For Jo

jo by chris barber

This isn’t something I ever thought I’d write about on this blog. In fact I toyed with the idea of whether or not I should actually post this for ages. But instead of trying to think about it too much I just started typing to see where it would go… writing is cathartic for me and I really just felt like I wanted to get this all out of my head. I’d decide whether to publish it or not later.

On Sunday, my friend Jo committed suicide.

Just writing those words feels unreal, like I’m in some kind of dream world or alternate reality. Dealing with death is fucking hard, dealing with death when someone has taken their own life is utterly devastating. There are just so many unanswered questions.

But I’m not writing this because I want any kind of “Oh I hope you’re OK” comments. As much as I appreciate them this is not about me. It’s about a far from being about me as anything I’ve ever written.

Jo suffered from depression. I knew she had low self esteem, and we’d spoken about it many times, but I really genuinely didn’t know how rough it was for her. And that makes me feel terrible. Like I was a totally awful friend for not knowing more, doing more, asking more.

I keep going over all our conversations in my head, wondering if I could have done anything differently or said something more helpful. I feel so guilty.

I wanted to write this today to try, in whatever small way I can, to reach out to any of you that might also be suffering. I want to encourage you to talk to people, and to never give up. Life is precious, life is short, life is worth fighting for.

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John Waters and Pink Flamingo Inspired Same Sex Wedding Shoot

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Coming across the most amazingly colourful house by chance one day, wedding photographer Shannon Collins dreamed of being able to do a shoot there. Well fate stepped in, making it a possibility, so she knew she had to make it extra magical!

“Last year, I was photographing a couple in Philadelphia for an engagement shoot”, wrote Shannon. “On my way home, a few minutes from the location, I drove past a lovely yellow house with tons of pink flamingos scattered across the lawn. I screeched my brakes and drove in reverse so I could capture a quick snapshot of the house. It instantly reminded me of the John Waters film, ‘Pink Flamingos’ and made me smile.”

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“I posted the photo to Instagram, thinking nothing of it. A few hours later, a friend of mine responded saying that one of her close friends grew up in the house. Then, the close friend commented, saying her parents still live there and she’d let them know I liked it. I reached out to her, asking if she thought her parents might be open to the idea of having a styled shoot at their house. The home-owners were incredibly gracious and although they were out of town for the day of the shoot, they allowed us to use their home as our backdrop.”

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How to Plan a Wedding: Reception Décor & Flowers

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The décor for our wedding was actually the bit I struggled with most. I’m not the most crafty of people, and during my (pre-blog!) planning I struggled to find any ideas that I actually particularly liked. It was all mirror tiles and fish bowls filled with water and floating geraniums back then. So we went for something super simple – tall floral table centrepieces (which I ended up hating but oh well!) and a black and white colour scheme. Yep, that was pretty much it.

However these days you are overrun with inspiration to make your wedding reception as unique as you are! From wedding blogs to Pinterest, and magazines finally getting on the more quirky train… it must be completely overwhelming.

Whatever style of wedding you’re having, my advice to you would be this: just pick stuff that you like! Try not to over-think it and simply choose things that reflect what you and your partner love in everyday life.

If you love travelling, how about a map as a table plan? If you adore reading, what about books as part of your centrepieces? If you’re really into comics why not use your favourites as the table names and markers? Once you get started the ideas will just start flowing. I promise.

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Picking a colour palette can be difficult (hence why we went for monochrome!) and unless you’re a stylist or designer it can be really tricky to know which colours will work well together. A great resource to get you started is Adobe Kuler. Simply select your main colour on the wheel and it will show you which other ones work with it – genius! Another great resource is Colour Lovers. This site is packed with thousands of colour schemes and you can search by type (wedding, corporate, home, fashion) as well as upload an image and get the codes for the actual hues used in it. Amazing!

Don’t stress to much about everything being all matchy-matchy. We actually went for our black and white theme because I literally couldn’t think of anything worse than having to carry colour swatches around with me to make sure the bridesmaid’s dresses matched the napkins matched the flowers… YAWN! Little did I know that an intentionally mismatched and eclectic scheme looks flippin’ awesome. Embrace the colour chaos I say!

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Don’t Tell The Bride AKA Lauren & Perry’s Gig Wedding at The Forum

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Do you watch the BBC Three show Don’t Tell the Bride? When I was engaged I was pretty obsessed. Gareth and I would sit together to watch it every week and my favourite game was quizzing him over what he’d do if he had to plan our whole wedding himself.

Like many of you, I always wondered what everyone got up to behind the scenes – Did the bride really not have anything to do with it? (SURELY you’d be dropping hints like mad before you signed the contract?!) How much influence do the production crew have? And why do the boys always pick the wrong dress?!

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This is not the first time I’ve featured a DTTB wedding. Mike and Becky’s wrestling wedding has graced these pages previously but by their own admission they didn’t really enjoy the process. However when I saw Lauren and Perry’s big day, and read that they really did enjoy doing it, I was keen to speak to them about it. Plus what could be more Rock n Roll than a gig themed wedding at one of the most iconic music venues in London!?

We knew that we wanted to get married but that after having a baby and buying a flat there was never going to be a time when it was financially possible”, Perry began when I asked what made them want to go on the show. “Lauren was going to apply for The Great British Bake Off but saw the application for Don’t Tell The Bride and decided to do that instead. I didn’t think we had much chance of being picked but when she read me her entry email I started to get really nervous. It was GOOD!”

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Victorian Vintage Wedding with Gothic Touches: Mark & Clare

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Mark and Clare were married at The Jacob Henry Mansion in Joliet, Illinois. With a church on-site it was not only the perfect backdrop for their Victorian vintage wedding, but somewhere they could have both their ceremony and reception. They loved their venue and styled the whole wedding around it’s gothic elements.

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“We got the idea for theme of the wedding, Victorian Vintage, from my engagement ring”, began Clare. “My ring is a very art deco in style with the diamond sitting deep in the setting, and very unique filigree designed metalwork. We love the antique look of the ring and decided to find the attire, venue, stationery, and other decorations that would go with the theme. Antiques and antique-looking things are so classic that they will never go out of style, and we were hoping to find a theme that we could look back on in 30 years and still fawn over our choices.”

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Natural and Outdoorsy Tipi Wedding: Natalie & Katie

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Natalie and Katie were married at the Priory Cottages in North Yorkshire. They chose it as they wanted a place that they could be for the whole weekend and that all their family and close friends could stay there too. The wedding was a real team effort, with lots of people pitching in to make it perfect. One of Natalie’s friends, Hayley Neil of Glory Days Vintage, made both dresses, another friend did the flowers, another the cake, and they hand crafted the stationery themselves.

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“We wanted a very casual wedding with an outdoorsy feel where everybody could feel very relaxed”, wrote Natalie, “In fact it was so relaxed that Katie’s dad, Kev, had his shorts on within an hour of the ceremony! The casual theme was reflected in everything from the style of the meal to the photography and the camping guests!”

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