The Ashes Barns Wedding
Rustic, personal, filled with music, family, friends and laughter!
Maggie and Martyn
What a dream you guys! I am so happy to be sharing the The Ashes Barns wedding of WWW readers Maggie and Martyn today. They were married on the 9th February 2020 in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside during storm Ciara. There really isn’t much not to love about their day, first up I have to mention the references to Outlander and Harry Potter as I am a huge fan of both series’ myself. Maggie walked down the aisle to the ‘Skye Boat Song’ from Outlander season 1, it’s the most beautiful song, which I have played too many times myself to mention! Secondly beautiful nods to Harry Potter were used throughout, from their reading to the Daily Prophet style sign, deer cake topper and table names, WHOA!
Next up, the outfits, Maggie looked so stunning in her tulle gown by Stella York which she teamed with a tartan cape, while Martyn looked very smart in his Master Debonair attire; a navy tweed check suit. I must also rave about the dramatic burgundy flowers, especially Maggie’s bouquet, oh so striking.
It’s fab to hear that they found their wonderful photographer Belle Art Photography on WWW and I have to say these images are just incredible, thanks so much to Becy for sharing them with us today.
We met at the beginning of our first year at Lancaster University – we were both in Pendle College although studying different degrees – that was back in September 2013! We were together ever since, Martyn moved up to Scotland with me when I got a scholarship to do my Masters in Glasgow.
We talked about getting married and how we imagined our Big Day would look like when we were still students… One day when I was looking for something in Martyn’s wardrobe (Martyn says I was ‘snooping’), a box fell on my head. I should’ve put it back where it belonged but I’m not great with surprises and I just HAD to open it… I saw the ring, thought ‘he did really well!’, put it back and didn’t mention it to him. That was March 2018. We were going to Italy at the beginning of May so I just assumed he’s going to propose when we’re there.
I have a bucket list of Scottish castles and a lot of our weekends involve trips and days out. On Sunday, 22nd of April 2018 we went to Castle Campbell in Dollar. It’s not anywhere near as popular as it should be – it’s an amazing ruined castle in the most perfect location! It was just us going round and Martyn was starting to really get on my nerves, saying ‘let’s go up to the top before other people turn up’. I like to do sightseeing floor by floor, reading any information cards/boards as I do it – I don’t like to be rushed! When we finally got to the top of the castle’s tower, I leant out to look at the fields and the sheep. I have this thing for sheep – which is absolutely ridiculous – that I keep wondering how can they keep their balance when they’re on steep hills. I said something like ‘if I could ask sheep a question, I’d ask them how they stay on the hill…’ (I know, don’t judge haha!). Martyn was behind me and replied saying: ‘and I have a question for you…’. I turned round and there he was on one knee with a ring. I don’t fully remember what he said next but I got really emotional and screamed ‘YES!’ when he asked me to marry him. We came back to Glasgow with me having difficulty focusing on the road as I tried to admire the ring, called our families and celebrated with a dinner at our favourite Italian restaurant, Fratelli Sarti. It was the perfect, intimate engagement and I don’t think it could’ve gone any better if he tried!
I was an avid WWW reader way before we got engaged. Because we talked about getting married for a while, we already knew what we wanted. Rustic venue with bright, deep colours (I hate pastels), great music and food, filled with family, friends and laughter! We didn’t want to adhere to any ‘norms’ or stick with traditions that we weren’t keen on. We wanted to make it our Best Day.
I’m Polish and had a day or two of pondering if I wanted to get married in my home country (which my mum really wanted). Martyn has a very big family (his mum is one of nine) and we’re close with all of his uncles, aunties, and cousins… They took up the majority of our guest list and we decided that it would be a logistical nightmare trying to get everyone to Poland. I’ve also realised that I’m not a fan of traditional Polish weddings and that I’d much rather plan everything the way we’d like it to be (a lot of personal touches would not be possible in Poland, i.e. during the ceremony).
We live in Glasgow but despite being completely in love with Scotland (I like to say it’s my adopted home country), we wanted to get married somewhere near Manchester. Martyn’s a proud Mancunian and a lot of his family live in the area.
