A sunny castle wedding in Dorset

26 Mar 2019

Fiona Harley married Alan James Hoskins at Pennsylvania Castle, Isle of Portland, Dorset 


Tell us about the proposal.

Al proposed when we were on holiday in Mexico, the proposal was plagued by disaster - a lack of vegetarian food at the buffet, an occupied beach, him being bitten to death whilst down on one knee and it being too dark to see the ring! I still said yes though.

What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

The Penn is such a beautiful venue that we wanted our guests to enjoy the spectacular views and gorgeous interior so we chose to keep the flowers and decorations simple. We chose a dusty lavender and complimented it with hints of blue and grey. 


What venue did you choose and why did you choose it? 

Pennsylvania Castle - I love the seaside and when we went to visit on a cold, wet January day it was amazing, despite the weather.  The fact that we could stay for the whole weekend just meant that we could make the best day of our lives last even longer. When we realised Cove Holiday Park next door could accommodate the majority of our guests just a stones throw away we realised it couldn’t be more perfect. None of the venues we visited close to where we live could really compare. 



When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress? 

I visited several bridal shops and tried on a number of dresses; some looked nice and others dwarfed me. When I tried ‘the dress’ on it fitted almost perfectly and at first sight my mum cried. Being indecisive and overwhelmed with emotion, I had to think about it and discuss with my maid of honour who eventually asked me ‘are you saying yes to the dress?’


What did the bridesmaids wear?

The two flower girls wore white dresses from John Lewis and the maid of honour wore a dusty lavender dress by Sorella Vita.

Where did you find your suits?

Having trawled all the usual high street shops and realising we could get the suits in the range of sizes we needed we visited a shop local to where we live - Montague Jeffrey. They had a huge selection and made sure they fitted the gentlemen exactly.



Did you hire a wedding planner?

Cat Samuel, Rental and Events Manager at The Penn took care of everything.  She guided us through the whole process and was fabulous on the day making sure all the details were perfect. Just as the ceremony ended we had a shower of rain but she quickly ushered us all into the conservatory where there were drinks waiting. She even administered first aid to a guest who had a splinter! We cannot thank her enough for her hard work and absolute professionalism.

Tell us about your floral arrangements.

The floral arrangements were provided by Rabbit and Rose. We had a mixture of hydrangeas and roses in muted lilac and blue tones with creams and silvery green foliage. They gave a subtle pop of colour to the bright white orangery.


Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

For our favours we chose Yankee Candles called Stony Cove which reflected the pebble beach of Church Ope Cove below the Penn.

We also made place names from pebbles writing our names and wedding date on the back as a keepsake.

We put photos of our family and friends at their weddings on the mantelpiece and set up a cigar bar dedicated to Al’s late grandfather.


How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I was a mixture of nerves and excitement, I was trying to hold back the tears but as I walked around the corner and saw all of our family and friends smiling at me it melted away and I was so happy to be marrying my soul mate.


What was your most memorable moment? 

For Al it was seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle. For me it was putting my knife and fork down during the wedding breakfast and looking around at all our guests having a fantastic time and thinking how lucky we were that our family and friends have come to share our special day with us. 

What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

As we live in Northamptonshire we communicated with vendors by phone and email and when we visited the area we tried to make as many appointments as we could.


What was the most important investment for you?

We wanted every aspect to be perfect but as I (bride) am vegetarian I wanted to have something as lovely to eat as my husband and Rabbit and Rose delivered. The wedding breakfast was wonderful and the cheese boards and munchies later on in the evening were really tasty. One of our guests said how impressed he was with the selection of cheeses and others said how much they enjoyed the canapés and prosecco cocktails, which flowed freely. The Rabbit and Rose staff kept everyone’s glasses topped up with water and wine and when The Penn staff took over running the bar they served everyone with a smile and made sure everyone had their drink of choice.


What song did you choose for your first dance, and why? 

Our first dance was to Three Little Birds by Bob Marley, Al always sings it to me when I am sad and I can’t help but smile.

Did you have any evening entertainment?

Pegasus Discos provided the music in the evening. Mark did a great job playing all different genres from cheesy pop to heavy metal. We even had a cheeky game of Mr and Mrs which I’m pleased to say we aced! 


Tell us about your wedding cake. 

Our wedding cake was by Rabbit and Rose. Sarah carefully recreated the flowers from the bouquets in sugar paste to decorate three tiers of vanilla sponge, lemon cake and fruit cake. It was delicious.

If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

We wouldn’t change anything we had such a wonderful time and it is true what people say it was the best day of our lives.


Did anything go wrong on the day?

Other than a few spots of rain, which made it all the more fun, everything was perfect. If anything had gone wrong I’m sure we wouldn’t have known as Cat would have dealt with it for us.

Did you have a custom hashtag for social media? If so, what was it?


Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

There is so much information available through the internet, wedding fairs and Pinterest that I think we were well prepared. All of the professionals involved guided and advised us too including the hair dressers, photographer, DJ and beauticians.


Where did you go on honeymoon?

We went to the Dominican Republic the day after we returned from Portland.

Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

Enjoy every minute of the planning, organising and then the day as leading up to the big day time seems to speed up and then it is all over in a flash.


Steal Their Style

Venue: The Penn
Flowers, Catering and Cake: Rabbit and Rose
Photography:Photography by Vicki
Entertainment: Pegasus Disco
Hair: Porter Tailored Hair Design
Make-up: Island Beauty

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