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.