Wedding Planning Advice For An Outdoor Wedding

A few weeks ago a wrote an article for Wedding Magazine on-line about outdoor weddings. I thought you may like to read my advice on Planning an outdoor wedding so here it is. You can see the full article from Wedding Magazine HERE

Planning Advice For An Outdoor Wedding

Outdoor weddings are becoming more and more popular within the UK but how can we, in a country with not exactly the most reliable weather, recreate some of those amazing weddings that we see on so many of the American wedding blogs and sites?

outdoor wedding

(Photo credit  www.suekwiatkowska.com)

Wedding Laws:
The main problem is the Law. Unless you live in Scotland where outdoor weddings are legal, it isn’t actually legal to get married outdoors in the UK unless you do so under a fixed roof like a pagoda. It doesn’t need to have walls, but must have a fixed roof, which is why you see so many band stands being used for weddings. A marquee is not a legal structure either as it doesn’t have a fixed roof.
If you don’t have a Pagoda near you or visualise your day as being a bit more rustic or completely out in the open then the other option is to hold a blessing instead of a legal civil ceremony.

Many couples are choosing to do the ‘paper work’ side of the marriage the day before, or earlier in the morning in a registry office and keep it very low key, and then have the wedding they really want in the form of a wedding blessing, which gives them much more flexibility in their choice of location. By choosing this option it basically means you can get married whenever, and wherever you wish.

I have been to many of these blessings and personally find them much more emotional than a civil ceremony. Companies like One Life Weddings will meet with you and write a completely personal ceremony that tells the story of you as a couple. Together with these amazing words you can then choose to get married wherever you wish, the world is your oyster!
(If you are interested in getting the government to change these laws then why not join the Any Campaign? Who have put a petition together to fight to change the wedding laws)

outdoor wedding

 (photo credit  http://hannahmillardphotography.co.uk)

The good old British weather!:
Unfortunately, unlike other parts of the world, we are not blessed with the most reliable of weather, which doesn’t make outdoor ceremonies as simple as we would like. For this reason it is best to think about the season, and also have a good back up plan! Obviously outdoor weddings in the winter are pretty much ruled out unless you want your guests to freeze, so looking at weddings from April to October is maybe a better option. When looking for a wedding venue and you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding, always make sure that it has an option B, a room inside that the ceremony can be moved to if the worst happens and it rains, or a marquee, yurt, or tipi that could hold the ceremony, either separately from the reception or in the same place. This also needs to be a quick turnaround.
Also think about things like blankets for your guests if it turns out to be a cold day, umbrellas in case of a little bit of drizzle, and on the other end of the scale water, fans and parasols in case of too much sun.

outdoor wedding

(photo credit  www.marieman.com)

The Reception
So you’ve had your outdoor ceremony, now you want to keep the theme running and have your reception outdoors. In some cases people choose to have the whole thing in the open air, but in most cases couples choose a marquee, tipi, yurt or barn to offer more shelter and warmth.
Things to take into consideration are:

1) Hire a good quality generator: don’t cut back on this and get a good powered one, you don’t want it breaking down halfway through the band playing.
2) Toilets: there are so many amazing portable toilets these days, but always get more than they advise, a block of three for the ladies is often enough for an average wedding.
3)  Outdoor furniture: it’s always a good idea to hire some outdoor furniture, picnic tables, hay bales; something to keep that outdoor vibe going as the evening progresses.
4) Lighting: make sure you have plenty of outdoor lights! Lanterns should be covered well so they don’t blow out in the wind and paper bag lanterns should contain extra sand in case they blow away. Sola powered lighting is a great idea but not terribly reliable, battery operated is a better option.
Build a fire: always a lovely feature for the evening, but make sure that children are kept away, you have a fire blanket and someone responsible is left to look after it.
5) Tell your guest’s what to expect: If you pre warn your guest they will be in the middle of a field they can dress accordingly. Imagine turning up in your best finery and finding out the whole day is to be spent on a farm! Guests can bring wellies, wear flats or if you have the budget why not provide wellies for them?

outdoor wedding

 (photo credit www.leeallenphotography.com)

I have to say I LOVE outdoor weddings, and in my experience the weather and the laws have never got in the way, there are always ways around these things. The most important thing is to stay true to what you want, be prepared and always have a Plan B!

Big Boho Love

Kelly xx


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    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! This advice is so spot on and perfect. So many brides don’t realize the extra steps and precautions needed for outdoor weddings, but this sums it up so well!


    Such an insightful post, and very helpful. There are certainly a million and one things to think about when planning an outdoor wedding! The other thing is music: you need instruments whose sound will carry outside. There’s also the issue of a shelter for a string quartet, for example, as their instruments need to be shielded from direct sunlight. A steel band is an increasingly popular choice, and certainly a lot of fun! If inclement weather means the ceremony has to be moved inside, what would brighten up the mood more than a steel band!


    I love this article! I’m hoping for an outdoor wedding reception and I need to know what the laws say about it and the types of licences I would need. Any ideas??? Thank you xxxxx

    Sarah edwards

    Please could you mention the British humanist association who deliver excellent non religious ceremonies


    Can anyone suggest a great outdoor area in England to have an outdoor wedding in the summer for cheap? We are on a really tight budget!!


    Thaks for the great post! Can a couple make and sign a contract that says that they are married and then get a marriage certificate?


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