Every wedding day is special and unique, but the wedding of Brighton boys Andrew and Neil, who married at one minute past midnight last Saturday, is also now part of Brighton and UK history.
One of the first gay marriages in the UK and the first in Brighton, this wonderful wedding was done in true Brighton style in the breathtaking Music Room at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion (and was also the first ever wedding to be held there).
Using mostly Brighton and local based businesses, including fab photographer Em of Rhapsody Road Photography (check out their lovely beach engagement shoot here too) this was a Sussex wedding to be proud of.
We’re delighted to have caught up with groom Andrew just days after his historic wedding to talk equality, impromptu speeches and celebrating ‘till 4am, over to Andrew:
We’re very proud to be a part of something which may eventually improve the lives of people all over the world, any change in the law which helps reduce oppression by improving equality of opportunity is a good thing.
Neil proposed to me more or less in passing at the top of the stairs in my house, about five years ago. I think the thought suddenly took him – I said yes, and we carried on with whatever it was we were doing, it all seemed very natural and I really didn’t need to consider my answer.
We chose to get married in Brighton because it is where we met and where we live – Brighton is a quirky and inclusive city, full of life and colour, why would we marry anywhere else?
We had very little time to arrange the wedding, and found most of suppliers by walking around Brighton and going in anywhere that was appealing. We wanted to use as many local companies as possible – we used local people for the rings (Rina Tairo), the suits (Gresham Blake), the flowers (Florian), our barber (Jake Berry) and the cake (Angel Food Bakery). We found a few suppliers on the internet including the company who printed our invitations (Meridian Press), our shirts (Pin Collar Shirts), and The Rock People in Lancing who made some sticks of rock for us with a photo of our dog on the label as gifts for the guests.
We were extremely lucky to have won the honour of being the first couple to be married in the extraordinary Music Room at the Brighton Royal Pavilion, an extravagantly decorated room. We didn’t want to try to compete with that so opted for fairly low-key green and blue herringbone tweed suits.
We love Spain and Spanish food, so a tapas bar seemed apt for our reception celebrations – the staff were so relaxed and made everything easy – something we wanted after the grandness and formality of the ceremony.
We also had a lovely lunch for family and a few friends, the next day at GB1 Restaurant at the Grand Hotel, followed by a spa treatment and a night in a beautiful suite.
The Stag Do
We have a group of friends who we meet quite regularly – for our stag do they gave us a small party in the pub we often meet in – nothing extravagant but it was a lovely evening – there was no falling over drunk or handcuffing anyone to lampposts – not that night anyway!
We got ready and stayed the night at Hotel du Vin in the Cristal Room and had photos taken by the lovely Em at Rhapsody Road Photography, she did a pre-wedding shoot at our home and on the beach, then took photos throughout the day and night on the day of the wedding.
It being the first same-sex marriage in Brighton, the first marriage in the Music Room and the first night time wedding in the Pavilion, we didn’t feel bound by tradition – the very act of marrying was non-traditional. We chose which traditions we felt were appropriate for us and dispensed with those which were unnecessary, or had no meaning for us.
We didn’t have any bridesmaids, pageboys, flower girls, best men, or maids of honour. No one gave us away and we brought the rings with us to exchange instead of having a ring bearer. We arranged the seating in an arc, to avoid too much of a sense of hierarchy amongst the congregation, and had an ‘aisle’ cut throughout the seating at an angle.
Friends of ours played and sang songs we’d chosen. We had no speeches afterwards (except an impromptu one which I gave when we came out of the Pavilion to the cheers of hundreds of people who had gathered to congratulate us and celebrate the change in the law).
One of my favourite parts of planning the wedding was telling people and seeing their reactions – some of the people in shops and business thought same-sex marriage was already possible and some were thrilled for us – most of the people we used were very excited to be part of the event.
Our advice for other Sussex grooms and brides-to-be? Do your own thing!
Celebration Meal: Grand Hotel
Wow! What a night! We love the idea of marrying at midnight, it’s such a romantic time, especially in one of Brighton’s most beautiful buildings!
And what a wedding, full of firsts; one of the first same-sex marriages in the UK, the first in Brighton and the first ceremony ever to take place in Brighton Pavilion’s Music Room (and the Pavilion’s first night time ceremony too). Andrew and Neil’s wedding will be forever memorable in Brighton’s history and of course, for us and all of those lucky enough to be invited or involved.
Thanks to the brilliant Em at Rhapsody Road Photography for these fabulous photos – which capture their happiness and love so beautifully, big Love Sussex Weddings love for letting us share these so soon after the big day too!
Finally, huge congratulations and thank you to Andrew and Neil for chatting to us just days after their beautiful Brighton wedding.