Real Weddings

Maggie Sottero for a Rustic Wedding at The Ashes – Emma & Gregg

Sarah Symonds

A gorgeous and seasonal rust and rustic wedding, just perfect for cosying up in the coming months. Today’s big September barn wedding is everything you autumnal brides and grooms have dreamed of and more.

Emma and her betrothed, Gregg, had always known they wanted a barn wedding after attending a friend’s similar big day years before. They whittled down their long list of venues until they finally found their perfect spot – The Ashes in Staffordshire. Then the real fun could begin.

Our couple have opted to go down the rustic route for their September wedding, with the venue providing plenty of exposed old brick and wooden beams. They also favoured the seasonal palette of warm rust and orange tones, then juxtaposed those hues with a vibrant red and big tropical, bright orange floral arrangements as a nod to their Maldives engagement. And Emma looks simply stunning in her Maggie Sottero princess style gown with lace detailing and a tulle skirt with impact! So, let’s hear all about it from the bride herself!

With photography by UNVEILED Network Member Charlotte Palazzo Photography


Emma says: We got engaged in Biyadoo in The Maldives. We went for a walk along the beach and to take some photos of our holiday. Gregg asked me to walk along some rocks so he could take a nice photo of me looking out to sea. I was screaming as there were crabs everywhere! Once he had “taken the photo” he asked me to turn around and there he was down on one knee. I was completely speechless and started crying (happy tears), Gregg came in for a hug simply assuming I had said yes. Of course I wanted to say yes!


We tied the knot on Friday 13th September 2019 at The Ashes. We were hoping for a September wedding, thinking this would avoid peak wedding season, but now I would say September is in peak wedding season! Having got engaged in June, we had found our venue by August and the only remaining Friday/Saturday dates the following summer were in July and September. I panicked that July was too soon, so we went for Friday 13th! Luckily neither of us were superstitious about the date.

I had a spreadsheet of about 40 wedding venues in the North West, which was very quickly shortlisted when Gregg announced he wanted to brew his own beer for the wedding and a priority became finding a venue who would allow us to serve our own drinks.

We had always wanted a rustic barn wedding. It was discussed at length in a drunken conversation on a previous holiday when reminiscing about how much fun we had at a friend’s wedding a few years previous.


We went with the rustic theme to go with the venue choice, but with a tropic twist as a nod to our engagement in The Maldives. We used a palette of greens and rusty orange and red. Gregg’s mum had treated me to a colour match appointment shortly after the engagement so we used those autumnal colours, which worked perfectly with a September wedding.


I wore the Lisette dress by Maggie Sottero, purchased from Maria Modes in Macclesfield. I really struggled finding a dress which I thought suited my body shape and I didn’t really know what I wanted so it was a stressful experience for me, I must have tried on over 100 dresses! Initially I went dress shopping with my mum or a bridesmaid but I came to realise there was less pressure when I went on my own. I did actually buy a dress at a wedding fayre but then I couldn’t sleep that night worrying about it so ended up getting a refund. I eventually found Maria Modes and loved the shop and selection of dresses, I was spoiled for choice. Once I tried on Lisette I was excited, but after my first mistake I came back another day with my mum and I loved it even more the second time round so knew it was the one.


Gregg wore the Tibberton suits from Cheshire Menswear in Macclesfield. He was set on wearing a brown suit to match the wedding theme and colours but it was quite difficult to find suits to hire that weren’t the standard grey, blue or black. The groomsmen wore the same suits as the groom.


My bridesmaids were all different shapes and sizes and I wanted them all to feel good in their dresses so I was looking at dresses that were available in different styles from the same shop, or as multi-way dresses. In the end they all wore different style dresses in the same fabric, ordered online from JJ’s House.


Nikki Webb Makeup Artist did my hair and makeup and the bridesmaids’ hair.


I stayed overnight with my mum and bridesmaids in a cottage in the local village and drove to the venue in the morning, since I was getting ready in the dressing room at The Ashes Barns. Gregg got ready at home with the groomsmen and was driven to the venue in one of their cars.


