A Bespoke Lace Dress for a Handmade and Romantic Summer Barn Wedding

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If you’re currently experiencing winter chills as you readily prepare for Christmas festivities, I have a lovely surprise to warm you up with; this very pretty and pastel-filled summer wedding that was beautifully shot by photographer Jo Hastings. The bride and groom, Sophia and Phil, are both lawyers and they tied the knot on the 18th of June last summer for their relaxed wedding set amongst the prettiest courtyard, gardens and barns backdrop at The Ashes Barns in Leek, Staffordshire.

Sophia donned a beautiful Dana Bolton backless dress with a delicate lace neckline and sleeves that suited her to a tee.

“I tried on a few dresses but none felt like the right one. There was always something missing. I came across Dana Bolton online when researching dresses and I knew instantly when I saw her designs that I would find my dress with her. I chose her ‘Mercy‘ design with a few tweaks to the colour, back and length. I absolutely loved my dress; it was simple but intricate at the same time and felt amazingly comfortable to wear.”

Photography by Jo Hastings

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Have you discovered our brilliant bridal resource Little Book for Brides? The couple’s photographer, Jo Hastings Photography, is a member (see her listing here) and Sophia recalls how helpful and talented they found Jo to be.

“Jo was just great from start to finish. She was very responsive by email and when we met her, we just knew she got us and would do a great job. Jo is genuinely down to earth and made us feel totally relaxed. We didn’t know Jo was there on the day and lots of our guests said the same thing. We *love* our photos and the little video of our photos is amazing – we have laughed and cried and relived the day again through them. I would recommend Jo 100%.”

“Pastels and country colours were our inspiration and we knew we wanted a very informal day. The most important thing for us was to have all our closest family and friends around us and enough food and drink to keep everyone happy all day!”

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Hair and makeup was by Michelle Sisson. Sophia donned a pair of comfortable heels by Rachel Simpson Shoes (‘Catherine’ in ivory) and added Accessorize clips for her hair, her favourite Jo Malone fragrance (English Pear and Freesia), then topped off her stylish ensemble with lovely pearl jewellery pieces that were all gifted to her.

“My parents bought me a gorgeous Tiffany and Co. pearl necklace and earrings which were vintage-looking and beautiful. I also had a beautiful pearl bracelet as a wedding gift from Phil and my something blue came from my sister by way of a silver bracelet with blue gem.”

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“Phil and I met in our first year of university in 2006. It was on our Law degree – we were in the same seminar group.”

“We got engaged in Croatia in August 2014 and married 22 months later.”

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Sophia’s three maids wore pretty pale blue dresses from Debenhams (ironically named ‘Sophia’!), with hairclips from Accessorize and their hair was styled by one of the creative bridesmaid, who works as a hairdresser – very handy!


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“Me and my bridesmaids and my mum and dad travelled in Morris Minors to the wedding by Endon Wedding Cars. Our rings were from Mitchel and Co. in the Jewellery Quarter Birmingham – Phil’s family have used them for many years and so it was an obvious choice for us.”

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I’m a little bit in love with the utterly gorgeous florals, created by The Topiary Tree, especially Sophia’s bouquet that pops with sensational colours.

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“For the flowers, we wanted a just-picked, country look. I love flowers, to the point where Phil thinks we may need to remortgage our house to keep up my weekly purchases!”

The Topiary Tree work with The Ashes regularly and they took a lot of the stress out of knowing where to put flowers at the venue and what looked good. They just had it covered and were so lovely when we met them. I let them go with it and the flowers were wonderful.”

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Phil looked very smart in a Marks & Spencer blue suit, with a tweed vest from Next and paisley bowtie from Mrs Bow Tie, whilst the fellas donned smart suits also from Marks & Spencer.

“We wanted all of the guys (including the dads) to be in the same suit but with the groomsmen in ties and without waistcoats. M&S catered for all and I think you will agree, the groom and the guys looked extremely dapper!”

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“My Dad walked me down the aisle. It was the only part of the day where I felt nervous – waiting to walk down the aisle. I walked to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beatles, played by our fabulous guitarist, Ed Peczek. We walked out to Jackie Wilson’s ‘Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher’. I remember having the biggest smile on my face as we walked out as husband and wife.”

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“We had two readings from very dear friends of us who now live abroad in Australia and Singapore. It meant a lot to us that they travelled over for the wedding and we loved having them read at our wedding. We chose the readings ‘Union’ by Robert Fulgham and ‘What is Love?’ by Anon.”

