No stress no strain we hope to answer a lot of your questions below.
How do weddings at the Fort work?
The Fort is hired out rather like a glorified self-catering holiday cottage, where you have the whole place to yourselves (sleeping 24), and can do pretty much as you like (anything legal considered, sort of thing). The Fort has much of the apparatus of a hotel, ie Civil Wedding Licence, Alcohol and Entertainments Licence, Fire Certificate and so on, but there aren’t any staff to boss you about. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who are available by separate arrangement (i.e. cost) to help and advise you to get what you want. All of them have a wide experience of the 2,000 plus weddings we’ve already held here, and you can meet some of them when you come – as most of our customers do – to view the Fort.
We hire the Fort out for a weekend from Friday 4.00pm to Monday 10.00am, or for a mid-week from Monday 4.00pm to Friday 10.00am. We also hire it out for split mid-weeks from Monday 4.00pm to Wednesday 10.00am, or Wednesday 4.00pm to Friday 10.00am. The Fort sleeps 24 people but there are additional mattresses for extra people if you wish, at no extra charge. Generally close family stay in the fort, and the majority of guests stay in the wide variety of local accommodation in this lovely corner of Cornwall. Weddings generally take place on the Saturday and Wednesday, but these days are not set in stone.
We’ve been more or less fully booked for the last 20 years, and virtually never have an empty weekend. This means that if you want to come and have a look, it will need to be on one of our changeover days, which are Fridays and Mondays, with visiting hours between 1.30pm and finishing at 3.50pm.
After booking you are welcome to come as often as you wish, though please bear in mind that our main task during these times is showing round new and potential customers. Please make an appointment, and by all means arrange to meet a supplier (such as a caterer, photographer or florist). But please understand that if you are discussing matters to do with your booked wedding with our staff, they may have to break off to show new visitors around. You can make appointments to visit either by phone, or email, or by using the visit appointment form under the Contact link.
Detailed Overview of Weddings at the Fort
Day 1 Monday or Friday (sometimes Wednesday)
Arrive at 4.00 p.m.
A member of staff will show you in, and how to work the lights, heating etc at the fort and read the meters. He will then leave you and your family and friends to settle in. Most parties then start to decorate the Fort and get ready for their wedding day, depending on if the wedding is the next day or not.
Day 2 or Wedding Day
A lot of couples now like us to recommend someone to come and help arrange furniture etc throughout the day, but some couples have a lot of willing hands already.
Caterers arrive in preparation for your wedding reception.
Wedding Guests arrive – possibly drinks on the top of the fort or on the lawns
An hour before the ceremony a member of our staff arrives as the responsible representative on behalf of the Fort.
Registrar arrives to conduct formal interviews about half an hour before the wedding ceremony
Wedding Ceremony takes place
Wedding Photos are taken and drinks out on the lawn (whilst this is happening the ceremony seating is re-arranged to the wedding reception seating or buffet by yourselves or our recommended person, or your catering staff, if you have arranged it with them)
Wedding reception takes place – this can be anything from a sit down formal meal with a full silver service, a buffet – or even an evening fish and chip supper and an ice cream van arriving!
7.00 – 9.00 pm
Evening entertainment arrives and the party starts!!
Disco’s etc can play to 12.30 am, but live bands must finish by 11.00 p.m.
1.00 am: most guests have left, but those staying at the Fort and any other guests are quite welcome to chill out and listen to low level music using their iPods, iPhones, laptops etc on our music system.
Why not have a barbeque and relax with friends and family in our beautiful gardens.
Day 4 or day of leaving
Sadly all good things come to an end, and this is the time you have to pack up and leave the Fort by 10.00 a.m. and our cleaners arrive to clean the Fort.
All the above is just a guide to give you an idea of what could happen during your stay here. The whole idea of the Fort is to arrange your wedding just the way you both want it!
Is the Fort Cold?
