Our Colourful Sussex Wedding

I got married to my best friend in May.  It was the happiest day, which followed the happiest year of planning.  It was love at first sight when we met and we got engaged on our first anniversary, in the Pavilion Gardens, Brighton.  We managed several hours of hysterical newly engaged glee before speculating about what our ideal wedding day would involve, and both immediately agreed that an informal, rural barn setting would be our dream.  We had visions of somewhere on the South Downs in Sussex, with fairy lights, hay bales, cocktails and colour.  Lots of colour.  We both love Nepal and have been there, separately, many times between us, and have since been rather obsessed with Nepalese food in all its forms.  So, we agreed that curry, colour – oh yes, and cake – lots of cake would feature on the day.

We spent a few weeks looking at barns; there are lots of beautiful venues in Sussex, but when we saw Pangdean Old Barn, it was love at first sight (again).  It is a restored 18th Century barn on the South Downs Way, home to Nicky Currie and her family.  Nicky and her team also cater events there, and we knew the food would be amazing. They had our preferred date available and it was booked for 12th May 2018.

Having booked the date, I immediately started looking for a dress, and having never been someone who has daydreamed for hours on end about being a bride, I didn’t know where to start, except that I really, really, love to dance, so I was pretty sure it needed to be knee length so I could twirl, unimpeded, for hours on end. I had a booking at Ozone on Church Street in Brighton and tried on all the mid length, netted, vintage style tea-dresses I could find and thought I had found ‘the one’ before lunch.

After a week’s cool down, I revisited, just wondering about the possibility, just the ‘tiniest’ possibility, that I had perhaps been a little hasty in not trying on anything other than what I had been looking for.  So I gave the long dresses a try, even squeezing myself into a ‘mermaid’, a ‘trumpet’, and an enormous layered ballgown which was surprisingly weighty!  And then I really found ‘the one’.   Actually, it was two – made up of a full length gown, a reverse bolero – and I finished it off with a sparkly belt. It was lacy.  It had a train.  It was fitted. It was absolutely nothing like the dress I had in mind. I loved it!

After deciding on the dress, all of the other ideas fell into place.  We wanted to do as much as possible ourselves, adding personal touches, making things by hand, and where that wasn’t possible, we wanted to source as much as possible from local businesses.

We got our wedding stationary from Ivy Ellen; the colour scheme set the tone for the decisions we were yet to make, and somehow seemed to pick out the colour of Pangdean Barn itself. We used the same design, later, for our table plan and as labels on wild flower seeds which would be our wedding favours.

Our next step was booking a local florist. I saw Lib Adams, aka Bettie Rose flowers, on Instagram, and loved her work.  Lib immediately grasped our tentative ideas after one meeting, and after a second meeting over a coffee a few weeks before the wedding, the vision was in full bloom, so to speak.  We wanted a rustic feel and spent months collecting milk bottles and juice bottles, decorating them with ribbons for the table and barn.  We wanted a rustic, woodland feel, naming all our tables after birds and using old wood slices for the table centres. Lib created the most beautiful arrangements of sweet peas, peonies, moody blue roses, and delicate foliage that complemented the theme, colours and spring greens of the season.

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Beautiful flower crowns for the flower girls

We didn’t know what to do about cake; we just knew we like it a lot and nobody makes them better than Elina from Osetta, the cafe across the road from my shop on North Road. I love carrot, Pete loves a Victoria sponge, so we decided, why have one, when we could have several?! She baked eight cakes in the end, meaning we wouldn’t have to decide; and vegans, celiacs and those who love to pick n mix, would all be happy. Everyone commented on the cakes; they were beautiful, decorated by Lib, and utterly delicious.

We borrowed a few items from my own shop, Little Beach Boutique, such as the heart shaped LED lights, which we mounted on the hay stack with knitting needles at the back of the barn.

