This morning’s lovely couple, Kat and Mark, married at Brighton Bandstand. I would go as far to say it looks like one of the coolest places to get married in the UK.
The bandstand itself is beautiful – it dates from 1884 and is considered to be one of the finest examples of a Victorian bandstand still surviving in England today!! With azure blue sea behind it and Brighton Pier and the town sea-front by it’s side, I don’t think it could be more quintessentially Britain-by-the-Sea.
Kat and Mark were so lucky with the weather too – glorious sunshine meant that their dream ceremony could be a reality.
Their wedding just looks like so much fun, lots of live music, lots of friends and lots of delicious food. So, without further ado, let’s enjoy Kat and Mark’s vintage Brighton themed wedding…
Following a hen lunch with ‘the Mums’ at the Oxo Tower in London, I decided to pop into Candy Anthony in hope they could come to my rescue. Rachel rustled me up something ‘from the back’ that magically fitted like a glove. A beautiful 50’s style circle-skirt dress, layered with double petticoats, vintage ivory lace overlay and bow belt. A few minor tweaks and within a week it was complete. Candy Anthony were my total saviours, utterly made my wedding and to be honest, delivered a dress way beyond perfection and light-years away from my original selection. Stepping into that store must have been fate!
Shoes were easy. I’m an obsessive Irregular Choice fan so there was only one place to visit. A pair of retro, polka-dot, red peep-toes were sold. My headpiece took a while to work out. With a subtle rose theme to my outfit, I was keen to incorporate large red roses to my hair in some shape or form. The best I found were from cool internet fashion retailer, Rock’n’Rose. Originally attached to a woven headband, I dismantled the flowers and created secure clips to give more flexibility. The veil was homemade and kept to a simple ivory birdcage.
My roses nestled within a fab 50’s style, cherry red hairdo created by my very clever stylist-friend, Sammy Galindo; delicate victory rolls to the front and deconstructed French twists to the back. Makeup, again executed perfectly by Sammy, rocked up my vintage look with massive smoky eyes and nude lips. Wacky orange and pink nail art with leopard print detail came from Brighton’s trendy tattoo parlour Needles and Nails.
Jewellery again was kept simple, with a rose gold ‘Carrie-style’ name necklace, that as a SATC obsessive, is a prized possession. I also sourced a vintage blue vanity case from Ebay to carry my touch-up essentials around for the day and a large Orla Keily birdcage umbrella in case of emergency!
The ‘piece de resistance’ of my outfit centred on my new shoulder rose tattoo, crafted by Laura at InSkin in Tunbridge Wells. This was specially designed to connect with new ink art for my ‘Maid of Dishonour’, Kate: an eternal memory of the big day and solidifying a lifetime friendship.
Keeping to our vintage-style Brighton theme, Mark just had to go mod and found the perfect red suit from traditional mod tailors, Jump the Gun, in Brighton North Laines. He teamed this with a stylish, checked shirt from Ted Baker, slim, woven red tie, brown trilby and tan, brogue boots. He looked super cool.
Starting at The Grand, myself and the girls got ready in true Brighton luxury in their top suite overlooking the rolling waves. Craig from VW Wedding Wheels picked us up in Brighton blue Charlie; the gorgeous 1960’s split-screen campervan. Our ceremony took place on the beautiful, Victorian Brighton Bandstand. It was a risky choice, as if the weather was wet or windy, we knew we may be relocated to the small basement café. But we thought it was well worth the worry! Luck was totally on our side as our wedding day turned out to be glorious sunshine and a still breeze, possibly the best day of the year, getting the desired nod from the registrar.
Lisa Fox from Wedding Dressings styled the bandstand beautifully with faux flowers, forest green ribbons and seating for 50 guests. We had around 90 in total, but there was plenty of space for everyone to casually gather. We then had two classic, vintage buses from South Coast Motors (one open top, which was a huge hit) collect our guests and transport to the next venue.
Our reception was held just outside of Brighton at Stanmer House, a Grade I listed mansion within Stanmer Park. We decided the only option was to take over the whole venue; a real treat but well worth it. Welcome drinks began in the lobby, our wedding breakfast held across the three connected restaurant rooms, speeches in the garden and dancing into the night in their fabulous Henry Pelham room. For a party our size, bookings were often offered the garden marquee but we were adamant to make use of the beautiful, ornate house as much as possible. Breaking our guests into three rooms during the meal was a little controversial, but it worked perfectly. The staff were an absolute delight too. Nothing was ever too much trouble and everything carried out whilst laughing and mingling well with our guests.
As we were quite specific with our styling, we chose to design all our wedding stationary ourselves. Mark being a proud Creative Graphic Designer obviously came in handy here! The invitations were a collection of vintage-inspired seaside-style postcards tied together with candy stripe ribbon. They collated a little pack of info about the ceremony, reception, hotels, menu and RSVP. The design for the invitations ran throughout our other custom made details during the wedding.