No, the Fort is not damp or cold. There is a powerful central heating system with thermostatically controlled radiators throughout the Fort. The Fort is in effect like an enormous storage heater – when the stone all around you is warm it will stay like that for hours and takes days to fully cool down.
We will ensure the Fort is warm when you arrive – which isn’t difficult as it’s been fully booked for many years now. Alternatively, in the summer, the Fort can be thought of as like a cave, cool whatever the weather. The timing control is found by going down the stairs outside the kitchen, turning right at the bottom and on the wall at the end of the short corridor on the right.
Does the Fort ever get cut off in winter?
No. At least – not yet. We benefit by being close to the sea and by the Gulf Stream. We only have snow about once every seven to ten years, and it’s never been deep.
Is there disabled access? Is the Fort suitable for disabled people?
There are ramps from the end of the car park down to the back door of the Fort which can be used for wheel chair access.
Once people are down in the main area, practically everything is on one level, including several en-suite bathrooms which can be made available as you choose: (these are not specifically fitted out for disabled people, but are generally quite suitable).
The gardens are down a flight of three steps from the main area, and we provide a wheelchair ramp down these. There are a two further wide steps at the entrance to the garden, for which the wheelchair ramp can also be used.
We have had a large number of visitors who are disabled in a variety of ways, and the best thing to do is to come and have a look, as different disabled people have quite different attitudes to these issues.
Will there be enough hot water?
Yes we have a very large boiler which will keep all the large corner baths stocked with lots of hot water during your stay. There are also showers above the baths.
Is the Fort non-smoking?
Yes the Fort is a non smoking building. There are signs at the entrances to the Fort to inform your guests. We would ask that you ensure that all your guests are aware of this and to make sure that none of them smoke in the Fort, including the bedrooms! Please note that secret smoking in bedrooms will probably set off the fire alarm, which will incur a call out charge to reset the system, never mind the disturbance to everyone else.
When can we come to see the Fort?
You can come almost any Friday and Monday, generally between 1.30pm and 3.50pm as these times are on our changeover days. Please give us a call to make an appointment (tel: 01752 822864), then we’ll have everything ready for you to look at when you arrive (photos, table-plans etc).
If you get delayed or may arrive early it is not a problem, just give us a call to let us know so that we can be ready for you. It’s worth saying though, that as people often get delayed, or arrive out of turn, it can mean that you may have to wait while someone else is talking with one or other of us (on the other hand, you are welcome to look around yourselves while waiting).
How often can we come before/after we’ve booked?
As often as you like – no problem. Please give us a call to arrange an appointment, even if you feel you don’t need to specifically speak to anyone here. We do ask that you avoid coming to see us on a Bank Holiday as we will not be able to offer you our best customer service due to the quantity of visitors we see on these days. If you do need to speak to someone here, please bear in mind that our changeover day visiting times are primarily for us to show round new and potential clients, so you may need to wait a little while. You are also welcome to come back at any time after your booking – if you want to show someone who didn’t make it to your wedding for example – or you’re on holiday in the area, or if it’s an anniversary, we regularly have 10 year anniversary couples coming to show their children round (who look very puzzled to think that mummy and daddy could have done anything like this before they were born!). Sometimes they will also book a repeat visit, needless to say, at a very special discount. Whatever the reason, we are always delighted to see you again.
How much does it cost to hire the Fort?
It’s very different according to the time of year (see PRICES). Mid-weeks are by far the best value at any time of year as you get an additional day and night, and they are often a thousand pounds or so cheaper – and your guests will come! Everyone thinks they won’t, but they do as this is a wonderful holiday area. Almost all of our midweeks are booked out each year – often by couples that start off thinking their guests won’t want to take the time off.
What’s included in the price?
The Fort is hired out rather like a glorified self-catering holiday cottage – bigger and grander, of course, but similar in that you have the whole place to yourselves and can do pretty much as you like. The price is for the hire only, and includes for the use of the whole place for a weekend, mid-week or split mid-week break, and does not include for any catering or staffing.
