I was invited by Jim Stephenson to join him in photographing the civil wedding of Nicola and Rachel here in Brighton.

The night before Jim and I met the family out at the reception venue in Saltdean – a lovely cafe nestled amongst the white chalk cliffs overlooking the sea. I knew I was going to love this wedding after meeting Rachel and Nicola and their wonderful families. All were involved in setting up the venue and giving it a very homely summery feel.

What during the day would seem a blink-and-you-miss-it cafe, became decked out in ruffled pink and blue paper spheres, white linen and curtains. The weather forecast had been grim but the day turned out to have fabulous blue skies and plenty of sun.

Nicola and Rachel civil Wedding photography

Saltdean wedding photography

Brighton civil wedding photography

Getting Saltdean Lido preparation for wedding reception

Brighton wedding reception at Saltdean Lido

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Nicola and Rachel civil wedding photography

Brighton Civil wedding photography

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Saltdean Lido wedding photography

We met the couple in the morning getting their hair done at Rush in Brighton and then followed them over to Drakes Hotel on the seafront where they were getting ready with their best friends Wendy and Susie.

Rush hair in Brighton for wedding photography hair

Brighton rush for wedding hair styling and photography

Drakes in Brighton for wedding preparation photos

Brighton lesbian wedding photos

The ceremony was held at the Brighton Unitarian Church on New Road. It was a lovely service, very personal and full of warmth. Several friends and relatives read short passages and it was finished off by two friends belting out a song from the balcony of the church.

Brighton Unitarian church wedding ceremony

Brighton Unitarian church lady singing for civil wedding ceremony

New Church road wedding ceremony photography in Brighton

Brighton wedding flowers and photos

Brighton wedding photography by Leon Steber

A Big Lemon bus was outside to drive us across to the cafe in Saltdean. On either side of the cafe were two marquees decorated in a middle eastern theme. The first marquee was used to serve entrees to all the hungry guests before entering the dining room to begin their main meal. Speeches were made before dinner – I was particularly impressed with the speech from Nicola’s father. He’d written the whole thing as a poem which kept everyone entertained.

Rachel’s Grandmother got a particularly warm thank you from the couple. She’s an amazing 87 years young and looking really well. Nicola and Rachel were presented with a massive pink album that Susie had handmade for them, full of memories and images of their long friendship together – it had taken her weeks to create!

Saltdean Lido wedding reception photography

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The second marquee beside the cafe had been kept a surprise from everyone until after the meal. An all singing-dancing salsa band appeared at one end of the cafe, danced and sang their way to the other end of the cafe, and like a pied piper led people into the new marquee. The guests were entertained with dance lessons which was a lot of fun to photograph. At a specified time everyone was called outside to watch a firework display that Nicola’s two brothers had setup on the beach. They had donned themselves in all-white coveralls and looked like mad pyromaniac scientists, running from fuse to fuse and setting things alight.

It was an awesome night, plenty of fun for everyone and one of the nicest weddings I’ve been to. Thanks Nicola and Rachel for letting us share in the fun and capture it all and thanks to Jim for inviting me along to photograph.

Photos of wedding reception dancing in Brighton Sussex

Brighton Salsa lessons at lesbian wedding reception

Who nicked off with my missus?

Brighton Wedding recption dancing

Brighton lesbian wedding photography

Saltdean Lido wedding reception photos

Dance dance dance

People dancing with their eyes closed at a brighton wedding reception

Possibly someone semi-famous though I didn't know it at the time

Brighton fireworks photos

The firework pyromaniachs

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A wedding is cause for celebration and breaking out a few of those expensive cigars
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And a shameless plug, if you’re interested in seeing my other weddings (this is only my third…) please see my wedding portfolio.