I have had a lot of enquiries lately about outdoor weddings at a beach or local park. While they are absolutely beautiful, providing you with a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, you have to remember they are public spaces.
Before you decide on which beach or park you want to hold your ceremony in, it is a good idea to visit a few of them to get a first hand feeling for the space.
Once you have narrowed down your options, go back to each one on your short list at the exact time you are planning your ceremony so that you can see what position the sun will be in, if there are any shaded areas, how high the surf might be, how busy it gets and what the parking will be like. No matter how beautiful the spot might be, if it doesn’t meet your needs, it is not the right place to hold your wedding.
When you find your perfect location, it is time to start thinking about your set-up requirements.
- Will you have a designated or decorated ceremony area?
- Will you have guest seating?
- Will you need to hire a set designer or wedding props you (and/or family and friends) can put together at least 1 hour prior to your guests arriving?
- Will you need a PA system to ensure your guest can hear every word over the awesome but often loud sounds of nature?
Now that you have your heart set on your time, date and location, it’s time to lock it in. You must apply to the council for the private use of a public space. The permit will give you 3 hours exclusive (as much as possible) use of the area and facilities. I hear a lot of people say “but we are only having a very small wedding, we won’t need 3 hours”. Let me assure you, while 3 hours sounds like a lot, especially if you have chosen a registry style or elopement style marriage ceremony but you have invited more than 10 guests, there are several “outside the ceremony” things that must be taken into consideration.
- Set-up, depending on the type and complexity of your ceremony setting (seating, arbour, PA etc) the set-up can take up to 1 hour and you really want it to be perfect well before any of your guest arrive
- Final pre-wedding document signing – if you haven’t meet with your celebrant in the week prior to the ceremony, you will need to sign your Declaration of No Legal Impediment To Marriage as well as providing any outstanding documentation such as Divorce Certificate prior to the ceremony commencing. This can take 5 to 10 minutes depending on what needs to be completed, sighted and witnessed
- Guest arrival, this includes parking, making their way to the ceremony area, having a chat and taking their seats.
- Your entrance, you should allow a couple of minutes for this
- The ceremony, anywhere up to 25 minutes is usual
- The signing of the register, you should allow a couple of minutes for this to ensure you get a nice photo
- Taking photos, you should allow at least 20 minutes. This is a unique opportunity to get the best shots you can of the 2 of you and your guests
- Chatting with guest
- Leaving, getting back to the cars and leaving the area
- Set-dismantle, again, depending on the type and complexity of the set-up this can take some time.
As you can see, while the ceremony itself might only take 15-25 minutes, by the time you take everything else into consideration, you might not have too much time left out of the 3 hours.
The other thing to consider is, if you do not secure a council permit you do run the risk of being fined, and that is not what you want to remember your wedding day for.
Before agreeing to conduct a wedding ceremony in a public space, your celebrant will ask you to provide your council permit or permit application. So get your permit as soon as possible, you don’t want to be disappointed.
While the permit fee may differ slightly from council to council, they all try to keep the fee reasonable. Here on the Central Coast a permit is currently $195 which is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
One last thing to think about, all the planning in the world will not give you control over the weather. So, ALWAYS have a back-up plan just in-case.
I love conducting outdoor weddings, they are relaxed, fun and stunning. With a little bit of pre-planning I know your outdoor wedding is going to be everything you dreamed of – absolutely sensational.