A Newcastle upon Tyne wedding full of glitter with Beth and Lee

Beth & Lee's DIY, glitter infused, disco inspired, do-it-your-own-way-without-being-beholden-to-tradition Newcastle wedding was one of the best I've ever photographed.

It was also my first time at As You Like It and I hope it won't be my last.

As You Like It is a fantastical wedding venue, filled with an eclectic mix of shabby chic furniture, exposed brickwork, stripped floors and a secret garden. All this in the midst of grey, sixties office blocks which only adds to the feeling of individuality and nonconformity.

I was there the night it opened and I could see it was offering a genuinely unique experience in Newcastle, and it proved to be wildly popular for food, drink and weddings in the following years. The ceremony took place in Frangipani, in what is effectively the basement. It's dark, with the ceiling strung with fairy lights, and very strong spotlights creating intense pools of light. It's a very challenging and exciting venue to photograph, and I really enjoyed testing my photographic skills to the limit at Beth and Lee's wedding.

Look out for the first dance photos for an example of my take on photographing in lowlight environments. There's a particular photo I call first dance looks. You'll know which one it is when you see it. I know that this photograph could be technically better - it could be a tad sharper and there could be a little less grain - but I captured the moment, and that's always the priority for me.

How gorgeous is Beth's dress? I think it has a hint of Sailor Moon's alter ego Princess Serenity. Beth was actually mistaken for a princess by a young girl in fancy dress while we were out taking portraits. You can see their encounter in the photo below. 'Are you a princess?' she asked, eyes wide.

Right from the start Beth and Lee had an idea of having bridal photographs taken on Armstrong Bridge above Jesmond Dene. It's wrought iron cross bracing is reminiscent of Pont des Arts bridge in Paris - the one that used to be covered in love locks. The location made me think Beth & Lee were channeling the French New Wave and I'm particularly fond of the black and white photos from that part of the day.

When we got back to Jesmond the guests had discovered the glitter station and were getting beautified. It was at this point I decided not to swap the lens on my camera for the rest of the night. Glitter and camera sensors do not play well together!

Lee is a music recording, mixing and mastering engineer, and an accomplished DJ. The wedding therefore was heavily infused with music imagery and ideas. You'll see the gold boogie box, the seating plan made out of records and vinyl place settings in the photographs. It also meant that they had one hell of a party in the evening. With an overt Studio 54 influence to proceedings I added a rider to my contract - that at least one Blondie song had to be played on the dance floor. I then got on the dance floor with my wide lens and flash and captured the action!

I was exhausted by the end of the day, physically and emotionally, and left the party as it was winding down to pack my gear in my car. I looked up to see Beth & Lee, sneaking away from their own wedding to head to the pub over the road. Beth was wearing her leather jacket.

I can't think of a more rock 'n' roll end to the day than that.

Supplier Shoutout

Wedding venue: As You Like It

Wedding Dress: San Patrick

Florist: Caroline Morris

Hair: Laura

Cake: Sam and Mam

DJ: Ross Duffy

Keep reading to see the most amazing words anyone has ever written about my photography. Over to Beth.

One day my grandchildren will knock at my door and ask for details about my life and demand to see photos, they will have a billion questions and will keep telling me that their family tree project is due in for tomorrow and that we have to be quick (despite having it for 6 weeks, they just decided to start it the day before submission).

I’ll pop the kettle on and my own children will look a little put out at the thought of going through old photos again, countless holidays and selfies from when facebook was thing. They’ll be embarrassed when I bring out the photos from their first Instagram accounts and my grandchildren will laugh and giggle at the trends their parents wore. They’ll laugh at how ridiculous eyebrows were and wonder why everyone is sticking their lips out. The haircuts will get shorter and longer, my wrinkles will get deeper and heavier. The grandkids will start to get restless and then to make up for the lost six weeks, insist that they need only the important photos. They want to see the wedding photos.

As I open the album, the kids go quiet until the short pause is broken with an excited exclamation “You look like a princess” to which I shall respond with that I am actually a queen. My children will make remarks at their fathers now extinct hairline and joke about his waistline, my children, like my grandchildren are no longer put out but instead are completely enamoured by the old photos.

They’ll look upon the pictures and without hesitation smile and react to each turn of the album. My children reminisce about photos of my father, making observations of how that’s exactly how they remembered him and how much he was in love with their grandmother. I’ll feel a pang of sadness at the recollection of my parents, but this is quickly forgotten when I find the photos of my mother dancing, with each turn of the page a new memory comes back with a forgotten story. A little anecdote to accompany each captured second.

My eagle-eyed grandchild will spot that they recognise one of the photos and will ask if that the photo we’re holding is the same one that sits by my bedside. I’ll look at my elderly husband and he’ll smile, knowing the real depth and meaning behind the photo. ‘’Grandma, why have you got that photo, why not one of the pretty ones, where you’re looking at the camera?” And I’ll tell my grandchild, that love is the reason for this photo to have pride of place. In this photo, we danced like no one was watching, we laughed and giggled and celebrated our time together. Every eye could have been on us and we would have had no idea. In that moment, the whole world was ours.

The time passes and we give the children copies of our photos, so they can get on with their assignments, they leave us to the quiet of our home and thoughts. Lee and I getting tired, decide that it’s time to retire to bed, but not without a cheeky night cap (or 2). We joke and laugh about the forgotten stories of our wedding, remembering shenanigans on the dance floor, the amount of glitter that took years to wash out. We reflect on our time where we had an hour of peace taking photos on the bridge.

My husband points out I was wrong before, taken aback by the statement, I’ll question him to as to why I was wrong. He corrects my previous story and tells me that we were not dancing as if no one was watching. Otherwise where did the photo come from? I agree with him feeling guilty as I hadn’t given due credit.

How all these years later I wish I could thank the man who captured these beautiful memories. How I wish he had known what importance these photos were to me and my family. How grateful we were to him for acting as our eyes and memories. How wonderfully he preserved and retold the greatest story of our life and that this event that he so delicately took on his camera acted as an anchor to my family. What he saw in that one moment would come to define my children and grandchildren’s history. Through his photos I was allowed to greet and remember my parents and siblings, relive those happy memories just like yesterday. I’ll start to think and wonder if he realised that those photos he crafted for us would decorate and embellish the stories our grandchildren would tell. I’ll turn to my husband Lee after this reflection and tell him that the best decision of our wedding was choosing Barry.

He’ll agree and repeat my internal sentiments aloud, wishing that he thanked Barry sooner and wishes that he could tell him the profound effect these photos had had on our lives.

So, Barry if you’re reading this, we’ve discovered time travel and really really want to say thank you for everything you’ve done. Not just for the photos, but thank you for the years of conversations and laughs that come with it. Thank you for the countless family trees these photos will turn up on. Thank you for anniversaries that have their walls decorated with these photos, and thank you for the horrible times and losses you’ve made a hell of a lot easier because you photographed the happy times. Also thanks for being just an amazingly chilled guy, you made the whole thing enjoyable and less scary! Thank you for giving us the whole world xxxxxxxx
— Beth

If you'd like to see more of Beth & Lee, their wintery pre-wedding shoot in Tynemouth allowed me to go a bit more moody and gritty with my editing.

And if you'd like me to capture your wedding, in Newcastle upon Tyne or elsewhere, contact me and tell me about your amazing day.