Outdoor ceremony? What are the chances?

Hello Wedding Belle,

Whether you are planning a wedding or working with couples who are in the middle of their wedding plans, the ceremony is going to be one of the biggest parts of this special day. Of course it is, it’s the legal bit and the reason you are holding the party afterwards!

Image source- Peartree Pictures
As many of you know, here in the UK you must legally marry within a licensed venue, church or registry office to enable your marriage to be legally binding. Unlike overseas where in many countries you can exchange vows pretty much anywhere and it be legally  binding (the person marrying you is the licensed one not the venue). I personally hope that one day the UK will follow suit and allow the licence to be carried by the person who is conducting your ceremony rather than having to be restricted to a choice of venues as listed above. There are a few ways around this however and it can become confusing so let me explain the 3 main ways to marry legally in the UK.


  1. Church service – the traditional and charming way to exchange vows, whether you attend church regularly or not many vicars, priests and their counterparts will be open for a conversation about your faith choices, discussing what options are available and how you can enjoy the support of your local church for your wedding ceremony. If you would like to hold your ceremony in a church that is unfamiliar to you then I would suggest still making an appointment, their rules may not be as strict as once feared.


2 . Registry office or licensed venue – there are lots of options with this and you can enjoy strolling around many of the UK’s licensed hotels, venues, stately homes etc. With choosing a non-church venue you have a few restrictions however, for example you cannot include anything religious within your service and you have to choose a room that has been licensed for weddings (some do have an outside venue option, but these are few and far between). There will be a room hire fee on top of the registrar fee for coming out and performing your ceremony. Although having said this, you do have the benefit of being able to choose pretty much any venue as you will not be restricted to your own parish or area in which you live, you might also be able to hold your reception in the same place which saves on cost and hassle usually!

Laura + Iain | Netherstow House, Lichfield | Lichfield Reportage Wedding Photojournalist Stuart James
Image source – Stuart James Photo 
 3. Another option is to mix things up a little and this has to be my favourite way of holding a wedding – as long as the sun shines! There is a way to marry your loved one outside, almost anywhere without any concerns of licences or restrictions (and I don’t mean you have to elope to California like I did) and that is to work with an Independent Celebrant.

An independent celebrant is a trained, professional person who is able to perform your ceremony, at a place of your choosing, using your own words and to a very high standard. They are able to include anything religious and will help you to put together an amazingly special ceremony, help you with personalised vows and will encourage you to be completely unique if you wish. The only drawback is that they cannot ‘legally’ marry you (although they can ‘announce you as husband and wife’ for your guests’!). To be legally married you still have to complete your legal obligations either at your local registry office or within a licensed venue or room – however this is easy to organise and cost-effective, leaving you with many more options of beach, forest or garden ceremonies!

wedding, ceremony, planning,

photo from http://www.intimateweddings.com

Where are you holding your wedding? Let us know your thoughts on whether the UK should allow marriages to take place anywhere and abolish the venue licensing? I’d love your comments below …

Love Marie, The Wedding Expert x


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