Outdoor Weddings in England: What you need to know (and what I wish I’d have known!)

So Steven and I decided pretty early on that we wanted an outdoor wedding. I can’t remember exactly where it came from, but once we’d considered it, our hearts were set and we were determined to do this wedding thing in the open air. We thought it would be lovely, romantic, easy and cheap.


The first of these two, only time will tell, but the second two were 100% wrong. 


Oh so very wrong. 


You see, outdoor weddings in America are a big deal. People do them in their giant gardens (or back yards) or local parks and the sun always shines because their weather is more reliable and it’s like a Pinterest fans dream come true. It’s seen as a cheaper option than a church or stately home and is super adorable and DIY and bohemian. 


Here, however, it is an epic ball-ache. 


Let’s start with the wedding itself. You cannot, in England, get married outside wherever you please. The rules for our bros in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are much more chill (and make way more sense!) and you can apply for a licence to get married outside if your favoured venue doesn’t have one. In England, however, you cannot get married in a “temporary structure” such as a marquee, tent or tipi, in forms of transport or the open air of a beach. 


The only way you can hold a “ceremony” in these sorts of places, is if you do the legal bit before or after in a registry office. Steven and I didn’t love this idea. We want to get married for actual real on the day we have the wedding. Please and thank you. 


We spent several long Sundays with a bottle of Prosecco and our iPads, scouring the internet for somewhere that would allow us to get married outside that wasn't too fancy. There were a few stately homes that would have been ideal for anyone having a classy, posh do, but for us, we wanted a down-to-earth, bohemian festival feel. Several places we looked at said they “did weddings” but when looking at the fine print, it would seem they didn’t have a licence and it was just for ceremonies. 


Then we found Hush Venues, and holy cow was it perfect. I won’t go too much into that on this post as this is about outdoor weddings as a whole and I will post about the venue another day, but Hush can allow us to get married with our guests under the canopy of the trees in the forrest and with the two of us and our registrar under a structure called The Olde Woodshed. Yas! 


So we’d found our venue. It certainly wasn’t cheap but hey, that’s weddings right?


We then needed somewhere for the reception. Hush offers a huge field so it only made sense for us to hire a tipi to put on it for our reception. These are huge and stunning and absolutely perfect, but certainly not a cheap option! Thankfully we are using the incredible Magical Tipis who take care of the tables, lighting, dance floor, seating and even the toilets. (More about them in a post soon too!)


Yep, that’s right. We are having to hire in loos for our big day because people need to go! 


Luckily we don’t have to have horrible festival-style Portaloos and these bogs are really quite lovely! Although it is another cost that you wouldn’t have in a hotel. 


Then, of course, all the catering and suppliers have to be found by us. We are proving two meals, a bar and some surprise treats too. Now, as much as these prices add up, we loved being able to choose exactly what we wanted and we’ve gone for something a little different. We had the freedom to choose literally anything, rather than being stuck with a hotel’s set menu. It was stressful to find the right people, but I’m confident that we have made the best choice! 


We have to make sure that the venue is suitable for our suppliers, in terms of the space, terrain and electricity offered etc. Our contact at Hush Venues is amazing with liaising with suppliers so we know that that is in good hands. 


So, although it’s fun to have choice and super personalizable, it’s also dead stressful! Pinterest makes it look so easy! 


Then of course, you have practicalities like the weather. If it rains, will it ruin your day? I know I’m kinda okay with this in terms of me getting a bit soggy but it would put a bit of a poo on some of our outdoor plans. 


How will you keep your guests cool? Warm? Hydrated? etc. Our mums are both always cold so we knew we had to have a basket of blankets for when it gets a bit chilly. We are having spare sunscreen and insect repellent just in case and our bar will be ready to keep our guests hydrated (or drunk…!). 


It’s also important to bare in mind that outdoors is a big space, so decorating might require a little more than a village hall. We are excited to use the trees and the wildflower meadow as part of our decorations but we have certainly had to purchase a little more than we might have done otherwise (Which I’m totally okay with because we have got some AMAZING things! Eee!).


Of course you will also have to consider outfits. We are going to try and dissuade our guests from wearing stilettos (Steven is heartbroken, he’ll have to wear flats now!), and I had to think about my dress in terms of getting married outside. These haven’t been an issue for us, but maybe for others it is something to consider.


If you do want to get married outside - do it! I am super excited and feel like an outdoor ceremony is perfect for us. Our venue is stunning and the space allows us to have some exciting added extras that we wouldn’t have had otherwise, as well as the freedom to create from scratch. It’s stressful and priceybeans, but for our perfect day, it really will be perfect.