Stories from Your Wedding Friend - The Wedding Planner's Blog
Hotels will always be considered the easiest way to do your wedding all in one place but what if you don't want a cookie cutter wedding where everything is dictated to you? What if you want to do your wedding, your way? Well I'm here to tell you, you can do what you want and create a unique wedding in an unusual venue, and here's how…
Gardens, woods, field, museum, farm, ruins, a theatre, or even at home, there are ways you can create the wedding of your dreams in a non-traditional wedding location. There are such locations who already host alternative weddings and I'll introduce you to a couple of them below, but you might have a space in mind that has never hosted a wedding before, in which case there are some things you need to consider (we'll get to that in a bit).
Many more traditional venues are offering use of their outdoor spaces such as walled gardens, gazebos and grounds for weddings. They'll often have a preferred marquee company that they work with and a location that they specify for your use - this will often be within walking distance of toilets and the main venue for their staff and your guests. I call this the best of both worlds option; you get your outdoor space but without the hassle of doing everything from scratch. It's simpler and well supported so you don't have to try to think of everything, but is it really unusual enough for you?
For a more natural environment you might prefer the woods or a tree cathedral. Whipsnade Tree Cathedral is lovely for this; you get all the benefit of an outdoor ceremony in a natural environment however you can't host your reception there. Where-as somewhere like Upthorpe Wood in Suffolk really ticks all the boxes. You've got a wooded ceremony area and a covered reception area with a bar and other amenities - you don't get more rustic, boho, hippy chic than this.
For something bit more open than wild, a field or farm location could be ideal. You create everything from the ground up so it's usually all Your choice - from marquee or tipi, camping or glamping, fancy food to chippy van. There's potentially a lot more for you to organise (I can help with that) but you literally don't get much freer reign than this. Springfield Bar in St Albans is great for this as it's not too far into the countryside and is licensed with its own bar provision and a stage you can use for your DJ or band.
There's also The Orchard at Chesfield, near Hitchin, Herts. For those that love the idea of a church ruin as the backdrop to their big day. They offer bespoke packages with their preferred suppliers or you can use your own. They also have a field nearby that can be used for camping/glamping/caravans.
Some non-traditional insides venues that offer a unique backdrop to your big day might look a bit 'Don't Tell The Bride' but still fully attainable. My only request is that you work together on your choice of alternate wedding venue to avoid the results of a lot of the weddings in that show.
Museums, theatres, night clubs and industrial units have all featured as alternate wedding venues at one time or another. On a nationwide basis maybe the Natural History Museum is your kind of thing or The National Space Centre; on a local level how about the Chiltern Open Air Museum or Stockwood Discovery Centre. The Collection at Shuttleworth or Buckinghamshire Railway Centre are also well worth inclusion on an alternative wedding venue short list.
Nightclubs aren't the same stinky places that they used to be, especially those that offer private hire. The Cafe Du Paris in London is run by Maxwell's Group Events and makes a spectacular venue for a cabaret or exotic themed wedding. If there's a venue near you that you think could make an awesome spot for your wedding, it's well worth getting in touch with them. What's the worst thing they can say? No. But then you've lost nothing by trying. Same applies for a fun warehouse space. Venues that are already set up for visitors are certainly easier to cover with licenses. However, it's not just the venue that is licensed now. There are portable bars to hire and events teams who know how to get untried venues set up and approved - allow plenty of time for this as they'll need to file a lot of paperwork.
You may end up choosing a venue that isn't licensed for weddings, however that doesn't mean you can't have a ceremony. Celebrants can host a ceremony pretty much anywhere; no, it won't be a legal one (yet?) but it will still be written in a way that sounds and feels like a wedding. The legal bit can be done in your church or at a registry office near where you live - nb getting married out of your area of residence still currently requires you to contact both your home registry office and one local to your venue.
In short, your unique wedding can happen pretty much where-ever you like so long as you have the owner's permission and get the right paperwork in place.