Wedding Guide: How to Finance and Budget For Your Dream Day Chapter 3: Vexed by Venues? Explore your options for wedding venues

Wondering where to tie the knot? There are so many options for wedding venues both in and out of the UK. Which is right for you – and how much will it cost you? In this chapter of the Wedding Guide, Personal Loans Now discusses the various costs involved in different wedding venues. Some advance planning can help you avoid a personal loan, leaving you free to enjoy your dream wedding in peace.

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Learning Highlights
  • The vast majority of couples (72%) choose to wed in a civil ceremony rather than have a religious service.
  • A change in the law in 1995 means that couples have greater choice in the venue of their ceremony (approved premises). It can be anything from stately homes to zoos!
  • Although a wedding certificate only costs £4, ceremonies can set you back anything from £120 up to £600.
  • Destination weddings, where you marry overseas, are popular since they work out up to a third cheaper than UK weddings.

The Wedding Venue

In this chapter, we will look at your options when it comes to the wedding ceremony. Not only will you have to decide where in the country to hold your wedding but also whether to opt for a civil or religious ceremony. Also, you will find guidelines to help you decide whether a wedding abroad is the right choice for you, and we will consider how the time of your wedding can save – or cost you – money. Although you can find personal loans rates quite low nowadays, it’s always better to avoid borrowing before your big day.

Choosing a City

Before even considering the venue for your wedding ceremony, you should discuss together, and possibly with your families too, where in the country you should marry. Nowadays, it is increasingly rare for people to marry the Boy/Girl Next Door and to add to the complications, you might have met your future spouse somewhere completely different. Maybe you met at university or in the town where you work, which is miles from your respective hometowns. As people are getting married older, this is happening more frequently than ever.

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So where should you marry? Someone’s hometown, the place where you currently reside or somewhere in the middle? To conclude, you should consider the relative costs of wedding venues and other wedding vendors as some parts of the UK are substantially cheaper for wedding venues than a city like London. Think about how far your guests would have to travel. Would it be fairer to hold the wedding where the majority of your guests live?

Above all, you should think about the logistics of arranging a wedding long distance. The organisation is already quite stressful. Now, imagine relying on other people’s judgements or trying to do the entire thing by phone and email.

Wedding Venues: Your Choices

There are a number of places to get married. The choice depends on any religious beliefs you hold as well as how personalised you would like the ceremony to be. The options for wedding venues on offer within the UK are a place of worship such as a church, a registry office or finally, approved premises which are licensed by local authorities to perform wedding ceremonies.

Until the Council of Trent (1543-63), the presence of clergy was not necessary for a wedding to be legally valid nor was it obligatory to do so in church. Instead, couples exchanged vows to show their consent.

Religious Ceremonies

Religious ceremonies are important to those who hold, or whose families hold, deeply-seated religious beliefs. Some people would not feel ‘properly’ married unless they had a wedding in an official place of worship. However, this is a highly personal decision and should be discussed together as a couple. A meeting should be arranged to discuss this with the representative of your church and to book the ceremony, arrange any legal requirements (such as calling the Banns for three successive Sundays before the wedding) as well as financial contributions or fees to the church.

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Registry Office Weddings

Registry office weddings take place in Council or Local Authority buildings and must be booked in advance. The Notice of Marriage must be issued at least 28 days before the ceremony and is valid for 12 months. Once the fees are paid, the only legal obligation is for two adults to witness the wedding. The fees are £35 each to give notice of your intention to marry and £46 to register the marriage.

Since April 1995, wedding venues can be approved premises. These can be hotels, stately homes, any other historic building or even more unusual sites such as museums or zoos. A full list of approved premises can be found on the government website or from the General Register Office. The only proviso is that the surroundings are ‘seemly and dignified’. As well, they must meet the necessary fire and safety provisions.

Interestingly, the vast majority of civil wedding ceremonies are held in approved premises – 86% according to ONS statistics.

  • Balance the pros and cons of your respective hometowns and the place where you reside before deciding where to wed.
  • Wedding ceremonies can be held in places of worship, registry offices or approved premises.
  • The vast majority of people get married in civil ceremonies. The most popular choice is in approved premises.]

