Since Festival Brides launched the venue section of their website, we have noticed that the biggest frustration and hurdle that most of our couples face is finding an outdoor venue with a legal ceremony license. They do exist, in fact both our Kent and Norfolk woodlands come with a civil ceremony license, but they are actually very rare. The majority of outdoor venues come with stunning ceremony areas but no license which means that couples have to legally marry elsewhere (usually at a registry office), either on the morning or the days leading up to the wedding, and hold a personal blessing at the venue. Simple – but why then do so many of our couples struggle with this idea?

We have seen couples turn down the venue of their dreams in favour of a place that might not be quite right but comes with a civil ceremony license. This is such a shame. Personal or humanist blessings can offer you so much more than a civil ceremony because they give you the freedom to do whatever you want! There is no set script, no rules – just the two of you choosing the best style of ceremony for you.

We’ve teamed up with Celebration Ceremonies & Weddings to explain a bit more of what to expect from your outdoor wedding ceremony and to hear why their couples chose to have an outdoor ceremony. Our aim is to convince those of you who have fallen in love with a venue with no civil ceremony license, to seriously consider a personal blessing because it can offer you so much more.

Celebration Ceremonies & Weddings specialise in writing, conducting and styling unique and personal wedding ceremonies at private estates, homes & gardens, off the beaten track venues and outdoor locations. They have a reputation for creating wonderfully personal ceremonies that capture relationships and stories providing guidance and recommendations throughout the ceremony planning process. Should you wish, they can also design and style your ceremony area and give a helping hand with those all-important finishing touches and ceremony set up on the day.

Woodlands and the chilled festival vibe are firm favourites with their couples, check out the links below to a fabulous bunch of wifey and hubsters duo’s who have been featured here on Festival Brides. They have all, in their own unique way, inspired us with their spirit, style, stories and love.

Ben and Erin’s Eelaxed and Unique Woodland Garden Festival
Emily & Sean’s Laidback Boho Woodland Wedding
Rufus & Claire’s Secret Garden Festival Wedding
Jenna & Tom’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Woodland Wedding
Victoria & Jason’s Bohemian Themed Renewal of Vows

Owner Jan Shillito, one of the first five to nationally qualify as an Independent Celebrant explains how it all works….

meliameliaphotoco-329 meliameliaphotoco-341 meliameliaphotoco-346

The Beauty of A Personal Ceremony….

“I soooooo wish I had found you when I was planning my wedding!” is something we often hear from our couples’ guests after they have experienced one of our personal outdoor ceremonies. It’s great to hear but it also makes us think, boy, there are so many other couples missing out on something really special – just don’t let it be you!

We have a ball bringing to life each couple’s way of saying “I do” and celebrating all that is good in their lives and relationship in some truly amazing outdoor locations across the UK.

The beauty of having an outdoor wedding is that you are in control of the order events and running of your day. An outdoor ceremony gives you the freedom to decide how, where, when and what you want to include. You can choose the traditions that are meaningful to you, the style and tone that reflects your personalities and the personal touches that will make your day all the more special. Best of all, you can make your own personal promises to each other and your marriage.


How will our marriage be sealed?

The vows and promises you make to each other on your wedding day are not said out of legal duty or constitution, they are words that make a statement of your personal commitment to each other and your marriage in front of your family and friends. You can still of course exchange rings, sign a certificate or include other symbolic gestures, it’s entirely up to you. There are no restrictions to the content of their ceremonies, you are free to have religious or spiritual references or keep it entirely secular; and there are no set rules, etiquette or traditions. You decide what’s right for you as a couple; you can still walk down the aisle, be given away, exchange rings and sign a certificate or break with tradition or give them your own twist, it’s entirely up to you!

Your formal legal commitment and the signing of the marriage register can be done at your local Register Office on the same day or at any time before your ceremony on your wedding day, depending on the logistics of the day. It’s like registering a birth or a death, it’s takes five minutes with the Registrar and your two witnesses. In the UK it is not possible for a Registrar to conduct a legal marriage outdoors, only in licensed buildings.

For us it’s about creating a more relaxed and personal ceremony experience that doesn’t sound the same as everyone else’s, one that your friends and family will love and talk about for years, because it’s meaningful and about you obviously! Some couples worry about being “different”, our couples worry about being the same!

All our ceremonies are bespoke and unique to each couple and written to reflect their personalities, style and tell their story. You can incorporate your own choice of music, readings, poems and personal touches or we can help; we want you to feel “this is us” which is why we write and conduct in a style and tone that reflects your personal style.

I work with couples throughout the planning process, holding the consultations and writing all ceremony scripts then the ceremony is conducted on the day by myself or one of our lovely conductors depending on location and availability. We are a close knit team and couples always get to meet or talk to their conductor during the planning process and then at then ceremony rehearsal the day before the big day!

photo-credit-bradley-potterton-at-quintessential-studios137 photo-credit-bradley-potterton-at-quintessential-studios-142photo-credit-sally-t-photography-0530-e1447078442978 photo-credit-folega-photography-850 photo-credit-ella-ormerod-photography

But don’t take our word for it, take from our couples who have the experience of the whole ceremony process:


Sarah & Suzie…

“And about our amazing ceremony – what can we say. You made our day. Everything was just as we wanted and a whole heap more! As soon as we met you that first time, we know you were absolutely the right person for our ceremony. We have had so many lovely comments about our day, and many many comments on how everyone felt so much a part of our ceremony. Words such as ‘moving, beautiful, perfect, unique, epic, full of love’. And ‘where did you find that celebrant, she was fab!!’. Thank you for leading us through the process so everything was just right. We felt so much love in the room. I’m still trying to express in words how we felt on the day, and still it is so hard! But what we do know is how much of a part of it you were. So thank you lovely Jan once again.”


Simmone & Pete….

“When it came time to plan our wedding, I didn’t even know where to begin. I had liked the idea of an outdoor wedding but didn’t really know how to go about it. I thought it would be a nightmare to organise and didn’t know who to get in touch with. It was the venue which gave us Jan’s name and we looked into it a bit more online. It wasn’t until we met with Jan that we both started to actually get excited about it all. And now we’ve read our script we can’t wait. It’s so much more personal and tells our story while capturing our personalities. She also gave us so many ideas to incorporate into the ceremony which will makes it more fun & quirky. We have decided to do the legal part early on the morning and have the ceremony on the afternoon so we have the same date on our legal certificate.”


Laura & Dave

“When we started planning our wedding we thought the best bit was going to be the evening entertainment, it turned out to be the ceremony. Thank you for giving us both an incredible ceremony, a year in the making!”


Emily & Sean

“Thank you so much. We honestly can’t thank you enough, you made our day perfect and there aren’t enough words to explain how grateful we are to you for putting toegther our beautiful cermeony and for floating around (I know it probably felt more like SPRINTING to you but you looked as cool as a cumcumber!!!) like a fairy godmother all day and night making everything happen! You are a special lady and we will never forget what you have done for us.”


Kim & Dave

“I am never usually speechless but after reading our ceremony I couldn’t speak. It is everything we wanted & more. You are so talented, we said it’s the best decision we made regarding the wedding, having you do our ceremony. We love the readings, our favourite bit was the promises & the kids promises, & the John Lennon verses. Well everything really.”

If you would like to find out more about outdoor ceremonies and having a more relaxed and personal ceremony at your perfect outdoor location drop Jan a line:

Photography Credits (top to bottom): Shutter Go ClickMelia Melia; Bloom Weddings; Quintessential Studios; Sally T Photography; Folega Photography; Ella Ormerod Photography


Wedding beauty on its way!

Pin It on Pinterest