The Planning Process
I started browsing Pinterest and taking a lot of screenshots for inspiration very early on. We knew we needed time to save so we thought of late 2019/early 2020 as a date. I liked the fact that we had so much time; it meant we didn’t have to rush through any of the decisions and we could really enjoy the process. I heard a lot of stories from stressed brides who’d be like ‘I had an awful day at work but I HAD to do this and that for the wedding…’. I didn’t want to be one of them. We made a deal that we wouldn’t spend all of our time planning the wedding and when we do, we’ll enjoy it.
We started with the band, venue, registrar, stationery (as we sent out ‘save the dates’) and went from there.
We did have one of these at one point… We did go over a bit but in general we spent as much as we planned/thought.
We wanted to get married in a rustic venue, ideally a charming barn that could accommodate both the ceremony and the reception. We didn’t want the hassle of having people driving from one place to another, and we didn’t want to spend time doing it ourselves!
There was one venue that we had eyed up ages ago – The Ashes Barns Wedding Venue in Endon, Staffordshire. That was the first place we looked at when we started planning, it was also the first (and the last!) one that we viewed. Martyn was really set on it but I tried to look at brochures of other barns/venues to make sure we were making the right choice… We went to see The Ashes as soon as we came back from Italy and instantly knew that was THE venue.
The Ashes Barns is a complex of two rustic stone barns – the ceremony barn and the reception barn. I could go on all day about everything that we loved about it – it was exclusive use (which was very important for us), it had a fantastic dressing room, there was a great pink cottage for our wedding night accommodation, there was a XV century renovated country house to accommodate our closest family members on the wedding night… The venue was no corkage, their food supplier (Jenkinsons) was highly recommended… We did try to find something we didn’t like about it but failed to do so; we booked it not long after.
The Ashes invite their couples (with guests) to an ‘Experience Event’ before the wedding. We were really looking forward to sampling some of the food before confirming our final choices with the caterer; we went with Martyn’s mum and one of his brothers. The food was so nice and it was great to see the venue all ‘dressed up’. It really made us excited for the final stages of the wedding planning! I was also able to convince Martyn to add a sorbet course to our wedding breakfast – he tried a blackcurrant one and said ‘this is amazing, we’ve got to have it at our wedding!’.
The Ashes also assign an Event Manager to every wedding and ours was the loveliest lady who couldn’t be more helpful if she tried (she even attached Martyn’s buttonhole on the day as he had no idea how to do it!). The entire team was just amazing to plan the wedding with and they were always on hand to answer any queries we had – even if they were really silly!
Your Outfits & Accessories
I don’t know how many dresses I tried on before I said ‘YES’… I started with more budget-friendly shops. I’m not going to name them but I cried after visiting the first store – the person was quite rude and basically stated as a matter of fact ‘of course, you’ll want to lose weight before the wedding?’. I then decided that I preferred to spend more money on the dress but have a really good experience. I’ve had issues with my body and weight my entire life, and didn’t need to be reminded of it during what was meant to be a really exciting time.
So down the designers’ route I went… I visited five different bridal stores around Glasgow area. I tried on beautiful dresses in all of them but didn’t feel ‘it’.
Shortly after New Year, we went to Manchester to spend few days with Martyn’s mum and siblings. Aside from one time when one of my good friend’s went to an appointment with me, I’d been trying on the dresses by myself. I thought it’d be fun to take Martyn’s mum and sister with me. I booked an appointment in Ava Rose Hamilton in Colne (they film ‘Say Yes to The Dress Lancashire there!) but to be honest, I really didn’t intend on getting a dress from there. I must’ve been mad – drive all the way from Glasgow for fittings in Colne?!
Anyway, Ava Rose Hamilton is a dream. The team there are just the best. I tried on few dresses that I picked and had that ‘deflated’ feeling again, when one gal brought a strapless dress that I’d never picked myself (I didn’t want strapless). I tried it on and… Oh, it was tears, and laughter and everything. I had ‘that’ moment. I said YES before I could work out it wasn’t the greatest solution logistically speaking.
I wore Stella York 6690+ dress in almond with illusion buttons back and custom added long illusion sleeves. Being a plus size, I never imagined I’d ever feel the way I did on my wedding day in this dress.
I had two pairs of shoes, one ‘ceremony shoes’ were purple/deep pink velvet pumps from Ted Baker with a big brooch. They were so pretty, colourful and comfortable! My ‘party’ shoes were rose gold Kate Spade glitter trainers with ribbon laces. I wore big handmade Swarovski crystals’ emerald green earrings that one of my bridesmaids brought from LA. I also had a tartan cape.
Martyn knew what suit he wanted to wear pretty much straight away. We saw it online and both liked it from the start. We went to the shop he eyed up, Master Debonair, which was all the way in East Boldon. He tried on the three-piece suit he wanted (Marc Darcy Eton Navy Blue Tweed Check) – he ended up getting jacket and trousers, but went for a Cavani dark green/brown tweed waistcoat. His shoes (London Brogues Gatsby Tan Leather with Navy Suede), tie and shirt were all from TK Maxx. He also wore cufflinks in the shape of a Westie that I ordered from Etsy. His belt and pocket square were from Master Debonair.
The Readings & Music
I walked down the aisle with my dad to ‘Skye Boat Song’ theme song version from Outlander season 1 (I’m a huge fan of everything and anything Outlander!).
We had two readings, one read by Gaby (my bridesmaid) and the other one read by Hanna (my friend, one who went wedding dress shopping with me).
We’re both huge (and I mean HUGE) Harry Potter fans. Therefore, it was non-negotiable that we’d have one reading from Harry Potter. Gaby read an extract from Harry Potter the Order of the Phoenix.
Hanna read All I Know About Love by Neil Gaiman. It was perfect. We didn’t fall in love from the first sight and having been through a lot as a couple at this stage, we were under no delusions of what love entailed.
We decided on three songs during the signing of the registry (although only the first two had the time to play!):
- Mamma Mia 2 – Andante, Andante
- The Greatest Showman – A Million Dreams
- Grease – You’re The One That I Want
We’re really big on musicals and sing-alongs in the cars… It was just so ‘us’ and so special.
We walked out to Huey Lewis and The News ‘Power of Love’ (Back to the Future, whoop!).
Throughout the day we played various carefully selected and combined by Martyn playlists from the iPod. In the evening, we had THE BEST BAND ever – Mister Kanish.
Now, Mister Kanish is this band that we stumbled upon on YouTube back in 2015 when we were in 3rd year at uni. We fell in love with them and their music and decided that if we ever got married, we’d have them play at our wedding.
Imagine how happy we were to discover that they were still together and still playing at the weddings… After we got engaged, Martyn called them and said we wanted them to play at our wedding, and that we can choose the date to accommodate them.
Yep, that’s how badly we wanted THAT band. They do folk, electric or both but we’ve decided on folk only.
I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we were over the moon with them on the night… They’ve learnt our first dance (Josh Kelley – Loves You Like Me) so well and just kept rocking the dance floor. They were great. If you’re looking for an amazing wedding band, please check them out. You won’t regret it! I still smile back at seeing everyone scream their hearts out to Oasis ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’.
Ahhh the flowers! The flowers were wonderful and one of the things that so many people commented on, especially looking back at the photos.
The Ashes Barns have a ‘Dream Team’ supplier list and that’s how we found The Topiary Tree Florist. Living in Glasgow, I spent the initial stages of consultations exchanging emails with Rose (she’s just a gem!). I sent her loads of Pinterest screenshots of the bridal bouquets that I’ve liked. I really dislike roses so these were a no go. Rose came back to me with a very long list of flowers that I don’t know or remember but I really trusted her craft, vision and talent. I’ve seen enough photos from the weddings that she’s helped to create that I was 100% it’ll be beautiful on the day.
The Topiary Tree Florist did mine and my bridesmaids’ bouquets, Martyn’s and his groomsmens’ buttonholes and the flowers for the tables. We supplied them with various coloured whisky and gin bottles that they’ve filled with blooms, three per each table.
My bouquet also had a charm with two black and white photos – my grandmother and my great-grandmother. I didn’t have the pleasure of really knowing my grandmother, who died of cancer when I was 4, but growing up I was really close with my great-grandmother. She’s only passed away when I was 15. I liked the idea of having them ‘close’ on the day. I also wore my grandmother’s ring on my right hand.
