Can I have my wedding outdoors in a park or a beach?
The simple answer is YES!
Outdoor weddings are absolutely beautiful with stunning natural backdrops for your guests to enjoy and are fantastic for your photos.
We are so lucky here in Australia to have some of the best outdoor locations in the world and our mild to warm weather gives us a very long outdoor wedding season, expanding all the way through Spring, Summer and Autumn depending on your location. And don’t forget, for those who love the snow season, the mountain regions can offer you spectacular options for a Winter Wonderland Wedding. The choice is yours.
However, if you are planning to hold an outdoor wedding in a council operated location such as a park, beach, pier, lookout or the like, you will likely need to apply for a permit from the local council that controls that area. Council permits are not expensive and generally allow you exclusive (as much as possible) use of the area for up to 3 hours.
Are there any tips for getting through the application process?
Absolutely, while the thought of getting a council permit might seem daunting, it really is not. It does take a little planning and can take up to 6 weeks to receive your permit, if you follow the simple tips below the process should be painless.
Have you done your research?
Research is your key to success. Each council operates independently from all other councils, so they may have different rules and regulations regarding outdoor events, booking procedures, parking requirements, setup restrictions and insurance requirements, so it is important to thoroughly research the local council requirements. You can visit the council’s website or call their offices to obtain information on the application process, required permits and fees.
How do I choose my ideal location?
Before applying for the permit, you will need to have a set location picked out for your outdoor wedding.
Visit the areas in person at approximately the same time of day and same time of year that you are planning to get married, this will give you a good indication of what the conditions of the site are like. Is it too windy? Are local sports groups using the area? Are there magpies in the trees? What is the traffic like?
There is no other way to know the local conditions other than going there with your ideal ceremony plan in mind to make sure that the location is appropriate for your event, taking into consideration factors such as noise levels, parking availability, accessibility and potential impacts on local residents, businesses and environment.
How do I gather all necessary documentation?
Most councils will require you to submit specific documentation along with your permit application, such as a site plan, set up plan, number of people attending and may even ask you to provide a risk management plan depending on the size and location of your event. These documents are not difficult to compile but they may be a little time consuming.
Site maps can be gained from Google Maps or Google Earth. Simply download the area map, showing enough of the surrounding area to show vehicle and foot traffic access, parking zones, housing that may be directly impacted as well as the actual space you wish to use. Then, simply circle the ceremony space.
Set-up plans can be quickly put together. If you are using an equipment hire company for the styling, they will usually put a set-up plan together for you as part of their agreement with you. If not, just ask them for one. If you planning on setting the area up yourself, write down what equipment you will be using, how you will be placing it to create your feel, how long it will take to set-up / pull down and if there will be any environmental impact.
Attendance is an easy one to do, you will already have an idea of how many people you want to invite to your wedding. All you need to do is add the celebrant, musicians, caterers and of course yourselves to the guest list number to get the anticipated number of people in attendance. What could be simpler.
Risk Assessments sounds complicated but it doesn’t have to be. All the council is really looking for is an understanding of how your equipment and staging may impact your guests, other users, the environment and wildlife of the open space. Once you have visited your location you will know if there are stairs, disability access or equipment requirements. For example, you have chosen Jenny Dixon Reserve at Noraville for your ceremony: there is no power available, there is parking, there is a toilet block, there are stairs leading to the beach, there are magpies nesting in September. Your ceremony will be set up just to the left of the bbq area overlooking the water away from the stair and trees.
Your risk assessment could be as simple as:
“signage (on spikes placed into the ground) directing guests to the ceremony area will be located to the left of the carpark.
All equipment such as microphones, speakers, music will be battery operated eliminating the need for power leads.
Sound levels will be set to cover the ceremony area only.
Guests will be informed of the stairs and the magpies.
Ceremony area is fenced minimizing any risk of accidental slips over the cliff.
There is no anticipated risk to guests, environment, other location users.”
When should I apply for council approval?
Depending on the size and scope of your outdoor wedding, it could take several weeks or even months to obtain a permit. It is important to submit your application well in advance to allow ample time for processing and potential revisions or inquiries from the council.
Is there anything else I need to do?
Follow up and adhere to the permit terms and conditions
Once your permit is approved, make sure you carefully review the conditions of the permit and adhere to them. Failure to do so could result in fines or even cancellation of your permit.
● Do your research on the location and the local council first
● Get a location plan, set-up plan, ceremony plan, risk assessment prepared for your council permit application
● Apply for the council permit as early as time will allow as it could take several weeks to obtain
● Follow the council restrictions outlined once the permit has been granted
● Have fun, enjoy the day because you have done everything in your power to have your special day run smoothly and safely