Sofia’s Photo Diary: Captivated by Cuba

Cuba photo diary

Our lovely Sofia continues to share her gap year adventures with us. Check out her stunning photo diary of Cuba and read her five top tips for anyone travelling to the island.

With each footstep I take through Havana, the further I become suspended in time. Tall, crumbling buildings, once full of grandeur and wealth, now crumbling but still full of character. Music spills into the streets, people tapping, clapping, singing; they rise to dance. They seem almost physically unable to resist the urge of the music around them. There’s colour and vibrancy everywhere – bright pink and yellow paint that flakes away from the deep orange brick. Blue soft top 1950s cars that roar past. There are no adverts, very few shops. Just roads filled with history and music. Women with cigars, men carrying the weight of a cello on their back, old cars fill the streets (spot a new one and you’ll be sure to find a ‘gringo’ inside – it’s a rental!)

Cuba photo diary

Part of the reason visiting Cuba feels like entering a time warp is the revolution, the resulting US embargo and the isolation that the island has felt ever since. Throughout Cuba there are museums, monuments and evidence of the revolution everywhere. Particularly in the noisy, bustling city of Santiago de Cuba, where street art depicting the political situation covers the walls. However, it’s apparent that despite the official communications celebrating the communist way of life the reality is very difficult for many. I spoke to a couple of taxi drivers who discussed smuggling American branded clothes and illegal satellites for WIFI, as life in Cuba is a simple one. Food is basic but tasty – meat, rice, beans and plantain. People dress simply in lycra and denim. They’re laid back and there’s a slower tempo to life.

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If you head to Vinales or Cinfeugos, you can expect to get around on horse and carriage. Just be glad you’ve got a seat – unlike the cowboys you’ll see galavanting through the fields on horseback without even a saddle! You’ll see the farmers wearing their cowboy hats with a cigar in their mouths as they walk through the fields. They’re heading off to one of the many sugar, coffee or tobacco plantations set in the countryside. If you stroll into town you’ll see the locals sitting in their rocking chairs watching the world go by. Pull up a chair and join them.

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Whilst these sleepy towns may seem quiet, at night salsa music fills the air. Every town has a Casa de Musica, a square where live music is played in the evening and the locals dance all night. Be prepared to be asked to join them! You’ll be escorted to the dance floor to be swirled to the beat of salsa, then returned to your table at the end of the song. Forget cinemas and tv shows, the evenings here are for socialising, dancing, and almost certainly a rum or two!

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The other joy of Cuba is its natural beauty. Outside of the charismatic cities, you’ll find beautiful waterfalls such as El Nicho, pristine white beaches with crystal clear waters, the most famous being Varadero (if you don’t mind crowds, it’s only two hours out of Havana), and brilliant spots for snorkelling and diving, such as the Bay of Pigs. There are big open fields, surrounded by caves and mountains – great for hiking and horseriding. If you are considering a two week holiday, the classic Havana, Vinales, Trinidad, Varadero loop will show you the diversity of the country. You’ll have a laid back adventure, where you’ll find yourself simply getting lost in the streets and soaking up all the rich culture the country has to offer.

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Sofia’s Cuba Top 5:

  • Visit the Fabrica de Arts in Havana – wander around this old peanut factory, sipping on mojitos whilst admiring the modern art. Make sure to get there before 8.30pm if you want to get in, but stick around as the live gigs, DJ sets and contemporary dance acts start to kick off around 10/11pm.
  • Indulge in happy hour at Oasis de Creperie in Havana, the most amazing daiquiris for just £1.50!
  • Spend an evening dancing with locals at the Casa de Musica in Vinales
  • Go horse riding through the beautiful national park of Parque el Cubano in Trinidad
  • Stay in a casa de particular. In Cuba, families will rent out a few rooms to guests. You can eat with them and if you speak Spanish have a chat and learn about the local way of life. An authentic experience, which can be so charming. You’ll definitely feel looked after!


 

Thank you Sofia! Don’t forget to catch up with the rest of Sofia’s journey here. 

Patchwork Couple: Josh & Victoria’s South Africa Honeymoon Fund

Victoria and Josh have had a modern-day romance – they met on Tinder, no less! Victoria had just about given up when she finally swiped right for Josh one day in 2014. They’re a low-key couple and planned a wedding to match, then, with a bit of help from Patchwork and their wedding guests, jetted off to South Africa on an incredible adventure. We asked Victoria all about it.

