We chat to Mark and Emma about their sing-a-long ceremony in beautiful South Wales and their get-away-from-it-all honeymoon to Thailand, funded by friends and family.
So, Emma, how did it all begin?
We’ve been together since 2016, meeting in the bar after I’d been performing in a play and Mark decided he had to speak to me! We realised quickly that we wanted to be together, hanging out whenever we could. I was moving house a couple of months into our relationship and Mark said “hey, why don’t you move in?” I thought he was crazy but took the leap and four months later we were engaged!
Wow! So tell all, what happened?
We were going on our first proper holiday to Crete, staying in a villa in the mountains. Mark had been here before and had arranged with the little restaurant in the village to have a guitar ready for him at some point in the meal. I thought he was behaving very strangely, and then he walked back to our table with the guitar, started singing a song he had written about how we met and the final line was “will you marry me?” I said yes immediately!
That’s so lovely. Did you have an idea of the kind of wedding you wanted?
We had always talked about getting married, somewhat jokingly since we had met. We also said it would be really nice if we could keep it really small and even have a wedding reception in the little bar where we had gone for a few drinks on our first date. That didn’t happen. Living in South Wales but originally both from different towns in England, we just thought we’d find somewhere in the area and have our wedding near Cardiff. We saw two or three and then absolutely fell in love with Pencoed House, in north Cardiff. It is an old, rustic building and due to some renovations on part of the estate which were now taking place later in the year, they had some bookings in February opening up. We snapped up the 17th February and didn’t look back.
The wedding was definitely bigger than we first planned, but it was a pretty perfect day. We used one of the venues caterers who planned a wedding breakfast around everything we loved (and we love food!) so we had an Italian style three main course with a Cretan buffet for the evening dinner. I’ve also been obsessed with Croquembouches for ever so we had one of these instead of a cake. The evening was a wonderful disco which Mark had pulled together himself and we danced the night away!
What was your first dance?
The Way You Look Tonight by Tony Bennett. We hadn’t got round to picking a song, but we both felt very strongly about this song and it felt magical to dance to.
Is there a part of the day that stands out for you?
I started a female a-capella choir in 2013 and we were very lucky to have some of my best friends and ladies sing at the wedding reception. Mark arranged “It only takes a moment” from Hello Dolly as the music for me to walk down the aisle to. The choir sang me down the aisle and it was a really special moment!
Mark also had an awesome idea for the ceremony. As we didn’t want to get married in a church but are very musical people, it was sad not to have any songs as part of the ceremony. So, for a reading, Mark asked one of his close friends to read the opening to Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now, but read like a straight-faced poem. As he got to the chorus, he started singing, as did we and a few members of the congregation we had primed joined in too and it was one of the most joyous moments. The whole day was a blur but we felt so loved and so happy.
What made you choose Patchwork for your honeymoon fund?
We knew we didn’t need gifts from people but that as we love travelling, we thought we’d ask for contributions to our honeymoon if people wanted to give us anything. We found Patchwork and loved its modern feel and the fact that you could also use it for inspiration for things you wanted to try on honeymoon!
What was the one thing you really wanted to fund?
We knew we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been on holiday before, and neither of us had been to Thailand. We just wanted our friends’ and families’ contributions to be a part of our wonderful experiences on honeymoon.
It was lovely setting off on our honeymoon knowing everyone had chipped in! My mum, who doesn’t have much money, had specifically contributed to the flights which I thought about in the departure lounge. We made a note of the individual things that friends had contributed to and made sure we referenced them in our thank you cards to each donor.
And the best bit about using Patchwork?
The simplicity of it! We knew who had contributed and what for and it was great to be able to access it wherever you needed to. Both of us are gadget people so being able to simply look up what had been given and by whom was really great, and linking it into our honeymoon website worked really well and having a link which we could share with people easily. I think people found it really easy to use! We did receive the odd cash donation but most people used Patchwork. I actually printed off the photos from the patchwork and made a patchwork of my own to display on the card table. I liked being able to link up the concept directly into our wedding.
And finally – would you recommend your trip to other honeymooners?
Thailand is an amazing place. It’s definitely a great place to go on honeymoon as you feel like you’ve truly gotten away from everything!
Hooray! Thank you so much Emma and Mark for sharing your patchwork story with us all!
Venue: Pencoed House
Hair and Makeup: Beau Bridal
Photography: Abi Apollonio
Food: EJ Catering
Choir: City Sirens
Croquembouche: Cocorico Patisserie
Florist: Sweet Peony Floral
Bride’s Dress: Cardiff Bridal Centre
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Cocomelody
Groom’s Outfit: Moss
Groomsmens’ Outfits: Next