Dade Freeman
Photographer & Trainer
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Civil ceremony at The Royal Pavilion, Brighton.

It started with just an email, which led to a coffee and a chat, and it culminated in the day of Alan and Jan's civil wedding ceremony. When I arrived at the couple's home, they were dashing about putting the last minute touches to outfits, decorations and, of course, to themselves. Once everything was 'just so', we headed off to iconic Brighton pub, The Cricketers, to meet the waiting guests. This was a small gathering of a select few, which I thought made the whole wedding much more special. Genuine smiles beamed across all the faces as the couple greeted their family and friends. All the guests had been kept in the dark as to where the ceremony was going to take place, and several people asked me "Where are we going next?", but I had been clearly warned that 'Mum's the word'.

After much speculation, we left the bar and led them just down the street, where the guests were astonished to discover that the civil ceremony was actually taking place at a unique Brighton venue - The Royal Pavilion. The ceremony took place inside the Drawing Room, with the guests arranged in a semi-circle, and the room was filled with laughter and tears in equal measure. Somewhat unusually, the ceremony began with the Danish National Anthem, although given that Jan is Danish, I suppose it is not that unusual.

Alan and Jan had requested that I photograph in a relaxed manner - more reportage style - and that only a handful of formal images were required. Given the small group, that was simple enough. The weather had not been very kind, so the formal shots were taken in the Pavilion's palatial Music Room, with its grand, ornate chandeliers hanging imposingly above the group.

The guests then headed upstairs for champagne and canapés, while a live jazz ensemble played in the background. From the Royal Pavilion it was on to The Gingerman for the wedding meal and speeches with, of course, even more laughter and tears!

The rings had been bought at Tiffanys while on a trip to New York. They appeared to be identical but they were kept in separate boxes, one of which was marked with a Danish flag. I was told that that was Jan's ring so while photographing them, I did my utmost to remember which one was which. Little did I know that they were actually entirely identical, as Jan told me later, sniggering.

It was an absolute pleasure to photograph the ceremony and to play a small part in their day, and I wish them a very long and happy life together, filled with tears only of laughter.