How did you get engaged?

Josh actually proposed to be on my Birthday the year after we met. I kind of ruined it – he had a lovely day planned, and was planning on proposing on a bridge in our favourite park near our house, but I’d been to an interview in York and got back late! He ended up proposing to me on the sofa. It was still the most amazing proposal ever – I don’t think it needs to be fancy, or over the top. It’s a special moment no matter where/when/how.

Agreed! What kind of wedding did you want?

We knew we wanted something low key. We don’t have huge families, and we didn’t want to spend a lot. We also didn’t want the “traditional” wedding. We didn’t spend money on favours or flowers – me and mum actually went to M&S on the morning of the wedding to pick up some white roses, and then my friend Katherine arranged them with Lavender from her garden, and feathers that had been donated to us. They looked stunning! For the decor, we bought Terrariums from Etsy, and filled them with white stones, candles from The White Company and some green vine leaves. It was all very simple, but beautiful. It was a really cosy autumnal vibe.

Sounds amazing. What kind of music did you have?

We added a real personal touch with my sister Lex, brother-in-law Moss and friend Craig (who are all musicians) play on the day. We chose a few really special songs for the day including ‘When The Stars Go Blue’ by Ryan Adams to walk down the aisle to, and then ‘All I Want Is You’ by Barry Louis Polisar (including an epic harmonica performance from my sister) and then ‘Breathless’ by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds as we left. We also didn’t want a typical wedding photographer with staged photos taking up most of the day, so my friend Liam Henry came along for part of the day to take some shots, and they turned out beautiful! Because we didn’t have a wedding photographer, we hired a Photobooth which was a great laugh and relatively inexpensive.

What was your venue like?

After going to see a few venues and deciding they were all too ‘weddingy’ we decided on Hotel Du Vin in Harrogate. We decided to get married at Harrogate Registry Office late afternoon and then have dinner and a party at Hotel Du Vin. We also planned it for Bonfire Night (the night before my birthday) so that we could have free firework displays across the town!

Did you have a first dance?

We didn’t! We didn’t want to be the centre of attention. We wanted to have dinner and a party with our closest friends and family, and not make the whole day be centred around us.  Me and my sister sang after dinner as a  bit of a surprise. I suppose that could be classed as our alternative ‘first dance’.

What was your favourite part of the day?

Honestly, I don’t know! Seeing Josh as I walked down the aisle was probably my favourite.  But the whole day was just amazing – it was so intimate and special, and was just loads of fun. I think the music throughout the day really made it though – so many people commented on how amazing and special it was. Having musicians as friends and family is definitely a bonus! It has to be said that my sister Lex arranged an amazing playlist for the party after dinner – everyone was up dancing until the early hours and it was just such a laugh.

So why did you choose Patchwork for your wedding registry?

Because it enabled us to create something easily for people to gift as little or as much as they wanted. We don’t need things for the house, or anything like that, and giving money felt a bit too ‘transactional’ and impersonal. We knew that using Patchwork would enable our guests to donate towards something that we would hold as special memories, rather than material things.  

What did you ask for contributions towards?

We wanted to fund our honeymoon to South Africa. It was an amazing way of doing it as we got to do some amazing things, like Safari! And stay in a stunning hotel on the beach in Camps Bay.

It was just really special and we are so grateful to everyone who made it happen for us – we were really humbled. It really was a once in a lifetime trip for us. We aren’t fancy people, but we wanted a fancy honeymoon and it was amazing to know our family and friends were part of that experience for us. And they thought it was great! It was so easy and meant that people didn’t have to worry about bringing cash or presents with them on the day.

Using Patchwork was just so easy. And you can make it your own and put your personality into it.

Would you recommend your South Africa trip to other honeymooners?

Absolutely! South Africa is an amazing country. It’s so beautiful – waking up every morning to the sea on one side, and Table Mountain on the other was honestly breathtaking! The people are so friendly, and the fact you can drive 2 hours inland and be on safari with the Big 5 is just awesome. And then the Vineyards! Babylonstoren was the most amazing place I’ve ever stayed. I wish we could go every year!


 

Thank you Victoria & Josh for sharing your patchwork story with us. And a huge congratulations from Team Patchwork!

If this has inspired you to make your own patchwork, just customise one of our readymade patchworks or create one from scratch.

How to Take Care of Your Non-Drinking Wedding Guests

If you’re abstaining from alcohol for one reason or another, weddings can be a slightly daunting affair – no one wants to be stuck with a tap water in their hand while everyone cheers with elegant champagne glasses. Today we’re chatting to Laura, Co-Founder of the Mindful Drinking Festival, about what we can do to improve the way we cater for non-drinking wedding guests.

Alcohol can play a pretty big part in a wedding, can’t it?

Yes. Traditionally in the UK, weddings are pretty boozy occasions. There are many moments in the day when alcohol is expected, and they seem to be growing in number, from the Buck’s Fizz for breakfast to the speech-giving toasts. By the end of the day the free bar may have been maxed out and things can get a bit messy.

Do you think we tend to forget about non-drinking wedding guests?

We can do. One in five of your guests are likely to be trying to take it easy on the booze. It is easy to forget that you will have some guests who are not drinking, or trying not to drink much. They may be driving, have caring responsibilities, or just not feeling like drinking.

Are we making people feel left out by not catering to them?

Well, members of Club Soda, the mindful drinking movement, often share the need to sneak in alcohol-free drinks for themselves to big weddings and events, because they can’t quite manage on sweet sticky lemonade for the whole day, and water gets a bit boring after a while. Our members who are brides and grooms-to-be are anxious about not getting too smashed on their big day, and want drinks that look the part to intermingle or totally replace the alcohol they are expected to drink. After all, they want to enjoy the day as much as they can, and keep all those lovely memories.

So both for yourself, and for all your guests, it’s good to make sure that there are enough nice non-alcoholic drinks options throughout the day.

What are your top tips for making sure everyone feels loved at your party?

Plan your non-alcoholic drinks. First of all, do a bit of planning (always the place to start!). At what times and at what occasions will there be alcohol served? Welcome drinks, champagne toasts, wine with the meal, and so on? Are there non-alcoholic options for each of those? And are they drinks that people actually enjoy? Imagine how a sober person will feel, holding a tumbler of orange juice, when everyone else is making a toast with an elegant champagne flute in their hands…

If you already know your non-alcoholic drinks, great! You should have no trouble putting together an excellent drinks menu for your party. If you’re not so sure, take some time to do a bit of research: Club Soda does regular reviews and tastings of non-alcoholic drinks. And if you are in London you can even come to the Mindful Drinking Festival in August to sample all the best options out there. Tesco is the best supermarket at the moment for their non-alcoholic drinks range, and great for ideas.

What are the options? If you are looking for alternatives to champagne, then consider Eisberg alcohol-free sparkling wine or Botonique. Both look the part in a champagne glass. You can find other options in the online Alcohol-Free Shop.

Heineken® 0.0 tastes just like the real thing, and no one will know if your guests have switched in order to pace themselves. For your craft beer lovers, Big Drop Brew has some highly acclaimed beers that will look very sexy on your wedding bar.

Craft sodas work for all ages, and Fentimans pink grapefruit or botanicals tonic work as a mixer for the gin lovers, but also taste great on their own. Their wild elderflower bubbly will also work for toasts or as a nice pick-me-up on a hot and busy afternoon.

Make sure the caterers know this is important. It’s good to talk to your caterers (if you use one) early on. Unless you ask, they will most likely just offer you their standard package. Which may not be great. We have spoken to a few of them, and they are always happy to talk about more exciting options. And if they are as good as they say they are, they can get you almost any drinks you want.

And if for some reason you really struggle to provide the non-alcoholic drink you’d like, there is always one last resort. Most non-drinking people already know what they like, and where to get it. So you can ask the venue if it’s ok for your guests to bring their own bottles, with a corkage fee if necessary. That way, all your guests will come to your special day safe in the knowledge that they will have something nice to drink, and you will have one less thing to worry about.

Thanks so much Laura. When’s the mindful drinking festival on?

The Club Soda Mindful Drinking Festival is on 13th August, from midday to 6pm, at Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN. Entry is free, but you can RSVP online at mindfuldrinkingfestival.com.

