Planning an Outdoor Wedding in the UK

Rules, regulations, tips and advice on planning an outdoor wedding in the UK

Notley Abbey is able to host an outdoor wedding ceremony under The Nook in the gorgeous back garden

If you are considering a wedding between May and September and love the idea of getting married with the sun shining down on your celebration, you must be aware of the UK rules and regulations associated with an outdoor wedding before you commit to booking a venue. This article has been designed as a guide, to help you plan a perfect wedding ceremony with an outdoor theme.

The Rules and Regulations of Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies in the UK

It may be OK to get married wherever your heart desires if you’re in the United States, but here in the UK the rules on celebrating your wedding outdoors are quite different. According to the Buckinghamshire County Council, “All the legal requirements of a ceremony must be held within a permanent, immovable structure, with a fixed roof and solid floor. This needs to be large enough to accommodate the couple, two Registrars, both witnesses and a table large enough to prepare the paperwork.” Wedding guests, however, are able to witness your wedding from a garden or outdoor set up.

How to Celebrate an Outdoor Wedding in the UK

If you plan on celebrating a civil wedding ceremony at a licensed wedding venue, you can replicate the al fresco feeling by setting up an aisle with chairs either side of it leading up to two chairs and a table set up inside a licensed room or structure. If you’ve chosen to get married at a licensed wedding venue or hotel, they may advise that the doors are opened out on to the grounds or gardens and that the couple can sit facing forward with their guests sat outside, behind them.
 
Alternatively, a wedding venue may choose to ‘license’ specific structures around the grounds, such as a wooden pergola, a stone structure or an historic feature at the venue. If your chosen wedding venue has an official licence granted on an external structure (featuring a fixed roof and solid floor as mentioned above), then a truly outdoor wedding is possible. 

Top Tip: It’s down the discretion of the registrar marrying you on the day as to whether or not the temperature is suitable for you to go ahead with your pre-planned outdoor wedding ceremony set up. If the temperature is not deemed warm enough then you may need to forego your original plan and bring everyone inside.

Celebrating an Outdoor Ceremony

There are ways to celebrate your marriage without having to legally get married under a licenced structure in front of your guests. This would be known as a celebrant ceremony. The couple would legally need to marry at a licensed venue such as a registry office, but are then free to celebrate their marriage with friends and family anywhere they like in a more casual setting.  

5 Things to Consider When Planning an Outdoor Wedding

  • Ensure your venue has a wet-weather back up plan in place, just in case.
  • If you think your guests may get too hot during your ceremony, perhaps ask to have electric fans set up in appropriate spots where possible. Alternatively, you could have a basket of hand-held fans available for guests to pick up as they arrive at your venue and parasols for more elderly guests.
  • If you are inviting a large number of guests to your outdoor wedding, they may not be able to hear you over the natural noise created by being outside. Consider speaking to your venue about hiring a microphone if they recommend it for your guest numbers or set up, and if amplified music is permitted outside.
  • You may not want to scatter petals down the aisle or have any decorative items that might blow away if the wind picks up. Candles are particularly challenging!
  • Older guests may become thirsty if the weather is very hot or muggy. Having jugs and glasses of water at the ready could be a good idea.