I've really enjoyed all my Brighton Town Hall Weddings! For a start, the architecture inside the early 19th Century Town Hall is stunning. But for me, a Brighton wedding photographer who loves the sea, it's the fact of being a short amble over to Brighton beach and Pier that makes this such a great location for a non-religious ceremony. So when Claire and Mark's lovely email popped into my inbox back in March 2016, I was very excited:
"Hi Jenny, we are looking to get married in Brighton next year on Thursday March 2nd at the Regency Room (Town Hall) in Brighton. It will be just Mark and myself and we are keen to get some lovely pictures to remember our special day [...] Love your natural style and wish to capture our romance, closeness and the essence of Brighton."
I later discovered that the couple weren't actually from Brighton, but were from a small town a stone's throw from where I'd grown up as a teenager in Cambridgeshire! Definitely one of those 'it's a small world' moments and lovely to be able to talk about places we had in common. Getting married a little later in life, they'd decided that a big party wasn't for them; they simply wanted to be photographed in their wedding finery, at different locations, in a city that they loved.
When we met up a few months later, they told me that their parents would attend the ceremony and act as witnesses, but thereafter we'd be free to enjoy the remainder of our three hours together wandering around Brighton! Music to my ears! I'd photographed plenty of intimate weddings, but none quite as intimate as a wedding for two! I instantly started planning a route map of where we could go, with timings of what would be realistic in a full length wedding dress (with train). But it was Summer when the three of us met up at a hotel overlooking Brighton seafront, and I remember a little warning bell sounding in my head about the realities of early March weather. Without wishing to dampen their excitement, I couldn't not mention the very real possibility of rain and bitterly cold winds. Would they still be up for a wander on the beach in inclement weather? Absolutely, was the reply! And Claire would buy a pair of pink wellies to match Mark's tie! Awesome!
"Thank you SO much for the photographs - as expected we LOVE them! We're so glad we chose you to capture our special day."
I had all sorts of bad weather contingency plans up my sleeve, but in the event, we were blessed with a beautiful mild and sunny day. Perhaps a little sunnier than would have been ideal, photographically speaking, but I certainly wasn't complaining! With Mark ushered into the Regency Room ten minutes before the ceremony was due to start, Claire and I took advantage of the sweeping staircase and majestic balconies for some gently directed bridal portraits that showed off the venue's grandeur and Claire's graceful elegance in her stunning gown.
The intimate ceremony was happy and romantic, and I stood back and discreetly photographed all the special moments, shared glances and little details that captured Claire and Mark's obvious love for each other. Claire's gorgeous bouquet was from Gunns Florist in Brighton.
Ceremony over, the three of us headed off to Brighton seafront for the start of our walk. I had wanted to photograph them with the popular Brighton Doughnut - a green-hued bronze sculpture on a small stone-walled promontary. But the area was under construction and fenced off, so I took advantage instead of the two stunning pier backdrops from our vantage point - Brighton Palace Pier to the East, and the remnants of Brighton's iconic West Pier in the distance.
We then continued our journey along Kings Road Arches, capturing the seagreen painted railings instantly identifiable as Brighton, and the boats in the old Fishing Quarter. Claire kept herself warm with a a gorgeous faux fur wrap, although gamely removed it for a few of the images to show off the beautiful lace bodice and back of her gown.
I'd already discussed with the couple some of the more obvious photo locations we could visit, but as we walked, I kept my eyes peeled for some of the less obvious ones, locations that would make great backdrops with shapes and colours that were complementary to their attire. Happily, being a Thursday in early March, we had the place pretty much to ourselves, even on Palace Pier! (If you're reading this and thinking how lovely it would be to be photographed on the Pier after your Brighton wedding, please remember it's always crowded on a Summer weekend, and you'll have lots of attention. But if you're OK with that, then I'm up for it too!)
Leaving the Pier, Claire and Mark assured me that they still had bags of energy (the pink boots helped!) and wanted to head inland. Brighton's Royal Pavilion is perfect for a romantic backdrop (and a gorgeous wedding venue in its own right too - do check back in the New Year for my upcoming blog of a wedding I photographed there in June of this year). We wandered through the gardens, stopping off where the scenery or the light best merited, before taking a stroll into the famous Brighton lanes.
It was truly a day to remember and exactly the wedding that Claire and Mark had wanted. I'm so happy they chose me to capture it. And if you're reading this Claire and Mark, thank you so much for your part in voting me into the TWIA Regional Finals!