Tom and Anne-Marie met in 2013 while they were both working for the Arts Council. It took them a year to get together but they’ve been inseparable ever since. They married last year in a countryside ceremony in Cheshire – where they live with their little cat Marlowe. We asked Anne-Marie to tell us all about their wedding and their Patchworked honeymoon.
How did you get engaged?
We got engaged in Malta in September 2017. I’m half-Maltese and growing up would spend every summer in Malta staying with family. I still have a large family in Malta that I’m very close to and we go to visit a couple of times a year (unfortunately not for the whole summer any more!) We’d spent the day swimming and sunbathing and Tom had suggested we go for a walk before dinner. I threw on an old dress, didn’t bother to do my hair or make up and off we went. There’s a beautiful old sanctuary (a small church) in my family’s village where many members of my family have got married, including my parents and grandparents. It’s a place that means a lot to me and is one of my favourite places on the island.
We were standing in the courtyard outside the church when all of a sudden Tom got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was so shocked I didn’t say anything for about 60 seconds (Tom claims it was much longer!) but when I finally recovered myself I said yes, of course. I couldn’t believe it. We went to a local café for a glass of champagne, then bought some celebratory cigars and went home to tell the family. It was wonderful being able to share such a special moment with them.
And when you started wedding planning, what kind of day did you want?
We wanted a wedding that reflected our personal style but was also laid-back and without some of the more traditional elements you might expect. We’re both very family-oriented people and knew that having a big family celebration, with all the people closest to us as part of our day would be really important to us. That meant our guest list quickly added up and we ended up with about 100 people attending! Our family is dispersed pretty far and wide – Tom is from Penzance which is where his parents and oldest friends still are, his brother lives in Sweden and my family is in Malta- so we spend a lot of time travelling back and forth.
We knew that for our wedding it would be really special to bring all of those people together to celebrate with us, so we quickly ruled out getting married in either Malta or Cornwall and decided to get married right on our doorstep in Cheshire (and let people come to us for a change!) I’m Catholic so having a church wedding was really important to me and for the reception venue we wanted somewhere relaxed and informal that really made the most of the beautiful Cheshire countryside. And of course, we wanted to have a great party too!
Is there a part of the day that stands out in your minds?
Anne-Marie: For me, walking down the aisle was definitely the most special part of the day. I felt like everything had been leading up to this moment and I was so happy it had finally arrived. I was given away by my Mum, who raised my sisters and me single-handedly, so that was a very special and proud moment for me, and I had my two sisters as bridesmaids which also meant a lot to me. Seeing all of our guests together in one place and then finally, at long last, seeing Tom standing at the altar and the look on his face when he turned around to look at me – that’s a moment I wish I could relive over and over again.
Tom: For me, the entire church ceremony and especially the vows was the most special part of the day. Although I enjoyed everything on that Saturday and it was all important, for me the act of getting married to the person I love the most in the world could not be topped. It was a very special moment – with everyone I cared about all under one roof witnessing the happiest moment of my life!
Did you have a first dance? What was it?
Like a lot of couples, we don’t really have a song that was specifically ‘ours’ but one song that’s always struck a chord with us from early on in our relationship is Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time, so we chose an acoustic version of this song, which was performed beautifully by our live band, Strings Attached.
Why did you decide to set up a honeymoon fund rather than a traditional gift list?
Like many couples who are already living together, we had most of the things we needed for our home, so we always knew we wanted to fund our honeymoon (something that became even more important when the wedding itself turned out to be so expensive!) We both love Italy and try and visit at least once a year if we can – in fact our first trip abroad together was to Venice. We’ve been to lots of different places in Italy but had been saving the Amalfi Coast for something really special – and it doesn’t get much more special than a honeymoon. It’s also really expensive so it’s not the kind of place we have been able to go to without the support of our friends and family!
So you made a patchwork!
Yes – a friend of mine who had got married a couple of years earlier had used Patchwork and I thought it was such a lovely idea and a really fun way to ask people to contribute to a really special experience for the bride and groom. It’s always a bit delicate asking guests for money (even if that’s the only thing you really want!) but with Patchwork it felt like people were giving us specific gifts relating to our honeymoon rather than just sinking money into an invisible pot. We chose a range of gift sizes so people could contribute whatever they felt comfortable with and it was really fun seeing what options our guests picked to fund. We even got a few scoops of gelato as gifts from some of the children which I thought was so sweet.
We were overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity – all of our honeymoon costs including spending money were paid for through our Patchwork which was more than we could have dreamed of. It felt really special to know that so many of our loved ones had contributed towards giving us the experience of a lifetime. We wouldn’t have been able to have our dream honeymoon without their help and the fact that our guests gave so generously meant the world to us.
What was the best bit about funding your honeymoon with Patchwork?
It was fun, it allowed us to be creative and most of all, it was convenient, particularly for our international guests who didn’t have to worry about bringing gifts with them or changing currencies in order to give us money. Everything could be done online, and we were able to keep track of how our fund was doing as we got closer and closer to the wedding.
It also helped us keep track of what items guests had chosen to fund so we could write personalised thank you cards after we returned.
Lots of our guests commented on how convenient Patchwork was for them and what a fun idea it was. It also gave them a bit more of an insight into us as a couple as they could see what sort of activities we were hoping to do on our honeymoon! We had miniature bottles of limoncello as our wedding favours and a few people commented on what a nice tie-in this was with our honeymoon, something they might not have known without our Patchwork.
And finally would your recommend Amalfi to other Patchwork couples?
The Amalfi Coast is a truly stunning part of an already above-averagely beautiful country! We stayed in Positano which is wonderful in its own right but also used this as a base to travel to other places along the coast including Sorrento, Naples, Amalfi and Capri. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to being surrounded by such breathtaking scenery – now when I look back at the photos it feels like a dream! The whole place has a very Old Hollywood glamour to it, around every corner you see something that is like a scene from La Dolce Vita. To be in the heart of such beauty and glamour, day after day, is truly a once in a lifetime experience and we would absolutely recommend this trip to other honeymooners looking to really push the boat out. Just a word of warning – getting back to reality can be a bit of an adjustment!
Hooray! Thank you so much Anne-Marie and Tom for sharing your patchwork story with us all!
P.s Listen to Anne-Marie & Tom first dance song in our Spotify playlist, made up of lots of our Patchwork Couple’s first dances.
Venue: St Vincent de Paul RC Church, Altrincham and Stock Farm Wedding Barn, Ashley, Cheshire.
Wedding dress: Maggie Sottero at Blush Boutique S
Catering: Olive Tree Catering
Photographer: Jessica Stott Photography
Venue Stylist: The Soiree Stylists
Band: Strings Attached
Cake and flowers: Very talented members of Anne-Marie’s Mum’s WI!
Honeymoon: We stayed in a boutique family-run hotel in Positano called Casa Buonocore.