The Fort has much of the apparatus of a hotel, i.e. Civil Wedding Licence, Alcohol and Entertainments Licence, Fire Certificate and so on, but we don’t charge corkage, and we don’t charge for extra people staying! The only compulsory extras is your wedding insurance.
There aren’t any employees to boss you about, but we can recommend key people who are available by separate arrangement (i.e. you pay them directly) to move furniture and beds if required, decorate the Fort and generally help and advise you to get what you want. They have a wide experience of the 2,000 plus weddings we’ve already held here, and if they’re not involved in showing new and potential customers around, you can arrange to meet some of them when you come (as almost all of our customers do), to view the Fort.
The hire of the Fort includes full exclusive use of the:
8 bedrooms accommodating 24 people (3 en-suite double rooms, 3 en-suite family rooms and 2 single rooms sharing a shower room)
Private pathway to the semi secluded beach!
To make your stay that little bit easier the Fort also includes the following:
Tables and chairs for 120 people
Cutlery and crockery for 120 people
Glasswear for 120 people (inc champagne, 6oz wine, 8oz wine and half pint glasses)
Kitchen equipment (including ice machine, coffee machine, dishwasher, plate warmer, cooking utensils & pots)
Bed linen and towels for 24 people
An extra 5 single mattresses
3 highchairs and 2 travel cots
Tea & coffee facilities in each bedroom
Washing machine, tumble dryer, iron and ironing board
White drapes and fairy lights decorating the Napoleonic Hall
White drapes in the Summer House (depending on time of year)
Sky TV & wifi
Almost everything that you need to make your wedding day and stay as smooth and comfortable as possible!
Are there any extras to pay on top of the tariff price?
The ceremony fee is paid direct to the registrar office, usually between £295 – £310 depending on whether you choose a mid-week or weekend wedding. Bank holidays can also be more expensive.
Catering, decoration, flowers and photography is also paid direct to the supplier you choose.
Are there any hidden extras?
No! There are no hidden extras as everything is told to you up front! A £750 cautionary deposit is due with the final payment which returned to you within 21 days of your departure minus any large breakages (We also require you have wedding insurance with £5 million public liability on it as this protects yourselves against various things which might occur during the build up to your wedding and during the wedding itself. This is payable to the insurers direct and will be requested when you pay your deposit and complete your booking form).
Do you do last minute discounts or special offers?
Yes – have a look at our Special Offers page. This is how we generally fill one or two awkward bookings that won’t seem to get themselves booked up. The registrars need 28 days for your Notice of Marriage meaning that you could book the Fort for your wedding as little as 29 days in advance! We have had a number of couples arrange their weddings in this short period of time and many have said that they liked having to arrange it so quickly as they had less time to stress over things that didn’t matter to them. Booking a year or so in advance is the norm.
How much freedom do we have to do as we wish?
We have various licensing and noise pollution limitations (see our Terms and Conditions) though we try to allow most things at the fort, and we are keen to help if we can with any unusual things: we once had a pet rabbit attend a wedding, we have had lots of dogs as bridesmaids and pageboys, and the arrival of the bride and groom by speed boat and helicopter. You can choose your type of entertainment from live bands to discos, flowers from the most exotic to none at all. We have had fancy dress weddings (lots of men in tights and friar tuck!) So if you are unsure just ask: it may be allowed.
Do we need insurance?
Yes wedding insurance is compulsory at the fort, we can provide you with details or you can arrange your own insurance and provide us with a copy of your insurance certificate. It is important to make sure that the insurance knows that you have the fort for a weekend or mid-week not just for one day, we ask that you take out the insurance as soon as you book the fort. We also insist on £5,000,000 public liability cover. Insurers our couples regularly use are identified on our Wedding Contacts page.
How do you structure the payments?
