James and Nadia live in South London – so they’re basically our neighbours! They met 14 years ago this April when they were both working in the same place in London, but only got engaged in Jan 2019. They chat to us about their gorgeously laid back, low key South London wedding. Read on to find out how they created a really collaborative and fun DIY wedding and hear about their honeymoon exploring Italy, funded by family and friends.
How did you get engaged?
We were on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to New Zealand. We had spent the past couple of weeks in some amazingly beautiful places: glow-worm caves, stunning beaches, Hobbiton, a dark skies reserve where we could see the edge of the milky way, horse trekking through rivers, cruising past waterfalls… and James left it until the very last morning – in the airport hotel – to propose! It was funny and touching and lovely; he’d been carrying around my late mum’s ring for months!
What kind of wedding did you plan?
We actually signed the papers at the registry office in Camberwell and then went to the pub. But the next day was the wedding party… We wanted a low-key do that was personal to us, so we booked Canvas & Cream in Forest Hill, a really quirky little cafe-bar-gallery, and Owain and his team were amazing (and seemed to have charmed all our guests as they still talk about how great they were!). We had a big focus on music – two of our good friends, Joe Tunmer and Ben Murphy, were our superstar DJs – and dancing (no kids, so that our friends could let their hair down), with a Mediterranean-style buffet.
Our designer friends made posters, James’ mum made wild-flower decorations, my friend made three cakes, we had photo bunting and a wedding book with tons of coloured pens and stickers, and my brother officiated a hand-fasting ceremony (old tradition of wrapping a ribbon around the bride and groom’s hands, saying vows and then – literally – tying the knot). We used Paperless Post for the invites (designed by my 11-year-old niece) and Patchwork for our wedding present: donations to our Italian honeymoon. Not a wedding planner in sight!
What was your first dance?
‘Don’t Know Much’ by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville, it was a tongue-in-cheek choice that really made us smile!
What was your favourite part of the day?
We both loved the speeches, especially being pleasantly surprised by the impromptu speeches when we ‘opened up the floor’ to anyone, and the whole thing was really emotional. The first dance was also brilliant, and sharing cigars outside with friends you hadn’t seen in ages… all of it! We felt the blues the next day and wanted to do it all again.
What made Patchwork the best gift list for you?
I found out about Patchwork at a London wedding show and tried it out – it was so easy to set up and felt like a great way for people to not feel pressured in their gifting amount, and actually see what we would spend it on (eg gelato, a romantic meal, a tour of the colosseum…). People felt like their gift was more personal and tangible, and they could leave us notes too.
What did you want to ask guests to contribute towards and why?
We had always wanted to go to Italy but saved it for the ‘elusive’ honeymoon (it was a long time in coming!). So we set up a Patchwork for things to do, eat, see, for flights and AirBnB’s, and it worked perfectly. We wouldn’t have been able to do half the things we did if it weren’t for the generosity of family and friends. We started in Venice, got the train down to Rome, popped over to Pompeii, and then on to the Amalfi coast for the last bit of the honeymoon.
How did you feel when you set off on your travels knowing everyone had chipped in to make it happen?
It felt great and we both felt very lucky. We shared pics of our adventures afterwards to show everyone where their money went, so they could see that they had contributed to us having a great time.
What was the best bit about using Patchwork?
It was so quick to set up and the layouts were simple but effective; a functional and stylish site, and a great idea. We would recommend it to anyone.
Our friends and family appreciated the choice of things they could donate towards, so that they could tailor the amount they wanted to give and it all added up to a great present, no matter how large or small.
And finally, would you recommend your trip to other honeymooners?
Italy has so much to offer. The people were friendly and down to earth, you’re literally tripping over ancient history everywhere you go, the climate (this was before the floods!) was great, and you can have an experience to suit your budget. Don’t always do what the tourist books say (eg we didn’t get a Gondola and preferred walking around or getting a water taxi); explore on your own terms and ask locals for recommendations.
Thanks so much James and Nadia for sharing your beautiful wedding day stories and photos with us. Huge congratulations from us all!
Here are some of the suppliers who made their day extra special:
Post Wedding Drinks: The Crooked Well Pub, Camberwell
Wedding Party Venue: Canvas and Cream in Forest Hill, South London
Friend and Brighton DJ: Ben Murphy
Photographer: Andrew Billington Photography
Graphic designer: Alex Crispin
Poster design: Samuel Shelton
P.s. listen to James and Nadia’s first dance song on our Spotify playlist, made up of lots of our Patchwork Couples’ first dances