A Brighton Royal Pavilion Wedding, Minori & Derek’s Japanese & Seaside Inspired Day (Part One)

Today we have a beautiful Japanese and seaside inspired wedding at Brighton’s historic and exotic Royal Pavilion. The bride and groom, Minori and Derek live in Surrey and chose Brighton as a destination wedding spot.

Brighton Royal Pavilion Wedding

All photography in this post is by Hayden Phoenix

They tied the knot in May this year and Minori told us that it was discovering that they could get married at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion that clinched their decision to get hitched here in Brighton. They held their reception at the Thistle Hotel on Brighton seafront. Minori and Derek set out to capture the essence of both of their cultures in their wedding (Minori is Japanese and Derek is English) and they have succeeded beautifully.

The stunning photos today are by London based photographer, Hayden Phoenix and the fab video of Minori and Derek’s first dance is by Red Carpet Video. Love Sussex Wedding interviewed Minori about their beautiful big day in Brighton.

Love Sussex Weddings: Hi Minori, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you met Derek?

Minori: I am Japanese and came to the UK as a student. I had arranged to meet a friend for lunch one day but I was very annoyed to find out that she’d, by mistake, also arranged to meet her friend for lunch at the same time! This friend turned out to be Derek.

We went to a restaurant and Derek ordered us all beers. What he didn’t know (and I was too shy to tell him) was that I had never had beer before! After two sips I went bright red and had to give him the rest. As embarrassing as that was, it was a definite ice breaker and we both hit it off really well after that!

Love Sussex Weddings: What a sweet story. So any proposal stories to share?

Minori: The way Derek proposed to me is quite a romantic story.

He had told me that we were going away somewhere but decided to leave it as a surprise (although I had no clue that he was planning to propose). Unfortunately, I saw that he had been looking at the weather for the Lake District and I thought I had ruined the surprise. I never could have guessed there would be more surprises!

When we arrived in the town of Kendal, Derek took me to a gorgeous little cottage that we would be staying in for the week. That first night we went out for a lovely meal and on the walk back afterwards he told me that we need to be up early the next morning because we’re going rock climbing, (I didn’t expect that!)

The next morning we picked up by our guide called Tim, who took us out to some beautiful areas to do rock climbing and abseiling. It was so much fun. Towards the end of the day, Tim took us to one final place where we could abseil down to a lake. The view was breathtaking.

Tim made a suggestion that we could abseil down together, side by side. I was a bit nervous but thought it could be fun so I said yes. Tim set it all up and then Derek and I started abseiling down side by side.

About half way down the cliff face, Tim locked us both in so we couldn’t continue descending, to be honest I was actually very scared! At that moment I noticed Derek fiddling with his top pocket, he pulled out a box, got down on one knee (awkwardly against the cliff face) and said the four word question that I’ll never forget! Teary eyed I, of course, said yes!

Afterwards we climbed back up to where Tim was and we found a bottle of champagne chilling in a small stream with two glasses. This was one surprise even Derek didn’t know about (it was a little gift from Tim). The rest of the holiday felt like a honeymoon!

Love Sussex Weddings: Ahh that’s a lovely proposal story, we are very impressed with your rock climbing antics! So, on to the wedding now, can you tell us a bit about the run up to your wedding, where did you stay the night before?

Minori: I stayed with my family from Japan in a hotel called Umi on Brighton seafront for a few days before the wedding and also got ready there. Umi is Japanese for ‘sea’.

Derek stayed in the Premier Inn in Brighton and got ready with his ushers, his Dad and his best man there.

Love Sussex Weddings: So, why did you choose Brighton for your wedding?

Minori: There are many reasons why we chose Brighton to get married. It wasn’t an easy process and we had considered a lot of different options. We wondered about going to Japan for our wedding, doing it somewhere local to where we live (in Surrey), going to Turkey, it even crossed our minds to run away and have a small wedding somewhere tropical with only our parents.

Eventually we picked Brighton because we both loved the idea of getting married by the sea and we always have had a great time together whenever we get a chance to visit. Some of my family came over from Japan for the wedding and we wanted to show them a slightly alternative part of England, away from the typical London sights. Another big reason why we wanted to get married in Brighton is because we have a great reason to go back every year on our anniversary!

On top of this, Derek has many fond memories of visiting Brighton as a child, going on the pier and playing in the sea. It has a special place in his heart.

The real clincher was when we discovered that we could get married in the Royal Pavilion. It’s such a unique venue with such great history (not to mention it’s utterly gorgeous both inside and outside) and once we realised it fitted in our budget, we were completely sold!

Love Sussex Weddings: It’s an amazing building isn’t it, so exotic too. OK so can you tell us how you did your planning for your wedding Minori?

Minori: We used the internet extensively to research wedding ideas and find suppliers and venues.

