Seven years ago James and Alex were both living independent lives, in different countries, travelling and pursuing creative careers, but each always feeling that “there was something, or someone missing”. And on a Monday night after-work date, that missing thing was found. Alex says “It is hard to think back to before we were together. Shared loves, shared pasts, and shared attitudes to so many things. We chat sometimes how lucky we were to find one another, because we are so similar in our tastes and attitudes.”
It’s clear they are perfect for each other; both share a love of bread, cheese, wine and double bill movie watching. Just don’t stop for no reason in the middle of the pavement – they’ve also discovered they both hate that a lot.
So, are they two peas in a pod? Not quite, says Alex: “We are different enough to balance each other out, so when times get tough, as modern living does, we can be there to support each other. Because frankly, you can’t both be angry at the world or work at the same time, you’ll never start dinner!”
We asked James all about their big day and the honeymoon their friends helped them fund.
How did you get engaged?
I planned a whole day around it, culminating in the proposal in the evening. Alex is a lover of art deco, so I planned a treasure hunt around London, which took in 12 different art deco buildings. The name of each building had to be solved by way of a clue given to Alex on a card I’d designed. Some were easier than others! After the treasure hunt, we both went home to change, and I grabbed the ring from my sock drawer, before heading out to the evening activity. Our 2nd date, and first kiss, was at the Everyman Cinema in Hampstead, so I booked a private screening room with a screening of the Fred Astaire film ‘Royal Wedding’. This is where I proposed, followed by champagne and nibbles whilst watching the film. After the film, we then we back to the same restaurant, and the same table we ate at after our 2nd date. Where more champagne was toasted!
What kind of wedding did you plan?
We designed and created so much of it ourselves and knew that nothing made it to the day without really meaning something to us. We wanted every one of our guests to feel so loved and to have the best time by experiencing all of our favourite things that define us a couple, whether it was Persian inspired sharing platters, California cool inspired vibes or South African style boozy coffees. We didn’t allow ourselves to be restricted to just one thing we liked – we made a wedding that was a celebration of everything we loved.
We’ve both lived independently in LA but built our relationship together in London, so we wanted to celebrate our love for both places in a modern, welcoming way that was relaxed & intimate; we were determined to combine unexpected touches with details that people would instantly recognise as ‘us’. We featured palm trees wherever we could, embraced the warehouse beauty of bare bricks and natural light then filled the day with joy; from an old-school London cab arrival to succulents housed in copper terrariums and an easel timeline of our relationship, nothing was box-ticking and everything was personal.
What was your first dance?
‘The Luckiest’ by Ben Folds.
What was your favourite part of the day?
James: Seeing Alex walk down the aisle. It’s hard to describe something you’ve spent so long imagining but it just felt overwhelmingly real and right. I thought I knew how beautiful she’d look but it was more than I could have imagined and the moment just blew me away.
Alex: Entering the studio, seeing friends faces and searching for James at the end of the aisle. When I saw him, I just wanted to run up there, hold his hands, kiss his face & get married; hearing the words ‘man’ and ‘wife’ was simply the best moment of my life.
Why did you decide choose Patchwork rather than a traditional gift list?
As we’d been together for a number of years before we got married, there wasn’t any particular inclination for our wedding guests to possibly purchase gravy boats or items for our house, what we thought would be a fun idea instead was to offer our guests the chance to contribute in some way to our honeymoon.
After looking for a honeymoon fund website, we chose Patchwork because we liked the flexibility of being able to choose exactly what could go on it – it was a blank canvas to make our own. We knew where we wanted to go for our honeymoon, and having researched honeymoon activities specific to our destination, we knew what we wanted to include and Patchwork allowed us to do this.
Perfect. Tell us more about the honeymoon you wanted to fund!
We wanted to visit an island off the east coast of the USA, called Martha’s Vineyard, known as the summer playground for holiday makers from New York state. We had already paid for the flights and hotel, so we included things in our patchwork like a bottle of wine, or part payment of a dinner one night. This way our guests felt like they were a part of our honeymoon, as well as our wedding.
Setting off on our little adventure was so lovely. Due to the madness in the run up to the wedding, it had actually slipped our mind we had our Patchwork contributions waiting for us. We then spent some time looking at all the trips, and items we wanted to do, and now had the opportunity to do on our honeymoon because of our guests.
Our friends and family loved it. Some had seen similar websites, but none like Patchwork.
Would you recommend your trip to other honeymooners?
This is a hard one. Not because our honeymoon wasn’t amazing, because it really was. But those looking for a lay-on-the-beach-and-do-nothing-honeymoon may want to look elsewhere… Our honeymoon was fantastic for us as a couple – fresh lobster rolls watching the sunset, kayaking in a private lake followed by a sunset picnic, walking round the filming locations from ‘JAWS’, finding a bench we could call our own and looking out at the harbour watching the boats come and go whilst reading, enjoying the most delicious afternoon treats baked by our hotel, and the welcome bottle of rosé sat next to the hotel’s fire-pit. If you are looking for a mini adventure, delicious food & drink, and island life, then Martha’s Vineyard is perfect.
Thank you so much James & Alex for sharing your lovely memories and beautiful photos with us.
If this has inspired you to make your own patchwork, just customise one of our readymade patchworks or create one from scratch.
P.s Listen to James & Alex’ first dance song in our Spotify playlist, made up of lots of our Patchwork Couple’s first dances.
Venue: Loft Studios
Photographer: Chloe Browne at Caught The Light
Videographer: Skinny Boy Films
Bride’s dress: Jenny Packham
Bridesmaids dresses: THTH Bridesmaids & Maids to Measure
Groom’s suit: Chris Kerr
Accessories: Bridal Veil from Britten
Bride’s Shoes: Miss KG from Kurt Geiger
Food: Social Pantry
Cake: Jen’s Cakery (3 tiers – Chocolate Orange, Cherry Amaretto, Banoffee)
Florist: Stems & Bows
Hair and Make Up Styling: Catherine Bailey Hair & Make-Up
Stationery: Designed by the groom, printed by Papier
Decor and Hire: Tables & chairs through Social Pantry; florals from Stems & Bows
Transport: An old-school cream London taxi from Wedding Taxis
Celebrant: Registrar from Hammersmith & Fulham Register Office
Favours: Personally handwritten & designed letters to every guest from us
Additional: Coffee Bike for the evening to go with the donut wall & s’mores table
Rings: Engagement & wedding rings from Ingle & Rhode