Unconventional / Alternative weddings

Getting married at home!


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New bride

Hi everyone!

I have just joined the site, and after only a few months of being engaged our wedding plans have changed about a million times!! I'm desperately in need of advice...so if anyone can help that would be great???

We planned to get married in Barbados as that's were he proposed in May, and thought that would be the perfect way to keep the wedding small & romantic, but unfortunately due to unforeseen probs with my mum's health we will probably opt for a UK wedding instead now, and also the usual how can you not invite this person etc and the price was nearing £30K which is ridiculous!

But here's the prob... me & Andre (my hubby to be) are dead set on getting married outside, and having a wedding that people will remember as being different and romantic. Although I'm catholic & Andre is baptist we really don't want to get married in a church. So as my parents have a lovely big garden in Norfolk, I was thinking we could get married in the garden...is this even possible??
My mum seems to think it isn't and is dead set on a church wedding! It doesn't have to be a religious ceremony, as we would quite like to say our own vows & have a couple of readings for the religious element, i guess like a blessing on our marriage is what we would prefer.

Sorry, I just realised I have rambled on, but I am desperate for any one's advice/ideas...

Thanks so much x


I don't think you can get married at home unless home has been licensed for civil marriages. Which is a real shame since it's one of the few customs I'd quite like imported from the USA!!


You could get married in a registry office just the two of you with a couple of witnesses and then have your actual wedding in the garden.

I went to a wedding in Mexico where they had readings etc and it was exactly like a civil ceremony except no signing of the register. They didn't even mention that they weren't officially married on the day and I wouldn't have realised to be honest. They then flew off to New York a couple of days later to do the 'paperwork' as they called it.


You can't have a legal ceremony in England outside. It has to be within 4 permanent walls or something like that. Why it makes any difference I really don't know!
You could have a humanist ceremony in the garden though, although this wouldn't be legal - not that it's ILlegal to do so, but it wouldn't make you legally married! You would need to have an official ceremony at a registry office to do that bit,

Lula_sweetpea recently got married in a really beautiful garden, I'm sure she'll be along to tell you all about it! Her report in NewlyWeds is amazing.

You could always try and get the house licensed temporarily for a registrar to come and marry you inside, and then throw the reception party in the garden?


You unfortunately not allowed to be legally married outside in England and Wales. But you can in Scotland if you want to, if you think your mum could travel. However some venues might have a license for getting married in their garden under a marquee, for example. It might be worth to investigate.
Otherwise you could go down the route of having a legal registry office wedding and a blessing or humanist ceremony outside in your parent's garden.

I got married in NZ outside, in a small garden and I have to say I felt lucky to be able to do so.


Following on from ruthemily's post, this is the website for the British Humanist Association.


You can get married outdoors in Scotland, but not in England/Wales.

"A civil marriage ceremony can take place in any register office in England or Wales, or at any venue that has been approved to hold a civil marriage. Approved venues include stately homes and other prestigious buildings, hotels and restaurants"

Have a little look here: http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/marriages/frequently-asked-questions/index.asp#q4

I seem to remember you can't get married before and after a certain time in the day as well - but I can't work out where I found that out now!


Scotland rules!!!! We are a very modern and forward thinking bunch.....

New bride

Thanks so much everyone...I did think that we have to get married in a registry office first...it is annoying that it is not allowed over here! Although not sure if this makes any difference with regards to whether my mum & dads house could get a license to marry...but their house used to be a nunnery..and we have this hall/church thing in the garden that they used to have their service in!! but to be honest it is not the prettiest building...ahhh it's all so confusing my mind changes everyday as to what we would like! I will definitely check out that humanist website thank you x

Oh just thought of one other thing, does anyone know if there is a way for someone who is not a priest/registrar to marry us...don't laugh but like Joey did in friends!!! Then at least we can incorporate what we like into our service, as I was thinking of asking someone in the family to marry us!
thanks x


Your right DustyMoth, in England you have to be married by 6pm!

