The laws on getting married outside in the UK can be complicated. In England and Wales, laws are quite tight when it comes to taking your vows al fresco. However, things are rather more lenient in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Laws may be changing when it comes to getting married outside, but for now, we’ve put together everything you need to know about planning an outdoor wedding in the UK.
Not only that, we’ve also scoured the country for some of the most gorgeous venues licensed for outdoor ceremonies. From up in Scotland all the way down to the coast and everywhere in between, we’ve found some seriously lust-worthy settings for your outdoor nuptials.
These venues are fully equipped to ensure your outdoor wedding goes without a hitch, each one is just as comfortable organising ceremonies in the great outdoors than they are indoors and know just how to set the scene perfectly.
Speaking of scene setting, each venue has been specially chosen for its stunning surroundings which make for the ideal backdrops for your wedding pictures. There’s no need to blow the budget on décor here, each space is beautiful with or without embellishment.
Plus, as you’ll already be outside, you’ll be ready to start the party straight away with a drink or two and some canapés as you take in the surroundings – sounds pretty perfect to us!
Before you start planning your soirée though, make sure you make a note of the key info below. Once you’ve got the legal stuff sorted, you can focus on your perfect outdoor wedding ceremony.
Getting married outside in England
At the moment, you can get married outdoors in England as long as it takes place under a fixed structure. What’s more, this structure needs to be licensed. This means that you can take your vows under garden gazebos, pavilions and arbours.
Getting married outside in Wales
The law in Wales is the same as in England. If you want to get married outside, it needs to be under a fixed, permanent structure that’s accessible to the public.
But – and this is a big but – the law could be set to change and is currently under review. Outdoor weddings in England and Wales could become legalised as part of a new ‘belief’ plan, so you could hold a humanist ceremony (which is neither civil nor religious) in the open air.
Getting married outside in Scotland
If you’re dreaming of an outdoor ‘I do’ in Scotland, you’re in luck: you can get married pretty much wherever you like.
Since 1 September 2014, venues haven’t needed to be approved – as long as a minister or celebrant is present, you can choose the spot.
Unlike in England and Wales, al fresco humanist ceremonies are already legal in Scotland. And with all that dramatic coastline, those rugged mountains and of course, the famous Highlands, it would be rude not to make the most of the great Scottish outdoors.
For a religious wedding a minister, clergyman, pastor, priest or other person approved to do so under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 must perform the wedding.
For a civil ceremony it must be performed by a registrar or an assistant registrar who has been authorised by the Registrar General for that purpose
Getting married outside in Northern Ireland
With the agreement of the officiant, a religious wedding ceremony may take place anywhere in Northern Ireland. So, like in Scotland, you can take your vows in the open air!
Outdoor wedding ceremony venues
Harvest Moon, East Lothian
Located on the Scottish coast, just 45 minutes from Edinburgh, Harvest Moon consists of two stunning outdoor wedding venues; you can say ‘I do’ in a magical forest or next to the sea. The sites are yours for the weekend and so you can plan the ultimate celebration after you’ve tied the knot. harvestmoonweddings.co.uk
Rowton Castle, Shropshire
Marry in the grounds of this extraordinary 800 year old castle, surrounded by some of Shropshire’s finest country views. Enjoy drinks and canapés outside before making use of the 17 acres of tranquil grounds for your wedding photographs. rowtoncastle.com
Temple Island, Henley-on-Thames
Fancy getting hitched on a private island? Temple Island provides one of the most unique and romantic settings for your wedding ceremony in the UK. The venue can recommend local celebrants for the service, but you will need to complete the legal requirements at the local registry office. templeislandevents.co.uk
The Walled Garden at Beeston Fields, Nottingham
If you’re dreaming of an English country garden wedding, then The Walled Garden at Beeston Fields is well worth a look. The first wedding was held here in 1865 and they’ve been creating dream days ever since, so you know you’re in great hands! walledgardennottingham.co.uk
Sandy Cove, Devon
Offering one of the most magnificent coastal views in the country, Sandy Cove will wow your wedding guests. Say your vows, before heading onto the seafront platform for some truly breathtaking wedding portraits. sandycove-hotel.co.uk
Wasing Park, Berkshire
For a quintessential summer garden wedding, look no further than Wasing Park. Surrounded by enchanting woodland, vast park and farmland, you’ll feel a million miles from the nearby city of Reading. With the convenience of city transport and the tranquility of a country venue, Wasing offers the best of both worlds. waking.co.uk
Woodhill Hall, Northumberland
If you’re looking for authentic country vibes on your big day, then Woodhill Hall could be the outdoor wedding venue for you. The character-filled hall offers a grand terrace area overlooking the rolling Northumberland countryside – a wonderful backdrop for your ‘I dos’. woodhillhall.co.uk
Southend Barns, Chichester
Situated in the picturesque village of Donnington, just a short distance from the coast is this outdoor gem. The traditional old barns have been lovingly restored and the decor thoughtfully chosen, resulting in the perfect blend of contemporary and character features that will work with just about any theme. southendbarns.co.uk
Larmer Tree, Wiltshire
Boho brides and lovers of all things rustic will instantly fall in love as soon as they arrive at Larmer Tree. There are two outdoor ceremony spaces, but the Temple has our hearts; with its distressed, old romance feel, it’s a beautiful and memorable setting for your vows. larmertree.co.uk
Set in the middle of the picturesque Gloucestershire countryside is this unusual wedding venue. The Cloistered Courtyard is inspired by Asian architecture and provides a wonderfully unique and magical atmosphere for your ceremony. The reception space boasts a domed ceiling and hundreds of fairy lights, giving it instant wow-factor. matara.co.uk
Thinking about how to style your chosen venue? Check out our 65 ways to decorate the aisle