Charlotte Palazzo was our photographer. At every step Charlotte was incredible, and it was commented on by our guests!

The photos are absolutely AMAZING! They are seriously way beyond what we thought our wedding photos would look like! We thought they would be good but they are next level! We both had the best day of our lives, and we realise how lucky we were to have somebody so talented to help us capture it! We are SO happy we chose Charlotte.


I carried a waterfall bouquet of orange and red tropical flowers with tropical leaves, by White Room Floral design. When looking for our florist we wanted someone we could trust to make recommendations based on their experience, rather than dictate specific requirements. Julie did a fantastic job of selecting flowers for us and set up as requested at the venue.

Luckily, The Ashes Barns is so beautiful there wasn’t much venue dressing required so we kept decoration pretty simple. The team at The Ashes were also really good in setting up the finishing touches from the few decorations we provided.

My Gran passed away earlier in the year so I was gutted she wouldn’t be at the wedding. My mum gave me a locket with a picture of my Gran to tie around my bouquet so she would be with me all day.


We live in Cheshire but I was raised in Kendal in the Lake District so we wanted to incorporate some of my home town into the wedding. We had Kendal Mint Cake shaped into hearts as wedding favours, and the tables were each named after a lake in the Lake District.


We chose a three tier semi-naked rustic cake from Tickety Boo Cakes.


We had goat cheese tart for starters, pies for mains and chocolate fudge brownie for dessert. We provided red and a white wine, and craft beers for the wedding breakfast. My mum surprised us by making a tonne of her famous caramel shortbread which appeared with the evening buffet later in the evening.


We chose Feel Good Inc. who are a live band. We knew we wanted a band to play at our wedding but were struggling to find one that we could agree on. We found Feel Good Inc. after going out for a meal for Gregg’s birthday in Knutsford, they were playing in the bar. We were only supposed to be out for food for a couple of hours and ended up staying out all night until the bar closed in the early hours.

We had a photo booth from Boothtube which everyone loved and it was really worth getting. We chose a photobooth for gifs, which our guest loved and most people hadn’t seen before.

Special touches

I walked myself down the aisle. I didn’t like the idea of being ‘given away’ as it seemed old fashioned. It also seemed a bit silly since we had been living together for six years already. I got some interesting comments, such as people feeling sorry for me and others saying I was really brave, but I stuck with it as it was right for me.

Thanks to

Would we recommend our venue to another couple? Yes, 1000%! The team at The Ashes do everything they can to make sure you have the most perfect day. We met with our wedding coordinator, Vikki, a couple of months before the big day. Vikki made sure everything and everyone was in the right place at the right time and the whole day ran smoothly. I can be a bit of a control freak so it was nice to know someone else I could trust was making the day flow as it should, so we could relax and enjoy ourselves.


We went to Thailand and Bali on honeymoon, as we had always wanted to go to both countries on holiday. First we stayed in Bangkok for three nights to explore the city, then we flew to Koh Samui for five nights, which was the first opportunity we had to just relax so we stayed by the pool at Rocky’s Boutique Resort most of the time! Then we flew up to Chang Mai, where the highlight was visiting an elephant sanctuary, before staying another night in Bangkok at the Banyan Tree. We took a flight to Bali and stayed for five nights in Seminyak and five nights in the amazing Alila Ubud, before returning home to rainy Manchester!


I would say prioritise what YOU want. Lots of people have advice for you, listen to it but always make sure you have chosen what is right for you as a couple.

I wish someone had warned me how long it takes to order a dress and have it altered, I wanted to lose weight for my wedding day and ideally you should be the same size when you order the dress as when you got married. I ordered my dress in December for a September wedding which just about worked out with standard timelines, although I ended up paying a fortune in alterations due to being three dress sizes smaller.

I also attended a Brides Up North wedding fair, which was the best place to find local wedding suppliers and vendors and to meet them all in person, on the same day. I met our photographer, florist, hair and makeup, photobooth and cake supplier at various wedding fairs.

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