We’ve also used some flowers to pin into my hair and to decorate the cake.
Rose is a true artist and the flowers were absolutely stunning. I would choose her again as our florist in a heartbeat.
I really liked the fact that we could re-use and re-purpose flowers from the ceremony for the reception. It saved us money and throwing them out. After the wedding, we donated the flowers to East Cheshire Hospice in Macclesfield. I really didn’t want them to go to waste, we couldn’t take any of them with us back up to Scotland – so it was nice to think they could bring a smile to someone else’s face, even for a day!
We bought bestman’s suit (Jonathan, one of Martyn’s brothers). It was a burgundy three-piece suit from ASOS. Martyn’s groomsmen got their own suits – we’ve just asked them to wear mismatched tweed jackets. It worked really well – the groomsmen were Martyn’s brother (Aiden) and two of his cousins (Mark and Alex).
We bought all of them tie and pocket square.
I never wanted to go down the route of matching bridesmaid’s dresses… Each of them wore a different dress. My sister, who was also a maid of honour (Monika), wore a navy Dorothy Perkins dress with sequin top. She picked it herself and looked great in it – which was even more impressive as I’ve ordered it online with a delivery to Poland.
My other bridesmaids wore charcoal grey Maya dress from ASOS (Gaby) and a burgundy dress with sequined top (Aga). I only went to actual store to order a measured dress with one of my bridesmaid’s (Katia) who wore a forest green David’s Bridal dress.
As a very self-conscious person, I hated the idea of having strangers in the room when I was getting ready. My sister and maid of honour (Monika) agreed to do my hair (she bought some really fancy curling iron that was basically making the curls by itself) and she did such an amazing job – I was speechless. By the time she was finished, I forgot that we had to go back to the hotel because she forgot the EU to UK adapter for said curling iron…
One of my bridesmaids, Katia, did my make up. I don’t have the words to say how much I’ve loved it or how happy I was that she agreed to do it… I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The bridesmaids did their own make-up and hair (although I think my sister helped one other bridesmaid, Aga, with her hair – not sure now!).
I think choosing our photographer was the most difficult stage of the wedding planning, at least for me. It took us well over three months and I think we must have seen over 20 portfolios…
All of the photographers that we considered were really good. But I didn’t want good, I wanted someone great. Someone who wouldn’t just take photos but capture the emotion, the beauty, the laughter and the essence of the day. I saw a wedding captured by Becy from Belle Art Photography here, on WWW. I can’t really explain it but I felt as if her photos spoke to me… I got in touch with her, we studied her pricing guide and a full gallery from a wedding she captured… She’s just the most lovely, positive and amazing woman. She radiates the energy and I was so happy to have her there on the day.
On the day, Becy was so non-intrusive, so respectful of everyone’s space but at the same time managed to take the best shots. Some guests have asked us if we even had a photographer – this is how good she is!
I cried when I saw the photos (you can tell by now that I’m easily reduced to tears, right?). The full gallery was even better, I’m so grateful that we found someone who locked our Best Day in photographs so we can look back on it and smile so sincerely.
Becy is just a rare soul with a talent that the world deserves to see. I don’t know how much more I can say to recommend her. Look her up, you’ll be glad you did.
Martyn’s mum is a really good baker and we asked her early on if she could bake the wedding cake. I appreciate it was a really big task – we did mention several times that we could figure something else out, but she said that she was happy to do it, which made us really grateful!
The cake was semi-naked and had three different tiers: chocolate sponge with Irish cream, vanilla sponge with white chocolate buttercream (Martyn’s a big fan) and elderflower and lemon. She decorated the cake with some dark berries and flowers. I don’t think either of us imagined that the cake would look as amazing as it did – even though we knew it’d taste great!
I really liked our cake topper. I searched back and forth on Etsy and notonthehighstreet to find one that I’d like and finally found this gem on Etsy. In a way, it was another nod to our subtle Harry Potter theme and in another, to our love for Scotland and the outdoors.
The Details & Décor
The barns were so beautiful on their own that we didn’t really have to try too hard with the decorations. We had flowers, as mentioned earlier, but aside from that we didn’t use that many other decorations.
