Whoever said a groom has only two jobs – to turn up and to plan the honeymoon – has never met Victorian groom (and entrepreneur) Adam Furness, who has turned his own engagement into a thriving, and rather funky, wedding business.
Adam, a talented creative who has long understood and appreciated the value of something hand crafted, was inspired to start A Sign Of Love while planning his own nuptials with fiancee Jessie Hamilton.
The business, which specialises in hand-made nik naks and wedding décor, is thriving, especially among brides holding rustic, boho or DIY-style weddings, and Adam says he couldn’t imagine a better outlet.
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“We were planning our wedding, still are planning our wedding, and we were trying to get rustic-style signage and stuff like that and found it hard to come by,” says the groom, whose eclectic and creative art background includes, among other things, oil painting classes, abstract art courses and wedding photography.
“But we just couldn’t find what we wanted, no matter how hard we looked. So, I thought, ‘You know what? I have an arty background, I’ll give it a try myself’ and A Sign Of Love basically just took off from there.”
Adam’s first DIY project was his own ring boxes.
“With the first one, I actually bought the box from Lincraft,” he recalls. “It was on the clearance shelf for $2, and I hand carved the lid and set up the inside how I wanted it, but once we put the rings in, it kind of looked too big and bulky; the rings got lost.
“So, we left it at that, and then, once I actually got a bit of free time, I decided to make a box that presented the rings better and I made another box. Things sort of took off from there.”
Adam started making a few rustic-looking, hand painted signs – being pretty handy already – and Jessie whipped up a Facebook page for A Sign Of Love.
“Then, one day, we were flipping through a bridal magazine and there was a big article on rustic-style weddings and how they’d gone crazy for them in America and how businesses like mine were taking off and my eyes lit up.
“For the first time, I was sure I was on the right track ,and that there was hope for my little business yet.”
Then there were his other yearnings.
“For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to do signwriting,” he says.
“You used to see the old guys when you’d go to the shops doing the shopfront windows and stuff like that and I thought ‘I like that – that’s their own hand work and it’s there on display for people to see’.”
It seemed serendipity was pointing him in one direction. And Adam gladly followed.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” he says. “I’ve always been looking for that thing to get out of the everyday grind. And here it is.”
As his early days focused on the ring boxes, as well as the signs and the coat hangers, good word of mouth proved invaluable.
“We had one bride, our first customer in fact, who showed her sister-in-law our products on Facebook. After seeing our products, the sister-in-law went home and set up a Facebook account just so she could like our page and contact us to place an order.”
It’s the sort of interest you can’t buy, and it helped inspire further growth.
Adam’s offerings have now extend to everything from timber invitations (above) and table numbers to an old six-panel window frame – on a stand – with a removable sheet of acrylic Perspex or blackboard to write on.
He also creates ‘thank you’ signs for the bride and groom to hold in photos and, to ensure his customers get exactly what they want, he even purchased a pricey laser cutter and engraver, which allows him more flexibility in the personalisation he can offer customers.
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“A Sign Of Love can completely customise absolutely anything to suit a couple’s needs so you really can have everything exactly how you want it,” he says.
It’s an approach that has won plenty of fans, at expos and beyond.
“We’ve spoken to a few brides, and they will say something like ‘Oh, those hangars are nice. I kind of like the white ones but I’d prefer a different colour or something a bit more shabby’. And we can say ‘You’re going to settle for a white one when it’s not exactly what you want? Well we’ll make you a shabby one.’
It’s all about coming up with that certain something different and doing it in bespoke fashion, like their alternative guest books, which they can create in pretty much any form, including fingerprint trees.
“A lot of people download them, whereas we have two designs, and I hand drew both of those and then scanned them into the computer. They’re on Photoshop now so we can change the colour, the sizes, we can add two little lovebirds on branches, put a heart carving on the tree trunk with initials in it. We can do anything, really.
“One bride-to-be asked for one with butterflies flying around the top because butterflies mean a lot to her and we were able to create exactly what she wanted.”
With a focus that’s as much on the practical as the pretty, Adam now hires out generic signs, such as ‘Happily ever after begins here’ because, as he puts it, “What is anyone going to do with it after the wedding?’
“This way, the can still have the sign at their wedding – but they don’t have to hang on to it forever.”
A Sign Of Love also sends out products flat packed.
“We make them and then we pre-drill all the holes and assemble them, pull them back down and can then send them flat-packed to keep the postage costs down,” he says.
“You just need a screwdriver.”
For their own wedding – on January 25, 2015 – Adam and Jessie have chosen a location which, among other things, boasts an old bluestone chapel, old wooden shacks and a reception area that is much like an old barn.
Chances are, there will also be plenty of signs in abundance, but as per usual, they will be appealing yet understated, designed to enhance and signpost, rather than overshadow, the nuptials.
As Adam himself says; “You don’t want anything in your wedding to outshine the bride and groom on their big day, so we’re always cautious in our designs.
“I don’t have to worry though, even the biggest and brightest sign couldn’t outshine my bride on our wedding day.”
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