Patchwork Couple: Ange & Steph’s Winter Honeymoon Adventure

Ange and Steph met in 2011 at work in Birmingham, and Ange says it was ‘friendship at first sight’. They both needed flatmates so they moved in together with another work pal. They soon found out they had loads in common and shared a bond only Celts living away from home amongst the English can share! A year later, Ange got a promotion and moved to London, and it was then they realised their true feelings. After 9 months of living apart and getting trains up and down, Steph decided to move to London so they could be together. Fast forward five and a half years and the couple are joined at the hip, still working and living together, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. We asked Ange all about their beautiful wedding day and found out how Patchwork helped give them the honeymoon of their dreams.

How did you two get engaged?

Steph organised a wonderful day of treats to celebrate our anniversary, including a spa day, lunch in our fave cafe, a stroll via ‘Love Lane’ (in London) before heading to a rooftop overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral, where Steph popped the question under the stars. It was a very surreal moment and one we will never forget. We took the next hour to ourselves sipping on champagne before we called the family to tell them the good news.

What kind of wedding did you plan?

We were very much inspired by our family and friends.  We are both really close to our family and have a tight knit group of pals. We wanted it to be as much about them as it was us. That’s what inspired a lot of the personal touches and the location itself allowed for that, since the barn we chose pretty much comes as an empty shell with all the potential!

We wanted there to be music at all times and every song was chosen by us, from the pre-ceremony playlist right through to the party tunes. Music evokes memories and says a lot about a person. There were Irish jigs interwoven with Scottish tunes throughout the drinks reception and songs from the early days of us, giving our guests a little insight into our life through music.

Did you have a first dance? What was it?

The idea of a first dance had never really appealed to us. Our wedding weekend was very much about bringing our families together so we decided to share our first dance with the whole wedding party and cheekily selected to dance to ‘The Gay Gordons’ to kick off the ceilidh. I’m not sure anyone got the irony in the song choice, but we did so that’s all that mattered.

What was your favourite part of your wedding day?

It’s really hard to choose just one so we are going to be a bit greedy. We often recall when reminiscing about the day the moment we entered the barn together. We decided to walk each other down the aisle, to symbolise the fact that this marriage was equal and we were in it together. This was met with a thunderous round of applause from our guests which actually made us stop in our tracks. We were overwhelmed by this ‘wall’ of love greeting us and it really set the tone for the rest of the day and night.

We can’t not mention that our Our ‘Pals of Honour’ rewrote the lyrics to Beauty and The Beast ‘Something there that wasn’t there before’ as part of their speech and toast, which was incredibly personal, memorable, hilarious and special.

Why did you choose Patchwork for your wedding registry?

We knew we didn’t want a traditional gift list so went in search of something we could personalise. We had our dream honeymoon in mind, full of experiences and culinary adventures instead of material gifts. Patchwork made that so easy for us to do.  

We wanted a winter honeymoon full of romance, fairy lights, mulled wine and christmas markets, as well as history and culture to fulfil our inner geeks. Since trains featured quite highly in the early days of our relationship and they’re just so old school and romantic, we decided to ‘winter-rail’ across Western Europe. We left on the 5th December from Edinburgh Airport and travelled across Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France and Belgium on first class trains before returning home to London just in time for the Fireworks of New Year.  

We spent Christmas in Paris and visited fairytale castles in Bavaria, tasted numerous gluhwein the length and breadth of Western Europe, explored ancient Rome and got lost in the cobbled streets of Brugge.

How did you feel when you set off on your travels knowing all of your loved ones had chipped in?

So grateful! We wouldn’t have been able to do everything on our wish list if it hadn’t have been for our friends and family funding our trip. Things we could only dream of doing like travelling 1st class across Europe, our 7 course christmas dinner in the legendary Le Train Bleu in Paris, sipping coffee from the same cups as poets Keats and Shelley at Caffe Greco in Rome, champagne and macarons at Ladurée on the Champs-Élysées, geeking it up on the original Sound of Music tour in Salzburg and a night at the Moulin Rouge. And that’s just scratching the surface.  

Would you recommend your winter adventure to other honeymooners?

Yes we would recommend our honeymoon, especially around Christmas time, just so magical. It was definitely just as much about the journey as it was the destinations and countries we went to. Some of our most treasured memories are whilst getting from one country to another, like the time we almost missed the train because of a very heavy overnight snowfall which meant we had to tobogan our way to the station on our cases. It was a true adventure and a way to discover hidden treasures in big cities and off the beaten track towns and villages.

What was the best bit about using Patchwork for your honeymoon fund?

