Should I have an outdoor wedding ceremony, is this even possible in the UK? The short answer is yes, it is possible. However there is a number of things you should consider first.

Outdoor wedding ceremonies are very common in many parts of the world and there is a very good reason for this. Just imagine – you are bathing in lovely sunlight, surrounded by beautiful countryside (or maybe on the beach) getting ready to say your vows. There is a gentle breeze on your skin, the birds are singing and lovely scent of flowers is filling the air…

It’s a lovely image, but unfortunately UK isn’t exactly known for its sun filled days. The weather is unpredictable and there is no guarantee of sunshine even in the middle of the summer. This does not mean that you should forget about outdoor ceremony though. All it means is that you need to do a bit more planning and have a plan B.

The short answer is yes and no. In Scotland you can get legally married anywhere, but in the rest of the UK legal wedding ceremonies have to be conducted in a licensed venue. Only a permanent structure with a solid roof can be licensed for weddings.

This means that whilst you cannot legally get married under open sky, there are plenty of venues that have licensed gazebos, pagodas and other open structures.

Sometimes most of the wedding ceremony takes place in front of the structure and only the legal parts have to be conducted ‘under the roof’. However, a lot depends on the registrar, so make sure to speak to them before you start planning.

However, if you have your heart set on a wedding ceremony on a beach, or in the peaks under open sky don’t give up just yet. Have you ever heard of wedding celebrants?

Wedding celebrants specialise in running personalised wedding ceremonies and are incredibly flexible when it comes to place and format of your ceremony. This is called a humanist ceremony and it focuses on the couples love story and things important to them. Alternatively, you can opt for a religious blessing.

You would still need to have the legal ceremony at some point (it’s a common practice to do it a day before at the registry office) but it only requires the couple and two witnesses.

Outdoor Wedding venues in the UK

There are two types of wedding venues when it comes to outdoor weddings in the UK and both have their pros and cons.

Permanent (brick & mortar) wedding venues

Many ‘brick and mortar’ venues offer an outdoor space licenced for wedding ceremonies. Often it is a pavilion/pergola on the venue grounds or a porch or open veranda.

Pros

Cons

• Some larger venues can hold more than one wedding on the same day.

• Some venues can be very prescriptive about how your day is run, especially when it comes to timings of the day.

• Some permanent venues can restrict certain suppliers (especially catering).

• If it is a legal ceremony, the registrar has the final say wether the ceremony can take place outdoors or should move inside.

• The outdoor structure is often licensed for legal wedding ceremonies

• Permanent wedding venues normally also have a licensed room indoors. This is perfect for a plan B if weather is not suitable for outdoor ceremony.

• Permanent wedding venues tend to offer all-inclusive packages that take care of catering & drinks making your wedding planning simpler.

• You don’t need to worry about basic amenities.

• Easier for guests with mobility issues.

Temporary wedding venues

Temporary wedding venues include marquees, tipis, yurts & tents that can be set up at any suitable site.

Pros

• You have the freedom to customise your wedding to much greater extent than many permanent venues allow.

• There are no restrictions on what suppliers are allowed (some permanent venues can restrict external caters). So what’s it going to be - hog roast, pizza oven, burger truck, ice-cream van?

• You have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing your wedding place. It is also a great option if you have access to land – spacious garden, farm, etc.

• Your pets can take part at your wedding ceremony (and stay there for later too).

Cons

• You cannot legally get married in a temporary structure (apart from Scotland). This means you would need to have a legal ceremony another day and hire a wedding celebrant (or ask a friend) if you want to hold your ceremony outdoors.

• It can be more difficult to organise it in comparison with permanent wedding venue. You need to think about catering, where your guests will stay, basic amenities, access to the site, power supply, etc. However, a good tipi/marque supplier can help you with all of this.

• You need to consider bad weather options. Again, a good tipi/marque supplier will have measures in place for this, but it worth checking what your options are.

• Tipis & marquees can get really hot in sun and quite cold in lower temperatures, so you will need to plan for this too.

It can be very tempting to get carried away with all the beautiful outdoor wedding photos on Pinterest or Instagram.

However, planning an outdoor wedding ceremony I the UK is different from outdoor ceremony in a tropical country. UK weather is known for its unpredictability. This is why you should always have plan B. What are you going to do if it rains? What are you going to do if it is really windy?

• Advise your guests on appropriate footwear (especially if it is a tipi wedding). Stilettos are no fun in a woodland.

• Consider guests with mobility issues. Can they access the ceremony location?

• It’s a good idea to warn your guests that it will be an outdoor ceremony, and even more so if the whole wedding is outdoors.

• Little handheld fans and plenty of drinking water make hot weather much more enjoyable.

• Warm blankets on other hand are great for more chilly days.

• Depending on the location providing insect repellent to your guests might be a good idea too.

• Consider the wind. Wind is often an overlooked aspect of wedding planning, but it can wreck everything from your decorations to your you perfect hairdo. So make sure you are ready for it!