Ceri & Dougal’s Brighton wedding was a real treat. It was relaxed, fun and all about having a wonderful time celebrating with friends and family. It’s one for you if you are looking for an alternative wedding day with a beautiful non-traditional dress, a non-traditional venue and non-traditional wedding reception. But whilst still very much being a day about bringing two people and their families together. It’s colourful, fun and full of smiles.
Ceri’s prep was in an Airbnb in The Lanes area of Brighton, we spent a wonderful few minutes walking with Ceri and her friend, Kasia to The Pavilion. If you have never been to Brighton’s Royal Pavilion you really should. Photographs aren’t allowed in most of it so it’s very hard to get an idea of what’s inside by looking on Google. It is stunning. The ceremony was in The Red Drawing Room of the Pavilion. A gorgeous intimate room perfect for a smaller wedding. Beautifully colourful, rich and opulent. We also got the chance to use The Music Room for some photographs as well. After the ceremony we all walked to the beach by the pier for drinks and a ride on the carousel. We then moved on to Fabrica Contemporary Art Gallery for the reception, meal & speeches. A lovely venue that was once a church, it’s light and airy and perfect for a wedding reception.
I’ll let Ceri & Dougal tell you their whole story below. There’s a full gallery and slideshow to follow further down:
Dougal and I met many moons ago when we were both doing a Masters degree in a tiny rural campus of a university. We became friends, he made me a CD of a favourite artist, I burnt a couple of different dinners trying to impress him and we eventually got it together to become a couple – that was in 2003. Soon after I went to Uganda for my research and he was the thing I missed most (except cheese – I was staying somewhere with no electricity). After a period of temporary jobs and a six month stint living in different places to start our careers, we ended up in Brighton in 2005 where we have been ever since. In that time we’ve accumulated a bunch more degrees, some expensive art, lots of fun travelling adventures, a house! and a greyhound.
On 30th Jan, 2017 Dougal asked me very informally before we went to sleep that eve to marry him. I thought he was joking… he wasn’t! So of course I said yes. We’d been together forever so didn’t think a long engagement was necessary. We both have project management backgrounds and mine is in research so we pulled this thing together quick smart!
We thought about lots of things – number of people, our budget, logistics, the short time we had between deciding and wanting to do it (and figuring lots of places would be booked up). We also didn’t want a generic venue space. The Pavilion has been our tourist walk route of Brighton whenever we have visitors ever since we’ve lived here. It seemed perfectly ostentatious (which neither of us are) and special, and full of colour and character and it was within walking distance of where we lived. It was available, and it wasn’t eye wateringly expensive. The gardens are beautiful and would be blooming in June. When I graduated from my PhD I went and had my photos taken there so it has even more of a place in my heart.
We wanted to incorporate the beach somehow – it’s Brighton! When we realised we couldn’t fit everyone we wanted in the Pavilion, it also seemed like the perfect meeting place to have a quick and cheap drink and gather together for the evening do. Fabrica is the most amazing space. It was walking distance from the beach and you basically got the blank space to do as much or little as you liked with. The staff were amazingly friendly and helpful. It also had that big picture window to the street, could fit in the number of people we needed and was close to everything else if people wanted to go for more drinks/chips as necessary!
I wore a dress from Phase 8. It was never going to be a white dress sort of deal and I didn’t want to spend £0000s. I loved that it was comfortable, elegant, and a bit different, with a cut out overlay. I added an embroidered sheer cape from Debenhams. My shoes were from Irregular Choice – a Brighton institution. (the same criteria above apply). Dougal bought a suit from a maker in Brighton. He loved the fit, colour and braces!
The Decor + Styling
We really wanted simple, seasonal, meadowy… just easy going and colourful (except the Pavilion, which didn’t need any decorating at all). Flowers were from Miss Mole’s Flower Emporium who did a fantastic job. I basically told them the points above and left them do it to decide (my only requests for the bouquet were a thistle (Dougal is scottish), a daffodil (I’m welsh) and something similar to forget me nots which were not in season (in memory of my gran). My friend Kyla is an interior designer, so we gave her a ridiculously small budget for Fabrica and set her loose. We also decided on the table layout as rows and benches with no seating plan. We picked the flowers for the tables in Fabrica ourselves, from a meadow/field locally. Someone commented that it reminded them of a french village community festival. I couldn’t have got a better compliment (simple, unfussy, welcoming)
The ceremony was just so so lovely. It was such a joy seeing the people we care about in one room wishing us well and willing us on! It was full of love and respect. We had two readings – we selected one each and then gave it to our oldest siblings respectively to read (Union by Robert Fulgham + ‘Let me Put it this way’ by Simon Armitage). They were delivered beautifully. We did tailor our vows. We added just a few extra sentences each, but they were the things we really wanted to say to each other – with other people listening.
- Walking in with my dad. I’d agonised over asking him, originally opting to go solo and joking about carrying a banner with a slogan like ‘equal pay for equal work’ or ‘votes for women’. But after getting over myself, he suggested he could always help me carry that banner.
- Seeing each other and realising we were doing exactly the right thing
- Everyone gasping when Dougal read his vows (he is such a romantic)
- Looking around the room at every face
The music we chose
Yes! I walked into the ceremony to a string quartet by Philip Glass that is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard. We walked in to the reception to Gwahoddiad (a welsh hymn) sung by the Treorchy Male Voice Choir that my grandfather (who was there) sings in. It was so powerful, it hit us and all my family in the heart. I used to go to Choir practice with my Cu. Our first dance was Best of My Love by the Emotions. Everyone had to get up and dance!
Words of Wisdom
It’s cliche, but do what you want. Everyone has advice/ideas/preconceptions and different needs. Make your day about the two of you and what is important to you. Resist the pressure to conform (even on stuff like having loads of flowers – they are expensive!) The rest will flow outwards. Also – put some dinner to one side so you can eat it later. Find each other at regular intervals! Nothing I would do differently except make the Pavilion a bit bigger, it was a shame we couldn’t have everyone in the ceremony.
We went away the night after to a local BnB (The Bell Inn, Ticehurst) where we opened cards and cried a lot. We went to Tuscany in October for a week.
Our Review of Larissa Joice Photography
We absolutely loved every one of our photographs and all our friends and family have commented both on how beautiful they are, how well they capture people’s memories of the day but also what a great job Larissa did. Fitting in, going with the flow and quietly going about her job based on what we discussed with her. Larissa was really friendly, easy to talk to and help us be clear (and get clarity with her) about how to approach photography for the day. We decided to book Larissa based on her existing portfolio of work which offered the aesthetic we both love. There is something warm and realistic about her work.
Larissa is the woman you want capturing your wedding – her approach is professional and informed, her work absolutely beautiful and she managed somehow to capture a true memory of exactly what the day looked and felt like. We really valued Larissa’s friendly approach and the efforts she made to do such a great job for us and the investment we made in our wedding photography.
Dress – Phase Eight
Suit – Hugo Morris
Shoes – Irregular Choice
Flowers – Miss Mole’s Flower Emporium
Ceremony – Brighton Pavilion
Reception – Fabrica
Huge shout out to Ceri’s mam who made us 200 welsh cakes on her single bakestone – what a star.