Well firstly, it was just so much fun to create! It actually helped us to plan our honeymoon and was really great for us to refer to when planning what to fit in and when. Secondly, it looks really cool and is so user friendly, both to set up and to use even after the Patchwork goes live. There was a couple of times when some of our items sold out and we had to go back in and up the quantity. This was super easy to do.

Our patchwork became such a talking point at our hen dos and the wedding and some of our guests have since got in touch asking for the website, so they could use it too. They seemed just as excited about our honeymoon as we were!


 

Thank you Ange & Steph for sharing your patchwork story with us. And a huge congratulations from Team Patchwork!

If this has inspired you to make your own patchwork, just customise one of our readymade patchworks or create one from scratch.

 

The Most Stylish Way to Ask For Cash Towards Your Honeymoon

stylish honeymoon fund

Want to forego the embarrassment of asking for money for your honeymoon fund? Save your guests the awkwardness of making a bank transfer/writing a cheque or bringing cash to the wedding by making a stylish honeymoon patchwork. You get to show everyone all the personal experiences that will make your honeymoon perfect. And guests get to choose what they would like to make a contribution towards. You can go all out for the wealthier family members who may like to chip in for your flights of pay for hotel stays, but you can add some more affordable little treasures in too such as two glasses of ice cold rosé on the Cote d’Azur, a cheeseboard in a Pyrenean mountain restaurant or a camel ride through the Abu Dhabi desert.

stylish honeymoon fund

Couples using Patchwork not only get to fund the honeymoon of their dreams, enjoying all the trips and experiences that their friends and family have funded, they also get to read personal messages that their guests are able to leave alongside their contributions, feel the love that everyone has for them as a couple and enjoy their best wishes for the future together.

Setting up a Patchwork is probably the most fun part of planning your wedding too. So much more fun than dragging your other half around John Lewis picking out your wedding gift list. Browsing readymade honeymoon templates is super fun and also helpful for planning your honeymoon – giving you ideas of destinations as well as activities you can do and things to see.

And contributing to a patchwork is not just easy and fun for guests but allows them to feel part of your union, understand your future plans and help make your dreams a reality.

“We funded a whole list of lovely things we wanted to do on our honeymoon – we thought it would be nicer for someone to know they bought us a boat trip, or dinner at the top of a mountain, rather than a gravy boat or a hand towel. Setting off on our trip knowing everyone had chipped in felt like a big extension of our amazing day. We were thoroughly overwhelmed by the love and generosity of our family and friends and being able to think of them as we went on our adventure was such a nice feeling. Our friends loved how original the idea was.”

 – Patchwork Couple Bea & Robbie

A Patchwork is a super stylish way to set up your online honeymoon registry. We have some readymade patchworks with honeymoon ideas that you may never have even dreamed of. Whether you’d like to soak up the Santorini Sunshine, enjoy a Marrakesh Mini-Moon or cosy up in Cornwall, we have enjoyed putting together lots of dream honeymoons here at Patchwork HQ.

Or perhaps you’d like to make a completely fresh Patchwork and add in your own personal ideas for gifts or experienced you’d like guests to help fund. Create a Pinterest-style board for all the things you need for a new kitchen, upload a photo of a work of art you love or choose images to show how you’d like to landscape the garden! Patchwork is designed to be totally flexible so you can make your gift list or honeymoon fund entirely unique to you.

And the wonderful thing about our honeymoon and wedding registry is that you needn’t pay anything until a guest makes a contribution towards something on your patchwork. There’s no upfront fee to pay with Patchwork. We make our money with a 3% commission on all contributions you receive through the site. Quite simply, if a friend were to give you a £100 contribution, you would receive the full amount directly into your PayPal account, at which point Patchwork and PayPal deduct transfer fees.

Sofia’s Photo Diary: New Experiences in Japan

Sofia is travelling the world (lucky thing!) and has been sharing her journey with us here on the Patchwork blog. So far she’s showed us bustling Rajasthan, South IndiaNepalMyanmar and the Philippines. Now it’s over to Sofia to share her photos and tips from her latest destination – Japan.

Japan, the land of the future, technology, efficiency. From the hustle and bustle of Tokyo to the quaint picturesque landscapes of Kyoto, Japan has many a hidden treasure.

