How To Hold Your Wedding Ceremony At An Unlicensed Venue

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Image by Rebecca Goddard Photography.

There seems to be a running theme to the blog this week; topics that focus on couples celebrating their love in their own style, written by women I utterly admire.

Today we’re joined by celebrant Tamryn from Wild & Oak and this wonderful lady can create the most beautifully bespoke wedding ceremonies. Tamryn says “Your wedding is the start of a new chapter so a ceremony that tells your unique story is sure to be memorable, wonderful and downright brilliant.”

Celebrant-led ceremonies can take place in any location, at any time and they can take any format or style you want with content that’s special and meaningful to you. You don’t have to follow any traditional outline or include any legal words, it’s just about creating your own vows and promises to each other, in a location of your choosing. Pretty lovely right…?

If this sounds like your kind of ceremony then Tamryn has kindly created an awesome list of venues you could consider – from unlicensed venues to gorgeous gardens. We’ve also got six simple tips to get you started on planning your celebrant-led ceremony!

But before you dive in… Wild & Oak is offering all Coco readers a £50 discount on wedding ceremonies, vow renewals and marriage celebrations. Just read on for all the details!

How to Hold your Wedding Ceremony at an Unlicensed Venue

Wild & Oak:

Well hello there and oh my goodness, I’m so excited to be here today. As Emma’s mentioned, I’m an independent wedding celebrant which means not only do I have the best job in the world but I also get to visit lots of fantastic wedding venues so I feel as if Coco is my spiritual home!

If you’re wondering what a wedding celebrant is, let me explain – we’re here to conduct personal ceremonies and celebrations for couples and families. We’re not tied to any religion or any location and we don’t have to include any specific words or rituals in the ceremonies that we write. So, in short, whatever, whenever and wherever you want to get married will be just fine with me! Whilst I sadly can’t legally marry you, I can give you a wedding ceremony, vow renewal or wedding celebration that’s entirely yours and, for that reason, celebrant-led ceremonies are becoming more and more popular.

You see, when you work with a wedding celebrant, there are no rules. You can involve anyone in the ceremony, you can say what you like, you can include (or exclude) any of the traditional wedding elements and, importantly, you can hold your ceremony absolutely anywhere and this, lovely Coco readers, is probably one of the very best bits about working with a wedding celebrant – we don’t need a venue to hold a wedding licence.

Yes, you read that right – wedding celebrants can (and do!) conduct ceremonies anywhere. So, if you thought that a particular venue, glorious garden or meaningful spot was off the wedding venue shortlist, think again.

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Picking the Perfect Wedding Weekend Venue

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Image by Matt Willis Photography.

We know our couples are always looking for more when it comes to their wedding venue – more flexibility, more details, more intimacy, more personal touches and more of an experience for their guests. With the latter point in mind, we’re focusing on wedding weekends; where to host and how to plan a weekend-long celebration.

Helen Hopkins owner of Pudding Bridge specialises in design-led country house weddings filled with creative details. She’s passionate about organising epic extended celebrations and she says “why limit yourselves to one day when the party could last an entire weekend?!”

We wholeheartedly agree, so Helen has some top tips for picking the perfect wedding weekend venue!

Notes from Pudding Bridge

Helen:

I love a good wedding and in the industry, we are seeing more and more couples who want not one day but an entire weekend celebration. Extending your wedding means that you get to spend so much more time with your guests and really enjoy every minute.

The most common comment from couples after their big day is that it that the day went way too fast! By hiring a venue from Friday until Sunday you can fully maximize your time celebrating.

I love a country house wedding but there are so many options of venues that allow you to be there for the entire weekend. Perhaps a farm with glamping on site..? Or even a city celebration..? So if you’re planning a wedding weekend, here are a few areas to consider when picking your venue.

Location

When you are planning a wedding which takes place on just one day, often couples want to find a venue in a certain area. Perhaps where they live or where they grew up.

The beauty of picking a space which is used over an entire weekend is that it can be anywhere. In fact, I recommend that it is somewhere that’s new to many or most of your guests. You don’t want people checking emails or dashing off to pick up the kids, you want your guests to totally relax and see it as a weekend getaway.

Think about picking somewhere you have spent a holiday or just somewhere you love!

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Wedding Flowers Part II: Which Flowers Are In Season?

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Images by Rebecca Goddard Photography.

If you missed the first instalment of this three-part floral series then it’s a definite must-read and you can find it here. I urge you to take a peek if you want to learn all about wedding flower budgets! It’s an eye-opening piece and one I wished I had read when planning my own floral story.

