Thomas & Hannah’s Polhawn Fort Wedding

Written by Emma Hla
This is the perfect follow-on from our latest Top 10 feature all about beach wedding venues! We have a gorgeous wedding at Polhawn Fort, an enviable spot on the Cornish coastline.

Hannah, our barefoot bride in this tale, has all the details about their big beach celebration – expect a beautiful outdoor ceremony, peachy flowers, a vegan wedding cake and beach walks with ‘bridesdog’ Blue!

Notes from the Bride

Hannah says…

Tom proposed whilst on a surprise weekend in Lapland staying in a glass igloo under the stars. He planned to propose under the northern lights. We didn’t manage to see the northern lights but he did get down on one knee on a bridge over a frozen lake one afternoon it was very romantic, if not a little cold to take my hand out of my glove to put the ring on!!

Polhawn Fort is such a special place, our favourite thing about it has to be the freedom to make it your own. It really is like living in your own fort for the weekend which allowed us to put on the wedding we had always imagined. A huge part of which for us was having our fur-baby, star of the show, bridesdog come ring bearer, Blue at the wedding with us which was just the icing on an already perfect cake! Although since it so hard to pick one favourite our other ‘favourite’ things include the beach, the fireplace and THAT VIEW.

We wanted to keep the tradition of staying apart the night before. So Tom and the groomsmen stayed in a holiday cottage down the road from Polhawn Fort and the bridesmaids and I had a big sleepover at the venue. It worked really well and we didn’t see or speak to each other until the ceremony. We were lucky enough to be able to have our ceremony on the lawn – which was my biggest hope for the day and then had the breakfast and reception in the main hall.

Initially I was a bit worried about the bridesmaids dresses – finding a dress that five girls liked and felt good in! So I bought an example dress from ASOS, low and behold everyone liked it – so we went with the first and only dress the girls tried on. Hooray! The Groomsmen all wore suits from Moss Bros., Tom wanted something a little bit different and when he tried on his suit he knew that was the one. The three Best Men had two piece whilst Tom had three.

I wore a dress by La Sposa, I had such a strong idea of the type of dress I wanted but I just couldn’t find one that was right. So the lovely ladies at Hannah Elizabeth Bridal encouraged me to try on some different styles, which is how I found my dress! I absolutely loved it and it was so far from what I thought I would wear.

We wanted to keep everything simple and classic and I didn’t want to have a ‘theme’. The fort is so beautiful and with the most stunning view, I wanted to just let it speak for itself with just a few personal additions. My mum collected gin bottles that we used with lights in as a fun addition to the forts many window sills, other than it was just flowers and candles!

Our flowers were by the brilliant Loulabel Floral Design who absolutely got my style. I had a gorgeous wild bouquet of neutral florals and greenery, with similar smaller posies for the bridesmaids. We kept the tables simple with forest floor greenery and then of course the flower arch on the summer house which was an absolute dream!

On the day we had a table plan and order of the day that we ordered from Etsy. We created food and bar menus and several other signs and stationery for the day ourselves, this was really the only DIY we did but it worked really well. We had our invites designed and produced by Wonderland Invites. They were gorgeous watercolour designs, again with greenery and natural florals and a cute but functional watercolour local map for the guests.

Our wedding cake was such a hit. We wanted at least part of it to be vegan – so I approached a small local cake maker in Ringwood called Cake Love and set her the challenge of a vegan lemon and elderflower cake. She did an absolutely brilliant job, we had three tiers, vegan lemon and elderflower, vegan red velvet and a regular Victoria sponge. The cake had a simple dairy free buttercream with the addition of some lovely flowers by Loulabel.

People are still talking about our food now! We had a bit of a fiasco with a catering company that cancelled on us 5 weeks before the day! But amazingly Richard at APT Catering stepped in to save the day and honestly we couldn’t have asked for more from our food, I feel like it was meant to be. We had a selection of delicious canapés including local scallops, steak on parmesan toast and a mini jacket potato – I heard stories of guests elbowing each other out the way to get to the canapés! Then we sat down for an equally delicious three course wedding breakfast. I’m so pleased we had Richard and his team, everything happens for a reason I guess!

In the evening we had hot local Cornish pasties, delicious and simple and helped keep everyone well fuelled for a night of dancing.
My dad built us an epic bar (thanks Dad!) which we stocked with rum and gins that told a story. Tom is a rum drinker and I a gin drinker so we got spirits from places that meant something to us, where we were born, our first date etc. The brilliant bar staff kept everyone well oiled and everyone seemed to male it their mission to try all the gins! We also brought along a keg of Tom’s favourite Ringwood Brewery ale for variety.

We had the brilliant and lovely Emma from Freckle Photography who was just outstanding. So super talented and creative and it felt just like having an old friend at the wedding! I can’t speak highly enough of Emma, her laid back and natural style just fitted so well with our day. I think a great photographer is key in terms of making sure you have the memories and stories of the day captured.

For the evening we had The Harbour Band who were fantastic! Right from the first dance the dance floor with full all night. The guys are so talented and know exactly how to fill a dance floor. We had some slight concerns since we weren’t a huge wedding party that it might feel over powering having a band, but it turns out we had nothing to worry about!

After the wedding we stayed in Cornwall with most of both sides of our families for 5 days, before spending two days back home and flying off to Costa Rica for 15 days! So we managed to stretch our wedding celebrations out for nearly 4 weeks. I’m so pleased we managed to have both a ‘mini-moon’ with our families and then straight into an unbelievable honeymoon – it just meant that wedding bubble lasted for as long as possible. But honestly even then we weren’t ready to come back to real life!

Best part of the day

It’s so hard to choose a favourite! Walking through the archway arm in arm with my dad and seeing all our loved ones was so special. We had strings playing and the sun was shining – it’s definitely a moment I won’t forget. (Sue Aston and her musicians at Classical Strings are fab, such a magical addition to the day).

From one bride to another…

My best advice to anyone in the planning stage would be write everything down! Notes and Reminders on my phone were a God send! And our advice on the day is don’t stress, everything will be perfect, even if that means it is perfectly imperfect. Just enjoy everything and soak it all up!


Venue Polhawn Fort

Photography Freckle Photography

Dress La Sposa

Florist Loulabel Floral Design

Catering APT Catering

Cake Cake Love

Entertainment The Harbour Band

More from the blog

Discover our Venues

Refine your wedding venue search by location, capacity, type, and style.

Visit Venue Finder

Be Inspired

Planning advice, real wedding edits, and venue showcases to inspire you.

View Blog

Suppliers We Love

From photographers to bridal fashion and styling, find the best wedding suppliers right here.

View Suppliers