When you are considering getting married at the Fort and are planning a visit, it is worth considering making a provisional booking if you are keen on a certain date or time of year.
We can provisionally book a date for you with no obligation and no deposit pending your visit. As date availability changes very quickly at the fort it is advisable to do this, as it will ensure the date is still available when your visit is planned
When you are ready to confirm a booking (usually within 2 weeks of your visit) then we ask for 1/3rd deposit of the booking price. The final payment, complete with a £750 cautionary deposit, is then payable 15 weeks prior to the booking. We are happy to accept stage payments: please see the FAQ below.
What sort of deposit do we pay?
To confirm a booking we require one third deposit of the booking price.
Do you accept stage payments?
Yes. Please feel free to ask, as we would like to help where we can, providing the initial deposit is paid, and the complete amount has been paid 15 weeks prior to the wedding.
When is the final payment due?
The final payment complete with a £750 returnable cautionary deposit, is due 15 weeks prior to the booking.
How do we cancel a booking?
To cancel a confirmed booking you need to send in a written cancellation letter signed by the person who signed the booking form. Obviously the sooner we know about a cancellation the better. If we can re-book the fort for the same price as you booked it for, then you would not be liable to pay the final payment. However if we could not re-book the fort then you would still need to pay the final payment.
As we require you to have wedding insurance certain things are covered by this, like illness, death or unemployment. However just deciding not to get married would not be covered! For various insurers, please see our Wedding Contacts page.
Can we change the date of a booking?
This is sometimes possible depending on availability and if we can re-book your existing date.
Who does the catering?
That is entirely your choice! We provide you with a list of our recommended caterers – ones that we know well and who know how the Fort works – but you can choose one not on the list if you want to.
The caterers we recommend know where all the Forts equipment is, how the equipment works, and most importantly, how the Fort works! We would always advise that you choose one from our list but ultimately the choice is yours. If you choose someone not on our list we always advise that they come and visit the Fort, on one of our change over days, to see the way in and the equipment that the Fort provides before you book with them.
Can we arrange our own catering?
Yes – most people have caterers in for the main wedding day, but cater for themselves during the rest of the stay. You have full use of our well equipped commercial kitchen throughout your stay. Please contact us for a full inventory of catering equipment that we provide for you.
Is catering included in the price?
No – the price we charge is for the exclusive hire of the Fort, the grounds and the accommodation, it does not include for any catering.
What sort of catering is available?
The caterers we recommend vary from large catering companies to small local caterers. However they are all very flexible in their approach to catering at the Fort, and they can adapt their menus to suit your individual needs and tastes. Please contact our Caterers for prices and ideas.
How many tables and chairs are there?
We have enough tables (round and rectangular) and chairs for up to 120 guests. The round tables seat 8 and we have 12, seating 96 in total.
Is there enough cutlery/crockery/glassware etc?
We have more than enough cutlery, crockery and glasses for 120 guests. For a full list please email us for an inventory.
Are the beds of a good quality?
Yes. Most of the beds are high quality Vi-Spring Beds – We have three Four Poster Beds also with Vi-Spring mattresses.
Will there be enough hot water?
Yes we have a very large boiler, which will keep all the bathrooms and wetrooms supplied with plenty of hot water during your stay. There are also showers above the baths.
Are there any cots or high-chairs?
Yes. We have two travel cots and three high chairs for you to use. Please note we do not supply any bedding for the travel cots.
What kitchen utensils are there?
We have a variety of large saucepans, frying pans and roasting dishes. We also have ladles, spoons etc. If you would like a full list of what is included please contact us and we would be happy to send it over to you.
Does the kitchen have everything we are likely to need?
Probably, but not necessarily everything your caterer might expect to bring. Please do ask about certain items if you are keen to have them there.
Can we get married at any time?
Generally the registrar service prefers weddings to take place during daylight hours. However if you have a special reason to get married at a different time, then it is worth speaking to the Registrar Service to see if they can accommodate your request.