The table plan design was influenced by our joint love of festivals, with each of the tables named after a Glastonbury stage. The layout was announced on a large, easel-propped board, imitating a typical festival lineup. Each table marked their stage with homemade flags, nestled within the jam jar flowers. We rejected the idea of traditional wedding linen or chair covers and chose to stick with the rustic style of the stripped wooden tables and mismatched chair upholstery. The look was perfect as it was and totally ‘us’. Set across three adjoining restaurant rooms, our head table was the only circular one, positioned in the central room under the chandelier. We were never a fan of long top-tables designed for everyone to stare at you eating, so infact this layout worked perfectly for us.
The table decorations were kept quite simple. Tea lights, layered, mismatched doilies and raffia-tied jam jars, filled with colourful roses from my Stepmum Jane’s garden. Place settings were created with handwritten brown luggage tags tied to everyone’s wine glass and the look completed with a special wedding favour from our Jack Russell, Winthorpe; a bag of Salty Dog nuts packaged within candy stripe bags and a bespoke branded label.
Continuing our Glastonbury theme, playing on the famous hill-side sign, we built 6ft high, patchwork covered LOVE letters for the garden; perfect for cute photo opportunities.
In the bar area, we used the plasma screen to advertise the schedule of the day with rolling, custom designed ads of key moments to come. As we moved into the night, we transformed the main restaurant room into a classy dance floor with candles, moody red uplighting and subtle, white cluster lasers.
Flowers were kept quite simple. I chose an ivory rose bouquet, held together with a vintage brooch that I found in the Brighton Laines. My bridesmaids each had a small posy of red gerberas tied together with ivory ribbon.
The uniqueness of our ceremony focused on our choices of music throughout the event; tearfully walking in to ‘First Day Of My Life’ Bright Eyes, signing the register to the beachy tunes of ‘Facing West’ The Staves, and celebrating our marriage to the happy beats of ‘Mr Blue Sky’ ELO.
My choice for a reading during the ceremony was a little controversial and to be perfectly honest, was kept anonymous. Only those that knew me inside out would twig what it was. My Maid of Dishonour, Kate, did a great job of reading Carrie Bradshaw’s ‘Wedding Poem’ from an episode of Sex and the City. The words ran deep with us and the connections to New York love marked our imminent honeymoon to the Big Apple well.
Although we are big music fans and regular gig-goers, the terror of the first dance concerned us. We felt the best way to combat the nerves was to do something unexpected, so rather than the traditional slow and smoochy number, we kicked off with an intro from Pulp Fiction’s Jack Rabbit Slim’s Twist contest and then leaped into a festival favourite of ‘Diane Young’ by Vampire Weekend. Although no one believed us, it was totally freestyle. We just let our hair down as we would at a sweaty gig and the result went down particularly well with the crowd!
With live music a big part of our relationship, we felt it vital to introduce this across the big day. Arrival at Stanmer House was marked with performances from 50’s style a capella group, Doo Wop Dolls. The girls filled the lobby with retro harmonies whilst our guests enjoyed champagne and canapés. After the sit-down meal and speeches, local Bluegrass/folk band Ouse Valley Collective joined our guests in the sunny garden for an awesome foot-stomping hoedown. We then kicked off a medley of indie disco with DJ Beach under moody, red lighting back in the house.
Our reception commenced with champagne and canapés on arrival. The food was really important to us, so we ensured there was a choice of three dishes per course as part of the RSVP. Starters of crab and prawn tian, ham hock terrine or duck and pomegranate salad; Mains of marinated chicken, lavender smoked lamb or red snapper; Desserts of pear and chocolate trifle, sticky toffee pudding and fig frangipane tart. Yum!
Our evening of food tasting was an utter delight and difficult choice! Later into the night we served a selection of hot, posh sandwiches and fancy sausage rolls. Our wedding cake consisted of two parts: The main cake was a three tiered wonder created by close family friend and Master Baker Sara Autton, with extra decorations from my Stepmum Jane.
It featured a model of our wedding campervan, our little Jack Russell, Win, bright flowers and to top it off an unbelievably accurate model of the Brighton Bandstand itself, created using the original architectural plans of the structure. Inside was a little surprise with a different coloured sponge for each layer (red, green and Neapolitan), broken up with white frosting for a true seaside, deckchair effect. In addition to the main focal wedding cake, Mark’s mum helped us in creating a garden cupcake corner for evening nibbles. Here we covered a long trestle table with AstroTurf, added a backdrop board of a Kent countryside scene, a few accessories of mini watering cans and my red welly boots from my youth, and clustered the multi-coloured rose cupcakes, complete with bumble bee details.
Choosing the right photographer was the first port of call in our wedding planning. Knowing how our big day may be approached photographically strangely seemed to be vital in cementing the rest of our choices for the wedding. We did a lot of research but only needed to meet one! Picking talented Heather Shuker of Brighton Photo was without doubt the best decision of our wedding. The pre-wedding, engagement shoot was a superb idea in getting to know each other better. There was no doubt, she totally got us…and our guests, was so imaginative in the shots she crafted, relaxed everyone in her approach, was never intrusive and only enhanced our day in every way possible. We now consider Heather a true friend and have a long line of guests who have already said they will be calling her when they get married.