We added some personal touches of our own to add to the rustic theme; we used an old pallet for our table plan and we sanded and painted another pallet to make our order of service, with the names of the songs, readings and bridal party written on it in colourful inks.  We used the ceramic heart bunting that we sell in the shop to decorate the pallet with “O’Fossey”, our married name, and draped some to say “welcome” at the entrance. We organised for colourful lanterns and extra fairy lights to be rigged up across the ceiling, added photo garlands, a dressing up box and photo booth – and had some delicious cocktails in kilner jars on offer for our guests.

All that was left to prepare was the hair and make-up!  After a few disastrous (but very funny) make-up trials, I was delighted to find Natasha of Pretty Me Vintage, who understood the look I was going for.  Nicky from Coco Belle Styling, spent the morning doing all our hair – I loved having it in rollers while I opened a bottle of fizz!

My mum was to be giving me away, my sister was my maid of honour and three of my best friends and their daughters were bridesmaids and flower girls.  Seeing everybody together was incredible, unforgettable.  We met the registrar in the living room at Pangdean before going in to the barn, taking a moment before going in.  Nicky, the owner and also the caterer at Pangdean, was hands on from the moment we arrived, holding up the umbrella as we walked into the barn, before creating the most delicious wedding food I have ever had.

I was blown away by how beautiful the barn looked, and seeing my soon to be husband looking back at me from the end of the aisle took my breath away. When we got engaged, there had been musicians playing one of our favourite songs, purely by chance, in the Pavilion gardens.  We went up to them, in our excitement, to tell them that Pete had just proposed and they asked if they could play at our wedding.  Twelve months later, there they were, playing Into My Arms by Nick Cave as I walked up the aisle hand in hand with my mum.

It was the perfect day, completely unforgettable, and complete joy from start to end.

…and I managed to dance in my dress!

 

All the photos are by Ella Penn Photography 

 

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Spring Inspiration From Brighton

Brighton is beautiful at the moment. A heavy fog for most of February seemed to obscure the horizon for days on end, but it eventually cleared away, and from behind the mist, some much needed spring sunshine appeared and made the sea sparkle again.  Spring is here, albeit tentatively.

No matter what the weather, dog walkers and joggers pound up and down the seafront, but it is at this time of year, as the clouds start to clear, even for a day, the crowds decend to warm their faces and stretch their legs over the pebbles.

I went up the British Airways i360 on a beautiful sunny Sunday and saw Brighton from above, reaching for the Downs, the glorious Recency layout of Brunswick and Adelaide and the lonely and majestic West Pier.  It is a wonderful view from up there!

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The West Pier as seen from the British Airways i360

As well as the beach, people are often drawn to Brighton because of the volume of independent shops and eateries which offer unique, diverse and interesting selections which won’t be found anywhere else. In particular The North Laine, between the station and the sea, is home to dozens of small shops and independent traders. For decades it has  been seen as the most vibrant area for quirky clothing, vintage finds, vegetarian and vegan cafes, boutiques and some of the best pubs in the city for people-watching over a delicious craft beer. Spring is a particularly good time to do this!  My favourite is the Dorset Pub, just on the corner of Gardner Street and across from us here in Little Beach Boutique.  It is the best place to sit and watch the world go by and offers excellent home-cooked style food.

When we’re not basking in Spring sunshine or watching buskers from the Dorset, we have been busy coming up with some new glass designs here in Little Beach Boutique, inspired by the season.

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One off glass curve handmade here in our North Laine shop and workshop

Above is a one-off piece of fused glass, made with layers of sheet glass, with strands of copper leaf placed in between, and colourful ‘confetti’ and ‘frit’ placed on top to convey spring shoots peeping through the ground. It has been fired twice – first to fuse the individual peices together, and second, to ‘slump’ it into a mould so that it will be free-standing. It looks beautiful in a sunny window on these fresh spring days.