Do people usually get married on the weekend or mid-week?
Either is possible, and nowadays, equally common, especially here at the Fort. The benefit of a mid-week wedding is that it is cheaper than a weekend wedding. So if you are working on a budget, an out of season split mid-week, or full mid-week wedding is definitely something to consider.
When is the best time of year to get married?
Any time of year really!!
A Winter Wedding – imagine the crashing waves and howling winds, then imagine getting married in front of our large real log fire, decorated with holly and ivy and some fairy lights in between. In fact it’s mild here compared with most of the country, and we have even had people having a Cornish cream tea out on the lawn at Christmas (with coats on).
As everything can happen inside the Fort, bad weather is not a problem here. We also experience some really lovely clear crisp sunny days during January and February. So winter is an ideal time to get married at the fort. Also worth considering is how much lower the rates are out of high season.
A Spring Wedding – This is a beautiful time of year at the fort: our gardens are full of beautiful wild flowers, in keeping with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that surrounds us. Still cool enough to make use of the real log fire, but if you’re lucky, warm enough to enjoy a barbeque on the lawns.
A Summer Wedding – Just imagine sitting out on our lawns during the long hot summer day sipping Pimms or champagne and looking out over the 3 miles of golden Whitsand Bay. Or maybe strolling down to the private beach and dipping your toes in the clear blue water. Why not consider a summer mid-week and experience the fort and its surroundings for longer.
An Autumn Wedding – With the leaves changing colour, the area around the fort takes on a beautiful autumnal feel. Still plenty of light to be able to get those stunning photographs outside on the lawns and beach.
Who performs the marriage service?
The local registrar from our Saltash registry office performs the legal ceremony. They arrive around ½ hour before the wedding service is due to start. They will then conduct a short interview with the bride and groom. The ceremony can be enhanced to enable you to develop and design your ceremony to suit your own personal wishes.
How much does the Registrar cost?
The cost of the ceremony is as follows:
Fees last updated 12/06/2015
Legal Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership
Entry of Notice – £35.00 per person
This needs to be place at your local registry office
Distinctive Cornish Marriage/Civil Partnership at Approved Building
Monday to Thursday – £404.00
Friday and Saturday – £436.00
Sunday or Bank Holiday – £478.00
Do we need to book the registrars?
Yes you will need to book the registrars yourselves. This can be done very easily by calling them on 0300 1234 181. They will then book your ceremony date and time in and take a deposit to ensure that it is yours!
How many people can attend a wedding/reception?
120 maximum. This figure includes children and babies. Our Fire regulations allow up to an additional 20 persons to cover any staff, caterers, suppliers and registrars to come and go throughout the day. It will be your responsibility to ensure that numbers never exceed 140 at any one time.
Can we extend the maximum number of people by having a marquee?
No. Even with a marquee outside your guests will all be coming inside for the evening party as well as the ceremony (depending on the weather), and if the marquee became unserviceable it would thereby invite a situation in which there would be excess /dangerous numbers entering the Fort.
What does the term Regulated Entertainment mean?
Broadly speaking, it’s entertainment, ie in this case, music, that’s loud to the point that it’s difficult or impossible for you to talk, so you have to listen to it.
Can we have a live band in the Fort and what time can they play until?
Yes we do allow live bands in the fort. However it is very important that the band is aware of our music rules prior to the event. We must ensure that all amplified music is kept within the building. We have installed treble glazing, and as long as all the windows and doors are kept shut whilst the band is playing, there is normally not a problem. We have someone on hand during the time the band is playing to ensure that our music Entertainments Regulations are adhered to.
It is important to check with us prior to booking the band to ensure that we are happy for that particular band to play at the fort. We have had on occasions some bands that have not complied with our regulations and these bands will not be allowed to return to the Fort.
Live bands can play until 11.00 p.m. and must have no more than 7 persons in the group.