Wedding Venue Cost Average

A Church of England wedding has been set at a price of £487 for 2017 for the whole of the country. This price includes the lighting, administration and the money for the vicar. However, the presence of the verger, church flowers, an organist and/or choir and bell-ringing are all extras. So, you should consult the vicar if you require any of these. By contrast, the Catholic Church does not charge for the wedding ceremony. However, you are welcome to make a donation towards the upkeep of the church and offer a stipend to the priest. A price may be suggested, but you are under no obligation to pay it. You would have to pay for any musicians, such as organists, however.

A registry office wedding is considerably cheaper at £120, and this includes all the administration fees. However, you should check with your local registry office since fees may vary according to the day of the week you marry.

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The tradition of brides always standing on the left comes from the days when a groom had to keep his sword hand free (his right hand) to prevent people carrying off the bride – sometimes her own relatives in the case of an elopement!

Wedding venues at approved premises can be pricier since it involves the registrar travelling to the venue. It also varies according to the day and the area of the country where the ceremony is held. You should check with your local council as prices are not set for the whole country.

A rough guideline is given below:

  • Monday-Thursday £300-£400
  • Friday £330-£500
  • Saturday £400-£600
  • Sundays and Bank Holidays £480-£600

To summarise:

Type of wedding Cost Other information
Church of England £487 Does not include any extras
Catholic Free Can provide a donation
Registry office £120 Fees may vary according to day of the week
Approved premises £300-£600 Varies based on day of the week and area of the UK

Other Considerations

Obviously, religious and financial considerations will not be your only concern when it comes to choosing the right venue for your wedding ceremony.

When marrying in a place of worship, you should check as to whether the ceremony can be filmed. In some places, it might be forbidden while in others there may be problems with copyright if music is a part of the ceremony.

Approved premises might offer you more opportunities to make your wedding more personalised especially if you would like a wedding with a theme or you would like it to reflect your shared hobbies or tie it into how you met as a couple.

Another benefit of marrying in approved premises is that they can be set in spacious, well-kept grounds or offer breathtaking views which will add that something special to any wedding photos. A backdrop of an ivy-covered wall or flower beds will make your photos look stunning.

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Although the fees are higher for a wedding in approved premises, some couples find it saves money. This is because they have the ceremony and the reception under the same roof. In this way, they do not have to worry about car hire or organising transport for guests from out of town. If you do need to cover these extras, some lenders specialise in wedding loans, designed to help you.

Unfortunately, approved premises must be places which are part of a building and are not moving. So, you can forget your dream of getting hitched in a canal barge or a hot air balloon!

Personalising Your Wedding Vows

Although some people enjoy the beauty and the tradition of the religious service, opting for a civil ceremony means that you have the opportunity to personalise the wedding ceremony. Although certain parts of a civil wedding must be said, registrars allow you to add poetry readings or songs. Asking a relative or friend to read something can involve your loved ones in your special day. The only restriction is that they should not contain a religious element. A search on the Internet will give you a wealth of material to choose from.

  • The cheapest option is to get married in a registry office and like other aspects of the wedding, the day of the wedding can affect the price you pay.
  • Check if your place of worship will allow you to film the ceremony.
  • Civil ceremonies give you scope to personalise your vows by including poems and songs instead of just repeating ‘I do’.
  • Although fees are higher in approved premises, you can make savings on transport costs, and they often provide spectacular photo opportunities.]

FAQs about Wedding Venues and Costs

Where can we marry?
You have the option of marrying in a place of worship, a registry office or to choose from the list of approved premises, which can be anything from a modern hotel to a historic stately home.

How much does the ceremony cost?
Although a wedding licence only costs £4, the prices for the ceremony vary. It can cost just over £100 for a registry office or up to £600 for wedding venues in approved premises in certain areas and on specific days such as Bank Holidays.

Can I get married in a marquee in my garden?
Unfortunately, despite the changes in the law, approved premises must be licensed. So, you are not allowed to get married in a private home or outside.

How much do wedding celebrants charge?
The non-religious British Humanist Association has set the fees for these weddings at £350-£1,000. However, unless you live in Scotland (where an estimated 30% of weddings are humanist), these ceremonies are not legally valid.

Where can I find ideas to make my civil ceremony unique?
Think about a piece of music or song which is of special significance for you as a couple. Or, use a search engine to look for poems on the Internet.

Destination Weddings

Considering the sheer hard work, stress and expense of organising a wedding in the UK, some couples prefer to travel overseas to marry and combine the ceremony with their honeymoon.

