always a winner. It’s a bright, colourful alternative to pastels and you can incorporate it into the day in lots of ways. Buy polka dot straws for your drinks, dotty napkins, and huge clear balloons filled with confetti.
Bring out your inner-artists
There are tons of baby shower games to keep everyone entertained, but this activity might be our favourite. Buy a bunch of plain white baby-grows (in a range of sizes so baby has something to grow into) and some waterproof fabric pens, and get everyone to sit down and draw a design. It’s a chance for everyone to get creative, plus they’re lovely for the new parents to keep as mementos.
Snap a photo
Ask everyone to write down a message for the baby to read when he or she grows up. Then get them to hold it up while you take a photo. You’ll get instant results with a Polaroid camera, but if you don’t have one just get them printed and put them in a little box for your friend to keep.
Club together for an expensive item
If you know there’s one thing (a pram, cot, or sling) that the new mum really needs but hasn’t wanted to splash out on, get everyone to chip in. With Patchwork you can show everyone the gift, collect cash contributions, then buy it where you like, ready to wrap up and give to her on the day.
Send a baby shower in a box
Finally, if your best mate doesn’t live close to you, you can still show them you love them by creating a ‘baby shower in a box’ and posting it out to them to open while you Skype. Fill the box with homemade cookies, handwritten notes, pre-decorated babygrows and all the other fun things you’d have if you were to celebrate in person. Although the ombre mocktails might not travel too well.
Get everyone involved
As with all events, organising a baby shower is way more fun and much easier if you get friends involved. Just use Patchwork to show everyone the plan and ask them to help. You can customise our baby shower patchwork or create your own from scratch uploading your own photos and using images from our gallery. Then write descriptions telling everyone what you want them to help you to make and do. Friends can then click around the patchwork and choose whether to do the decorations, make a cake, bring a dish or pick up mum-to-be and bring her to the venue. With Patchwork it’s easy to keep track of who’s doing what in your account. And once the day rolls around, your friend will have the best baby shower ever, knowing that everyone helped make it happen.
James and Lucy met at University and got together in their final year. 14 years later and they’re newly married and living in Brockley, London. They’re a seriously creative couple – James is a fantastic wordsmith and Lucy is a super talented designer and illustrator (her beautifully illustrated patchwork really caught our eye). Their love for all things creative plays a huge part in their lives, and influenced their wedding in a big way. We asked them all about their day, and the unconventional honeymoon that followed.
How did you get engaged?
James originally asked me in a fairly casual way during a lovely evening out at the theatre. It was so casual in fact that I didn’t realise he was asking me and a few days later he asked me again. I had a few reasons why I wasn’t sure if I could go ahead with a wedding so I said I needed to think. (None of these reasons were to do with James or our relationship!) James said he would wait and I was under no pressure to say yes. He gave me a ring to put on if I ever felt I was ready.
A few weeks later on New Year’s Eve I was cooking us a meal and decided it was what I wanted and we could have a wedding no matter what anybody thought. Nothing mattered but us. So we ate our meal and then went up to Hilly Fields park to watch the fireworks at midnight. James didn’t know I had sneaked the ring onto my finger! At midnight I took my hand out of my pocket and I emotionally said to James “I’m ready!” Not the conventional proposal at all but it always makes me smile.
Perfect. What kind of wedding did you want?
We knew we wanted a small, intimate wedding and only had 25 guests. We wanted to be able to chat to everyone properly during the day and we’re quite private people really so a big wedding really didn’t appeal. We had about 60 more guests in the evening.
How did the wedding planning go?
We kept it really simple, I’m not a massive wedding person really and we didn’t want to spend years agonising over little details so we kind of decided to strip it back. We honestly just wanted everyone we cared about under one roof and that was all that mattered. I designed all the invites and made all the simple things things we chose to have like the favours, some signs and envelopes containing Oyster cards for our guests.
Tell us about the day.
After getting married at Camden Town Hall we all got the tube one stop to our wedding reception and it was honestly one of the highlights of the day. All the guests thought it was a novelty and we had so many strangers wishing us well, including one old man who said he and his wife did the same thing years ago! We didn’t want to be too conventional so I did a speech, along with my new mother in law!
What was your first dance?
(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons / You Send Me by Willie Hightower
Why did you choose Patchwork for your gift list?
Originally (and trying to break with convention again!) we weren’t going to ask for wedding presents because we felt that wasn’t why we were getting married and we didn’t want people to have that extra expense. But so many people asked us what we wanted that we gave in!
Living in Brockley I had seen the Patchwork studio but didn’t know what it was all about. James told me and I thought it was just perfect for our wedding gift list.
As well as it being a great concept, we were really keen to support a local business. (To the point that when my dad said “Can’t I just give you the cash so they don’t take a cut?” I firmly explained that Patchwork is a local business and to please give through the website!) Being a freelance designer myself I was particularly insistent on this – if everyone said that then there wouldn’t be a business at all!
That is brilliant, thank you. So what did you decide to fund?
We wanted to fund our honeymoon to Slovenia as even a smallish wedding is rather pricey! Our main expense was staying in a tree house by Lake Bled, and the flights. We were conscious of the fact that guests would have very different budgets so we included things of low prices too. We wanted people to feel they were helping fund activities regardless of the amount they contributed.
We were really touched by people’s wedding messages to us on the website. People were very generous and we were able to enjoy the honeymoon without worrying at all about money. It was lovely knowing all those friends and family cared about us.
And our friends thought it was great, quick and simple to use, and nice to know what they were putting their money towards.
Why did you choose Slovenia for your honeymoon?
Neither of us are sunbathers and we like to get away from it all as we live in hectic London. Slovenia had it all in terms of gorgeous scenery, forests, turquoise lakes and rivers, and tranquility. Oh, and it was within my less-than-three-hours flight time as I am terrified of flying!
We’d definitely recommend it – it was absolutely stunning and there was plenty of time to contemplate and plan our new, married lives!
Hooray. Thanks for chatting to us and a huge congratulations from Team Patchwork.