A Castle Wedding...in Texas!

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Do you picture a castle wedding--but your budget (or calendar) doesn't allow for a jaunt overseas? Just east of Dallas, Texas, you'll find what will soon be one of the Lone Star State's newest and most unique wedding venues: Castle Douglas. Located just outside the community of Rockwall, this newly constructed castle is operated by husband-wife team John and Charlotte Dumford. Recently Lovetripper interviewed this couple about their new wedding venue.

* What inspired you to build a castle and make it available for castle weddings?

Each of us, since we were children, have had a fascination with castles, King Arthur, knighthood, and the chivalric Ideal. We met in a graduate-school seminar on Sir Thomas Malory's Middle English version of the legend of King Arthur, and we were engaged a year later. On our honeymoon, we went to England and stayed in castles such as Thornbury Castle (which Henry VIII liked so well he took it from its owner after visiting) and manor homes. At our last accommodation, the dining room was closed to guests because a wedding reception was in progress. Our interest in castles was in high gear, and we had the idea that hosting weddings and events might be a way to justify the expense of actually building a castle in the U.S. Five years ago, we began looking for the perfect property on which to build the castle, and today we are approximately four and a half months from completion.

* How would you explain the romance that a castle setting provides to brides and grooms for their wedding day?

A castle wedding is a fairytale wedding. At Castle Douglas, a couple can have a destination wedding without the jet lag. Castle Douglas sits on 71 acres, and when you are at the castle it's like being in another, more peaceful, world. Above the ten-foot-high oak doors will be a legend cast in stone: Amor Vincit Omnia, which means "Love conquers all."

* What types of wedding packages do you offer?

At Castle Douglas, we realize that each Bride is unique, and we work to personalize every event to emphasize those elements of the ceremony and reception that are truly meaningful to the couple and their family. As a result, we do not offer wedding "packages" per se.

* What special decorations are especially appropriate for a castle wedding?

For our Great Hall, we have 3-foot by 5-foot hand-embroidered heraldic banners depicting twenty-four examples of coats of arms of the Douglas family. As one enters Castle Douglas, the first room contains an armory depicting armor from throughout history. All of the historically accurate armor is handmade by Rob Valentine of Valentine Armouries in Calgary. Seven weeks out of the year, the armor collection will be in a museum at the Texas Renaissance Faire in Plantersville. The rest of the year, the collection will be in our armory. Inside the Great Hall is a cast-stone fireplace featuring lions rampant and a cast-stone quatrefoil balustrade along the front of the minstrel's gallery overlooking the great Hall. All around the Great Hall, gothic-arched openings lead into the other parts of the castle ground floor.

* How else can brides set the mood for a castle wedding?

Candle light is a must. It creates a sense of mystery as the shadows dance among the 3800-pound beams rising to the peak of the roof forty-eight feet above the floor of the Great Hall. Period music such as harp or bagpipes can also add a medieval mood to a castle wedding. Above the minstrel's gallery is a small balcony three stories up on which a bagpipe player can suddenly strike up the pipes and bring an ancient melody to the occasion.

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