Laura and Chris are both originally from Cumbria but now live in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, with their dog, Uisge, and growing menagerie of animals. They met at a pub Chris was working in, became friends first before getting together, and got married on their 13th anniversary – on 13th June this year. With the help of their very talented family and friends Laura and Chris had a humanist ceremony and a beautiful sustainable wedding reception. Being mindful of the environmental impact of their wedding was important throughout. Their one dream wedding gift was to ask for help to fund and build an off-grid hut. Read on to find out more!
How did you get engaged?
Laura: I proposed on 29th February last year – the leap day! We had had a few conversations over the years with the broad intention of getting married once Chris had finished his degree but I was getting impatient so took matters into my own hands. I picked out a ring for Chris – it turns out that guessing ring sizes is very tricky!
First thing that morning, I made a cup of tea, and put on “You Grew On Me” by Tim Minchin, the closest thing to “our song” we had. Then I popped the question back in bed with the cuppa. Chris was truly stunned (one of the few times he’s been lost for words) and eventually said yes! We phoned our families and the excitement and love from them was really touching. After being together so long, we thought most people would see our engagement as inevitable but the excitement from other people really made us more excited too, it was lovely. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks later, the first national lockdown began so weren’t able to celebrate in person with our family and friends.
What kind of wedding did you plan?
We knew we wanted a small and relaxed day. Neither of us love being in the limelight and prefer low-key, informal events but we still wanted it to feel like a special day. We planned to have an outdoor ceremony, with our dog Uisge as Chris’ Best Dog, followed by afternoon tea, lawn games and a BBQ. We both have large, geographically distanced families, so made the decision early on that we’d have a small wedding with our immediate family and closest friends near our home. A party with extended family and friends back in Cumbria was planned for the week after. This decision was also influenced by our desire to have a Humanist wedding ceremony, which is legally recognised in Scotland but not in England.
We had so many kind offers of help from our tribes. One of our friends and her 16 year old daughter made the most amazing cake, another friend played piano throughout the ceremony and my sister did some kind of wizardry on decorating the outdoor space and tables. We were very keen to keep the environmental impact of our wedding as low as we could so used plants that could be gifted and replanted in our garden to decorate the tables. We also brought in my mad shell collection, my mum’s vases and other bits and bobs. We gifted seed-bomb favours and my bouquet flowers came from locally grown plants. The hessian we used on the tables has already been reused on our brother-in-law’s allotment!
How did Covid affect your wedding day plans?
We spent a lot of time checking the rules and guidance and making various back-up plans. For our wedding in Scotland, we kept everything outdoors, reminded our guests to maintain social distances and use face masks where required. The main change we had to make was to the seating. We had originally planned to have the BBQ as an informal seating arrangement, where everyone could mingle. However, the rule was that all food had to be served seated so we hired extra tables last minute so that everyone could be seated according to the rules at the time. We had over-sized tables with odd chair layouts to accomodate this but everyone was very understanding and it seemed to go fine!
Because we had people travelling to join us, we knew there was a chance they wouldn’t be able to make it or that the rules could change at the last minute. With this in mind we made arrangements to stream our ceremony on Zoom for family and friends who couldn’t make it. My uncle and one of our friends really went above and beyond to make sure the sound and picture quality were top notch. This meant extended family were able to “join in” from a distance and was a lovely touch.
We also had video message “telegrams” arranged by my mum from people who couldn’t make it which was a really sweet surprise. We were really lucky in that we had always planned a small wedding. Some of our friends have had plans curtailled and postponed several times over so we feel really fortunate that we were able to, broadly speaking, have the day we planned.
Did you have a first dance?
We did! It was the one permitted dance of the day – we danced outside on the grass to Etta James, “At Last”. Our amazing piano-playing friend had played us up and down the aisle earlier in the day but we switched to DJ Spotify for this bit.
What was your favourite part of the day?
So many moments! We both agree our favourite part of the day was seeing all our family and friends. We hadn’t been able to see Chris’ parents for 18 months by this point, and my family for several months as well, so it was quite an emotional day. At one point we took a second to stand at the edge and looked across the garden at our family and friends chatting and playing lawn games. A lot of them hadn’t met before the day so it was really special to see different parts of our lives joining up. We were also very fortunate to have generous friends who brought their gelato cart. Seeing our little nephews’ faces with huge icecreams whilst in their kilts was magic!
Why did you choose Patchwork for your wedding gift list?
We had been undecided on whether to have a gift-list or not – we’ve lived together for a long while and we’re pretty well set up in terms of traditional wedding gifts. We genuinely weren’t expecting many gifts and had told our guests that we valued their presence and involvement in our wedding most of all. Especially after such a testing year (and a half?!) Despite this, we started getting calls from extended family asking what we would like and how they could contribute. So we told them about our plan to build an off-grid cabin which went down well!
We then turned to google to see if there was a platform to help and found Patchwork! It ticked all our boxes of being easy to set up and visually pleasing. Most importantly, though, it allowed us to suggest practical and skill based contributions as well as monetary ones. We liked being able to really personalise the templates, adding in how we would use each component. So for example, we asked for a camp kettle and added that we would always have the tea ready for visitors. (Can you tell we like tea?! Haha!)
What did you invite guests to contribute towards?
We asked for help in building our off-grid hut. We are fortunate to have both generous and skilled people in our corner and Patchwork made it easy to ask “Could you help us by making curtains?” or “Can you give us a hand to put up walls” as well as “Can you fund a firepit?” We have been saving for a while for this project and it made sense that if people wanted to help us, that was where we’d like the help.
What did your friends and family think?
We were a little nervous because it’s a step away from a tradtional gift list but our friends and family wouldn’t expect anything different from us by now! We were pleased at how well received it was and everyone we spoke to was really excited for us and enjoyed looking through the Patchwork and choosing how to contribute.
What are the plans for the off-grid hut?
We’re leasing a small plot of land on the edge of a farm not too far from us. The plan is to build an off-grid hut to spend weekends or longer in, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life! Chris is a teacher so a bit of space to enjoy the peace will be invaluable. We love camping and spending time outdoors, especially with our dog, and having a bit of space to share with our friends will be special. We’re planning to have sleeping space for 4 people, a little stove, with some comfy seats and board games for rainy days. A deck and fire pit outside will make the brighter days last even longer.
We’ll use recycled and reclaimed materials where we can, in line with our ecological values. The hutting code and ethos says that the hut must be removable at the end of it’s life without leaving a lasting effect on the land. So no concrete foundations and lots of graft in moving materials to the site. We’re looking forward to getting our teeth into this project – the building is part of the fun! The help we’ve had from our incredible family and friends (mostly through Patchwork) will make it happen so much quicker too.
Thank you so much Laura and Chris for sharing your beautiful wedding day with us and these gorgeous photos and memories. We are so happy that Patchwork could play a part in making your dreams of an off-grid hut come true!
If you’d like to set up your own Patchwork registry for an off-grid hut or anything else, check out our 100s of templates for unique wedding gift ideas or start a page from scratch! Laura & Chris would like to say a special thanks to the following suppliers and friends for making their day extra amazing:
p.s listen to Laura & Chris’ first dance song on our Spotify playlist, made up of lots of our Patchwork Couples’ first dances: