How To Hold Your Wedding Ceremony At An Unlicensed Venue

Written by Emma Hla

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.

Just imagine the possibilities! That wonderful outdoor ceremony that you always dreamed about can actually happen! You can create your very own wedding venue and hold your ceremony there too. This summer, I’m conducting ceremonies in a walled garden, on an island, by a lake and inside a venue that’s very special to the couple in question but doesn’t hold a licence for civil ceremonies. I can’t wait and I just know that each wedding will be a truly individual affair.

Now, just take a look at some of the downright fabulous venues that are right here on Coco. These beauties might not have licences but they’ve got ALL the style…

# 1

Stanstead Bury

Oooh yes, Stanstead Bury in Hertfordshire is always going to be on my list of faves. It’s a gorgeous Grade II listed manor house that makes the most gorgeous backdrop for a marquee or tipi wedding. I love the fact that you can bring your pets (hurrah!) and work with your choice of suppliers to make your day super personal.

# 2

Heathfield House

Heathfield House in delightful Dorset is pretty much the country house that you’ve always dreamed about. It’s perfect for intimate weddings and you can hire the whole estate for a truly exclusive event. You’ve got 300 acres on the fringe of the New Forest plus a private chef, waiting staff and full housekeeping too.

# 3

Firle Place

An absolutely gorgeous private estate, Firle Place in East Sussex is a truly memorable venue for your wedding. You’ll have heaps of options for your ceremony (and reception) so all you need to do is choose between the lawns, orchards, 18th Century herb garden and, of course, the historic house itself.

# 4

Fern & Field

If you’ve been dreaming about an outdoor ceremony, you need to know about Fern & Field. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the High Weald of Kent, Fern & Field host a limited number of weddings every year so that the working farm is protected and it’s just heaven.

# 5

Wise Wedding Venue

You’ll find Wise Wedding Venue tucked in 10 acres of established oak and silver birch trees (I swoon!). There are clearings that just call out for ceremonies tucked among the trees but it might just be the treehouse that steals your heart.

# 6


If you’re looking for a London vibe then Area could well be the spot for you. This blank canvas venue in the heart of Shoreditch has space for up to 150 guests and room for you to do just what you want. The huge windows overlook a private courtyard oasis that’s perfect for photos.

# 7

Glynde Place

A stone’s throw from Brighton and Lewes, Glynde Place in Sussex sits at the foot of the beautiful South Downs. You’ve got space for up to 200 lucky guests and this venue simply oozes old school elegance. The spaces indoors that could be available for your celebrant-led ceremony really are special.

# 8


I love Beagle! This fab venue sits under three restored Victorian railway arches just next to Hoxton overground station. There are four indoor spaces for weddings and a great outdoor heated terrace that even features a retractable roof!

# 9

Knepp Castle Estate

Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex is the thing that wild wedding dreams are made of. You can pitch up to 10 bell tents in the grounds too for your guests and who knows, you might have a few extra visitors in the form of deer or an Exmoor pony or two.

Alternatively, you could go for a venue that’s blessed with the most beautiful grounds and gardens. Here’s my pick of locations where you’ll have a stunning ceremony backdrop:

# 1

Dorfold Hall

Err helloooo? Have you seen this? Oh. My Goodness. Dorfold Hall is right up there on any list of ‘jawdroppingly gorgeous wedding venues’ that you might want to put together. Uninterrupted views plus gardens, a lake, dingles and dells; this is the venue for romantics.

# 2

Hush Venues

A wedding venue that invites you to ‘wander down through wild and natural meadows to Elderwood, a secluded wood with breathtaking views’ is always going to get my vote and I’m pretty sure that Hush Venues will get yours too.

# 3


Penpont in Wales sits on the banks of the River Usk and it’s also surrounded by 50 glorious acres of grounds. You can also use the flowers that are grown in the walled gardens at Penpont for your wedding florals too. Sustainable bliss.

# 4

The Oak Grove

A woodland glade on the banks of the River Medway in Kent sounds like the perfect venue straight away doesn’t it and The Oak Grove is as ace as you imagine. Check out the ‘living willow’ space that’s just made for celebrant-led ceremonies.

# 5


Cornwall is possibly one of my favourite places in the world and Boconnoc is a jewel in the county’s crown. It’s peaceful beyond words and with parkland, woods and a lake in the valley, this is a very special place indeed providing the perfect spot for a wedding escape…

I know, right? Pure wedding venue heaven.

# 6

River Cottage

Because if you can’t treat yourself to an iconic country/foodie venue on your wedding day, when can you..? I’ve got all the love for River Cottage – the gardens, the setting, the food and the altogether brilliant atmosphere here makes this a venue you just have to consider.

Top Tips for a Celebrant-led Ceremony

So, if working with a wedding celebrant might give you options that you never thought would be possible, what do you need to do? Here’s my guide to holding a wedding ceremony at an unlicensed venue…

  • Do your research – yep, whatever style of wedding you want, you need to start with some research. Browse the listings here on Coco, check out your local area, think about your ideal wedding day and start venue hunting.
  • Talk to your venue – when you visit, make it clear that you’re not looking for a legally binding wedding ceremony and instead, you’ll be working with a wedding celebrant. If there’s a certain spot that you’ve got your eye on for your ceremony, discuss this with your potential venue.
  • Find your perfect Wedding Celebrant – like everything in the wedding world, there are celebrants to suit every style. The Fellowship of Professional Celebrants is a good place to start and as all of their members (including me!) are trained and insured, you’ll be in safe hands.
  • Ask for help – when you’re doing something different, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your celebrant can talk to your venue or your venue could liaise with your celebrant over any points that need clarification.
  • Don’t forget the legal marriage – if you want to be legally married, you will have to book a time to do this too. Most couples pop to their local registry office in the days before their celebrant-led ceremony to complete the formalities and then they can look forward to their main ceremony knowing that everything is taken care of.
  • Have a rehearsal – most celebrants include a rehearsal in their service and this can be super helpful. A rehearsal can really help you relax and if you’re not able to practice at your venue, don’t worry too much – a run-through anywhere is better than no run-through at all!

As you can see, organising a celebrant-led ceremony at an unlicensed venue is very similar to holding a civil ceremony at a licensed venue. In fact, the only thing that’s really different is the ceremony itself because instead of 20 minutes of standard wording, you can enjoy a longer, meaningful ceremony that tells your personal story, includes everyone that’s important to you and is yours and yours alone.

There’s no standard script, no ‘must say’ phrases and no rush or hurry. A celebrant-led ceremony can be formal or utterly laid back, traditional or totally alternative.

When you work with a wedding celebrant, it really is your wedding day.

As a little gift, you can claim a £50 discount on wedding ceremonies, vow renewals and marriage celebrations. Just hop on over to Wild & Oak to find out more or mail Tamryn to request a brochure or to check her availability for your wedding date –

Lots of love…

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