Starting in Tokyo, one of the first things you notice is the sense of order. People queuing patiently to board the metro. Everything is on time. Everything is slick and clean. The people are well dressed, reserved. Though despite their private nature, you will come across many an oddity – maid cafes, ready to serve you, sir. Manga shops. A clone factory. Love hotels. Onsens where being naked is the norm. One area of Tokyo – Akihabara – in fact feels like it’s been designed by a teenage boy – a gaming shop, next to a sex shop, next to a yoyo store, next to a gadget store followed by comic books and back to a maid cafe! Amongst this though was a realisation that the Japanese had considered how to fulfill your every need in the city. It has everything from amazing shopping districts, to captivating exhibitions, to cat cafes, to capsule hotels for a quick power nap. You name it, you can find it!

One of things I was most excited about for Japan was the food, and boy did it deliver. With an array of options there was always something new to try; the vending machine snacks are on another level – we’re not just talking chocolate bars and crisps – everything you can think of is inside these machines. There are amazing sushi joints for a quick lunchtime bite, Korean BBQs for socialising, all you can eat and drink Japanese tapas for the pre-nightclub fuel up! There are street food vendors often with various iterations of octopus and pancake. And cakes! All of the cakes, light, fluffy, delicious, a culinary treat I hadn’t associated with the country before. Hell, they even have a restaurant where you can fish for your own dinner within the restaurant! Overall the standard of quality of food in Japan is exceptional. Incredible fresh fish and tender meats. Hard to be disappointed even if you’re just grabbing a bite at a train station.

Talking of train stations. Whilst the Japanese rail pass may be expensive, it is well worth the money. The bullet trains are as the name suggests – fast and efficient. Whilst based in Osaka, you can easily get to Naoshima, the stunning art island, pop to Kobe for dinner or be moved by the heartbreaking stories of those who lived through devastating atomic bomb of 1945 in Hiroshima.

Japan, whilst modern and super advanced is a country with a long history of traditions and cultures, which it has not only held onto but is very much proud of. There seems to be a great deal of respect for these values, reflected in their courteous manner and in how the presence of geisha girls, sumos, Onsen houses, tea ceremonies and ryokans remain both relevant and iconic. And with a landscape punctuated by traditional architecture, shrines, temples and castles, Japan manages to feel both old and new all at the same time, always with something to experience and discover.

Sofia’s Top 5 Japan Tips:

Get intimate at a local Onsen. Natural hot springs, where everyone is naked. The interesting part is the cleaning ritual as opposed to the nudity! Very relaxing and quite an experience.

Try Shabu Shabu restaurants serving hot broth, which you can quickly dip raw meat and vegetables in to cook. Delicious and lots of fun.

Spend some time at Naoshima. A tranquil, beautiful island dedicated to art.

Sing your heart out at karaoke, try warming up with some pre-drinks in the Golden Gai in Tokyo first.

Spend a night at 9 Hours hotel, Kyoto. The sleeping capsules will make you feel like you’ve been transported into the future.

 


 

Thank you Sofia. Next up, Sofia’s heading to Cuba!

Patchwork Couple: Childhood Sweethearts Amelia & Lee’s Wedding Day

Amelia and Lee are proper childhood sweethearts. They’ve been together since they were 14 and 15, when Lee was in a band at school and Amelia was a loyal groupie. She’d wait for him at the bus stop every morning and they’d walk to school together. They even spent their days writing little notes and letters to each other. See – proper childhood sweethearts. They were smitten with each other, and they still are. On the day they married they’d been together for 11 years, 1 month, 1 week and 1 day. We asked Lee lots of nosy questions about their wedding and their Patchworked honeymoon to Mexico and New Orleans…

How did you get engaged?

We got engaged on our 10 year anniversary, in bed. I presented Amelia with a photo album of our ten years together, and once she had finished looking at the book I proposed with my Nan’s engagement ring, which had been passed down to me – adjusted to Amelia’s size secretly by my mum years before.

What kind of wedding did you plan?

Amelia planned what some have described as ‘relaxed’, ‘not traditional’, ‘intimate’ and ‘romantic’ wedding. Our ceremony was in the church next to our school where Amelia’s parents were married. Our reception was at ‘Poplars Hall’ – a beautiful old orphanage in Brentwood, Essex.

