Hastings resident (and Get Hastings contributor) Alice Marshall Boland and her husband Clem were married in Hastings in the summer of 2014. Alice was keen to stay local and source as much from the area as possible for her big day; she has written this article to show you why getting married in Hastings is a great idea.
We didn’t have a proposal as such, we knew we’d get married almost as soon as we got together so there wasn’t much to think about. Clem wanted to make the engagement rings so he enrolled on a small metals course at Sussex Coast College and when we walked out of the building we decided this meant we were ‘officially engaged’. However, making the engagement ring was taking ages so I started wearing a ring of my Mum’s as an engagement ring and Clem started to make the wedding rings. With the help of the jewellery teachers at the college, a local jeweller in St Leonards, and a lot of prototypes, he got them done in time!
We decided to keep it local and do the whole shebang in Hastings. We went to one wedding fair which was so awkward and awful that we decided to avoid ever doing anything like that ever again. We both wanted (needed!) everything to be as minimally stressful as possible which made most of our decisions for us and was one of the reasons we used local suppliers for as much as we could.
The first time I visited Clem in Hastings we went to the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery and a wedding was taking place in the Durbar Hall. The Durbar Hall is gorgeous so that was pretty much decided immediately. After the ceremony we had bubbles as confetti and fizz on the lawn outside the museum.
As for the reception, we were walking up Whistlers Steps one day when we heard music coming from the Beacon. We saw balloons on the Beacon sign as we came out onto the West Hill and realised it must be a wedding. I emailed Judy Dewsbery, the owner, the next day and went to have a look round. It’s a very relaxed place, we both really liked it and Judy was really helpful in arranging everything
We arranged a bus to take people between the two to save faffing about with taxis and directions, and also to show off Hastings to visitors.
Around the time we got engaged I won a beautiful pale gold floor length wedding dress in a competition and was pleased that I didn’t have to worry about finding the right dress as one had landed right in my lap. However, as it got closer to the day I realised I wasn’t comfortable in it and started to look around for other things. I had a day out with my bridesmaids trying on ridiculous dresses which was loads of fun but in the end I went with a dress I found on the Tesco website which turned out to fit me way better than any of the others and had the added bonus of being stupidly cheap. I got a poofy petticoat from eBay and some royal blue Irregular Shoes also from eBay and I felt much happier. I bought a bit of white Broderie Anglaise ribbon from Thimbleinas for my hair and pinned Clem’s service medal ribbon to it. I wore my magpie earrings that Clem gave me once as a present and a necklace that has been my Grandma’s. My friend Debs did my hair.
Clem was not interested in wearing a suit but he agreed that perhaps jeans were slightly too informal so he went for blue chinos and a tie he found on Etsy plus wooden log cufflinks made by a friend of my sister’s. I think he looked very handsome
Choosing the reading was easy – Endymion is one of Clem’s favourite poems and he had written it to me in a card (in his best handwriting, took him hours..) before we lived together. We asked our friend Louise to read it and she pulled it off excellently (she still recites it every now and then to make it worth having learned it).
Choosing the music was one of the more fun parts of planning but also the bit we changed the most times. We probably would have chosen Into My Arms by Nick Cave but bearing in mind the requirement for no mention of god at a civil ceremony, we went for the Feist version of Inside and Out for our walk down the aisle, Fleetwood Mac and First Aid Kit for signing the register and French Navy by Camera Obscura (mainly because we did actually meet ‘in a dusty library’) followed by We Want The Same Thing by Belinda Carlisle as we left. I wanted to use the Belinda Carlisle lyrics as our wedding vows but Clem made me settle for having it as exit music. Get Hastings founder Caitlin was in charge of the playlists.
The wonderful Jess and Sarah were our bridesmaids – we have known each other since school and all been bridesmaids for each other in the last few years. We are getting really good at it now so I knew they’d be great. We got fishing boat dresses from Emily and Fin via ASOS to go with the Hastings theme and Jess’s mum very kindly took care of adjustments. Thimbleinas provided me with extra fabric in the right colour to make sure Sarah could keep her modesty intact.
