Marrying outdoors?

Published date: 9th January 2019

Fancy getting married outdoors? Looks great doesn’t it? But…

We’ve all seen American films and TV series where couples marry in the open air. Well, the weather in California and Florida is a bit more predictable (and clement) than ours. And the legal situation is a bit more accommodating than it is generally in Britain too – with the exception of Scotland, which (as so often showing more common sense in matters legal) does allow outdoor ceremonies. We have plenty of options for couples who fancy getting married abroad, but what are the options here?

The good news is, weather aside it is possible to have an outdoor wedding (in Scotland) or a nearly outdoor wedding in the rest of the country, with a little bit of creativity.

To get the dull bit over first. A wedding in England and Wales has to take place within premises licensed for the purpose, and to qualify they apparently have to be permanent structures. In Scotland it is the celebrant who key, not the place, something which opens up innumerable possibilities.

So the easy route here is to have a look at our Scottish venues for one that appeals for its outdoor element, and take it from there. But when you are sorting it all out, do remember that you need a back-up plan in case the heavens open. It has been known to happen.

Now for the more creative stuff. It would need some careful checking with the venue and the authorities, and this is definitely not a legal opinion! but the way the law seems to be framed, if an English venue has an internal courtyard or garden, as is the case with some of the castles and so on that we list, or a quadrangle like those you’ll see e.g. in the Cambridge colleges on the site, then in theory that is within the walls of the building. Bath’s Roman Bath House is another one that springs to mind here, within four walls but open to the skies.

It is the couple who have to be within the building, so some venues have space for the guests to sit outdoors, with the couple under a porch or similar structure, thus ostensibly within the confines of the building but looking out on the world as they take their vows.

That’s not the only way to get that fresh air feeling as you say ‘I do.’ Over recent years venues have done some creative thinking of their own, so have a trawl through the site for places where for example they have orangeries, giving enough light to make you feel outside; or gazebos and other such structures that have been granted a licence or included in one. There are permanent marquees too that bring a touch of Four Weddings… to the day, and not just for the dining and toast either.

Of course an outdoor wedding is not to everybody’s taste. But it does fire the imagination a little: being in touch with nature; feeling the fresh air that clears the mind so beautifully (especially good if you are the nervous type!); letting the light in on such a significant moment in your life together. We hope that if it does appeal you find the right way (and a legally acceptable way!) to get it done, and that forbetterforworse can guide you to a suitable place.

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