With more and more couples looking to put their own unique stamp on their wedding day, many are thinking of ways around the rather archaic marriage laws in England to make sure they can have everything exactly how they want the day to be. Sarah and Andy were one of those couples and, through planning their wedding realised that an outdoor Humanist ceremony might give them the freedom to do so. If you are thinking of having such a wedding you may have some questions or concerns about how having this kind of wedding feels compared to an “official” wedding ceremony.
As a bride who has gone through this process, I though Sarah might be able to give you the lowdown about what is involved when planning an alternative wedding:
When you started planning your wedding did you always want something a bit different, or did you always know you wanted to get married outside?
The most important thing for us was to have a wedding that was truly us. To reflect us and what we enjoy in every single element and for people to have fun. I have an interest in vintage charm and elegance so it all started to stem from there.
Our selection of venue was not dictated by being outside but more somewhere that allowed us to make it ours and it soon became apparent that outside was the best way to get that blank canvas.
How did you find out that a Humanist wedding was an option?
Neither of us our religious so we didn’t feel a church wedding was appropriate, however we still wanted to get married somewhere beautiful. After looking at a lot of civil wedding venues we realised that if we were happy to have a ‘non-legalised’ ceremony on the day then it would free up our options. It gave us a lot more selection not only in terms of content for the ceremony but also in our venue.
We found out about it on the internet and then contacted a celebrant to discuss it further.
Were friends and family surprised by your decision?
No, our decision was reflective of who we are so our families supported us – they never expected us to be predictable!
Everybody always comments on how amazing your arrival by boat was, would you recommend this mode of transport?!
We always thought this could be really different but there is an obvious fear factor there…what happens if you fall in, wedding dress and all! However, with a few practice runs the fear went away and actually it provided such an amazing period of time to soak up the scene as we approached, as it did for our guests too.
I’d absolutely recommend this mode of transport but only with an accomplished rower at the helm and a few practise runs.
Was your actual marriage ceremony special as well? Did your humanist celebration feel different? Did you separate the two days in your head, or did you see it as one week long celebration?
Our legal marriage ceremony was very low key, and although a special day, we tried to see it as a formality rather than of any emotional significance or commitment. We chose not to exchange rings until our humanist ceremony as this for us was a significant act to be reserved for our wedding day.
The humanist ceremony was totally different to the legal ceremony as it was much more personal and had been developed between us and our celebrant to be totally unique. Not having to include certain parts for formality reasons made us focus more on the significance of what we were doing, what we wanted to say to each other and to our friends and family.
Your dress and Andy (and the boys) outfits were so stylish – were did you get your dress, and did you style Andy or did he do it himself?
My dress was from Fur Coat No Knickers, which is the most beautiful wedding dress shop with incredibly intimate service specialising in customising vintage wedding dresses to become the dress of your dreams.
Andy had some help from me but he had a lot of his own ideas, I just helped him pull it all together. One thing we were both sure of was that hired wedding suits weren’t going to fit into our plans! The men’s outfits were inspired by boating outfits which seemed fitting for our venue and married well with the relaxed style of the day.
Your “village fete” style wedding seemed really chilled out to me – how did you envisage such a day, and where did you get all your little bits and bobs from?
We wanted our wedding to be fun, a celebration of us, featuring the people we love, doing the things we love.
The village fete style theme allowed people to relax and soak up the atmosphere. That was the focus throughout all the things we planned. We made and bought everything ourselves. I spent months scouring car boat sales for our vintage tea cups and plates, made hundreds of metres of bunting, made personalised signage for the day, made confetti from roses ourselves, made drink stirrers, bought large umbrellas and hired games for people to play….the list goes on and on. The personal touches and effort did show and meant our day was unique to us.
Is there anything else you’d say to brides who would love to get married outside, but worry about how having a blessing or humanist celebration as the main event might feel?
Only worry about what you can control. The weather is the obvious risk, when it was grey and raining the morning of the wedding it wasn’t ideal…..but it was worth the risk.
Make your wedding day a true reflection of you both, don’t worry about conforming but at the same time don’t try too hard to ‘not conform’. Weddings stick to a structure because it works, you don’t have to change it.
One other word of advice, you can’t cater for everyone’s needs. Ultimately do what makes you happy as your friends and family will be most happy to see you being you.
Thanks Sarah! This wedding was so fab it was featured on Love My Dress wedding blog and Your Surrey Wedding Magazine!
Sarah’s wedding make-up was by one of recommended make-up artists Katy Messer.