Planning an outdoor wedding? They are certainly on the rise. I’ve noticed an increase in interest over the past couple of years, but just take a look at any wedding blog/magazine and you’ll see. And why not? Getting married married outdoors sounds fabulous! A stunning landscape; the sun kissing your skin, the breeze in your hair, birds singing!
While I believe it really can be beautiful and exciting, there are some legal requirements we should all take note of. I consulted files from the Citizen’s Advice , as well as the Government’s Approved Premises Guidance For The Approval Of Premises As Venues For Civil Marriages and Civil Partnerships  (updated as of June 2015).
Basically, for civil marriages/partnerships, for the ceremony to be legal it must be held in a permanently immovable structure, with at least one room. And of course be licensed.
So the dream of walking through a meadow or feeling the sand between your toes might not be strictly approved by law, but don’t despair as there are some beautiful, creative alternatives that you just shouldn’t rule out if you know you want to plan an outdoor wedding.
One perfect solution is quickly getting legally married at anytime, then holding a wedding, aka, “the big celebration with everyone you love”, whenever and wherever you want. This gives you so much more flexibility!
Take Kris & Matt for example, who were married in September at Walcot Hall where they have a stunning main hall indoors, a perfect setting in itself. So if the weather didn’t agree, Plan B would be followed and the ceremony would be inside. When you have the choice, making the call the day before or at the very latest the early morning, is the best so everything can be setup and the normal schedule can follow. If your venue doesn’t have such flexibility, consider additions like renting a tent to make sure guests aren’t caught in the rain!
Jen & Mike actually had two ceremonies in one day at Pimhill Barn. A legal one in early afternoon, and then at sunset, an entirely spiritual ceremony. Both were beautiful, but I admit the second one felt particularly special in the open air with the sun setting around you.
Simply begin with what you both really want, and then make everything fit around that.
Find a venue that gives you the location(s) you want, the flexibility, and consider a simple & quick “legal” marriage followed by a real “wedding celebration” with friends and family. It’s worth talking to your photographer too, as they’re the experts and should be able to offer some insight.
I’ll give you a quick example: Lighting, time of day, canopy.
This is really important if you want an outdoor ceremony. If you’re having an outdoor ceremony in the summer (midday), you’re best making sure you have some sort of canopy (shade) from the direct sun. That means trees or some sort of structure you can make use of or create yourself. Why is this important? Your ceremony will be beautiful regardless, but if you have direct sunlight on a blue-skied day beaming down on you, you’ll be squinting and have some heavy shadows. A better photographer can work around this, but it does limit options if you leave it in direct sun. Of course, the best photographer will not only find a creative solution but will also be able to discuss this with you during your consultation.
Image: Lucy & Richard lighting a candle in remembrance of those who have passed, but also harnessing the light of many more candles to light the ceremony itself, as it took place outdoors 2-3 hours after sunset.