We have also been producing some new designs for screen-printing onto our hand made coasters and glass tile frames. Following themes of wanderlust, travel and exploration, we have designed a hot air balloon silk-screen which we have layered with pieces of ‘dichroic’ glass.  ‘Dichro’ adds an iridescent quality to glass pieces, and a few small bits added between the layers, before going into the kiln, looks beautiful when fired….

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Hot Air Balloon Fused Glass Tiles handmade here in Little Beach Boutique

We have also been running our popular fused glass workshops and have been putting dates in for the months to come.  The next available date is 14th May – if you would like to learn how to make your own glass pieces and in a fun and creative environment, why not book a space with some friends and have a wonderful day out in Brighton during the May Festival?

We have been adding lots of new pieces to our Spring collections, so do watch this space for more to come!  In the meantime, enjoy the spring sunshine! X

Our Creative Customers – Personalised Glass Tile Frames

Recently, we’ve had a little run of inspiring and thoughtful messages conjured up by our creative customers to personalise the framed glass tiles which we make here in Little Beach Boutique – and I wanted to share some with you…

It was Father’s Day this weekend, and as a present for her father, one customer chose the Brighton and Hove Peace Statue tile, which is a beautiful angel, screen printed as a silhouette onto a fused glass tile.  In the frame we have written the words “I’ll be your angel because you have always been mine”.  Such a lovely personal touch…

Brighton and Hove peace Statue Handmade Glass Tile
“I’ll be your angel because you have always been mine” We make all our glass tiles here in Little Beach Boutique and mount them in white box frames. You can personalise your chosen tile with your own message, which we write by hand on the border.

Another customer chose our Hove Beach Hut tile for her friend’s birthday because the area holds special significance for them as a place they grew up together.  The message reads “Hove is home…We didn’t know we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun”.  So beautiful, I would love someone to give that to me!

hove is home, glass beach hut tile
“We didn’t realise we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun” Hove Beach Hut tile made from copper leaf and glass. We make these to order in Little Beach Boutique and write your own words in the frame for that personal touch.

 

For a child’s christening, the Peace Statue was chosen by another customer.  This time, they opted for the glass tile to be made with copper foil, which forms the infused blue bubbles within the glass.  It is a beautiful turquoise blue and really stands out.  As a godmother to her niece, she chose words that reflected love and protection, personalising her tile with the words “I promise to help you and lead you, to encourage you, to care for you, to always love you”.

Peace Statue Brighton and Hove, glass tile from Little beach Boutique
Handmade Fused Glass tile mounted in a white box frame and personalised with the words “I promise to help you and lead you, to encourage you, to care for you, to always love you”.

I was feeling inspired by a sunny Brighton myself, this week, and made some new glass tiles reflecting the boats on the calm blue sea.  I chose the words “There’s something beautiful on the horizon” to write underneath the tile.  This piece is made with crushed glass, called frit, and fired on quite a cool temperature so that the glass doesn’t go fully liquid in the kiln.  The result is a lovely texture that reminds me of the sea.

Of course, you could choose any message you like to write underneath and I could also make a similar tile with the boat in a different colour, to make it really individual!

Glass boat tile, Little Beach Boutique
Handmade and unique, this textured glass boat tile is made in Little Beach Boutique and comes mounted in a white box frame, personalised with your own message. It can be made to order in other colours and alternate sizes – we love doing commissions!

You can see more of our range on http://www.littlebeachboutique.com or pop in to see us in our Brighton shop one day.

DID YOU KNOW? We also run glass making workshops, so you can even make a unique glass tile yourself!  Visit our page for more information here.

Meet our Makers in Little Beach Boutique

Here in Little Beach Boutique we love handmade, we delight in being able to showcase new talent and we are proud to be able to offer our customers something different to the high street.

So, we thought we would introduce you to some of our most recent stockists whose unique range of products make an independent shop such as ours a very special shopping experience, and well worth a trip to Brighton.