Laura, another friend from school and now a floristry teacher at Plumpton did the flowers as a wedding present. We met up and looked through her book of options, I told her my favourite colours and she did the rest. I absolutely loved them and have kept the bouquet (it’s still hanging upside down, it’s probably dried out enough to turn it back up the right way by now).
We love cake (who doesn’t) and ended up having lots of different ones. As well as our beautiful cupcakes ordered from Alice Pitts, and our big chocolatey Tesco finest fudge cake with pewter hedgerow topper cast by Clem, another friend, also called Alice, made us an incredible fox cake and Clem’s mum arranged a tank cake complete with Irish and Ukrainian flags for family connections and a Fox and a Mouse riding it. We exercised our right to have a bit of each one and they were all brilliant. We also has some vegan and gluten free cakes made by 1066 Cake Stand which were so good that one guest wrote a thank you letter to Shelley afterwards. Shelley also provided us with some Hastings Brewery ales as our other beers weren’t vegan.
Our photographer Daniela Exley (Epoch Wedding Photography and also contributor to Get Hastings, although we didn’t know each other then) was great. We had a practice session out at the country park a few weeks beforehand which got us a bit used to having our photos taken and on the day she was there from 1pm right through to about 10pm. We were impressed by how she seemed to be everywhere at once – appearing on the roof of the museum or at the bottom of the Beacon garden for sparklers! She got shots of things we didn’t even know were happening and getting the photos back from her (within a week) was loads of fun. She also advised us to head out onto the West Hill for some pics of just the two of us, and take a minute to absorb the fact that we’d just married each other, which we appreciated. I recommend her highly!
Instead of a sit down meal, Martin and his crepe van from ‘Cripes, it’s Crepes!’ provided food so we didn’t have to worry about a table plan. We also had sandwiches from 1066 Bakery, although they disappeared so quickly I think we could have done with double. We got a keg from Harvery’s Brewery, one from the FILO, and one of cider from Battle Cider. My parents arranged for wine from Majestic Wines in Lewes.
For favours, we asked a friend of my sister’s who run the Mad Hatter Brewing Company to make us some beers and they proved popular. We came across an American style mailbox in one of the junk shops on Courthouse Street and we asked people to write us a ladybird postcard and post it in there for us as a guest book.
My Brother-in-Law’s band, Replica Radio, provided music for us to dance to and very kindly included River Deep Mountain High in their set for our first dance. They were great, especially their version of 9 to 5. It was a really hot day so all the doors were open and people were dancing on the lawn!
We stayed the night before and after in The Swan House in the Old Town along with both bridesmaids and their husbands. I cannot recommend them enough. Brendan was lovely; everyone there was lovely! The dogs were great fun, the breakfasts marvellous, and the beds super comfortable. It was the best place to be before and after the wedding as it was so relaxing.
We spent a night at home after that, recovering, and then we headed to Suffolk for four nights where we had great fun climbing lighthouses and eating fish and chips in the rain at Southwold.
I tried so hard to hold it together but ended up bawling during my vows. Then Clem did as well, then the bridesmaids, then my brother! Luckily the registrar had tissues.
The bus from the museum to the Beacon took a wrong turn onto Wellington Square and spent a good twenty minutes trying to turn round again. Apologies to anyone who got caught while we turned but it was very entertaining and everyone clapped and cheered when the driver finally freed us.
The dog, Pig, looking very elegant in her big white wedding bow.
Caitlin cracked out the sparklers and got people to join in, I remember thinking ‘How is more brilliant stuff happening? Surely we’ve had all our brilliant stuff by now?!’
The day before and the day after were rainy and we were very lucky that the day itself was so sunny and hot. However, the heavens opened as we walked back over the hill to The Swan House and we all arrived there drenched but happy. It was wonderful to put our waffle dressing gowns on and stuff ourselves with complimentary tiffin to make up for the fact we’d hardly eaten in the day.
Choosing local suppliers reduced the stress as we knew we could just pop down into town to sort it out if there were any problems. The bits I remember clearly are moments with friends and family that couldn’t have been planned for. We were really chuffed that our guests attended, we know weddings can be a massive faff for everyone involved and we really appreciated the effort that people went to to get to Hastings and to spend the day with us.
Transport: Seaford and District Motor Company
Photographer: Daniela Exley, Epoch Weddings.
Accommodation: The Swan House, The Laindons