Garden ceremonies. Are they a good thing?
You’re taking something of a gamble, if you arrange an outdoor ceremony in the UK. Of course, you can get rain in Spain (though not usually in the Summer), and there are occasional lovely days even in the UK!
Be that as it may, people are increasingly opting for home or garden ceremonies. There are ways to make planning the occasion less stressful.
It should go without saying that your celebrant will plan the actual ceremony with you in advance as well as, on the day, meeting with participants, to confirm their roles.
So we can take that part of the arrangements for granted.
You will obviously need a suitable-sized room or garden to accommodate the number of guests you are inviting. What sort of Plan B do you have in the event of bad weather?
You will need to consider the age and health of your guests, and the length of the ceremony. You will need adequate chairs, at least for disabled and/or elderly guests. Consider wheelchair access, if appropriate.
You might need to provide cover from sun (or rain!), at least for the main protagonists. Have cool drinks ready, if it’s a hot day. Don’t forget that you may need to make a table available to be used during the ceremony.
Ensure everything is laid out well in advance of the first guests’ arrival.
When you hold a ceremony outdoors, factors may enter into the equation over which you have limited – or no – control. There is the risk of all manner of disturbances, such as aircraft, lawnmowers, animals, neighbours etc.
You can ensure that your pets are shut away, if they are likely to disturb the ceremony. You may be able to liaise with neighbours. Warn them that there will be a lot of cars parking nearby on the day and explain that you would appreciate quiet for about half an hour from a certain time. (Inviting them to attend may be clever psychology!)
If you are expecting disturbances (eg you are on a flight path), it may be better to hold the ceremony inside.
Alcohol should not be served before the end of the ceremony. There is nothing worse than rowdy guests spoiling the atmosphere!
If laying out chairs, try and leave some at the back for latecomers. If VIP guests are late, it may be possible to delay the ceremony (at the celebrant’s discretion). Avoid leaving guests exposed unnecessarily long to whatever the climate is doing – or keeping children fidgeting too long.
Health & Safety
Yes, the boring bits!
Your domestic insurance will need to cover third party liability to visitors.
You’ll have to ensure entrances/exits are clear and safe, and that any garden structures (eg marquee) are safe and secure. Electrical equipment must be safe, with no trailing wires/cables. Water features should be treated as a hazard.
Holding a ceremony at home usually works out cheaper than holding it at a venue like a hotel. However, it probably loses out as regards stress. Apart from all I’ve already mentioned, there’s the catering (and logistics etc.) after the ceremony to be considered. An event planner will take away the stress, but will obviously hike the cost up.
There’s quite a lot to bear in mind, but with garden ceremonies can come the most amazing atmosphere. With planning and consideration, there is no reason why you cannot hold a truly memorable ceremony at your home.