Oh god this wedding was just AMAZING. When Jo and Tom enquired asking me to shooting their Old Library wedding and said they were planning on a mega party, with a curry feast, all adorned in sequins, I literally wanted to scream back down my email YES PLEASE PICK ME. But you can’t shout down an email, and it might have looked a bit weird. So I responded like a normal human and reserved my jubilation for when they did actually book me. So here’s my take on their epic wedding. It was colourful, and sparkly and joyful right to the end. Keep scrolling to read how Jo and Tom planned this extravaganza and see the story gallery.
How did you get started planning your Birmingham wedding?
When I casually floated the idea of a wedding in the future, to keep up the pretence of being a mega-chill-babe, I referred to it as a big party. ‘If we ever had a big party, do you think you’d want a live band?’ just to seed the idea. When we started planning it, we kept that vibe – it’s just a big party. I think the first thing we did was make a list of people, then when you are looking at a supplier/idea/etc, you can sort of hold it up and see if it fits the audience. We focused on guests and things fell into place around that really. A party place, where we can bring vegan caterers, child friendly, central for travelling people, etc.
After the venue, the next thing we booked was you [the photographer], I think. It kind of helped us imagine what we wanted it to look like.
Why did you choose to get married at The Old Library in Digbeth?
We were almost booked up with another venue, when Tom had his work xmas do at the old library. ‘Oh, that would be my dream wedding venue’ I said. Tom was like, well why aren’t we getting married there!? I’d thought it would be very expensive with limited food choices, but for a £500 fee you can take your own caterers which was perfect! I loved the light, the location, Michelle the wedding planner, I loved how many weddings they have there, so they are just super expert at it. Easy going but professional.
I do think Birmingham is lacking in really great venues. I’d love to see a few more with a DIY industrial vibe, I don’t know why there aren’t more in Digbeth? There are lots of units. [I quite agree!]
How did you find planning your informal wedding?
I loved it! What I hated was moving house, which should have all been done the year before, but ended up being January before getting married in August. We couldn’t really start the wedding in earnest until the move was done, which was frustrating. So we started booking things in January. Would have been a problem if we’d have had a Saturday wedding, but as it was Friday, it was fine.
Doing some of the design bits was my favourite. The menus, website, etc. I’m pleased we now have essentially a house style guide. Ampersands, single spaces, railroad gothic font, with house colours! Insane what tom can be particular about – his key role was dicking around with the kerning on various printed items.
I booked a make up artist very late, after having read your blog, and thinking yeah, I don’t wanna dick around with eyelashes on the morning. Luckily for me, my make up artist Sarah Russell was great. I wanted crazy pink all round my eyes and cheeks, Space Geisha was my vaguely appropriative vibe.
We didn’t really have a colour scheme. We’d asked guests to wear ‘vibrant’ clothes (with a caveat for the goths, don’t worry dudes, you don’t have to wear lime green) and then we just kept ordering things until it all came together. Really the guests were vibrant but our colours were all quite pastel, but I still loved it all together. I was going to have white balloons, then coral, then sea green, and in the end just clicked order on something that wasn’t any of those. In a big white space like The Old Library, anything looks good.
How did you bring your individual personalities and your values to the day?
Tom likes to make things more fun and more expensive, I like to clamp down on frivolities and save money so we balanced out pretty well!
We both love our friends and family and are pretty emosh people, plus being obsessed with death as I am now I’m turning 40, the opportunity to tell and show people that I loved them was a siren call I couldn’t resist. After saying our vows, the speeches were my favourite bit, I bloody love a captive audience, and love telling people that I love them! Kel, the best woman’s speech has stayed with my since and I’ll still tear up if I think about it for too long. People say such big, dramatic stuff at funerals, and i wanted to say it all before then because, yeah, i’m batshit.
We love feminism and hate toxic masculinity and that did inform our day. Posies for all the brides-kids cos boys love flowers too, best man was a woman, Tom’s taking my surname, mom made a speech, I made a speech cos I love to wang on, I walked myself down the aisle cos although I love my dad, I’m not getting given from one person to another! Yuck!
What is your advice to other couples planning a wedding?
People say think about what you want, but we thought about what friends and family would want (Ie, lots of our friends have young kids, and we didn’t want anyone left out, so we made it very child friendly, but some people had flown in and we felt we wanted to give them a big party. Loads of vegan/vegetarians, so wanted food to be inclusive) and I am really pleased with that as a starting point.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with input – find one or two blogs that fit your vibe and stick with them.
What would I do differently? Not order 40 portions of chips from the shop around the corner for 9pm – no one ate them! Oh, and I wouldn’t buy paper floofers (paper pom poms)!
So, I was always of the Caitlyn Moran school of thought – if you think your wedding was the best day of your life, you haven’t taken MDMA in the middle of a field listening to your favourite band. HOWEVER. I think it was the best day of my life?? I mean, urgh, what next, putting WIFE in my insta bio?!?! Christ.
How did you budget for your wedding?
We had a really strict budget spreadsheet, which we regularly updated. I was determined not to exceed what is really an enormous amount for one day’s fun. I was happy with the money we spent, but even if I’d have had a bigger budget, it would have felt wasteful to me to spend much more. Kids are starving, folks.
We bought an A0 wall planner, and stuck it up, along with handwritten lists with tick boxes. Even though Tom, as a digital product person, loves an app. In this instance, visible, obvious lists and plans were the most useful for us.
What was it like to work with me?
Awesome. Honestly delightful. Aside from all the other stuff, I didn’t feel like a dickhead in front of the camera. In person, [you were] great with kids, magically everywhere at once, and so much fun. You just felt like a guest with a very big statement necklace!
The Old Library Birmingham Wedding Suppliers
Venue: The Old Library, Digbeth
Neon signs: Glowfi
Caterer: Full of Chaat
Artificial flower bouquets: Country Baskets
Entertainment: The Best Men