Edited to add, you could have your ceremony as early as 8am

[Modified by: bennic on August 21, 2008 01:18 PM]

New bride

Hey, my H2B are having an outdoor wedding but as it isn't legal to get married outside we are having a legal ceremony in the morning with just parents and then a celebrant ceremony outside later in the day where we are doing the vows/readings/ring exchange etc etc.


Oh just thought of one other thing, does anyone know if there is a way for someone who is not a priest/registrar to marry us...don't laugh but like Joey did in friends!!! Then at least we can incorporate what we like into our service, as I was thinking of asking someone in the family to marry us!
thanks x

I think in the UK you have to be married by a registrar or a priest etc. But remember, you get married by a registrar officially then in your outdoors wedding you could pick whoever you want.

Wedding addict

You can apply to get, for example, your parents garden licenced for a marriage but there are some loop holes. These include it having to be openly available for other people to be married there for a certain number of years, and you would also have to licence four walls, so a marquie, or a garden room etc.

We are getting married outside in England. We really had our heats set on it to make it different and romantic (weather premitting!) and we managed to find the perfect place. It is a stately house with beautiful gardens, and the structure that holds the licence is this gorgeous ornamental summerhouse (bascially an old, very small and beautiful, open fronted structure) which we will be able to stand in front of while all of our guests are seated outside too. I'm assuming we'll have to sign the register under there but that's it. I'd have a good search on the internet if I were you because places like this really do exist!


We are getting married in a registry office in Kent with just a couple of friends and then flying to Turkey with all friends and family where H2Bs Brother will marry us.

Wedding addict

Please can someone tell me how to see the 'newly weds' piece that someone mentioned? Thanks a lot! x

New bride

littleray: go onto Forum Jump and click on Newly Weds option, then look for sweetpeas post...I just had a quick read and it sounds lovely...very romantic.

It's good to know that it is possible & with the whole 4 walls thing we were planning to marry under a small marquee thing, like an arch or something. The garden is split up into lots of different sections so we could get married in one part and have the reception in another...like the secret garden or something! Prob will opt for the registry service the day before or something with just the parents & BMan & Bridesmaid...then have the proper wedding in the garden...ahhh I have a new plan! Now I just have to convince my mum that my marriage won't be cursed if it's not in a church! If anyone has any other suggestions I'm all ears... x


This is what we did, although it was in our friend's house and garden! We wanted it to be close to nature and to be underneath an enormous tree. Wewere so lucky with the weather also!

We wanted to write the ceremony ourselves and being able to know the person taking it, mainly because for my work I play at civil ceremonies every weekend and wanted something different.

In the end we got a friend to take the ceremony, but we did look at humanists.
We went to the registry office the day before to make it legal but treated the outdoor ceremony as the important one with all our friends and family.

It gives you much more freedom this way.
If you want to read my report which is ridiculously long, the bit about the wedding ceremony starts on page 9!! Bloomin'eck!

Also here is a picture of our garden

just love showing it off!

New bride

wow Lula_sweetpea your wedding looks beautiful...and is quite similar to how I envision my wedding, just really intimate and romantic. I'm trying to make sure our numbers don't go over 100! And i definitely think by sourcing the decorations yourself you can save so much money and add a personal touch to the ceremony. I really like the idea of having lanterns & candles everywhere and having an early evening ceremony!

Thanks for some fab ideas everyone... x


Also sorry to talk practicalities but having the ceremony is much cheaper this way as you only pay the forty odd pounds for a registry office instead of the enormous fee they charge for a licensed venue ceremony!

But I would say that having a wedding at home is not as cheap as you would think, as it is very easy for it all to add up and it is much more work to organise- because you have to provide everything. I found myself having countless discussions about chairs and tablecloths!
However, I wouldn't have had it any other way and it was wonderful to make it so personal and to get married somewhere that was really special and different! It really will be a unique occasion. All our guests were blown away by it and so many people said it was the best wedding ever! woohoo!


I'm so glad I live in Scotland!