Embracing the Great British Outdoors for Your Wedding

Written by Emma Hla
On 1st July 2021, outdoor civil ceremonies became a legally recognised option at licensed wedding venues.

A law introduced in 1836 stated that a couple could only legally marry in a solid structure with a permanent roof, so this meant that couples and their witnesses usually stood under a small garden pagoda or building if available at a venue, with the rest of their guests seated separately outside the structure.

Couples didn’t have the freedom to marry under a beautiful floral arch, in a picturesque garden spot or a woodland glade. If you wanted to create this setting for a ceremony, you could only hold part of it outdoors, whilst having to step inside the ‘licensed structure’ for the legal declarations and signing of the register.

The new amendment to the regulations surrounding civil ceremonies has been wholeheartedly welcomed, especially after the last year with weddings being on pause, and one venue and their couples have fully embraced the great outdoors! Treseren is an elegant, exclusive use venue nestled in the Cornish countryside, and they have made the most of this rule change and their beautiful grounds to hold a number of completely alfresco ceremonies since 1st July.

Keep reading for some seriously gorgeous outdoor wedding inspiration…

Notes from the Venue

Couples always fall in love with the gardens and grounds of Treseren as well as the beautiful Georgian house, so their first choice ceremony location is often one of our outdoor spaces. The sprawling front lawn can be beautifully framed with a moongate floral arch with the rhododendrons and camelias of the hedgerow behind creating a quintessential English country garden setting – whilst the 200 year old walnut tree on the lower lawns is a beautiful peaceful spot that creates the perfect space for even the smallest of ceremonies.

In addition to our shade sail terrace which is perfect for smaller ceremonies, we made use of our time in lockdown by creating a new large terrace adjacent to the house, with stretch tent cover. The initial concept was born as a solution to social distancing restrictions – where following the guidelines for our larger weddings of up to 22 guests would have proved difficult. Whilst it worked wonderfully for this purpose, we are so thrilled that this space has been so positively received by our couples’ post restrictions – many of whom booked with us when this space was simply another lawned area. The walkway was planted with a variety of plants, and the purple verbena and textured grasses have created a truly magical ‘aisle’, leading to an undercover terrace area that works perfectly for alfresco ceremonies.

Whilst we always hope for glorious sunshine for every wedding day, the terrace has been the perfect answer to the typical English summer weather, enabling us to still offer an outdoor garden party wedding atmosphere complete with festoon lighting when rain appears – and the registrars are happy too! We have also been able to hold ceremonies under the stretch tent as it has a 75% open area – above the 50% needed to be approved under the recent guidelines.

Before the regulation change, we conducted many ‘step in, step out’ ceremonies, so to now be able to hold the entire ceremony outside has been wonderful. Previously, we would either have to set the ceremony space both inside and outside and move everybody between locations, or just the couple and their two witnesses would step inside for the legal section of the ceremony. The rule change means the flow of the ceremony makes much more sense, and everybody feels included at each step.

Of course, as well the ceremony, outdoor receptions are always wonderful and make the most of our beautiful space. The new covered terrace provides shade from the sun on a hot day for drinks receptions and canapes, as well as shelter from the rain. We have re-created our own version of a Mediterranean al fresco dining set up, looking down through the gardens to the orchard with our long tables laid with delicious food, our gold cutlery and salt glaze crockery. Add to this relaxed, gourmet barbecues, lawn games and bespoke summer cocktails – we really love helping couples make the most of our outdoor spaces.

It should be noted that the amendments do not apply to every ceremony and, in particular, some religious marriages still need to take place in a certified place of worship. The outdoor location must be in the grounds of a licenced venue (not a private home), and venues must receive approval for each outdoor location from their local council. The rule change is currently in place until April 2022, but it will be reviewed in the autumn and we hope to see it extended.

Whatever the rules from April 2022, we are delighted that our new covered terrace offers so many additional options for our couples, come rain or shine.

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