Romantic Coastal Wedding - Polhawn Fort, Cornwall

Nick & Spencer

A British singer. An American dancer. A beachside wedding at a cliff top fort. Nick and Spencer’s big day is off-the-scale gorgeous, with a beach hut ceremony, a dramatic coastline photoshoot, and (as you’d expect from these pro performers) something a bit different entertainment-wise!

A cappella vocal group The T-Tones and party power trio Ride The Fire provide the live soundtrack to their day, the stunning Polhawn Fort is everything you’d ever want from a venue, and one of the UK’s top reportage photographers, Christian Michael captures their magic moments.

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The Playlist

Processional: I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons, instrumental

Signing of the Registers: Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles, & Clean Bandit’s Rather Be, performed by String Quartet

Recessional: You’re My Best Friend by Queen

Drinks Reception: Tailored a cappella vocal group, The T-Tones & acoustic sets by Ride The Fire

First Dance: Grow Old With You, from The Wedding Singer film & musical

Second Dance: Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon, performed by Ride The Fire...& the Groom!

Evening Reception: Tailored party sets by Ride The Fire

The Entertainment

“Being in the ents industry, Nick was a little worried about getting the right entertainment. We found Alive Network and the awesomeness that is Ride The Fire. They ticked all the boxes for budget, song list and overall look. We were really intrigued by their biography too.” (They’ve worked with some big names in music.)

“Due to the nature of the venue, amplified music was only allowed outside during the ceremony...the rest of the time, it’s only allowed inside, so we had to find something fitting for our outdoor drinks reception. Naturally what better way to entertain an audience than with an a cappella quartet – The T-Tones – as well as asking Jas from Ride The Fire to do some acoustic sets. A Capella is massive in America and I’ve seen how people react and how much they love it, so I thought it would be a different approach. The T-Tones were great – the guys made a surprise entrance and the guests loved it. 

“I just never wanted to have ‘silence’, and although it’s a big space, everyone could hear, and Jas moved around a little which was great. I gave the musicians free reign as I really trusted their abilities.

“We had Jenga, bowls and a skittles lawn game too...mainly for my nephew!”

The T-Tones’ Top Tips...

  • When choosing a vocal group, consider what atmosphere you want. If you want your guests to be able to talk during canapés or your wedding breakfast, choose a group who’ll provide background songs that are easy to listen to but not overpowering.
  • To keep all your guests happy, look for a group that has a broad repertoire as it means they’re confident with their material & adaptable to your audience.
  • Find out if your venue has any legal restrictions on volume or equipment, and let your musicians know. Many vocal groups can perform without a PA sound system – naturally this affects how much volume they can deliver, but this may suit your wedding day.
  • To add an element of fun to your day, choose a vocal group who perform twists on modern tracks. We primarily sing 1950s Doo-Wop tracks, but we love giving other genres the Doo-Wop treatment – and it always gets a great reaction!

A Cappella Vocal Group, The T-Tones

The Live Music

“I’m a performer by profession and it never leaves you, so I sang a pre-planned song with Ride The Fire in the evening. I wanted to get the party started, sing to Spencer, and just have a great time.

“Ride the Fire were the epitome of amazing... they blew my mind! For a 3 piece it felt like we had a full band. They played all the music segued together so the party never stopped. We’d pre-arranged a loose set list but the boys easily read the room and we don’t think the dance floor was ever empty. Best party I’ve been to in a long time...and I’m not just saying that cos it was mine!”

Ride The Fire’s Top Tips...

  • When you’re choosing a band, check out their performance style by watching videos online. They’ll perform in their very own style...they might play slow songs with a faster tempo so they go down better for dancing, for example.
  • If you choose a unique historical venue, like Polhawn Fort, remember they weren’t built for easy can take longer for your musicians to get everything in, set up, and ready to play.
  • Which songs will your band perform? Ask for an example set list. One of their main aims is to keep everyone dancing; their tried-and-trusted set list has been refined to work for all ages, but let them know if there are any songs you really do or don’t want to hear.
  • Your band needs to look good, not just sound great...good lighting can set a fantastic atmosphere, so choose a band with a professional lighting setup.
  • Always double-check your first dance song with your band. You might not realise there’s another version, and you definitely want your band to play the right song for your big dancefloor moment!
  • Nick contacted us to prearrange a surprise for his guests – straight after their first dance, he got up and sang Shut Up And Dance. It went down so well! If you’re planning a similar surprise, always check that your band are fine with it first, then they can set up the relevant equipment in advance, and you can plan what key to sing it in so it sounds awesome!

Rock and Pop Trio, Ride The Fire

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The Photography

Christian Michael Photography was an easy pick because of his phenomenal photos and reputation.

The Venue

Polhawn Fort is picturesque, stunning and everything we would ever want from a venue – an amazing location with amazing facilities. Spencer wanted to get married in a castle so that set the bar. The venue is on a cliff side facing into the Atlantic so it seemed fitting as Spencer is from the USA and we met working at sea.

