Choosing Your Wedding Venue: Church or Alternative?

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Choosing Your Wedding Venue

Choosing your actual wedding venue and style of service is the biggest decision you will need to make about your wedding day. After all, the rest is really a question of style and decoration. It’s important that you and your significant other agree on the type of ceremony and venue very early on. The biggest question faced by many couples is whether to opt for a church or a civil ceremony.

Katie Jones from orlajames.com has these suggestions for you to consider:

To get married in a church, there are certain criteria that need to be met, which you may want to take into consideration when making the decision. You normally need to live in the parish where you want to get married, or have some kind of connection with that particular church. You might also be required to attend marriage classes with the vicar prior to acceptance.

If choosing a church wedding, banns are typically read out at least four months prior to the service, allowing community/church members to voice any objections. This needs to be taken into account when deciding on a wedding date. There also may be issues if either of you have been divorced previously, and same-sex wedding ceremonies may not be held in the church of your choosing. However, if you meet all of the criteria, a traditional church wedding ceremony can encourage a personal and community feel to your wedding day, especially if you share a connection with that community.

For those of you who are not religious, you may be happy to learn that the days when the town hall registry office was your only alternative are long gone. You can get married virtually anywhere you choose, as long as the venue is licensed.


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Stately homes and manor houses are one of the most popular venue types for weddings, as they can often host both the ceremony and the evening reception meal. This one-stop-shop type of approach means less travel for your guests. The venue may even offer overnight accommodations, as well. These venues can be very convenient for any out-of-town friends and relatives who are attending the ceremony.

Maybe a church or a manor is too traditional for you. In fact, maybe you would rather find something unique for your wedding ceremony venue. Check out these quirky, fun options:

  • On a submarine
  • In a windmill
  • In a gothic castle
  • In a lighthouse
  • In a cave
  • On a ship
  • Underwater
  • At a funfair/carnival
  • Outside in a woodland glade

If you are keeping more traditional relatives in mind and one of these quirky options won’t work for the ceremony, choose one of these fun venues for a unique reception experience instead. A little compromise still leaves room for your personality to shine through while also considering other family members in making your decision. Thinking outside of the box with the reception can also broaden your options, as there are many venues that don’t hold wedding licenses to perform the ceremony but are fully able to cater a wedding reception. A great example of this is having the wedding ceremony at your local church with transportation for all of your guests to the local aquarium for that unique underwater reception experience.

Also, some museums will allow wedding photos to be taken next to the exhibits (hello, dinosaur skeletons!). Or, how about a reception in an art gallery with Rembrandt and Monet among your wedding guests? If your family loves sports, consider your team’s stadium for your ceremony. Most stadiums now offer wedding party packages, so you can opt for a fantasy sports-themed reception (and maybe invite the local team to pop in!).

For a fun, active reception venue, why not opt for a fairground or theme park? Your guests will be entertained with plenty of activities, rides and games. Or, maybe rent a space at the local zoo if you are an animal lover.

The choices for wedding and reception venues really are endless. It’s just up to you to imagine and research what’s possible. If you want a traditional church wedding, make sure you fulfill the criteria. Start the conversation with your vicar early to discuss all of the requirements and limitations. If you want an alternative venue, the options are endless, no matter the number of guests or budget limitations. Be creative and do your research!

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