Ellie and Kiefer’s beautiful Cornwall wedding took place on 21st July 2022, at Polhawn Fort, a magical venue located on the South coast, complete with its own private beach and stunning coastal sea views.
Polhawn Fort, Cornwall
We loved it straight away because of its natural beauty – the view took our breath away! It was also perfect for its proximity to Ellie’s family, its history, and because it’s a DIY venue as we really wanted to bring in our own suppliers.
We had a stretch tent from Jabula Tents, based in Cornwall. They were friendly, efficient and very accommodating, even with the tight timeframes we had for set up and take down.
We hired Rebecca Marie for planning and styling – we got a lot of styling and décor inspiration from the Love My Dress website.
The most important thing for us by far was to be able to have our closest family and best friends around us. Hong Kong was extremely strict with its Covid restrictions, so up until around three months before, we were worried we weren’t even going to get to our own wedding. After that, we just wanted a relaxed wedding outdoors, preferably by the sea, with good food and wine! Ellie
Setting the Tone
Ellie wanted delicate and romantic but also modern and punchy, florist Grace Smith achieved this perfectly with lots of local grown flowers in the perfect palette featured at the ceremony arch and on the tables. Stationery was kept modern and simple to compliment the design and overall we achieved a luxe and considered beachy vibe that worked great alongside the local, fresh seafood and drinks on offer to guests. Rebecca Marie
Shoes, Veil & Accessories
My pearl earrings and sapphire ring belonged to my late Nana. I wore a pre-loved veil from a small bridal boutique in the village where my mum lives, called Two For Joy in Menheniot.
My perfume was Ortigia – Sandalo – it is my favourite perfume, also from Sicily which is where we went on our honeymoon.
My shoes were Silvia Lago.
A Custom Made Rania Hatoum Wedding Dress
The dress was custom made by Rania Hatoum and bought in her bridal boutique in Hong Kong. I would recommend Rania a hundred times over to any bride-to-be. She was so calm, friendly, and listened to everything I wanted.
I shopped for my dress alone as I couldn’t get back to the UK to go with my mum and bridesmaids. But Rania and her assistant Joey made the experience so special, they even video called my mum while I was trying my dress on so it felt like she was there with me.
I had been to a lot of shops in Hong Kong to find my dress, but I liked Rania because of how personal her approach is.
I picked the dress I liked the most, and then Rania helped me to personalise it by adding touches of other styles that I liked – for example the lace train which was my favourite part of the dress!
My dad and step-dad shared the duty of accompanying me down the aisle – I’m very close to both so wanted them both to be a part of it. My entrance song was ‘Ends of the Earth’, by Lord Huron.
Our celebrant was the amazing Nicola from Cornish Celebrants. We filled out a long questionnaire for Nicola before the wedding, answering questions about ourselves and our life together, and also questions about what marriage means to us. Nicola then used our answers to write the ceremony and the vows to make them as personal and meaningful as possible.
We asked our siblings to do readings for us – my brother and Kiefer’s sister. We let them choose the readings themselves and they surprised us on the day – they both actually wrote their own, which was extremely special and emotional. This was easily our favourite part of the ceremony.
We made our rings ourselves – it was my 30th birthday present to Kiefer, we went to a metalsmith workshop in Hong Kong and made the rings from scratch out of raw gold. It was a special thing to do together and gave the rings even more meaning (although it does make us very nervous about losing them!)
We both agree that the ceremony was our favourite part of the day. This surprised us – in all the flurry of excitement about the party, the ceremony comes almost as an afterthought. But it was genuinely the most beautiful, emotional and intimate moment and, looking back, is our most vivid memory from the day.
Photography by Paul Santos
We came across out photographer, Paulo Santos, on Instagram and absolutely loved his style, his ability to capture emotions and to work with light.
Paul ended up being more than just our photographer – he helped us plan the day’s timeline, he calmed our nerves in the morning, and he gave us so many tips on how to make the day run more smoothly.
Our photographs are outstanding – he captured the day better than we ever could have imagined. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him to any couples looking for a photographer.
Kiefer is half Chinese and is absolutely chilli obsessed. His aunt made us a chilli oil which we put into individual glass jars (we got the jars from Amazon). It was a nice nod to Kiefer’s Chinese side.
Again, we kept it soft & simple because the venue is so naturally beautiful. Our wedding breakfast was outdoors under the stretch tent and our planner Rebecca styled the tables with peach and blue candlesticks, linen napkins and simple flowers.
How They Met
We met at Durham University in our college bar ten years ago. After three years together in the UK, Kiefer’s visa ran out and he moved to Hong Kong, where I joined him two and a half years later. Life in Hong Kong is very fast paced, but Covid forced us to slow down a bit and during that time Kiefer decided to propose.
We got engaged in December 2020 on a hike overlooking the Hong Kong urban jungle. We gave ourselves eighteen months to plan the wedding and get through the worst of Covid, reducing the risk of restrictions on the day.
I have two left feet and can’t dance to save my life, so I wanted to keep it as lighthearted as possible. We did a few steps to ‘You Got What I Need’ by Freddie Scott, and then we had the DJ cut to That’s Amore (Dean Martin).
Europe’s worst nightclub is in Durham and happens to be where we had our first kiss (very romantic), and the last song they always play at 2am before closing is That’s Amore – so it felt like the obvious choice, and it got all of the Durham crew on the dance floor, and all eyes away from my terrible dancing!
Our original budget was around 25,000. We did exceed it by a little bit. I don’t think we realised how quickly the costs would add up – especially the little details that only come to you nearer the time! Ellie
Words of Wedded Wisdom
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, but most importantly: relax and enjoy it. The lead up to the day is stressful, but when you get there, all of that stress completely melts away. The day is so full of love and happiness, it’s impossible not to have a great time.
Not everything went to plan – but I think that’s to be expected for such a big and significant event. All of the hiccups actually made the day what it was, so we genuinely wouldn’t change a thing.
Make sure you take a few moments throughout the day for just the two of you – especially after the ceremony. It’s so easy to get pulled in every direction but those few seconds together are very special and end up being the most memorable.
Two days before the wedding we held a Chinese tea ceremony with Kiefer’s mum and her family, and my mum and step dad. It was very intimate and special and was a chance for us to honour the Chinese traditions.
And lastly – trust us, order more alcohol than you think you need. Always. We ran out of champagne 15 minutes into our cocktail hour. And we thought we had ordered generously!
Venue & Supplier Credits
- Photographer – Paulo Santos
- Planner/Stylist – Rebecca Marie
- Venue – Polhawn Fort
- Stretch Tent Hire – Jabula Tents
- Florist – Grace Smith Florals
- Celebrant – Nicola from Cornish Celebrants
- Wedding Dress – Rania Hatoum
- Veil – Pre-Loved
- Shoes – Silvia Lago
- Groom – Sam’s Tailor in Hong Kong.
- Bridesmaids Dresses – ASOS
- Cheesecake – Hanson Fine Foods
- Entertainment – Ukes of Hazzard
- Catering – Canteen Cornwall – Woodfired Weddings
- Stationery – Gray Starling Designs
- Hair Stylist – Jodie McKie
- Makeup Artist – Nicola Redman