Outdoor wedding ceremonies are becoming increasingly popular as couples realise that with a celebrant you can have your wedding ceremony absolutely anywhere.
Outdoor wedding ceremonies can be truly beautiful. They certainly can enhance a boho theme and add a festival vibe. You can include natural elements in your ceremony, using wild flowers and plants for decor, for example.
If the boho vibe isn’t your thing, think English Country Garden – elegant, pretty and demure. Many of our stately homes and wedding venues in the UK are set in simply stunning grounds: manicured lawns, rolling hills and formal gardens, it seems such a shame not to make the most of the wonderful outdoors. I create and perform bespoke wedding ceremonies all over the South East and there are some beautiful outdoor spaces in Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Surrey, and of course all over the UK. Check out https://outdoorceremonies.co.uk and The Celebrant Directory for venues in your area.
And of course there’s beaches – from wild, wet and windy to sandy coved bays, the UK has some amazing beaches so get out there and explore – you may find exactly the right beach setting for your special day.
Outdoor wedding ceremonies automatically feel more free, less formalised and less structured than an indoor ceremony. The atmosphere is more relaxed and your guests can enjoy the scenery.
Where can I hold an outdoor wedding ceremony?
From the most elegantly-styled stately home gardens to a more rustic celebration in a field, here are some alternatives you may like to consider:
- A regular outdoor space at your wedding venue, eg gardens, a courtyard, a terrace. This is a very popular choice for outdoor wedding ceremonies and your venue will be well versed in setting up ceremonies in their allocated areas. The venue co-ordinator will usually provide power (if needed) and they will liaise with your stylist to ensure that chairs and flowers are arranged as per your requirements.
- An alternative outdoor space at your wedding venue. For example, there may be little-used outside areas that your venue does not often use for wedding ceremonies but they could be just what you’re looking for. For example, wooded areas, unusual-shaped trees, a waterfall. Your venue may have never considered holding a ceremony in that space because it’s probably not licenced for weddings. The great news is that celebrants can perform your ceremony anywhere – licenced or not. You do not need to be under cover or indeed adhere to any rules or regulations. This is your ceremony and your choice.
- Hire a field and bring the props. There are lots of farmers and landowners who are realising that their fields can be a great space for weddings. This is a complete blank canvas and an opportunity to get creative. Hire a marquee, hay bales, a circus tent! A bit more / a lot more work is required to make the space work for you, but think of the satisfaction you’ll get when you pull it off!
- A pub garden. There are lots of pubs with large gardens that are not licenced for legal marriages, and most would be only too willing to hire them out. You may not, however, get exclusive access so if this is important to you then perhaps this option is not for you. A pub garden ceremony works well where the publican can section off an area of the garden and you are planning a smaller, more intimate wedding.
- A beach. With such a wide variety of beaches in the UK, there’s something for everyone. From secluded romantic shores to dramatic clifftop settings, let your imagination run wild.
What can possibly go wrong at outdoor wedding ceremonies?
- Ah, now, well in the UK the weather is not always your best friend! I always advise couples planning outdoor wedding ceremonies to have a plan B. Your indoor space needs to be just as beautiful as your outdoor space, otherwise you will always feel you are compromising if you need to opt for plan B. Treat the outdoor ceremony as a ‘nice to have’ but don’t set your heart on it.
- Make sure you have access to a power supply for your outdoor ceremony. Sound does not amplify outdoors – it just gets carried on the wind and disappears. It’s likely that your celebrant will need to use a microphone outdoors so make sure they have access to (or bring) a speaker and microphones, an extension lead and also mic stand if needed.
- If using live musicians do bear in mind that they will not agree to play outdoors if it’s likely to rain, for fear of getting their instruments wet and therefore damaged. Outdoor wedding ceremonies can be a real challenge for musicians, especially where electricity is involved! You may decide to err on the side of caution and put up a gazebo for musicians or there may be a permanent covered structure they can use. Here’s a link to a pianist I can highly recommend: https://www.richardsully.com
- High heels and the outdoors don’t always mix. Make sure that the ground is appropriate for heels. Trampling through muddy puddles, gravel and on uneven grass will not endear you to your guests. Temporary flooring / pathways can be hired and they are useful for protecting your bridal party’s and your guests’ footwear.
- Make sure you are prepared for windy weather – weigh down tablecloths so that they don’t blow away, tie chair sashes on tightly, pin your hair up and don’t even think about candles!
- Check the weather forecast and make a decision around 2 hours before the ceremony whether to hold it outdoors or indoors. Once you have opted for certainty you relieve yourself of the pressure of not knowing, and can focus on enjoying your day
- Have umbrellas available for guests and the bridal party, in case of sudden showers. UK weather is unpredictable so if the heavens open partway through your ceremony and you need to run indoors, at least you can do so with some protection.
- If using a field or similar, check what insurance you may need to get and what you are already covered for under the landowner’s insurance. Make sure vehicles have adequate access, particularly those unloading equipment. Check what facilities are available – you may need to hire toilets, generators and so on.
- Be prepared for hot weather if your wedding is in the summer months. Have jugs of water to hand for guests and put bottles of suncream on tables for guests to help themselves.
- Think about how your guests will access your outdoor setting, especially those who are less mobile. A dramatic clifftop setting may sound like a great idea but if some guests are unable to make it because of the location or access, you may decide to compromise.
- Consider the privacy issue, especially on a beach. Most beaches in the UK are not private, with the exception of some privately owned sections of beaches (which may still not be that private in terms of noise and being overlooked). Are you happy for your ceremony to be watched and possibly interrupted by local tourists? If privacy is important to you, check out the area and make sure it suits your needs.
So what now?
I’d love to chat with you about your bespoke wedding ceremony, wherever you decide to hold it. Get in touch with me and we can start planning your special day.