Written by Kelsey Ellen Sworyk, 2018
for West Coast Weddings Magazine
Huntingdon Manor and the Pendray Inn & Tea House on Vancouver Island simply speak to weddings. With the history of marriage spanning across centuries, wedding practices rooted deeply in the traditions of our ancestors, and the everlasting allure surrounding romances of royalty, it feels only natural when contemporary weddings strive to emulate the beauty of antiquated ceremonies. Old-world wedding traditions come to life in the city of Victoria, British Columbia – viscerally reminiscent of eras gone by, this capital city is a place unlike any other to say, “I do.” Nestled in the heart of the downtown core, overlooking the inner-harbour, stands buildings that hold as much historical mystique as they look like they might.
Once a prominent 19th century family home, the Pendray Inn and Tea House now serves as an inspiring and richly historical venue to celebrate, honour, and capture the vows of old-souls in love. Palpable even before entering, the building itself acknowledges the arrival of its guests.
It is with a refined nod to times past that the Pendray Inn tells her story. The year was 1890 when Mr. William Joseph Pendray, successful owner of a Victoria based soap company, alongside his wife, Mrs. Amelia Jane Pendray purchased a plot of land adjacent to their family business. On such land they and their four sons resided in a small, surely crowded cottage while the family’s mansion was constructed beside it. The Pendray’s moved in upon the mansion’s completion in the year 1897 and henceforth began their Vancouver Island legacy, lasting until present times.
Notable architectural and design influences of the late 19th century, such as America’s revival of the Queen Anne style, have withstood the test of time, both on and within the manor. As such, for 21st century brides and grooms, this now means walking in the Pendray room, stepping out onto a private terrace where the pacific ocean greets one with morning whispers; creating a photo album keepsake in a garden where the topiary have seen over one hundred years of love stories; allowing the declaration of a lifelong commitment to one’s partner to take place in a home that once successfully raised and kept safe four young boys.
As time would have it, those boys became men, and thus, circumstances eventually developed the Pendray family home into yet another role: a boarding home for young women. While it now functions as a 9 room bed-and-breakfast and a sophisticated place for high-tea, all considered, the stories held within the walls of the Pendray Inn, beginning over a century ago, have deeply infused the venue with sentiment – making vows exchanged all the more special.
In mere moments of stepping inside the Pendray Inn and Tea House, guests are met with genuine smiles from courteous and professional front-of-house staff; the energy is warm, inviting, and elegant. True to its original form, the entrance way is sophisticated yet sweet, showcasing its Victorian era charm; guests feel as though an experience awaits
The honoured guests, the bride and groom or otherwise, will arrive in full confidence that all arrangements have been confirmed, having been previously connected with Events Coordinator, Emma Warren. Emma is lovely, informed, and passionately provides exceptional service to each unique wedding party and their guests: “We like to treat the bride and groom with extra-special care,” Emma commented, “to make them feel as welcome as possible.” Prior to the wedding day, communication with Emma varies in length, adding that “for the winter season, a wedding can come together in 3 or 4 months; though, most often we’ll begin arrangements 1 year beforehand.”
Wedding guests often travel from out-of-town, even outside of Canada to host their occasion at the Pendray Inn; thus, staff strive to ensure a seamless arrival, dissolving concerns over detail and filling this space instead with champagne-like bubbles of excitement.
Unique to the wedding experience of the Pendray Inn is that it’s truly “not a blank canvas,” said Emma, in that, the character of the building provides a backdrop unto its own. Should a couple desire further décor, or perhaps even a themed wedding, the events coordinator is knowledgeable in Victoria’s community of talented, award-winning wedding vendors and can bring forth options to create the envisioned atmosphere.
As a memorable example, the Pendray Inn had recently been transformed into a party fit for the Great Gatsby himself; noting that, before it was The Pendray Inn it was known formally as The Gatsby Manor. In keeping with this history, while creating the wedding of the couples’ dreams, the Gatsby-themed ceremony and reception served to further confirm that the nature of the building, in all its transitions, ultimately transcends the notion of time.
While other décor arrangements are optional, creative limitlessness ensues when selecting floral arrangements for Pendray wedding ceremonies and receptions alike. Open to personal interpretation, this venue invites floral trends of contemporary times while equally delighting in floral stylistically endowed by those of our past. Couples with a preference for modernity may wish to adorn the site with table centerpieces of simple greens and whites, similar to those elegantly displayed at Windsor Castle during the 2018 nuptials of Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Contrarily, couples with a taste for the traditional may opt to lavish the inn with floral inspired by royal weddings further distant in time, such as Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert in 1840. At which time, emphasis was placed on floral known as ‘kissing-knots’ and the Queen’s adornments of orange blossoms, of which widely-popularized the coveted bridal flower crown.
Additionally, though the Pendray hosts weddings throughout all seasons of the year, an extra flare of romance is in the air near the holiday season. In anticipation of both Christmas and the new year, the Pendray boasts plentiful in stunning lights, greenery, and rich winter colours, lending its hand to the fairytale of a holiday wedding. No matter the circumstances, the Pendray team will work with clients to bring their floral dreams into fruition, putting them in touch with best suited local florists.
An engaged couple preparing to marry at the Pendray Inn can rest assured that the venue will host events with guest lists of up to 80. Smaller ceremonies may be held inside while ceremonies with a higher guest count can be held outside; the latter, especially beautiful during the warmer months. With various wedding packages offered, each ceremony and reception will genuinely represent the style of the marrying couple. As an example, offered as a sweet, Victorian era experience, contrary to the conventional wedding dinner, is a light afternoon tea and lunch service – for which the Pendray is celebrated.
Should a full bodied dinner feel more authentic, Emma is well versed in the best of the best in local catering and will provide options such as Toque Catering or Food For Thought; both of which she describes as “personable” while offering “great presentation.” The venue is equipped to provide bar service should it be requested.
With other guests staying at the manor, receptions are welcome until 10:00 pm, respectfully. If all 9 of the immaculately designed rooms are in use by wedding guests, receptions are welcome until midnight. Each room resembles a painting; with furniture, linens, and window dressings imagined straight from centuries before us, evoking a sense of getaway to a distant time and place, wedding guests will surely feel inspired. Not to worry, though, as in our times, modern advances in technology and comfort are appreciated, and of course available in all guest rooms.
As the co-joining property to the Pendray Inn, the Huntingdon Manor is steps away, offering reduced accommodations for wedding guests. Within this captivating hotel is the Grand Dorset Suite which acts as an idyllic pre-wedding venue for the bridal party to prepare in privacy. Curated gardens between these two historic buildings, graced with the beauty of the harbour, offer picturesque landscape for photographs.As sister property to the Pendray Inn,
Victoria, B.C, is known as one of the most romantic cities in Canada. Its diversity as strength; its history, an honour. As an iconic fixture in the heart of downtown Victoria, the Pendray Inn and Tea House relishes in the opportunity to host weddings for loving couples from near or far, memorializing its founding family as one of devotion, success, and unity.
Interested in having your wedding at this iconic venue?