Brighton has to be one of my favourite places! From iconic buildings, the pier (both of them), The Lanes, not to mention the nightlife – there is always so much to see and enjoy.
Over the past few months when I have been there, I have watched with anticipation the new British Airways i360 being constructed and have visited the site several times to see how it was progressing. A couple of weeks ago I again visited but this time was to meet the team there and see what a marvel of engineering this was, plus have a sneaky look at what they could offer couples wishing to say iDO360. Located opposite the West Pier, this modern ‘vertical pier’ takes visitors up into the sky and gives a 360-degree view of up to 26 miles across Brighton and Hove, the South Downs, the South Coast and the English Channel.
British Airways i360 is the world’s tallest moving observation tower: a 162-metre-tall vertical tower with a fully enclosed futuristic glass observation pod that gently lifts groups of up to 200 passengers to a height of 138 metres. Acknowledged by the Guinness World Records as the world’s most slender tower and it is a most modern engineering achievement. A state-of-the-art cable car technology has been used to drive the pod up and down and energy is generated on the descent.
Eleven years in the making from design to reality, British Airways i360 is the brainchild of architect-entrepreneurs David Marks and Julia Barfield of Marks Barfield Architects, best known as the practice that conceived and designed the world-famous London Eye.
The team have worked alongside the local council to ensure that this new attraction is symapethic to the landscape and where possible they have replicated the original Victorian features of the West Pier. Particularly important architectural features on the landward end of the pier were the two imposing identical square tollbooths designed by Eugenius Birch in Italianate style. These have been faithfully reconstructed, one on the eastern side of the upper deck, the other on the western side of the upper deck.
Obviously, I was keen to say what is available here for weddings and I have found something of a gem, well three gems to be precise! You can say your vows high above the countryside in the pod which you can hire exclusively for your wedding – there is even a Sky Bar on board serving that perfectly chilled champers. For someone who has a fear of heights, I was rather nervous about going up in this but let me assure you, it is a treat! A smooth journey is enjoyed and the views are simply stunning!! You are welcomed on board with all the style you come to expect from this iconic airline and the trip is certainly worth taking. I don’t think I am cured of my fear but at no point did I suffer from my usual hysterics and panic. Sean Watkins heads up the marketing team here and he assured me that I would love it and he was 100% correct. I am the person who had to be carried off the Eiffel Tower in tears so trust me when I say I felt completely safe and at ease in this huge pod above the sky.
Alternatively, there is the Beach Building which is a fabulous event space (it also houses the Belle Vue restaurant and shop, with plans for a children’s play area). The design of this building means you can have a small intimate ceremony or join rooms together for larger receptions. When I visited it was a beautiful sunny day and as I walked out on the private esplanade it felt like I was walking on the water. This space is perfect for pre or post ceremony drinkies, and there is something rather cool about having your reception here and watching the sun go down with your nearest and dearest.
The decor is sleek, the menus rather delicious! The team are sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local suppliers. Heritage Portfolio has created a wide range of delicious menus and what more could you ask for than a Masterchef winner being at the helm, Steven Edwards being the executive chef. From barbeque to a banquet, these guys have it covered!
If you want a smaller affair with nostalgia to the history and decadence of this site, you can also get married in one of the tollbooths!
You will need to make your own arrangements with the local registry office but all of their wedding packages include a dedicated wedding co-ordinator so you can say ‘I do’ safe in the knowledge you are being well looked after.