Today we chat to the lovely Alexa and Jess, both fans of travelling, hiking, exploring, and happiest when they’re “out in the woods on a long walk.” They originally met in the Retreat on Cowley Road years before they actually got together, having mutual friends through school. Being on the edges of each other’s social circle meant they met a few times at friends’ birthday celebrations or pub trips but never really chatted or got to know each other. Well we’re so glad they finally did! Because we get to share this gorgeous wedding with you, AND hear about their amazing European inter-rail honeymoon, funded on Patchwork by family and friends.
How did you first get together?
We re-met in October 2017 when we had both organised to meet a mutual friend, in House Bar in Oxford. Anna, the mutual friend, messaged me in the afternoon we were due to meet to ask if I minded if she brought someone with her not realising that we already knew each other. She didn’t say who it was but I love meeting people so I said I didn’t mind at all. I then received a message from Alexa letting me know that she was the friend that Anna was bringing. I was delighted that it was someone I knew and marvelled at the coincidence. That evening we drank many, many cocktails, it was happy hour so we were obliged. We all chatted and drank into the night. Late into the evening Anna left and it was just Alexa and I until closing time when we walked home across Oxford through the summer night. It was such a lovely evening, one which I had a really good feeling about.
How did you get engaged?
After a very emotional arrival after an 800km hike across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela we ended up having dinner with a fabulous, amazingly drunk, gay, Irish man called Laurus. He was having a bit of a life-crisis so we sat and listened to his problems. He then basically pre-empted the proposal by asking if we’d ever thought of getting married. I had actually brought a ring with me for the moment we arrived in the city as I knew it would be a momentous occasion. Laurus disappeared into the sunset and we went back down to the Cathedral. Sitting in the middle of the square, watching more pilgrims arrive and looking up at the steeple, I asked Lex if she would marry me. Firstly, she asked if it was a serious question! Then she said “yes!”
What kind of wedding did you plan?
Lex did the majority of the planning. We wanted something personal, to reflect our story and us. It had some Mexican and Spanish elements (we both love Frida Kahlo) and Spain was where we got engaged and the country we have visited most together. We had paella as the main course at the meal, we also had a flamenco guitarist throughout the meal and papel picado as decoration and our wedding seating plan was an ofrenda. Since Lex is an artist she designed everything herself, from the invitations and seating plan to the table place cards. Alexa designed our handmade lino prints and we wrote and sent them as cards to every single guest. We had a gospel choir to greet our guests and signature cocktails named after important people or events in our lives. The reception took place in Frevd in Oxford which is an old church now a bar in a Grecian temple style. We also had a grazing table supplied by Berry and Brie so guests would never be hungry. They also supplied our dessert grazing table which everyone still comments on.
Did you have a first dance?
We chose Something’s Got a Hold of Me by Etta James. We learned a whole routine during lockdown 1 which we really had to dust off by the time our wedding came around after a postponement of a year.
What was your favourite part of the day?
I think my favourite part of the whole day was watching the amazing Oxford Gospel Choir perform as our guests arrived. We really took a moment to be present together and that was priceless. That, and seeing everyone I love in one room together after all of the turmoil of the past two years.
What made Patchwork the best wedding registry choice for you?
Alexa discovered Patchwork after doing some research (her forte)! We knew we wanted to celebrate our marriage with an amazing adventure so Patchwork was perfect and allowed our guests to choose what part of our honeymoon they wanted to fund which was perfect. It was extremely user friendly both for us and for our guests. We loved how great it looked on the screen too as we were able to attach pictures to the various contribution options we wanted. It matched our wedding aesthetic perfectly.
What did you want to invite guests to contribute towards?
We wanted guests to contribute to our honeymoon. Our plan was to inter-rail around Europe which would have been far too expensive for us to fund ourselves. We created a list of all the kinds of things we wanted to do on our trip such as dinners out, accommodation, experiences and activities of varying prices so that guests could contribute as much or as little as they liked.
What did your friends and family think?
They loved it, we had lots of comments from guests who appreciated the range of options available to choose from, as well as they way the website looked and the ease of use.
What have you done so far with the wedding gift money you received?
We went interrailing around Europe this summer and have only just got back. It was an incredible experience. We visited eight different countries on our interrail pass. Beginning in Istanbul, Turkey we explored Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland and France before returning home on the Eurostar. Highlights include the Rila Lakes in Bulgaria, the views from the summit across all seven glittering and highly protected lakes was sensational and worth every metre of altitude gained. Venice was also exceptional. It had been a life-long ambition of Alexa’s to visit the Biennale so our honeymoon seemed like the perfect opportunity. The architecture, history and art in Venice is second to none and is definitely a romantic city to spend time in with a loved one, we visited the islands and even saw glass blowing in progress on Murano. Other highlights included visiting the Sassi of Matera, an incredible, wild and anachronistic experience in our modern world. Athens was fascinating and it was such an honour to wander in the ancient city under the shadow of the Acropolis. The whole trip was fabulous and one that I will always treasure.
How did it feel knowing your friends and family had helped make it happen?
It was such a privilege to have been able to see all the wonderful gems of Europe, knowing that friends and family had contributed towards it made it even more special.
Finally… What’s your no.1 wedding planning tip?
Alexa was my secret weapon, her organisational skills know no bounds. One great tip came from my sister, she got married a few years before me and when we were in the early stages of the planning process she advised us to keep as much information about the wedding to ourselves. This meant that every element of the wedding was a surprise to our friends and family and we were able to see all of the elements like the gospel choir and the flamenco guitarist through their eyes, which were full of wonder and joy. We had also hand written a letter to each guest at the wedding, letting them know how we felt about them and why they were important to us. All these things would have lost their impact if guests had known in advance.
Thank you so much Jess and Alexa for sharing your absolutely beautiful wedding day with us, and giving us a little glimpse in to your epic European inter-railing adventure!
Inspired? Check out our gorgeous easy-to-customise template and you could have your own European inter-railing honeymoon fund set-up in minutes!
Here are some of the wedding suppliers that helped make Alexa and Jess’s day magical:
Photography: Steve Bridgwood
Celebrant: Jennie Patrice
Reception Venue: Frevd, Oxford
Wedding planner: Katie Lou Weddings
Food (Grazing tables): Berry & Brie
Food (Paella): Crocus Paella
Flowers: Deborah Davies
Band: Sound with us
Flamenco: Flamenco Tomas
Choir: Oxford Gospel Choir
Furniture Hire: Copper Mill Hire
Hair and make-up: Corina Barrett
p.s. You can listen to Alexa and Jessie’s first dance song on our Spotify playlist, made up of lots of our Patchwork Couples’ first dances.