Sian & Scott’s Polhawn Fort Wedding

Written by Emma Hla
Images by Estrada Weddings.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this celebration was a destination wedding in some faraway exotic clime. But this brilliant blue sky and azure waters come courtesy of Polhawn Fort in Cornwall! Sian & Scott’s New Zealand-influenced wedding is the stuff of summer dreams and we dare you not to consider your own coastal ceremony after seeing this stunning backdrop.


Notes from the Bride

Sian says…

We originally planned to have a small wedding in New Zealand which didn’t work out and so we ended up searching for a new venue far too late in the planning game! I had my heart set on getting married outdoors, amidst some beautiful scenery with rugged landscape and close to water. Scott found Polhawn Fort after a few minutes of googling, and then we spoke to the lovely (and incredibly helpful) Gemma who offered us a summer date for 2018.

I spent a large part of my career working in fashion, so for me the sartorial choices were the most exciting part of the planning. I already knew which dress I wanted before I’d started shopping. I still experimented with a few different places (Amanda Wakely, Temperley and Rue du Siene were highlights) but Lela Rose at Browns Brides was where my heart was at.

The dress was a lot more traditional than my normal style, but it had this unusual silk pressed flower detail that really stood out. I kept the accessories low key, opting for gold horseshoe earrings and a POWER necklace from &otherstories which my bridesmaid gifted me.

You couldn’t see my shoes under my dress, but they were embellished – absolutely not compatible with my underskirt! Eventually I changed into my converse which is a standard party move for me, but unfortunately it really highlights the height difference between Scott and I!

My style is very casual and I’m pretty easy going, so I didn’t want the wedding fashion to be too fussy or coordinated. The bridesmaids picked their own dress (which worked out perfectly) and the groomsmen wore chinos with braces. My present to my bridesmaids for doing such an amazing job were these little female symbol silver necklaces, which they wore on the day. Proceeds from these necklaces went to the Brighton Women’s Refuge and I bought them from Etsy.

My hair was styled by the lovely Lauren at Fox House, and my make up by Nancy. I’d been to Fox House for a trial and had a really fun afternoon with Lauren and Nancy. They were so easy to get along with, super chatty and made me feel so relaxed. My makeup was quite minimal, with brown smoky eyes and nude lips. With my hair, we just opted for loose, messy waves. My hair is so thick and wavy anyway, that it held the style throughout the day and I didn’t need to worry. I struggled with the flower crown as it was far too big, so Lauren took to it with a pair of scissors at the last minute like a total pro, and it was an excellent decision. I was much happier with a smaller crown. My bridesmaids also had flower crowns which complemented their outfits perfectly – they looked like gorgeous little woodland elves.

The Fort is so beautiful, that it doesn’t need much adding to it. I wanted to keep it all very simple. I worked with my maid of honour, the very talented designer, Beth Salter, on colours and themes. So many weddings are styled with minimal colour, but we felt with this location that it was important to have some colour and vibrancy.

The theme didn’t have a name, but I chose my influences based on the New Zealand Summer. I chose a largely pastel palette with pops of colour and touches of brass. There are so many flowers and plants outside the Fort that we didn’t need to add too many decorations, except some extra flowers, hay bales and festoon lighting. For the interior of the venue and the tables, Scott and I did a huge Ikea shop beforehand and picked up some small carafes (for flowers on tables), brass tealight holders and lots of candles.

We hired our boho coloured glasswear from Keeping It Vintage, who were lovely to work with. It was an absolute miracle, given all of the alcohol, that no one managed to smash anything!

I had seen a ceremony arch for a few weddings and I loved the idea of having something quite minimal that would be a focal point for the service and would look striking against the backdrop of the ocean. Breock’s dad, Paul Cardew is a man of many skills and actually made the arch for us. It was gorgeous. About 10 ft tall, prism shaped and made of wood. We kept it minimal and decorated the side with flowers and pampus grass.

Our florist, Hannah Burnett, stepped in quite last minute and was very hands on. At this point, I really needed someone to get completely stuck in and Hannah did just that. I used to the work for Chelsea Flower Show so I’m big on my flowers and had a very specific vision. The whole feel of the wedding was a bit wild, like the New Zealand summer – so we used a base of hydrangeas, stocks, Juliet roses and lots of greenery for the bouquets and table decorations. For the outside decorations, we had pampas grass, jasmine trails and clematis.

