Getting married in Sussex
I often think how lucky I am to be a wedding photographer in Sussex. And if you’re planning to tie the knot in and around the counties of East or West Sussex you’re lucky too. It’s simply the most beautiful area of South East England, and it has absolutely everything. From the cool, urban culture of Brighton and the splendour of Chichester to the ancient villages of the South Downs and rolling Weald, Sussex has it all.
And then there’s the famous Sussex coastline. It runs 137 miles from the sandy beaches of Rye and Camber in the east of the county, past Hastings and Eastbourne, under the iconic white cliffs of Beachy Head, to the famous pebbles and piers of Brighton, Worthing and Bognor, and on to the marshy harbours of Chichester and Bosham in the west.
Just a 30-minute journey south of London, the rolling Sussex Weald is still one of the most wooded areas of England and home to some of Britain’s most beautiful and ancient small towns and villages. Mayfield in East Sussex sits on the edge of the enchanting Ashdown Forest, the setting for Winnie The Pooh. Alfriston, on the banks of the Cuckmere River, with its ancient pubs and flint-walled twittens, is a delight. In West Sussex, there’s Arundel, famous for its huge medieval castle and Roman Catholic cathedral.
Running west and north from Eastbourne for almost 100 miles is the South Downs National Park, the newest and most populous of all the UK’s national parks. Its Sussex downlands are a paradise for ramblers walking the South Downs Way. Attractions along the route include The Long Man of Wilmington, the ancient and picturesque town of Lewes (famous for its bonfires and the revolutionary thinker Thomas Paine), Devil’s Dyke and Bignor Roman Villa.
But these days Sussex is arguably known most of all as a focus for culture and the arts, largely centred on Brighton, Hastings, and Chichester. Brighton is sometimes referred to as ‘London by the Sea’, and is famous for its nightlife and street culture around North Laine and The Lanes areas of the City. Brighton also hosts England’s biggest arts festival and is home to the oldest gay pride parade. A visit to Chichester in West Sussex isn’t complete without taking in the 12th century cathedral and a play at the modernist Festival Theatre. And speaking of Sussex culture, the world-renowned Glyndebourne Opera near Lewes is a must for all music lovers.
Wedding venues in the county
Couples planning to get married in Sussex are simply spoilt for choice. There are rustic barns such as Upwaltham, Fitzleroi and the Blackstock Country Estate. If you’re wanting a ceremony and reception in an elegant country house there’s Buxted Park Hotel in the heart of the Sussex Weald with its deer park and sweeping lawns. There’s so much space for wedding guests, family and friends to mill about.
The South Downs with its chalky soil is famous for its award-winning wines, so if you’re a bride or groom you might consider tying the knot at a vineyard such as the stunning Highdown or Alfriston Gardens.
Sussex also has some of quirkiest places in the UK to get hitched. Take a look at the award-winning pub, The Bell in Ticehurst, with its stunning Big Room for the marriage ceremony and Stable with a Table for the confetti shower. The flower girl and bridesmaids almost stole the show at this wedding.
The grade-II listed Worthing Dome, and its world-famous old cinema, overlooking the town’s elegant pier, is perfect for a vintage-style wedding. And if you think your wedding guests would like messing about on the water then consider the Anchor Inn & Boating on the River Ouse near Lewes. There are enough boats for 100 wedding guests and a permanent marquee for the wedding breakfast.
If being wed outdoors in the wild woods of Sussex captures your imagination, then you’ll love Knepp Castle Estate. A tipi wedding set around a lake will give your ‘Big Day’ the magical, rustic touch. It’s also the place where white storks have been bred for the first time in centuries and deer roam free across the landscape.
Alternatively, for a wedding ceremony steeped in regal opulence many engaged couples choose the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and its famous gilded Music Room. I doubt there’s a more glamorous venue in Sussex to exchange wedding rings and vows.
For more information, check out my guide to some of the best places to get married in Sussex.
Photography in and around the Weald and South Downs
Sussex is also a perfect playground for anyone interested in taking photos. Whether you’re a documentary style photographer like me, or you love landscape shots, the county offers so much.
Choosing the right photographer for your special day is as important as choosing the perfect wedding dress. My photojournalistic approach to capturing wedding pictures is inspired by the great black and white street photographers such as Helen Levitt, Tony Ray-Jones and Garry Winogrand, as well as modern day reportage shooters like Matt Stuart and Magnum’s Alex Webb, both masters of colour photography.
So between weddings I often hit the streets of Brighton with my camera and a pocket full of lenses to practise creating images. With its colourful street scenes, it’s great for candid portraits and experimenting with shutter speeds and apertures, and honing compositional skills. The city is also home to the UK’s largest curated international photography festival, the Photo Biennial. So you can see lots of other image-makers’ snaps too!
But if landscape shots and wildlife photography are your thing, pack your cameras, tripod and zoom lenses and head up onto the Downs, into the Sussex Weald or along the coast. There’s the always instagramable Beachy Head Lighthouse, or panoramas of the morning mists in the chalk valleys, or a wide-angle pic of ancient woodlands. And if you like close-ups of flowers and insects, take your macro lens to Nymans gardens.
Get in touch
If you’re looking for a Sussex wedding photographer and you like what you see, I’d love you to contact me to check my availability.