Wherever possible, we met all of the suppliers before agreeing to a contract. This helped us see if the people were enthusiastic and shared our vision. I really genuinely feel that thanks to this we had such a fantastic team of people helping us make the wedding go so perfectly.

Love Sussex Weddings: Good tip and where did you find your inspiration?

Minori: When I went back to Japan just three months before the wedding, I went to my friend’s wedding. That was the first Japanese wedding I’ve ever been to and I was so inspired by the level of personal touches and unique Japanese traditions! Then I searched online about Japanese weddings and discovered some great things such as a ‘ring relay’ (I’ll explain more about this below), friends performing, bride and groom serving the food, etc.

Because I am Japanese and Derek is British, we wanted a wedding that would capture the essence of both of our cultures and really celebrate these cultures. With everything from the decorations, to the food, to the entertainment, we kept this thought in mind and I think we were able to give our guests a really special experience (no matter which part of the world they came from).

I also used a magazine called Wedding Ideas to help inspire me about my outfit (in particular my accessories).

Love Sussex Weddings: We love your outfit and all the personal touches you added to your wedding, it all sounds (and looks) amazing. So how you would describe your wedding theme?

Minori: Light blue, beach and Japanese themed! It’s quite an unusual combination (and certainly challenging) but we enjoyed planning the wedding under these themes so much. Even our toastmaster greeted the guests in Japanese.

Love Sussex Weddings: It’s a lovely theme. So tell us about how you did things differently at your wedding?

Minori: We did lots of things differently at or wedding. Here’s a few:

Ring relay. During the ceremony our guest picked up a ribbon that crisscrossed the rows of seats from the back to the front. Our rings were then threaded though the ribbon, passing through the hands of each guest, until they reached the best man at the front who then took the rings to us so we could do the exchange.

We served the food. A little tradition you sometimes see in Japanese weddings is that the bride and groom will often serve a dish to the guests. Derek and I quite liked this idea so decided to get our whole top table either serving the food or calling up tables to the buffet. We served up bangers and mash (English) and beef teriyaki (Japanese) and wore some specially made aprons so we looked good as we did it!

First dance. Our first dance was a little untraditional. To the music of “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO, we performed a mix of various traditional dancing styles. We must have spent every day for a month practicing the dance steps and the routine only started to come together a few days before the wedding! Despite Derek not being the most confident dancer in the world, everything went well on the day and we finished to rapturous applause from our slightly startled but very entertained guests.

Our friend and niece sang songs. To keep in line with some Japanese wedding traditions, we asked for some guests to do a little entertaining. We were over the moon when a friend, Jess, and little niece, Tiana, both agreed to sing at our wedding. Both did a fantastic job and made the day feel so special and personal to us.

Tiana actually got very scared and dropped out of doing her song so our other younger niece, Kelyse, and I had to do a quick last minute stand in which was very sweet (but also very embarrassing on my part as I’m not entirely confident about my singing ability). Tiana got her confidence back later in the night and sang beautifully in front of everyone and may have got the biggest round of applause I’ve ever heard!

Drummer. My brother is really fantastic on the drums and so we hired a drum kit that he could play during our first dance and disco. He also did a short solo for everyone in the evening and all the kids loved having a bang on the drums.

Shochu and plum wine samplers. To give the non-Japanese (adult) guests an opportunity to taste some traditional Japanese alcohol, two of our lovely ushers poured and handed out glasses of shochu and plum wine for anyone that wanted to taste it. Those very two ushers seemed particularly keen to ‘sample’ the drinks!

Cake pops. Instead of the typical wedding cake, we loved the idea of cupcakes that everyone could take away quite easily. After looking online and at wedding fairs we came across some really cute and delicious alternatives called cake pops. They’re basically cakes on a lolly pop stick and dipped in chocolate. They taste so good and work really well. The lady who ended up making them for us was one of the most helpful and sweetest people that we ended up working with.

(To be continued…)

Team Wedding:

Photographer: Hayden Phoenix, London

Cake pop wedding cake: Cake Empire

Wedding venue: The Royal Pavilion, Brighton

Reception venue: The Thistle Hotel, Brighton seafront

Pre-wedding hotel for bride’s party: Umi Hotel, Brighton

Pre wedding hotel groom’s party: Premier Inn, Brighton

Wedding DJ: Hotsteppaz, Brighton

Videographer: Red Carpet Video

(More suppliers will be listed in the next installment of Minori and Derek’s wedding).

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Thanks so much to Minori for sharing this first part of the story of her and Derek’s  Brighton wedding with us today. We love the Japanese and seaside inspired details and touches that they added to their beautiful day. Kudos to Derek for getting down on one knee half way up a cliff face to propose to Minori and to them both for the hours of practice they put into doing their funky first dance.

We will bring you more from Minori about her and Derek’s amazing Brighton wedding later this week.

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