The catering was done by Kerra’s Catering. Kerra and her team deserve a special shout out for being so patient with us, even when changing table plans at the last minute! Everyone absolutely loved the food, which was Mediterranean and Kiwi inspired, with starter boards of arancini, olives, bread and oils. The main course comprised of a few gorgeous salads, with grilled aubergine and halloumi and flame sealed leg of lamb.

We didn’t do desserts, but we did have a cheese board later on and because we are both cheese obsessed, Kerra suggested mac and cheese for the evening snack (which went down VERY well with all the champagne happy guests! And also, it’s my favourite food).

Our cake was actually made for us by my brilliant friend of 25 years, Sarah, who in the past has made cupcakes for James Martin. She even transported the cakes down from London on the train. I hadn’t given her a brief, because I wanted to keep it low-key. Scott and I are not the cake cutting tradition kind of couple! However, Sarah made two excellent cakes, one of which is carrot (my fave.)

Our journey to finding a photographer is absolutely one of a kind. When I lived in New Zealand, I met a very talented surf photographer by the name of Rambo Estrada, who eventually went on to form Estrada Weddings, with his partner Bryony. I’d always wanted them to photograph our wedding, back when we were going to have it in New Zealand. His style is so cool and he really captures how epic weddings can be.

One evening we were chatting about my wedding and what a shame it was he couldn’t shoot it. He asked me where the venue would be, I told him Polhawn Fort and he went silent. Turns out he’s got some close connections there and within 15 minutes, he’d booked his flights out to be our wedding photographer. It doesn’t get more dedicated than that!

There wasn’t too much direction from me in the build up to the wedding as I trusted Rambo completely. He and Bryony arrived on the day and just slotted right into the chaos without any fuss. They were both so natural and relaxed, everyone felt so at ease. They managed to capture the most important things to us; the special vibe of the Fort, the relaxed and fun atmosphere of the day and the mad party in the evening. The finished pictures are stunning, I couldn’t be happier.

Best part of the day

It’s so hard to pick just one, but I have to say that the ceremony itself was really special.

My mum walked me down the aisle to our favourite song, Scar Tissue by Red Hot Chili Peppers. It meant so much to me to have my mum by my side, especially when my shoe ripped the inside of my dress on the way down the aisle and we nearly fell over. That started the comedy, to be honest and then it just got sillier from there!

My very talented friend, producer and comedian, Chris Allen, was our celebrant. A few weeks before the wedding we went for dinner at Bill’s in Holborn and wrote the service after a couple of wines. Needless to say, on the day, he had all the guests laughing and everyone has been complimenting him ever since.

A couple of friends who are very special to us did readings. One was ‘The Very Lovely Dinosaur’ by Edward Monkton (Scott and I had our first date at the Natural History Museum as I am a complete dinosaur nerd) and ‘If I should Fall Behind’ by Bruce Springsteen.

The ceremony arch and the view over the ocean added to the atmosphere and the whole thing just felt like such a happy and special moment.

Scott had organised for my family and friends in New Zealand to do a good luck video, including two of my bridesmaids who couldn’t be there on the day. Fortunately for everyone, I was able to get all of my tears out then and spend the rest of the day laughing.

From one bride to another…

I know everyone says this, but it does go so fast.

In terms of planning, it can be so overwhelming that I would pick the things that are most important to you and everything else will come together. For me, the most important bits were the flowers, the ceremony and the dancefloor. I spent weeks putting together the perfect disco playlist and months finding a fabulous drag queen so that our friends would have the best party of their lives. I was so terrified that people would call me a bridezilla that I didn’t push for the things I wanted enough as I could have done, but at the end of the day, it is the biggest day of your life and you deserve for it to be everything you want it to be.

Also Bree, Planner at Two Be Wed, was incredible and I would strongly advise getting a planner for a DIY wedding like ours. I work long hours so trying to organise the wedding completely on my own was really stressful. Having Bree take charge with suppliers, advise me and be there on the day to make sure everything ran to time was completely invaluable. She really is an amazing woman and I loved working with her.


Venue Polhawn Fort

Photography Estrada Weddings

Wedding Planner Breaock Cardew, Two Be Wed

Florist Hannah Burnett

Dress Lela Rose at Browns Brides

Hair Fox House

Prop Hire Keeping It Vintage

Catering Kerra’s Catering

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