Jay Archer is the author of this series and she’s beyond incredible in so many ways. Honest, creative and just a little bit magic, I had the pleasure of working with this lady at Pynes House last month on our latest editorial and it was such a joy witnessing this floral genius in action. What Jay doesn’t know about flowers probably isn’t worth knowing!

But what is worth knowing is today’s meaty topic – seasonality.  What do the seasons actually mean to florists and how will this influence your choice as a bride…? Read on to find out, oh and don’t forget to pin the relevant seasonal bookmarks so you can return at a later planning date.

Notes from Jay Archer Floral Design

Jay:

Seasonal does not mean British grown or local, nor does it mean cheaper. That is the biggest misconception when it comes to wedding flowers – all flowers I suppose.

Using seasonal quite simply means something is in ‘season’ – it is at it’s best now. English grown roses, for example, are at their best June – September whilst Peonies thrive in May – early July.

You can get most flowers out of season nowadays; Norway grows and stores peonies in snow but they definitely won’t look their best! These flowers will be poorer quality and probably won’t smell quite as beautiful. It’s like strawberries at Christmas which are often grown in Peru or Spain – they cost more and just don’t taste like a sweet, sticky, delicious strawberry so why would you..?!

Being clever with your budget means you can watch the pennies and have seasonal produce at the same time. If you love roses but cannot afford to use them throughout your scheme (at £3 per stem and up to £5 for David Austin’s) then consider using these in just your bridal bouquet.

Before seeing your florist, you need to work out what’s important to you. Write a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves, work with the seasons and ensure your floral ideas are complimentary to their natural surroundings and the choice of wedding venue. Being clear about your budget will mean your florist will recommend the right flowers for you.

British flowers are generally sold in smaller ‘wraps’ or individual stems, so if your florist doesn’t use British grown then this might mean they’ll be buying your flowers in bulk. Imports can come in ‘wraps’ of of up to 50, for example ranunuculus and anemones are always sold in large quantities so this will have an impact on your budget as you will need to pay for the full ‘wraps’ rather than just one or two stems.

Buying flowers in bulk can be cost effective when they’re in season – Spring bulbs, autumn foliage, aummer cornflowers/scabious, winter branches and amaryllis are all good, purse friendly options. So have a chat with your florist and make sure you’re armed with all the questions you might want to ask.

So, what’s is in season when..?

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Spring

Ah, Spring – the most scented month! Think striking little spears of pale blue and ice white muscari, multi-tonal almost pearlescent hellebore and the tiny nodding heady scented bells of lily of the valley! This particular specimen is one of the most desirable wedding flowers and available all year from a chap in Holland at about £2 per stem!

Also in Spring:

  • Blossom – apple, quince, cherry, magnolia, prunus, spirea and others.
  • Tulips – French tulips are a real treat, with their long stems and peachy heads. Parrot tulips and English tulips are available in every colour you can imagine!
  • Wallflowers – available from local growers only usually. Their petals have the most amazing colour variations which remind me of a Turner sky!
  • Ranunculus – peonies are not quite about yet so ranunculus are the next best thing and beautiful in their own right.
  • Anemones – the much-desired navy eyed variety are more expensive than their white centred counterparts. I think the white ones are pure and classic.
  • Narcissi and paper whites – The scent of these little flowery fireworks is quite something! Strong and heady, they can be overwhelming when used in table centres but good for bouquets.
  • Forget-me-nots – tiny, delicate dots of sky blue. Dreamy.
  • Fritillaries – beautiful little nodding heads of dusky purple with a chequered pattern.

Working to a palette of pastel pinks, creamy whites, vintage dusky pinks and soft blues, I’d suggest mixing spring flowers with catkins, twigs and senecio foliage.

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A Guide to Planning a Marquee Wedding

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Feature Image by Katie Mitchell Photography.

We’re busting the myths and sharing our top tips on the marquee wedding today!

Marquee weddings aren’t what they used to be as couples now have some seriously stylish options available. But not one for style over substance, we still want to arm you with all the considerations behind this outdoor wedding choice.

Katrina Otter, resident planning expert here at Coco Wedding Venues, is back with her thoughts on all the practical elements you need to consider if you fancy celebrating under canvas.

A Guide to Planning a Marquee Wedding

Katrina:

Marquee weddings hold a very special place in my heart. Firstly, there’s something really rather charming and romantic about the concept of creating your own wedding venue, to your own specifications and making it a real reflection of your own style and personalities.

