Can you get married outdoors in England and Wales?

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Outdoor Weddings in England and Wales (UK)

Rules, Regulations, and Tips

Outdoor weddings are a dream of many couples who are considering getting married in England and Wales. We love photographing them because there is such a quiet joy to see people get married outdoors; taking vows in nature is something really special.

Legalities to Consider Before You Plan an Outdoor Wedding

There are some considerations to getting married outdoors in England and Wales, and there are some interesting and somewhat archaic laws that you will need to consider before you decide on a location.

While the idea of that magical forest wedding may tick all your boxes, current legalities dictate that civil ceremonies are allowed only in venues that have a license for a specific structure. That structure must also have a fixed roof and a solid floor.

We photographed Harriet and Tom’s beautiful wedding at the Longstowe Hall, and they have met these requirements by having a charming gazebo available for couples to be wed outdoors. Since the fixture is licensed and meets all the requirements, couples are free to get married outside with no worries.

Humanist and Civil Ceremony in England and Wales

One of the ways couples get around the requirements for an outdoor ceremony without a licensed structure is by having a civil ceremony a few days before the wedding and then hiring a celebrant to do a humanist ceremony.

Celebrants will work with you so you can have a personalised ceremony that you want that reflects your beliefs and values. This was exactly the case at Rose and Julian’s humanist wedding in Norfolk, where they had their civil ceremony prior to their outdoor wedding in a beryl meadow in exactly the style they envisioned.

Registrars Have the Final Say on Weather Conditions at Venues

It is often a surprise to couples that the registrar may move the wedding ceremony indoors if the weather isn’t perfect (chance of rain, too windy, too sunny etc); the venue has no say in this. This is why it’s so important to have a prior conversation with your registrar and understand how they work. They may have multiple weddings in a day, so they can’t always be flexible when it comes to shifting around the time of the wedding.

Celebrants who are doing a humanist wedding can be hired for the day, and most are willing to be very flexible on weather conditions and will be willing to wait out the rain or shift events around. To be safe, we always recommend hiring a celebrant for the whole day like Karen and James did for their Norfolk Festival Wedding.

Another option that we are seeing more often is couples having a friend or family member to perform the wedding which makes it much more flexible and so much more personal.

Registrars Have the Final Say on Weather Conditions at Venues

Other Outdoor Considerations: Time and Sound

As photographers, good light is everything for us. While we can work around any issue, if you have the control to pick the time of day you get married, then choosing a time where the sun will be blazing overhead will make for sweat and squinting.

Light later in the afternoon when the sun is more of an angle is so much more pleasing in photos, and in pleasing your guests!

Sound outdoors is another consideration a lot of people don’t think about.

At our own outdoor wedding, we found out after the ceremony that very few people could hear us after the first few rows. If it’s windy, or there’s background noise there’s even more to compete with you.

Sound travels up outside and has nowhere to bounce off of like it does indoors. Microphones can be a lifesaver outdoors. Check with your venue to see if they provide one if you are getting married outside; you want your vows to be heard loud and clear!

If you are engaged and considering an outdoor wedding in the Cambridge area or anywhere else in England and Wales, we would love to talk to you more about yours and share more photos of the locations we have worked in!

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