Can We Get Married At Home?
If you’re looking for a truly personal and budget-friendly location for your wedding day then you may be asking – can we get married at home? Holding your big day at home or at the home of a friend or family member is absolutely possible, but there are various things you will need to think about when considering this option.
Is getting married at home legal?
England & Wales
As the law currently stands in England and Wales, venues must hold a civil ceremony licence in order for a marriage or civil partnership to be made legally binding. Private homes cannot be approved for a such a licence because one of the requirements for approval is that the premises is made ‘regularly available’ for ceremonies:
“The requirement to be regularly available will preclude any private house being approved.” (Gov.UK)
So if you choose to hold your ceremony at home you will need to visit a registry office at some point beforehand to sign your wedding paperwork. Your ceremony at home can then be conducted by a celebrant, meaning it will be made personal to you. This is becoming an increasingly popular option and there are many benefits of choosing a celebrant-led ceremony.
A review of the marriage laws in England and Wales is currently underway by the Law Commission, with its recommendations to Government due to be published in July 2022. These proposals could allow for greater flexibility in the outdoor and at-home licensing laws. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that the Government will accept these recommendations, but fingers crossed!
Scotland & Northern Ireland
In Scotland and Northern Ireland the wedding laws are slightly different. In 2018 the law changed to allow Humanist celebrants to conduct legal ceremonies in any location the couple chooses, including at home. Humanist celebrants are able to conduct personal ceremonies that are unique to the couple, but are generally not permitted to include any religious content, given that Humanism is a specifically atheist/agnostic belief system. You can find out more at Humanist Society Scotland and Northern Ireland Humanists.
Alternatively, if you do not identify with humanism as a belief system then you have the option to visit a registry office at some point beforehand to sign your wedding paperwork. Your ceremony at home can then be conducted by an independent celebrant, meaning it will be made personal to you.
Are at-home weddings cost-effective?
Holding your wedding at home can definitely save you money, but do your research carefully as the costs will quickly stack up. Generally, venues charge a package fee that includes the hire of the venue itself, but also various extras like food and drink for all guests. Have a look at a few venues and compare their prices, then think about the parts of the packages you would have to pay for anyway if holding the wedding at home (such as catering, marquee hire and decoration).
If saving money is your main motivation for holding your wedding at home, it’s a good idea to put two separate budgets together – one for an at-home wedding and one for a venue wedding. This should give you a clearer picture of how much you will actually save.
Will we need a marquee?
This very much depends on the size of your home and your guest numbers, but chances are you won’t have an indoor space large enough to accommodate everyone. A marquee or tipi set up in the garden can therefore be the perfect option for your wedding breakfast and party. This could also double-up as a ceremony space if wet weather spoils your plans to say “I do” outside.
Marquee and tipi suppliers usually provide many optional extras such as tables, chairs, firepits, bars, fairy lights, dancefloors… the list goes on… so you can create the perfect vibe for your celebration without the need to use many different suppliers. They may also be able to provide the chairs for your outdoor ceremony, which could then be moved inside when it’s time to eat.
What are the risks of weddings at home?
Remember that if you’re inviting a large number of people into your home or garden and erecting a structure such as a marquee, you need to be prepared for potential damages. Things could get broken and your grass may not look as pristine as usual the following day! Think carefully about this before making your decision, and be sure to factor in plenty of time the day after for the cleanup operation.
Speak to all suppliers you use about any breakage fees they have in place, and it’s an absolute must to get comprehensive insurance for the day. Speak to your current home insurance provider about their options and then research a few alternatives to get the best deal.
Will it be too much work to get married at home?
The downside of not hiring a dedicated wedding venue is of course that you (or your guests) will need to do all the prep work and on-the-day coordination yourselves. So be prepared for a lot of work in the run up to the wedding. But if you plan effectively and ask people to muck in, this can be great fun!
On the day, the last thing you want to be doing is moving chairs, making announcements or chasing caterers. So be sure to assign specific jobs in advance to people you trust. Perhaps you have a particularly confident friend or family member who could act as MC for the day – just pass them the mic and the schedule and they can make sure everyone is in the right place at the right time!
Love the idea of getting married at home or having an outdoor wedding ceremony? Browse our directories of outdoor wedding venues, celebrants and marquee and tipi suppliers to begin planning your perfect day.