Nick & Spencer’s Tips for Hiring a ‘Dry’ Wedding Venue...

A ‘dry hire’ room or venue is usually hired without any furniture, decor or additional services, like catering.

“Dry hire gives you complete freedom, but it’s not necessarily recommended if you’re on a restricted budget as you realise how many things are included in other venues’ packages.

“Dry hire does allow you to pick everything you need. If we did it again, we would definitely spend a little more or even do it over the weekend (Fri to Mon) – that extra day to set up or even chill makes a massive difference.

“With dry hire you need as much advice as you can get from people who know the venue and ideally a planner to run the day.

“You CANNOT plan enough. Time lines, deliveries, sketches of how you want stuff to look, you’ll be surprised how many details there are. And make sure you have LOTS of hands and a list of jobs on setup day.

“With dry hire, our wedding was completely unique and, other than the stress of getting the place ready, it was phenomenal.”

The Decor

“We went for relaxed rustic with deep greens, blues and whites/creams. We had delphiniums, roses, gypsophylia, eucalyptus in Spencer’s bouquet and in the decorations.”

The Outfits

We wanted a blue/white theme running through the outfits. Nick’s suit was from Next. Spencer’s dress and bridesmaids outfits were from boutique stores in Oklahoma, USA.

The Ceremony

Spencer: “I had a great morning, relaxing and wasn’t nervous at all...I was ready for all of it! It was all excitement and very happy emotions. I was just focused on not tripping as I walked down the aisle! It was the most amazing day.”

Nick: “We had instrumental music during the ceremony – I love string instruments and the emotion they create, but I was anxious...I tried to look back to see Spencer (as it’s a long walk) but my brother wouldn’t let me. I was so happy to see happy we were finally at the moment. I did cry during my vows, and after that we couldn’t stop smiling.”

Explore ideas for ceremony musicians here...

The Food & Drinks

“After the ceremony we had afternoon tea instead of the usual canapés. We hired a bar – with crates, glasses & kilner jars – and I organised all the drinks. We had prosecco, a pre-mixed kir royal from M&S, and Spencer and I spent many hours perfecting a mocktail, which people still rave about.” (See their recipe below!)

“To keep it relaxed, we went with a BBQ for our wedding breakfast. We chose a VIP menu because we wanted guests to have the most choice possible, as BBQs can be frowned upon! It was great.

Our cake was to die for! One section was lemon and one was raspberry and prosecco.”

Nick & Spencer’s Mojito Mocktail Recipe:

“It’s not an exact science as it was made to taste, but our guests loved it. We served it from an 8 litre Kilner jar.”

For one glass (amounts for 8 litres in brackets; makes about 60 drinks):

  • 60ml (2.25 ltr) lime & mint cordial, we used Robinsons
  • 125ml (4.75 ltr) soda
  • 1/2 (19) lime, cut into quarters
  • 6 (200) mint leaves
  • A handful of ice

Squeeze the limes and muddle the mint leaves. Add the cordial, ice and top up with soda. Adjust with extra lime or cordial to taste.

For 8 litres, add the ice when serving.

Favourite Moment

“Our favourite musical moment was Nick’s Dad jumping up and down to the end of Mr Brightside.... it’s a video highlight!”

What We Learned

“I wish I’d known how quickly the day would go by. Our advice would be to keep some of the budget for surprises and extras, and, even if you don’t have an immediate honeymoon, give yourselves a few days before and after to take it all in.”

The Magic Makers

Music, atmosphere and vibes of love and fun Alive Network, UK-wide | Vocal Harmony Group, The T-Tones, Alive Network | Wedding Band with Acoustic Option, Ride The Fire, Alive Network | Outdoor & Lawn Games, available from Alive Network | Photographer Christian Michael Photography, Cornwall & UK-wide | Venue Polhawn Fort, Cornwall | Wedding Dress ‘Tresor’ by Monique Lhuillier at JJ Kelly Bridal, Oklahoma USA | Bridal Shoes Angela Nuran, Oklahoma USA | Veil JJ Kelly Bridal, Oklahoma USA | Hair & Makeup by the bride | Bridesmaids Outfits: Tulle Skirts Amazon, UK-wide; Lace Tops with Cami Underlay Morning Lavender Boutique, USA & World-wide Wedding Rings Tiffany & Co., World-wide & Ray Ward Oklahoma, USA | Engagement Rings Hearts of London, UK | Groom's suit by Next, UK-wide | Groom's shoes Ted Baker at Office, UK-wide | Wedding Planner To Be Wed, Cornwall | Flowers Twigs & Greens, Cornwall | Stationery Hobbycraft, UK-wide | Afternoon Tea Sandwiches Marks & Spencer, UK-wide | Wedding Breakfast Catering Mr T BBQ Man, Devon | Wedding Cake, Scones & Donut Wall Edible Essence, South West of England | Traditional Clotted Cream Rodda's, UK-wide | Fresh Berries Thornes Farm Shop, Exeter | Drinks Mobile Bars, Alive Network UK-wide | Marquee Hire Hine Marquees, Cornwall

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