Don’t get married on your wedding day! Advice on celebrant lead ceremonies.
Yes. You heard me correct. A wedding day without getting married! Can you believe it? But you clicked on this blog post so you must be feisty and adventurous, so bear with me on this one, you may be interested in what I have to say…
Onward we go with some invaluable advice on how to have your legal marriage ceremony on a separate date and then using a celebrant (or humanist) on your wedding day!
Scotland, Iceland, the US, Australia, Italy, France, etc etc… This is a non-exhaustive list of countries that allow outdoor ceremonies. And I mean you can literally get married ANYWHERE (within certain guidelines of course, but yep, basically anywhere!) But there are 3 little countries that you will not find on that list… Northern Ireland, Wales and England.
I KNOW!! It’s ridiculous. We have SO many beautiful/cool as fuck locations that would offer a perfect backdrop to when you utter those all-important vows, but if you want to LEGALLY say “I do” on your actual wedding day then, for the time being, you gotta do it indoors dude.
Y’see, in England we have specific regulations regarding where we are allowed to host fully legal marriage ceremonies. Most of these are indoors and also have to be specially registered and approved. Fortunately, the rules are changing, albeit very slowly, so hopefully your wacky/alternative/epic choice of wedding venue will soon let you get married there too!
Here are some of the silly, kinda archaic, rules that we must abide by in England:
- A civil ceremony cannot occur on premises licensed for religious ceremonies!
- You cannot write your own vows! You can write a little something to say to one another during the ceremony, but you must also pick from a set of legal & binding pre-written vows to quote to one another too.
- There also used to be a rule that ceremonies had to take place between the times 8am and 6pm. However, this was quashed about 4/5 years ago, so sunset/candlelit evening ceremonies are now a viable option for some couples. Woohoo! (Although, if you are opting for something like this, please make sure you discuss your lighting arrangements with your photographer prior to your wedding day. That wat we can give you plenty of information about setting up the perfect lighting for your desired mood and so we have enough light for photography. Without the correct lighting, your images may be very dark/grainy and we want to be able to capture your beautiful faces nice and clearly!)
- And finally, the rule regarding FULL outdoor/random location weddings – currently the law states that you may have your guests seated outdoors. However, the bride & groom must be stood beneath the roof of a permanent structure that has foundations (such as an archway or a bridge or a pagoda). Also, this can’t just be any old structure (aka your ma & pa’s pagoda in their back garden); the location must obtain a special license to be a valid marriage ceremony location, plus lots of boring fire safety certificates and council fees must also be acquired. Which then means it’s open for application from other couples for their weddings too! So, because of this, there are only a few locations to choose from when looking for an outdoor ceremony where everyone will enjoy the sunshine EXCEPT YOU!!
Sounds like a lot of hoop-jumping and nonsense to me.
So, here is what I propose…
DON’T GET MARRIED ON YOUR WEDDING DAY! Because getting “married” and having a “wedding” are actually two totally different things!
A list of unlicensed places you could get married if you choose a celebrant/humanist:
Instead, why not get married at some point in the run up to your wedding day? You could rock up to the registry office with some of your nearest and dearest, get legally “married” there (aka sign all the important documents) Then you can have your unique/funky/weird/brilliant “wedding” a couple of days/weeks later at a spectacularly crazy or beautiful outdoor venue of your choosing.
By doing this you could have your “wedding” ANYWHERE!
- The top of a mountain
- On a boat
- At a chateau in France (although you can do this legally too)
- In an industrial warehouse
- Or even in your own back garden (yes really!!)
- On a bouncy castle (I dunno, someone might want to!)
You could even choose from some of my favourite quirky North West venues << click this link to read all about them.
You get the picture! As long as your guests have access to toilets and the location is not dangerous, you’re good to go! I mean, as cool as it would be, I wouldn’t recommend dragging all your guests into a dilapidated asylum. (Just do that with me later for your portraits!!)
And don’t worry about your family or your guests. Because whereas they would normally be seated to watch a legal ceremony, instead they will enjoy a unique humanist or celebrant led ceremony or a beautiful blessing. You can say your own vows, you can do your ring exchange, you can do a super cute hand-fasting with multicoloured ribbons, you can have 200 people there or you can have just you two. You can literally do anything you want because you are already married, so you will have no formal legalities to adhere to on your wedding day!
Doesn’t that sound wonderful??
Let’s look at the real bonus here: you are basically getting 2 weddings. That means 2 wedding outfits. If that ain’t a reason to not get married on your wedding day, then slap my thigh and call me Sally.