We had a buffet style dinner, in which we had our friends cater in the style of a jerk-pan BBQ, some meats and beautiful salads. Myself and my best man served our guests. Amelia had arranged benches for people to sit at with no seating plans which encouraged a free and easy system where guests could move around and mingle easily. Our cake table was made up of home baked cakes from family members, and the two wedding cakes were made by Amelia and her bridesmaid Joanna. Amelia made the decorations herself with the help of friends and family and the flowers were also all arranged ourselves the day before the wedding.

What was your first dance?

Our first dance was ‘Leon bridges – Coming Home’ – this was a last minute decision, as we were actually set on having only having a ‘last dance’ as something Amelia had really wanted, which was ‘St Vincent – Stars Aligned’.

What was your favourite part of the day?

My favourite part of the day – (obviously this is a difficult one) – was our ceremony, when it sunk in that we were actually married! I was crying, laughing, jumping in the air – it was pretty overwhelming.

Amelia’s – Our first dance, it was lots of fun especially as I was so against people watching me badly dance until a few days before, so we made sure we had 30 seconds of planned dancing before everyone ran onto the dance floor to join us!

Why did you decide to use Patchwork for your wedding registry?

We had previously used patchwork a couple of years before for Amelia’s brothers wedding gifts, we found it such a fun and easy way to give people exactly what they want!

What did you decide to ask your wedding guests for?

We wanted to fund our honeymoon – an incredible trip to Mexico and New Orleans. Amelia and I hadn’t been on a holiday together for what seems like such a long time! So we planned a ridiculous adventure which included paradise beaches and street parties.

It was so fun to create the patchwork and actually really helped in planning our honeymoon, finding all the fun things we could experience on our trip! It’s so so easy to use, I loved that you can even adjust it after it goes live, we didn’t realise items would ‘sell out’ so fast so it was ideal that it only took a few moments to up the quantities people could buy. It’s also great that you can look back to see who got what when writing thank you cards!

We had really positive feedback from our guests about how easy and fun it was to use! I have recommended it to so many people since.

How did you feel setting off on your honeymoon?

We felt so lucky and so special that people had been supportive of our gift selection, and extremely excited to go off and actually experience the things we had planned. The Patchwork was a great way for people to visualise our holiday and we mixed up the prices so much so that people could buy us something small and fun like 1 donut, or part of a flight!

Would you recommend your trip to other honeymooners?

Our honeymoon was absolutely incredible! We were so lucky to be able to go to 2 places, we went to Mexico in October which is known as off season however this meant we had the whole of Tulum beach to ourselves! It was incredibly hot so we were so so lucky it felt like a private paradise! New Orleans is the most amazing city we’ve been to, it’s southern hospitality at its finest! It’s so fun and vibrant, we didn’t want to leave, the food and cultures of both places are amazing and we couldn’t recommend them enough.


 

Thank you Lee & Amelia for sharing your patchwork story with us. And congratulations from Team Patchwork!

If this has inspired you to make your own patchwork, just customise one of our readymade patchworks or create one from scratch.

All wedding photography by threeflowersphotography.co.uk

A Q&A with Bloom & Wild – Our Favourite Flower Delivery Service

We think Bloom & Wild’s flower deliveries make the best gifts, for any occasion. So we teamed up with them to create a Bloom & Wild patchwork that makes it super simple to share the cost of one of their subscriptions as a present for a loved one. It’s group gifting made easy. We wanted to know more from them about how they’re changing the flower delivery service and why they think flowers make such a wonderful gift, so we had a chat with Bloom & Wild’s Brand Director, Sara Gordon.

How has Bloom & Wild redefined the flower delivery service?

Bloom & Wild exists to make sending and receiving flowers the joy that it should be. We’ve all had bad flower delivery experiences in the past and our mission is to change that for good. We enable people to turn emotions into action from their phone or computer simply, and recipients to experience quality, fresh, creative flowers from bud to bloom.

What do you think makes receiving flowers so special?

Whether they’re sent as a thank you, an apology or simply just because, receiving flowers is a beautiful symbol that someone is thinking of you. Because our bouquets are sent in bud, the recipient sees their gift go from bud to bloom and enjoys the full life of the flower. We also make the process a true experience, so that our recipients get to become the florist themselves.

Who picks the flowers that go into the bouquets each month?

Our in-house flower team, including our Lead Floral Designers Rowan and Caroline, are the ones behind the designs. We’re always inspired by trends we see around us, whether it’s in the world of fashion, interiors or our own travels and we interpret these with in-season blooms to ensure that the recipient only gets the freshest flowers.