Mica Peet

We discovered Mica Peet’s work via Instagram and were delighted to find out that she is based just along the coast in Southampton. Mica is a textile designer whose patterns are inspired by colour and nature.  She laser cuts geometric and animal shaped pieces and prints her bold designs onto them to produce her range of individual and striking jewellery, including brooches, earrings and necklaces.  We love her stag design brooch and her hummingbird earrings. Each piece features different parts of Mica’s print, so each item makes a unique handmade gift for someone (but they are very hard to give away!)

Mica Peet patterned Stag Brooch, Little Beach Boutique
Mica Peet patterned Hummingbird Earrings, Little Beach Boutique

A Northern Light

We met illustrator Claire (aka A Northern Light) at a trade show in January and fell in love with her first ever range of lighting.  Her beautiful illustrations are based on the natural world and feature starling murmurations, woodland scenes, and floral patterns.  From her Manchester studio, she has handmade her range of lighting from parchment paper, each featuring her detailed and intricate illustrations.  The range includes tea lights and plug-in lamps.  Our favourites are ‘A New Day’ because it reminds us of the colours of the morning and ‘Murmuration’, because it brings to mind the starlings on Brighton and Hove’s West Pier which roost there at dusk.

A New Day Lamp by A Northern Light, in Little Beach Boutique
Murmuration Lamp by A Northern Light, Little Beach Boutique

‘By Alex’

Finally, we would like to introduce ‘By Alex’ who is our most recent stockist.  We liked her work as soon as we saw her range of quirky stationary and wash bags, because her designs are based on our Great British weather and that is always interesting!  Alex’s textile patterns feature polka dots and umbrellas in crisp, fresh colours and she makes each piece by hand in her Hertfordshire studio.

 We love the fabric on these make up pouches, which are perfect for a weekend away.

Handmade Gifts By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton
Handmade Polka Dot Pouch By Alex in Little Beach Boutique, Brighton

 Watch this space for more to come about our latest designers here in Little Beach Boutique, visit our website, or even better, come to see us if you are shopping in Brighton – we are in great company among lots of independent shops and boutiques in the North Laine.

Planning a shopping trip to Brighton? Here’s my Top Ten Independent Gift Shops and Cafes for a memorable visit…

Is it too early to mention Christmas?! Well, even if it is, Brighton is always a fabulous place to go shopping.  It is peppered with a plethora of beautiful, quirky, imaginative, practical and inspiring independent shops, cafés and boutiques, and particularly in the North Laine, we’re spoilt for choice, so I thought I’d offer some inside tips to help you have a fantastic day, starting with a strong coffee of course…

 

1. Cafe Coho, 53 Ship Street

Conveniently located on Ship Street  in the Lanes, this is the perfect place to kick off a day’s shopping. It’s outside seating gets mid morning sunshine and they offer blankets if it’s a chilly one.  I love the stripped-back brick interior, they make amazing coffee and their croissants are delicious. There is also a Cafe Coho near Brighton Station if you’re getting the train.

Cafe coho on Shop Street, Brighton. Photo from lovely brighton.blogspot
Cafe coho on Shop Street, Brighton. Photo from lovely brighton.blogspot

2. Edited, 3 Gardner Street

You’ll probably have been drawn in by their vibrant window display anyway, but Edited is a must-see! They have a varied and eclectic selection of homeware and soft furnishings including colourful candles, throws with vibrant geometric designs, and train ticket cushion covers over three floors of this beautifully merchandised shop. The staff are always friendly and enthusiastic too!

Edited in Brighton, Photo from Flickr
Edited in Brighton, Photo from Flickr

3. Present in the Laine, 34 Gardner Street

One of the North Laine’s newer additions, Present in the Laine has a focus on bright colours and hand-picked gifts. Stylish accessories, baby gifts, homeware and handbags are on offer in this vibrant new shop.