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“The first reading just felt so perfect to us, as we had been together for 9 years by the time we got married and have kind of grown up together from being bright eyed and bushy tailed 18-year-olds. We just knew it was right when we first read it. The second was a little more light-hearted and is just so true.”

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“We both agreed the ceremony was the most emotional and our most favourite part of the day. I didn’t think I would get emotional but I was on the verge of tears at one point (happy tears of course!). In all the preparations, it is sometimes easy to forget the main part of the day and it was just so special to be making promises to each other in front of all our family and friends.” 

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Sophia and Phil had loads of help with their stationery and decor from their family. If you’re in the throes of planning your big day, it’s a lovely way to involve your loved ones.

“Phil’s sister created our wedding invites which was lovely as it felt really personal. We used Etsy for other elements of the stationery including table numbers and menu cards.” 

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My mother in law is a dab hand at sewing and knitting and she volunteered to make bunting for the barns and for the outside courtyard. It made the venue look brilliant. We stuck to whites and greens mostly and had patterned and non-patterned fabric.

We collected a lot of jars before the wedding, which were used as our centre-pieces filled with flowers. My mum also sourced some vintage fruit crates which were used for cards and flip flops.”

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“The catering was by Jenkinsons who created a bespoke menu of canapés, followed by a big BBQ served to the tables with lots of meat, salads, wedges and condiments to go around, then a summer fruit pavlova which was served as a whole to each table. Then to keep the energy levels up in the evening, they provided fish and chips and curry and rice (the latter a nod to my mixed race Indian heritage).

Everyone said how good the food was and how full they were – that to me is a good sign!”

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“My favourite idea was our place names. We printed a polaroid of each person, which we displayed on mini easels on the table. Our guests wrote on the back of the polaroid and then pinned it to a large easel in the foyer of our reception barn. The polaroids were a great read and we have made them into a guest book reel which we love. We also bought a mirror and decorated it with flowers for the table plan.

We had a ‘Pimp My Prosecco’ station, hired some lawn games for the drinks reception and ladders to use for a picture display, and had giant LOVE balloons for the dance floor, which were used by our guests for photos in the evening.”



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A very talented friend, Harriet McHugh, made the wedding cake – a three-tiered delicious lemon drizzle sat atop a wood slice and decorated with flowers.

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The band, The Money, played two sets in the evening, then DJ’d for the rest of the night and their groovy tunes ensured a full dance floor at all times.

“We saw the band play at another friend’s wedding the year prior to ours and loved them. I have to say, I have not been to another wedding where the dance floor was so full all evening and it was due in part to our wonderful guests, but mainly because the band were so brilliant and just kept playing amazing songs. For our first dance we chose ‘Love Come Down’ by Evelyn King – an oldie but such a good song. We wanted our first dance song to start the party and it did just that!”


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Words of Wedded Wisdom

“My advice would be to just enjoy every minute of the planning and build up and don’t sweat the small stuff, because it really doesn’t matter in the end. Phil and I went off for a drive after the ceremony which was lovely as we got time to just go ‘eeeeeeeek, we did it!’ before chatting to our friends and family for the rest of the day. You get hardly any time together on the day, so setting aside 5 minutes was lovely for us.

It was also fab to get friends and family involved as much as possible as they got to enjoy the build up with us.

I got a lot of ideas and inspiration from reading wedding blogs and pinning on Etsy – great but stick to your guns as you can get a bit carried away with all the wonderful ideas that people have.

Finally, Leanne from Blooming Lovely Films was brilliant and our film is just fab. I would definitely recommend a video for those that are questioning it. Phil wasn’t convinced initially but now he is so glad we have one. We have watched the whole thing several times over and listening to the speeches again was hilarious!”

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It worked didn’t it lovely ones? I’m certain you’re feeling warmer and inspired by Sophia and Phil’s most lovely day. Ohhhhh, those beautiful blooms – I’m off to buy a stunning colourful bouquet to brighten up my home right now! A huge thanks for Jo for sharing these joy-filled images and to view more of Jo’s fabulous work, see here.

Wishing everyone a jolly rest of week … and stay warm!

Love Jo -x-

Credits & Thanks

Jo Singletary

Jo Singletary View all Jo's articles

Jo hails from and lives in sunny Australia, is currently working towards her dream of being a career coach and a few of her favourite things are watching the sunrise over the ocean, morning walks on the beach, butterflies, and supporting the guide dogs charity.

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