Now’s the time to plan your outdoor wedding ceremony…
Hurrah! New rules now make it much easier for couples in England and Wales to have an outdoor wedding ceremony. Previously, you could only marry under a permanent immovable structure (although in Scotland you could already marry outside). Now, at approved premises, ceremonies can take place fully outdoors.
Let’s go outside
Unfortunately, this change doesn’t apply to venues without a wedding licence, such as private gardens, woodlands or beaches. But, as long as the venue has a civil ceremony licence, then you can have a legally binding outdoor ceremony anywhere within its boundary. Of course, as before, you can still choose to have your ceremony with a celebrant at any outdoor location, and have the legal ceremony separately.
To celebrate this rule change, we asked some of our real brides to tell us why they chose an outdoor wedding ceremony and what made it magical. Read on…
A beautiful rustic barn
Victoria and Stuart married in an open-sided barn in Northumberland. “I’d been searching for outdoor wedding ceremony venues in England, which was difficult as (at the time) you need to be married under a licensed structure,” says Victoria. “I only viewed this one venue but I knew straight away it was where I would marry my best friend. We were married on the 6th July 2019 and it was the most magical day. The theme was DIY, but the barn was beautiful as it was, so we kept it minimal. There were hessian runners and gin bottles filled with artificial flowers in blush pinks and purples. We also had bunting, tea lights and tassel garlands.”
Gothic church ruins
Karen and Laimy wanted a romantic venue that stood out from the crowd, and that’s when she found Ettington Park Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. “It’s a gothic mansion about an hour from Northampton,” she says. “The approach, a private road lined with trees and grazing wild deer, was magical. The hotel itself is stunning and the fact that it had lots of options for our ceremony was important, as we wanted an outdoor wedding ceremony."
"We married on Friday 17th August 2018 in the beautiful church ruins of the Bell Tower, which had a really romantic feel. I also decorated it with lots of candles and hurricane vases. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed an outdoor drinks reception with champagne, canapés and live music.”
An autumnal garden setting
Meg and Alex married at Cleatham Hall in Lincolnshire. “I started Googling venues the night we got engaged,” says Meg. “Cleatham was the first one I found and also the first one we viewed. We saw lots more but none gave me the same feeling. The moment we walked into the Orangery I cried and he knew we had found 'The One’. The big day was a perfectly crisp autumn morning. Walking down the sweeping staircase with my dad is a moment that will live with me forever. "
"We got married in the gardens and I walked down the aisle to ‘Everglow’ by Coldplay. After the ceremony we had lots of food and drinks with the most delicious canapés. Everyone also had lots of fun playing garden games.”
The perfect sunny day
Jennifer and Adam chose Parley Manor in Christchurch. “We were originally supposed to get married in August 2020 but our original venue went into administration,” says Jennifer. “Cue panic and stress, but we managed to get all our money back and found Parley Manor instead. "
"We realised it was so much better than our original venue, so we booked it straight away. It's a beautiful manor house with amazing gardens, an outdoor wedding ceremony marquee and a huge marquee for the wedding breakfast and evening reception."
"We wanted a really relaxed day with all our friends and family, and this had so much space. It was also ideal for garden games. Leading up to the wedding we were watching the weather closely, and the day before was grey and miserable. But on the morning of the wedding, I woke up to bright sunshine and it was lovely and warm. It was perfect!”
A wild and windy elopement
Lisa and Scott eloped to the Isle of Skye and got married on the 17th August 2021. “We chose a wee secret spot outdoors on the Quiraing Walk, a picturesque walking route on the Isle of Skye. We’ve visited Skye many times as a couple and every time we go back we fall in love with the landscapes all over again. "
"We both love nature and the outdoors and we know we made the right choice when we look back at our wet and windy photographs. I can’t imagine having it anywhere else now.”
“On the day, our celebrant and piper were there to meet us. It was pouring down with rain and it was so windy, but I didn’t expect anything less from the Misty Isle. My brother walked me down the aisle - well up the hill! - and it was a really special moment that I’ll cherish forever. We had a humanist ceremony, as we wanted something very personalised. My brother Craig gave a reading and we had a hand-fastening ceremony to truly ‘tie the knot’. We also drank from a Quaich, a traditional Scottish friendship cup, and ended with a Celtic reading. Afterwards, we went for photos at different locations around Skye and then for a lovely meal at Kinloch Lodge, our favourite restaurant on the island.”
Surrounded by nature
Nichola and Sam tied the knot at Gorwell Farm, in Dorset. “Within minutes of viewing it, we knew it was perfect,” says Nichola.
“It has a large stone barn with an outside wooden bar and licensed pagoda. It was simple yet stunning, perfect for a rustic wedding. It’s also set in the middle of the countryside, with no noise except the birds and an abundance of amazing wild plants, flowers and trees.”
The couple married on the 18th September 2019. “Neither of us like being the centre of attention, so we wanted a more relaxed style of wedding,” says Nichola. “My dad walked me down the aisle and we also had our groomsmen and bridesmaids stood either side of us, to keep things more informal and relaxed. Our ceremony was short and sweet, no readings just the legal formalities and an exit back down the aisle to ‘Crazy In Love’ by Beyonce and Jay Z. Then we were able to just have a great time with family and friends. My highlight was the ceremony. Although it was short and I was a nervous wreck and couldn't get my words out, it was the main part I’d been dreaming about for so long. I was finally able to marry my best friend and it was definitely the best moment of my life."
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