Present in the Laine on Gardner Street.  Photo by www.writeontrend.com
Present in the Laine on Gardner Street. Photo by http://www.writeontrend.com

4. Posh Totty Designs,  31 Sydney Street

A Brighton success story established by Alice Rivers Cripps a decade ago, her original shop in Bond Street Cottages is well worth a visit, but Posh Totty Designs have just opened their flagship store on Sydney Street in the North Laine, where they make and sell their own distinctive brand of beautiful personalised jewellery.  They specialise in stunning keepsakes, hand stamped and made to order with your personal message, favourite quote or child’s names in a range of stylish, contemporary and classic designs.

Posh Totty Designs on Sydney Street, Brighton
Posh Totty Designs on Sydney Street, Brighton

5. Temptation, 56 Gardner Street, Brighton

Need a coffee break?  This is a stylish and cosy cafe (with a license, if you fancy something stronger) with a delectable selection of lunchtime plates, salads, sandwiches and delicious home made cakes if you fancy jumping straight to the sweet stuff.

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6. Little Beach Boutique, 74 North Road

 

Well, I couldn’t recommend a visit to Brighton without a visit to my shop could I, and what better time to visit than straight after a lovely lunch?!  Opened in May 2014, Little Beach Boutique is new to the North Laine and offers a hand-picked range of handmade gifts, many of which are made in Brighton and the UK. I make all the glass pieces in my workshop here and you can pop in to see how it is done, as well as browse a unique range of accessories, keepsakes, homeware, clothing and wall art, including our best-selling “fabulous” felt animal slippers.

Handmade gifts in Little beach Boutique in the North Laine
Little Beach Boutique, beautiful handmade gifts in the North Laine Brighton

7. Utility, 28a North Road

 

Just across the road from Little Beach Boutique is Utility, stocking a fantastic range of “no-nonsense” household goods made by independent manufacturers, including tableware, glassware, stationary and storage ideas. Always playing excellent music, this is a must for your trip to Brighton.

Utility, North Road Brighton.  Photo from www.utilitygreatbritain.co.uk
Utility, North Road Brighton. Photo from http://www.utilitygreatbritain.co.uk

8. Snoopers Paradise, 7 Kensington Gardens

 

No shopping trip to Brighton is complete without a good rummage around Snoopers Paradise.  Purveyors of all things vintage, as well as an art space, workshop and boutique market, it is a haven for a curious shopper!

Vintage clothing in  Snoopers Paradise, Brighton
Vintage clothing in Snoopers Paradise, Brighton

9. Pretty Eccentric, 10 Bond Street

 

Incredibly glamorous vintage inspired dresses and accessories designed by owner Michelle Scott, your Christmas party outfit is sorted for the year! Influenced by the styles of the 1920s to 1950s, they have a stunning range of dresses and separates, as well as jewellery to add sparkle and fascinators to make a statement.

Pretty Eccentric, Bond Street, Brighton
Pretty Eccentric, Bond Street, Brighton

10. 64 Degrees, 53 Meeting House Lane

 

Round the day off with some amazing food! My favourite place to eat in Brighton, tucked away in the South Lanes, it feels like you have been let into a secret at sixty four degrees. Compact in size, with a focus on incredible food, impeccable service and the theatre of the dining experience, you can choose to sit at the bar and watch the magic unfurl. It’s not to be missed!

Sixty four degrees,  Meeting House Lane
Sixty four degrees, Meeting House Lane

So, there it is, my top ten pick of Brighton’s independent shops and cafés.  I hope you have enough time to get around them all.  If not, come back another time! Check them out online before your visit: http://www.littlebeachboutique.com http://www.cafecoho.co.uk http://www.edited.co.uk http://www.poshtottdesigns.com http://www.utilitygreatbritain.co.uk http://www.64degrees.co.uk http://www.brightontemptation.com http://www.snoopersattic.co.uk http://www.prettyeccentric.co.uk http://www.presentinthelaine,com Bye for now Suzanne x