What’s your favourite ever Bloom & Wild bouquet and which flowers did it have in it?

I’ve had quite a few favourites, but currently it’s The Daisy. The blue delphinium flowers also add height and visual interest and are one of my favourite flowers at the moment.

What makes a Bloom & Wild flower delivery such a great group gift?

We often see families coming together to give their mums or grandmothers a year of blooms or friends coming together to gift a three month bundle for new homeowners or newlyweds. It’s great to be able to give someone something they might not necessarily treat themselves to, like a year of flower delivery, and coming together with a group makes it easy for everyone to pitch in on a gift that gives joy all year long.


 

Thank you Sara and Bloom & Wild! If you want to organise a flower delivery for someone you love, just customise our Bloom & Wild patchwork and send it to friends to fund, then your loved one can enjoy the gift of beautiful flowers through their door every month.

Sofia’s Photo Diary: Pure Beauty in the Philippines

Sofia is taking a career break, exploring parts of the world she’s never seen before, and has been sharing her journey with us here on the Patchwork blog. So far she’s showed us bustling Rajasthan, the beautiful landscapes of South India, the tranquility of Nepal, and the mystery of Myanmar. Now it’s over to Sofia to share her photos and tips from her latest destination – the Philippines.

  

Luscious green vegetation and sparkling blue seas contrast with the pristine white sands of the Philippines – a place of natural beauty, paradise on earth. Once you’ve entered the home of the blue lagoon and discovered its many hidden treasures, you may never want to leave.

The mainland of Manila has a familiar vibe to many south Asian cities. An abundance of street food, busy roads, lots of noise. But don’t be fooled – it’s filled with plenty of its own unique quirks. From the Wacky Races-style tricycles, to obscure coffee shops (like the Harry Potter bar that I stumbled upon), or over-the-top karaoke, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. But the main event are the islands – island hopping is an absolute must. Just be aware when planning your trip that flights and boats are often delayed, so do account for a full day of travel when getting from one island to the next.

With so much to see and do in the Philippines, you can really feel your surroundings and ‘holiday mode’ change as you jump from one island to the next. One minute you’re chilling out in the luxury resort of Bohol, with infinity pools and cocktails aplenty. Then you’re in full adventure mode – canyoneering in Cebu or diving in Coron, or partying the night away in Boracay on its famous white beaches, lined with bars and clubs.

Whichever island you go to, you’re sure to find many boat trips offering you the chance to snorkel, visit private islands and hidden lagoons and take in everything nature has to offer.

Personally, I could have stayed in El Nido forever – there are several beaches to choose from, each with a different vibe – beach bums chilling to music with a beer, quiet empty spaces or the perfect surf. It has the most serene surroundings and smaller islands and lagoons to visit. At night you can either relax watching the sunset or you can be sure to see some familiar faces at its one and only late night beach club.

Sofia’s Philippines Top 5:

  • Go diving in Coron! Swim through sunken shipwrecks, find Nemo in one of the many beautiful coral reefs
  • Fly yourself to the Birds Nest in El Nido and unravel the love story of Camilla and Mark, who set up this incredible glamping spot at the end of their honeymoon. Wake up to views of the mountains and seas and read a book in their swinging chair, sniffing the sweet aromas of home-baked treats that await you
  • Go to the floating bar at Snake Island in El Nido, sip on a fresh piña colada and dip your toes in the crystal clear water
  • If partying is your thing, shake your hips to the beats of Boracay’s Rasta drum circle on Station 1 beach.
  • Go to the stunning twin lagoon in El Nido. If you’re able to, find a boat tour that sets off a bit later avoid the crowds, so you can make the most of this incredible setting. Crack open a beer, kayak through the narrow passageways of the rocks and enjoy the cool waters

 


 

Thank you Sofia! Next time, Sofia’s in Japan.

Enter Patchwork’s £500 Cash Giveaway

£500 cash giveaway
Patchwork is all about people power. It’s about friends and family getting together to organise and fund a special gift or event. So this month, to say thanks to all the amazing people who use our platform, we’re giving you the chance to win £500 towards your celebration. Whatever that may be.

How do I enter?

Just create your patchwork between 1/7/17 and 31/7/17 and we’ll let you know if you’re the lucky winner on the 2/8/17.

So what are you waiting for? Start making a Patchwork!

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