How long can our party go on in the evening?
Under the Licensing Act 2003, Regulated Entertainment has to be finished at certain times. However this does not mean your party has to finish! You can use our ‘plug and play’ sound system after the main party to play background music and chill out after a hectic day with your close family and friends.
Live bands can play until 11.00 p.m
Discos can continue until 12.30 a.m
You will find that this is normally quite adequate and live bands are accustomed to finish at this time, as it takes quite a while for them to pack up their equipment.
Can we have a band or music out on the lawns?
That depends: you are welcome to hire in one or more acoustic only musicians to play outside for during your ceremony and your reception. A harpist, violinist, acoustic guitarist or similar can be a beautiful addition to your ceremony or reception.
You can have amplified music during the ceremony, but this has to be volume limited by ourselves. Music at any other time whatsoever cannot be amplified: this includes sound systems of any sort, microphones, drums, and brass instruments. This is due to the beautiful tranquil environment in which the Fort is set, and our Licensing conditions.
It is very important to check with us whether the type of entertainment you are thinking of is covered under our Entertainments licence and that we are happy to accept the band or DJ you are thinking of hiring. Please do check prior to putting a firm booking down with your entertainer. If you would like more information on this please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to discuss it further with you.
Is there anyone to call on for help?
Yes. You can always call on our main trouble-shooter, James Buss on 01752-822866. This number is up on a notice board in the kitchen of the Fort, along with those, Ruth (tel: 01503-230711) as well as several others to turn to, including emergency plumbers/electricians etc.
Most people by-pass this anxiety during their weddings by arranging direct with James Buss himself to attend the wedding and help move furniture around and a hundred and one small things to help the wedding go smoothly.
Is there a member of staff on the premises at all times?
No. The whole point of the way we let you have the Fort is that you have it to yourselves, to do (within reason) what you want.
The only time we specifically provide someone is during the wedding itself and the hour before, which we are obliged to do for the purposes of our wedding licence.
We are also required to have some one at the Fort whilst there is any type of regulated entertainment taking place. eg. Live bands and discos.
The benefits of this privacy far outweigh any perceived disadvantages, and if you need help and advice, James Buss (see section on Anyone To Help) is the man.
Can we decorate the fort as we want it?
Yes you can! There are many fixings already in the walls over all of the arches (some of which hold our fairy lights) as well as metal poles over all of the windows which you are welcome to use. The only thing we ask is that you do not make additional fixings into our walls: this is particularly important as in some places there is concealed wiring.
Outside The Fort
The Fort is set in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is on the UK’s Heritage Coastline on the Rame Peninsula, an important bird migratory point and nature conservation area. Surrounding the Fort there are large gardens offering panoramic sea views over the dramatic coastline of Whitsand Bay.
The spectacular South Cornwall coastal footpath runs both ways from behind the Fort’s grounds, and provides superb walks. The Fort (Grade II* Listed) and its grounds are surrounded by the further reaches of Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, with its Grade I Listed Formal Gardens – reputedly the most beautiful Country Park in England.
The Fort has a large lawn, an all-weather tennis court and a private access to the beach at Polhawn Cove.
Can we bring a dog or two? Can we bring other pets?
Yes! You are welcome to bring well behaved dogs. You can also bring certain other pets within reason, but please do ask prior to bringing them. We have had dogs as pageboys and bridesmaids, as well as ring bearers, and we know that they can be just as much part of the family as the human guests! All we ask is that you do your very best to avoid any mess in the gardens (there are plenty of other areas around us), and that you do not allow them to go onto our furniture and that they are controlled when amongst surrounding livestock in the area.
Is there anywhere for a helicopter to land?
Yes – on the lawn in front of the Fort. We have had a number land there and we would advise that there is a limit to the size of helicopter that could manage it – four seaters should be fine – as well as lots of other considerations that helicopter pilots should know about.
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