Outdoor wedding venues are becoming more and more popular for couples getting married in the UK. Even up here in the North West, brides and grooms are looking for outdoor wedding venues in Manchester and around the region – despite the unpredictability of the Great British weather.
But getting married outside isn’t quite as simple as you might imagine. There are a few important things you should think about and look for, to make sure you find the perfect venue.
Check the venue is licensed for outdoor weddings
It’s easy to get carried away quickly when planning an outdoor wedding, especially if you look at a lot of American blogs which talk about finding the perfect spot outside.
But in the UK, if you want to get married legally outdoors, it must be held underneath a licensed structure. This could be an Oak Pagoda, like at Heaton House Farm, or a specific tree or archway. Basically – there has to be a fixed a spot that is licensed.
So unfortunately, you can’t just turn up to any wedding venue and decide you love the look of that field over there, or think that forest backdrop will make for the perfect ceremony.
That’s if you’d like an official civil ceremony outdoors. If you get married elsewhere – in a registry office for example, or a place of workshop – you can have a non-legal ceremony like a humanist, Asian wedding or blessing – anywhere you want.
We recommend you come and take a look at our North Lawn. Stand in the middle of it and you can see some truly beautiful countryside views.
Make sure there is appropriate access
Secondly, you need to think about how your guests are going to get to the outdoor wedding venue. Getting married in the middle of a forest might sound like a fairy-tale, but how will your guests (and their chairs) actually get there?
More realistically, even outdoor venues that are close to the road might still be difficult to access for certain guests, like elderly grandparents or anyone who might be in a wheelchair.
And even just asking guests to walk across a field or some grass can be much more of a problem then you realise. You try asking your mother-in-law to get water and mud on her newly purchased heels!
But don’t worry, there are lots of options to overcome these hurdles. Here at Heaton House Farm for example, all our outside areas are beautifully paved – including the whole ceremony area.
All your guests can sit on chairs, on the smooth, even patio (unless you have a big wedding party and want to extend onto the lawn!) We also have step-free access across the venue, so it’s easy and safe for all guests to get outside and move around.
Think about the travel and transport
Again, a beautiful mountaintop or a field in the middle of nowhere sounds idyllic, but in reality, it just isn’t practical.
You’ll need to think about how your guests are going to get to your ceremony, and where they will park. Once that’s sorted, you’ll also need to think carefully about the transport arrangements to the restaurant, hotel or marquee where food will be served.
Of course the other option is just to have the entire wedding in one place, like at Heaton House Farm. A gorgeous ceremony outside, and then a beautiful meal inside. That saves everyone the hassle of unnecessary journeys, and means you don’t have to worry about coaches, taxis or parking.
Do you have a back-up option?
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to think about the weather. Bad weather. Unfortunately there’s no escaping the possibility of rain in the UK, even in the middle of summer. And if you’re looking at outdoor wedding venues in Cheshire, there is a big chance of poor weather.
So one of the key things you’ll need to consider is the indoor options for a ceremony, just in case the weather turns bad. There’s no point finding your dream outdoor area, if you’d be really disappointed when you had to move everything inside to an area you really didn’t like.
Be sure that you love both the indoor and outdoor ceremony options for any wedding venue. At Heaton House Farm for example, we’ve got three additional licensed areas indoors, should the weather mean an outdoor wedding isn’t an option – in the oak beamed barn, under the stars, or under the pleats.