A Guide to Outdoor Wedding Ceremonies in Hampshire
Everything you need to know about planning an outdoor wedding ceremony in Hampshire
When it comes to wedding ceremonies, here in the UK we’re still a little bit stuck in the past when it comes to the law. Did you know it’s still technically illegal to get married outside unless it’s under a permanent structure that’s licensed for wedding ceremonies? I know, that’s crazy, right? What that means, currently, is that you can’t have a legal wedding ceremony out in the middle of a field, or under canvas, or halfway up a mountain. Well, not unless there’s a fixed structure there that happens to have the appropriate licensing and paperwork for said ceremony. But outdoor wedding ceremonies in Hampshire are growing in popularity. So, here’s my guide on how you can plan an outdoor wedding ceremony right here in our beautiful Hampshire countryside.
Why Get Married Outside?
Well, why on earth not?! The great outdoors, our British countryside, is a beautiful place. So, to have that as a backdrop to your wedding day is utter perfection. It’ll look amazing in the photographs!
Not only that though. Getting married outside offers so much more scope for locations and places. Like I suggested earlier, you could have your wedding in the middle of a field (with permission of the landowner, of course!) or halfway up a mountain. Other locations could be a favourite forest or wood. With the New Forest spread right across our county, what better spot could you ask for? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted the dream beach wedding but have family who can’t fly. The possibilities are only as wide as your imagination!
What Are My Options?
So, you’ve got your heart set on an outdoor wedding in the UK but how are you going to manage it? Well, at present, you’ve got two options.
The first is to get married at a venue that supplies outdoor spaces with fixed structures. The requirements are that the structure should be able to accommodate you (the couple), your registrants and your witnesses. As long as you can all stand under the structure and it’s licensed for legal wedding ceremonies, then that is a legitimate option you can take. Your guests are then able to sit outside the structure. Lots of venues have this option now – in the form of gazebos and archways and even old ruins on the edge of a courtyard!
The other option is to do the “legal bit” either on the morning of your wedding day at the local registry office or a few days before instead. Then, you can hold a humanist ceremony or a vow renewal ceremony, which you can treat as your wedding day with your guests. And this can take place anywhere you like. Humanist ceremonies have become popular in recent years. And there are some lovely and wonderful celebrants out there who can help you plan the ceremony you want.
Licensed Outdoor Ceremony Venues
We’re so lucky to have some amazing wedding venues right here in Hampshire that offer licensed outdoor locations.
Here are some of my favourites, some of which I’ve worked at before and others I’d love to get the chance to work at.
Houghton Lodge House and Gardens offer many choices for outdoor ceremonies as well as some “almost” alternatives.
The venue offers a cute little fishing hut or a woodland grotto with outside space for your guests to cover the licensed structure option. They also have a beautiful garden conservatory and a huge orangery. Both are technically indoors but they offer a great compromise for bringing the outside in as they’re mostly glass structures. They’re also great for if it starts to rain in true English style!.
I also love how the venue has embraced the idea of a totally open outdoor ceremony by the river. They suggest having the legal ceremony under one of their structures first before renewing your vows with a celebrant at the riverside location. They’ve welcomed the idea of outdoor weddings and I love that!
Rhinefield House has the most elegant option for outdoor ceremonies I’ve ever seen. You can get married in their exquisite gardens under the Forest Garden Doric Temple! This stone domed structure looks like something out of Victorian England. You’ll feel like a superstar getting wed here!
The outdoor alternative at Highfield Park is such a unique one. Called ‘The Folly’, this structure is tucked out of the way from the main house and looks like something out of a Roman history book. With its glorious columns and frieze, it nestles in amongst all the foliage and is a breathtaking spot to get married.
The sprawling gardens of Audleys Wood are the backdrop to this outdoor ceremony option. The venue offers a cute wooden gazebo for getting married outside. And, on one of those quintessential English summer days, I can’t think of a better place to say ‘I do’!
Lainston House Hotel
Lainston House is another stunning venue. The gorgeous gardens act as the backdrop for your ceremony under the outdoor pavilion. The stunning red brick of the building is also in view and it’s such a pretty spot to soak up the sunshine and exchange some vows.
The Elvetham Hotel
This stunning hotel has the perfect outdoor option. The Summerhouse at The Elvetham Hotel is gloriously rustic and so charming. It’s a great outdoor alternative and will look super stunning in your photographs.
Located on the coast in an area of outstanding beauty, Tournerbury Estate is a perfect location for your outdoor wedding ceremony. The venue has not one outdoor option, but two! You get to choose from a unique Victorian gazebo and an open-sided deck area. But with both seascapes and open fields all around you, there’s no bad choice with this venue. It’s all pretty spectacular!
I’m going to finish this post with a little bit of hopeful and positive news, though. There has been talk of updating the marriage laws here in the UK for some time and the most recent news is that the government are looking into it. In the press, they’ve said that things could be changing soon and outdoor ceremonies will be allowed in England at last. As with anything like this though, these things don’t happen quickly. So, at least there are some amazing options out there for an outdoor wedding if you don’t want to wait for the change in legislation. In the meantime, watch this space!
If you’re on the hunt for a wedding photographer for your outdoor wedding ceremony here in Hampshire, then do get in touch! I’ve worked at lots of these venues and I’m always happy to go back and work at them again!