One benefit of marrying abroad is that it can work out much cheaper. Also, choosing a foreign location means you are more or less guaranteed to have a sunny day for your ceremony. You won’t have to deal with the unpredictable British weather. Foreign countries are often more flexible about where the ceremony can take place. So, if you have always dreamed of a wedding barefoot on the beach in front of a magnificent sunset, then this is the solution for you!

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The main drawback of such a wedding is that you will not have nearly as many guests as you would have had at a wedding at home. If you come from a close-knit family, this is probably not the right wedding for you. You could ask other guests at the resort to be your witnesses. But, if you want parents, siblings and/or friends to attend, you would have to give them advanced notice so they could also save for the trip.

Another way to include missing relatives and friends is to organise a party once you return to the UK. This way, they too can celebrate your wedding with you.

Are Marriages Abroad Recognised in the UK?

Before planning a wedding abroad, you should check the bureaucratic requirements of the country in question. You can do this by contacting their consulate. It can vary from country to country. The two most common are to establish residency, which can be anything from 1-7 days for a wedding. The second is to provide a Certificate Of No Impediment (CNI) which stipulates that you are unmarried and legally able to wed. The CNI is free, but you will have to pay to give notice at the registry office (£35 each) and another £50 if the CNI must have solicitor certification.

As long as you follow the laws of the country where you wed, the wedding is legal in the UK. You do not need to register the wedding when you return to the UK. If you wish, you can create a ‘record’ at the GRO (General Register Office), providing a translation of your wedding certificate if necessary.

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Organising Your Destination Wedding

A number of travel companies organise destination wedding venues and can present you with the whole ‘package’ including flights, accommodation (including an upgrade on the wedding night), arrange all the administration and some also offer extras such as a bouquet, small wedding cake and wedding breakfast complete with champagne. Prices vary according to what is offered.

Alternatively, if you want something more unique, you could use an independent local wedding planner, who could put together a wedding which is tailored for you as a couple. Planners can be found online. Their website may look impressive, but it is worth asking them for the contact numbers of previous customers as references.

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It is worth paying money for both holiday and wedding insurance just in case anything goes wrong to spoil your special day, whether this is lost luggage (containing your clothes for the wedding!) or delayed flights.

Finally, leaving the arrangements for your wedding in the hands of others means you have to relinquish control and accept that it might not turn out the way you envisaged it. This type of wedding is most definitely not for the Control Freak. Your consolation is that you will have at least a week of honeymoon in idyllic surroundings to recover from any disappointment you may feel!

  • Destination wedding venues are much cheaper than marrying in the UK and have the bonus of a honeymoon too.
  • You have greater flexibility in the venue and guaranteed good weather but you will have much fewer guests in your wedding party and will not be able to oversee every detail of your big day.
  • Check for the legal requirements of the country where you are planning to wed.
  • Weddings overseas can be arranged through travel agencies as part of a package deal, or you could hire a local wedding planner.

The Time Of Day You Marry

It might seem strange but the time of your wedding ceremony can have a direct effect on its price. Arranging for your ceremony to take place in mid- to late afternoon means that if you or your guests are travelling from a different part of the country, then you can travel in the morning and will not have to pay for accommodation for the eve of the wedding. This can save you needing to take out any additional unnecessary personal loans.

The other money-saving aspect concerns the food you provide for your wedding guests. A morning wedding would mean that you would have to provide a mid-day meal (whether this is a sit-down meal or buffet) as well as something for them to eat in the evening. Holding your ceremony later means that your guests would only have to be fed once.

FAQs about Wedding Venues Abroad

Why should I get married abroad?
You can save money, have a unique setting for the ceremony, be sure of no rain to ruin your day and combine the wedding with a honeymoon.

Are weddings held overseas legally binding?
As long as you abide by the local legal requirements, a wedding performed overseas is as valid as one performed in the UK.

How much time does it take to organise a wedding abroad?
You have to give notice of your wedding at your local registry office at least 28 days before and then allow a few days for it to be signed by a notary (if necessary). After your paperwork is in order, you can marry within the week!

How can I organise my destination wedding from the UK?
You have two choices: you could use a travel agency which specialises in destination weddings or you could hire a wedding coordinator who is based locally in the place you intend to wed. Obviously, even with the wonders of modern technology, you would not be able to oversee every detail of the day.

Does it matter what time I marry?
No, this is a personal preference, but later wedding ceremonies tend to be cheaper as you can save on accommodation on the eve of the wedding as well as the catering expenses.

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