Laura and Stuart have had a big year. Buying a house and planning a wedding in one go took a lot of organisation, and they definitely deserved a break. So they planned an incredible honeymoon in Namibia, and their friends and family all chipped in towards it. We asked them a few questions about their Patchwork story.
How did you meet?
We met on an internet dating site – although, Stu likes to say we facilitated our first date on the internet and actually met at a pub in Waterloo. We found out on the first date that we actually knew some of the same people and shared a love of Welsh rugby, all wine and 90s hip hop bands.
How did you get engaged?
Stu’s plan was to take me to The Pig – a lovely boutique hotel in the New Forest, for my 30th birthday, hire a couple of bikes and cycle out to a wooded glade where he would open a bottle of champagne and propose, surrounded by wild ponies…. Unfortunately for him I was a bit stroppy about turning 30 and not at all in the mood for bike rides or nature and just wanted to go to the pub and drown my sorrows. So, proposal postponed! Luckily, another opportunity presented itself quite quickly as we flew to the South of France for a holiday the day after my birthday. On the second to last night, we had a pizza in the local square then went back to the garden of our guest house for a glass of wine and while I played with the owners’ dog, Stu dropped to one knee and (finally) proposed with a plastic ring that had stood in for the real thing at a couple of his friends’ proposals too.
That sounds so lovely. What kind of wedding did you plan?
Well we had just bought a house which needed completely gutting and extending so we planned the wedding for the end of the year when hopefully the house would be finished. I’m not sure we quite realised at the time just how much work we’d given ourselves that year – just overseeing the work on the house took all our energy and spare time and the wedding sort of dropped to second place on the priority list. In a way, this ended up being a good thing as we had to make decisions quickly – we didn’t have the time or head-space to agonise over every little detail – so we concentrated our energy on making sure we got the basics right, i.e. hiring a great caterer, photographer and band, ordering enough booze and planning an awesome honeymoon to help us recover afterwards!
What made Patchwork the best gift list choice for you?
I always knew I didn’t want a traditional, department store type wedding list, and as we had spent the past year leading up to the wedding – and all of our money! – kitting out the house, we didn’t actually need any “stuff” but what we did need was cash! I was looking for an elegant, simple way to basically ask our wedding guests for contributions towards our honeymoon in Namibia and drew a complete blank. I was on the verge of putting my amateur Photoshop and web skills to use to make something myself when luckily I found Patchwork – it was exactly what I wanted. A great looking website, fully customisable and really user-friendly, both for me and our friends – I couldn’t believe my luck that someone had actually created the exact thing I was looking for.
Hooray! We’re happy we could help. What did you decide to fund and why?
Planning a wedding, organising a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon and buying and renovating a house (in London) are pretty much the most expensive things you can do in a lifetime, and we did them all in less than a year, so contributions to the honeymoon and help recovering from all the above was the one gift we really, really wanted from people – not towels, silverware and whatever else people usually buy as wedding gifts! Stu’s favourite place in the world is Namibia and he really wanted to take me there on honeymoon. It’s a huge place and we wanted to experience as much of it as possible – it would have been a real shame to go all that way to such an amazing place and not be able to experience it fully, so the Patchwork fund was all about making that happen.
What was your favourite thing about using Patchwork?
During the entire trip, we would think of the people who had contributed to it and it was lovely to come home and tell people all about the amazing things we had experienced thanks to them. We also managed to get a week in Cape Town into the honeymoon and bought some great wines there to bring back home with us and share with the friends who’d helped us buy them.
Our friends and family loved hearing about the things we had done and seen thanks to their wedding gifts. Seeing pictures of us boarding down sand dunes, or tracking big cats and elephants in the desert, and hearing the stories behind those pictures I’m sure gave people a lot more pleasure than buying us a set of silver steak knives, or a set of monogrammed towels ever would have!
What was the best thing about your trip?
After all the stress of getting the house finished – we moved in just days before the wedding – and organising the wedding, and the day itself, being alone together driving through the awe-inspiring Namibian landscape – one of the least populated and emptiest places on earth – was the perfect antidote. Also, having been so focused on things like paint colours, table settings and moving logistics for so many months, being somewhere as awesome as that, surrounded by elephants, rhinos and big cats, really helped us regain some much-needed perspective and, as cheesy as it may sound, it really helped us reconnect and remember why we had got married in the first place.