Secondly, with my wedding planning hat on, there are various logistical and planning considerations that need to be taken into account when organising a marquee wedding and as anyone that’s read any of my previous features in our collaborative wedding planning series will know, I LOVE a good logistical wedding!

Thirdly, as I’m based in the countryside, marquee weddings equate to roughly 40% of the weddings I plan every year and to date I’ve organised wedding in tipis, traditional canvas marquees, contemporary clear span frame marquees, yurts, Sperry tents and unique Pearl Tents.

And finally, the main reason – on 18th May 2013 (how has it been four years already!) I held my own elegant English country garden wedding reception in a marquee.

In today’s feature, I’ll therefore be sharing my love for all things marquees and imparting my knowledge, experience and some logistical top tips for those of you planning or considering a marquee wedding.

Before I start, a few words of caution! As much as I love a logistical wedding, not everyone feels the same way as me, so if you’re not a fan of operational challenges then please go into planning a marquee wedding with your eyes open – there is, on average, A LOT more work involved and A LOT to consider. Marquee weddings also aren’t always the cheap option (this BTW is one of the most common wedding misconceptions). You’re basically creating your own wedding venue and that includes building the venue, filling and staffing the venue and then clearing the venue away after the party is over.

So… with those little notes of caution out of the way, shall we get on with the planning..?

The first thing to find is the site. Where are you going to hold your marquee wedding..?  Some wedding venues (you can find an extensive list of marquee and tipi friendly venues via the Coco Venue Finder) allow you to put up a marquee on their lawns whilst still being able to use the main house for your ceremony and accommodation, whilst others will let you use their land only, with the buildings themselves forming the perfect backdrop.

Obviously, there’s likely to be a cost consideration here too but the good news is that you’ve got options.

(On a side note there are also venues that already have permanent or semi-permanent marquees, which in turn eliminates some of those word of warning operational challenges and cost considerations mentioned above and below!)   

Of course, some couples also opt for a marquee wedding so that they can make use of their own gardens or land. This is a wonderfully personal option but please be aware that you’re going to have a week or so of comings and goings in the run up to your wedding and in the days afterwards too, so please be sure that everyone that this will affect is happy about this!

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Wedding Flowers Part I: The Budget

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Images by Hannah Duffy Photography.

It’s Katrina here (resident wedding planner for Coco Wedding Venues), taking over the introduction reigns from Emma and stepping away from my usual features about budgets, timelines and my love of all things schedule related!

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing the first of a practical and pretty three-part series about wedding flowers and all in collaboration with one of my biggest wedding supplier crushes – the phenomenal, inspirational, award-winning Jay Archer Floral Design.

As a Wedding Planner, I think it’s vital that I’m constantly learning new skills and fully understanding the industry that I work in. In previous years, I’ve freelanced for caterers and worked back-of-house as well as stepping in to support venues with their on-the-day management. Last year, as I stood outside a Church desperately trying to construct an emergency button hole for one of my Groom’s, I realised that it was about time that I added wedding flowers to the learning agenda!

Jay Archer and her Floral Design Flower School was the obvious place to start so off I headed on a road trip to Hampshire (alongside the lovely Hannah Duffy who was there to capture the experience) to expand my horizons and learn more about the ins and outs of wedding flowers.

The result is a three-part ESSENTIAL series breaking down wedding flowers and hopefully shining a light on an area of wedding planning that isn’t often fully understood, especially when it comes to today’s feature – wedding flower budgets (you know I said I was stepping away from my usual features about budgets well, I lied!).

The reason why today’s feature is so vitally important is because very few people understand the true cost of wedding flowers and as a result, allocations for flowers within wedding budgets is very rarely realistic. SO, if you’re in the throes of pulling together your budget or allocating your expenditure then reading the below first is a wedding planning MUST!

Just as a heads up… Part II is all about seasonality and colour palettes and in Part III I get to tackle the practical side of bouquets and buttonholes!)

Your Wedding Flower Budget

Jay:

The flower budget… ‘’do we even have one?!’’ Ugh… where to start.

As a wedding florist, I meet couples everyday who come to me for advice on their wedding flowers – what to have, what’s in season and, more importantly, what it will all cost…?

I try to be as helpful as I can right from the off, giving people advice on typical spends for marquees and, say, the church. But the thing is, and here’s the bit where people think I am being evasive or difficult, there really isn’t an average. There are so many variable factors when thinking about your flowers.

Hopefully, if I do my job right, I’ll wipe out some of the myths with this post and actually provide some information that’s useful for the couple planning their wedding.

Here goes!

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