A Pawfect Brighton Bandstand Wedding with Doggy Guest ~ Claire, Will and Monty


This week, we’re re-living Claire and Will’s big Brighton (and Hove actually) wedding! Tying the knot in Brighton’s iconic bandstand in a personal ceremony, looking out to sea and continuing the party at their local, The Brunswick in Hove, and even inviting their pooch Monty, this fun-loving bride and groom certainly had their wedding, their way. But enough from us, over to Claire to hear all about her September celebrations:

Irregular Choice shoes “We were introduced on Facebook by a mutual friend when I moved to Brighton five years ago. Six months later we went on a blind date at The Tin Drum in Hove – Will brought a blue balloon with him so I would recognise him (he had a balloon in his Facebook profile picture) and we have been together ever since!

In December 2012, we went to visit my brother and his family who live in Sydney, Australia. Will and I went to Sydney Harbour to celebrate the New Year. Amongst all the chaos we actually managed to find a stretch of wharf in sight of the bridge with absolutely nobody else about. Will produced the ring and asked me to marry him, 30 seconds later the fireworks began!

Choosing to Get Married In Brighton Was Easy!

We both really love Brighton. We met here and love living here, so it was an easy choice to make when it came to where we wanted to get married. It’s also a great place for friends and family to visit.

Groom in Gresham Blake suit We wanted to make it a very “Brighton” wedding with all the locations being meaningful to us. I’d describe our theme as relaxed and casual. We wanted a fun-filled, happy day with our family and friends.

We already knew we wanted to be married on the bandstand. We walked our dog Monty along the seafront every day and always loved the look and feel of the bandstand. As soon as Will proposed, we both knew it was the only possible venue we could choose.

We were super-lucky with the weather. The day before had been end-of-the-world-rain, but the day of the wedding was absolutely glorious. The bandstand was an absolutely beautiful venue.

Dog in bow tie! At the time of Will’s proposal, we lived on Holland Road in Hove, so The Brunswick was our local. We always had a very friendly and professional welcome there and had enjoyed seeing a number of bands in the venue prior to deciding on it for our wedding reception or ‘after party’ venue!

Snap Happy

We spent ages searching for a photographer who would provide the kind of relaxed, informal shots that we wanted. Neil fit the bill perfectly and when we met him we knew that we would get on fabulously. Our photo session with him around the city was enormous fun and he blended into our day seamlessly, capturing loads of wonderful shots. Neil was also very accommodating of our wish to include Monty in the day, despite the challenges this obviously presented for the photography!

Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue

I really thought that I would not want a formal wedding dress, but when my mum encouraged me to try this one on, I knew it was the one! I wore my Mum’s sapphire engagement ring as my something blue and I borrowed Will’s brother’s wife’s bracelet that she had worn for her wedding.

Non-traditional Touches

Our seating for our bandstand ceremony was set up in a circle around the registrar’s table rather than in traditional aisle format. This made for a lovely relaxed atmosphere with us being closely surrounded by our guests and fit the bandstand perfectly.  Lovely readings were delivered by my friend Beccy and Will’s brother Kid and both had personal meaning for us.

Our Miniature Schnauzer Monty came to the wedding and the first part of the reception. He also was included in our first dance – the band said this was the first time they’d ever played a first dance song for a dog! Monty is a huge part of our life together and our wedding would not have been the same without him. He totally rocked his red with white polka dot bow-tie!

We took a couple of hours break between the ceremony and the reception (we called in an “after-party” – it was not a formal reception!) to go around the city to have our photos taken. This gave our guests, particularly those who hadn’t been to Brighton before, chance to explore the city at their leisure without having to hang around while photos were taken.

Family and Friends Made It Personal

The whole day was personal to us – that was the most important element of our wedding. We had so many personlised touches thanks to our friends and family’s help.

Will’s brother Kid brought me to the wedding and drove us around afterwards in his own (specially decorated) VW Camper.

Our wedding cakes were made by my friend Beccy. The figures on the top of the cake were of me, Will and Monty. The rest of the cakes were individual cupcakes in the shape of fish & chips, to continue our Brighton seafront theme.

The reception venue was decorated by Will and his family using flowers / vegetation from his parents’ garden and hundreds and hundreds of fairy lights!

My friend Leanne had her 30th birthday a couple of weeks before the wedding. She had made tealight lanterns out of empty bottles and jars decorated with second-hand lace, which she later gave to us to help decorate the reception venue.

Dancing Into The Night

The band were absolutely fantastic, really professional, but so much fun. The energy was kept high all night with so many guests up dancing. The band gave the impression that it was just as much fun for them as it was for us (and it was a LOT of fun for us!). We have had many of our guests comment that ours was the best wedding reception they had ever been to!

Fish and chip cupcakes What We Enjoyed Most About Wedding Planning Was…

Developing the ideas for the day in a way that best reflected our life together.

My tip for other Sussex brides to-be is…

Plan the day for how you want it to be, not how you are “supposed” to have it.

If we could do it all again we would…?

Not change a thing.

Honeymoon Hotspot

Me, Will and Monty went glamping in the Cotswolds. We stayed in an old railway carriage in the woods, with our own campfire and roll top bath. We mostly drank wine, ate cheese and went for walks. It was perfect relaxation after the busyness of the wedding.


Wedding VW camper van Brighton

Team Wedding:

Wedding photographer: Neil W. Shaw Photography

Ceremony Venue: Brighton Bandstand

After Party Venue:  The Brunswick

Bride’s dress: Perfection Bridal & Menswear, Hove

Bride’s shoes: Irregular Choice

Bride’s bag: Pretty Eccentric

Bride’s hair: Charley at Beauty Expert, Hove

Groom’s outfit: Shirt and waistcoat made at Gresham Blake

Groomsmen’s outfits: Cravattes by Kevin Freeman, Renaissance Couture

Rings: Richard Talman of RTFJ

Band: Good Company

Stationery:Nikki Pennell of It’s Fate Events

Bandstand Décor: Lisa Fox of Wedding Dressings

Claire and Will’s big day screamed Brighton – from the Bandstand ceremony overlooking the sea, to the fish and chips wedding cupcakes, even down to the bride’s gorgeous Irregular Choice shoes (a Brighton-based brand!), it was bloomin’ lovely.

We loved how the newlyweds gave their guests a chance to see Brighton’s delights for a few hours after their personal ceremony before returning later to the ‘After Party’ in Hove at The Brunswick. It was such a great idea as it meant guests weren’t standing around while the couple had their photos taken and for the couple and their fabulous photographer they could take their time capturing their perfect images – a winning formula!

And, of course we must mention the one and only Monty! How cute did he look in his bow tie? It was a lovely, personal touch for the bride and groom to include their beloved pet pooch on their special day.

A BIG thank you to Claire and Will (and Monty too!) for sharing their Brighton dream day with us, and to their fantastic photographer, Neil William Shaw for sending us over these seaside snaps. We love!

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