Probably the most important piece of wedding décor was an enormous custom-made dream catcher from BooCraft that we had hanged up on the wall behind the registrar’s desk and afterwards behind us, above the top table. It actually hangs over our bed in Glasgow normally (although I did order it specifically for the wedding). Funny story, when we were packing the car up with all the stuff for the wedding, we forgot to take it off the wall and take it with us. We’ve realised it near Bolton on the way to Manchester… Martyn spent the entire next day on the train back up to Glasgow to pick it up and back to Manchester… I’m really glad he did – I hope he thinks so as well!
We had some paper pom pom type of balls from Etsy as pew ends. Their colour matched my bridesmaids’ dresses. All of the gin/whisky bottles with flowers stood on wooden logs that we got from Martyn’s uncle who got married a year before.
We ordered an A2 size welcome sign that looked like the front page of The Daily Prophet saying ‘Maggie and Martyn are getting married here today!”. I really liked it, still thinking if and where we can put it up on the wall…
We made the place cards ourselves with wooden Scrabble letters’ stickers from Hobbycraft; also used these for the seating plan. Our tables were named after the Hogwarts’ professors.
During the ceremony, we placed blue IKEA jars with battery operated fairy lights down the aisle. Later on, they were placed on the tables alongside IKEA tea light lanterns.
We also hired festoon lighting from Hipswing. They were another supplier recommended by The Ashes; we were really happy with them.
Our ‘save the date’ and invitations were from Sarah Wants. She makes the most beautiful stationery from her studio in Cornwall!
After the wedding we drove up to Aboyne, Aberdeenshire for our minimoon in our favourite B&B – Lys-Na-Greyne. These four days were so blissful – it was just nice to be there on our own and enjoy being married!
We’re planning to go back to Italy for two weeks at some stage: Florence, Montepulciano, Bolsena, Sienna, Ferrara and Verona. However, with Covid-19 it’s hard to reschedule the trip – we’ll get there eventually!
We got married during Storm Ciara – apparently, the tree fell down on the road and they had to remove it! Martyn’s cousin and her husband didn’t make it until main course of wedding breakfast due to train delays. The day after, it was quite a disaster listening to everyone trying to get back home on the train, especially when you consider the 3 inches of snow! (I was so, so happy we decided to stay another night in the area!).
My mum, who was getting ready in the Dressing Room at the venue with me and my bridesmaids, trying to sing to Mamma Mia soundtrack (even though she doesn’t speak English!).
Writing the card to Martyn.
My sister helping me into my dress, Hanna coming in to say ‘hi!’ and using her lighter to burn a bit of my dress that was ripping at the sleeve!
My dad walking into the Dressing Room, seeing me and my dress and almost bursting into tears. He was speechless which doesn’t happen often!
Seeing Martyn at the end of the aisle – you know, that feeling when you’re absolutely at peace and everything is well?
When the registrar asked if anyone knew of any reason why we couldn’t be married, it was perfectly quiet and then my six month old niece started making noises. Everyone turned round to look at her and started laughing. She’s such a great child.
When the sun came out and shone through the barn’s windows when we were saying our vows (hello, it was the storm of the century!). It was just magical. Even my seven year old brother said it was his favourite part of the day!
The first dance. Martyn sang the entire song, though I’m not sure it was quite in key!
Seeing everyone so happy and genuinely enjoying themselves – it was so nice to know that our loved ones had a good time!
Advice For Other Couples
Don’t let other people try to tell you how to plan the day. It’s your day and you should do it the way you both want to do it – nothing more, nothing less.
Try not to get to hang up about the weather and other things that are out of your control. I was really worried we’d have a snowstorm and my family wouldn’t be able to fly in – instead we had a massive storm and snow the day after! You can’t predict the weather.
Choose readings, songs, flowers, colours that mean something to you. You can then look back at the day and sincerely smile.
And don’t ever let anyone tell you how much you should weigh or how you should look to feel absolutely fabulous on your wedding day!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Belle Art Photography
The Ashes Barns
The Topiary Tree Florist
How very romantic?! Thanks also to Maggie for sharing her very honest experiences and advice with us all.
Maggie and Martyn thank you ever so much for sharing your really beautiful day with us, I hope you get to jet off on your honeymoon soon guys! xo Lou