Post It Notes – 1st July 2011: Legalities & Publicity

Photography Credit: Assassynation (full wedding coming up on the blog next week!)

I recieved this email from newly-engaged Lisa and thought I’d share my answer with you all becuase I’m sure she’s not the only bride-to-be wondering this…

Hi Kat,
My fiancé and I are looking to get married at Polhawn Fort in Cornwall (after seeing a wedding held there featured on your blog, funnily enough!) We’re complete novices when it comes to non-church wedding practises, and we really liked the idea of having one of our friends perform the ceremony for us. Do you, or any of your readers know if this is something that is possible in the UK? Thank you so much in advance for your help!

Hi Lisa
Unfortunately, right now in England you can only be legally married in a specially sanctioned place – ie church, register office or a hotel/venue with a license. The venue has to have a roof and be moored to it’s foundations (ie it can’t be a boat!) The ceremony must take place between 8am – 6pm and must be performed by someone legally ordained to do so like a priest or registrar.

However there is nothing to stop you going to the register office and doing the ‘legal’ bit – ie signing the papers in a quick 5 min ceremony then having a ‘fake’ (for lack of a better word) ceremony wherever you like and performed by whoever you like and classing that as your wedding ceremony.

My friends Emma & Pete did exactly this and it was amazing! Good luck with the planning.

As a side note, The Any Campaign are tirelessness petitioning to get these strict laws in the England changed. You can keep up with their plans on their website here.

♥  ♥  ♥

If you have any wedding planning questions why not drop me an email and I’ll try to answer them in a future edition of Post It Notes?

While I don’t agree with being controversial just for the sake of it, always remember than having an opinion that sparks a little debate is never a bad thing. The response to Monday’s ‘How to Pose’ article was incredible (although I can honestly say I was surprised that it was even seen as a controversial topic. The point of the post was to inspire and give confidence to the brides that read my site, certainly not to take anything away from professional photographers!)

The positive and negative commnets streamed in (and are still coming through thick and fast.) While initially some people in my position may have been upset by the negative responses, I revelled in all the attention on my little blog… and lo and behold, on Monday I recieved the highest unique number of visitors (including a lot of brand new visitors that have never seen the site before) the blog has ever had!

There is no such thing as bad publicity…but you might just have to be a bit thick skinned to get through it sometimes!


  1. Lisa’s question was actually a pretty good one, I’ve always been wondering if, one day, I could choose a third option rather than church or register office. And you’ve actually given a cool advice, never thought of that!
    Having my best friend performing the ceremony would be amazing, the legal thing can happen separately ♥

  2. I photographed a wedding last year where the bride and groom had a quickie ceremony at the register office with their witnesses .. then went off and had a Humanist ceremony with 100 of their closest members of family and friends at Sunderland International Glass centre ….

    Great day for them ….

  3. Re: the business note- You are totally right, I am a bit rubbish at having a thick skin though, however I also like to voice my opinions (not always so good!), so perhaps I should do it more and grow a back bone.

  4. Sometimes the internet REALLY baffles me. People get upset over the most ridiculous, nonsense things. I think your guide was excellent, and a really good idea. To me, the bride and groom already have an idea of how to pose can be nothing but a GOOD thing. They’ll feel confident that what they’re doing is going to look good, which will give them more confidence and inspire better poses. Plus with less time spent by me coaching them into poses, it means more time for more photos. I get genuinely flabbergasted when you, or other big bloggers, get so much negativity over nothing.

  5. Post author

    Helen – it can be scary sometimes but its worth it. as a friend told me the other day, “if youre causing a stir its because you own the pot!”
    i like that!!

  6. Clare Jeffery

    MY sister always wanted to get married in my parents back garden, and for years and years they kept waiting for them to change the law, it never happened.

    So they ran away and got married in secret instead! 🙂

  7. My husband and I got married at a licensed wedding venue (a manor house) and we were able to marry under the rose arbour in the garden as technically it was a structure with a roof! As long as we stood under the arbour whilst exchanging our vows/rings and signed the register under the arbour it was legal. I’m sure this place (in Clanfield, Oxfordshire) is not the only place in the UK that is able to bend the rules a little but it’s just finding them that’s hard. Maybe a post on unusual places to get married would be good?

    Regarding your ‘How to Pose’ article, I thought it was great and admired you for being brave enough to show your less flattering sides. I do see that some photographers might not like it because it means a bride (and groom) may not want to do things they suggest. But that’s why its important to know your client and build a rapport. Overall I find photographing brides who do know how to pose much quicker which means they can then spend more time with their guests. Your article was fun, gave brides to be some top tips and than can only be a good thing in my book.

  8. Claire

    Ha- good business note. And I agree about having a thick skin for blogging. It reminds me of wedding forums: I spent a couple of years as a Hitched regular and the same applies there. I think it kicked off on hitched the other day as well – just one of those things the Internet sends to challenge us from time to time. X

  9. Wow, I had no idea that the rules regarding getting married were so strict in England. I understand why some couples are frustrated and working to change the laws. As for the posing post, I thought it was great and I passed it off to my wedding photographer who thought it was brilliant.

  10. Getting married in the UK is getting simpler. What we did was doing the legal bit first in our country and then had a vow renewal in the UK.
    The vow renewal was treated as a wedding by the celebrant and we had a lot of saying in the words and how the ceremony was to proceed. Nobody knew we first did the legal bit, is was for us to know as it didn’t matter. What do legallities matter? It’s what’s special to you that matters. Our wedding in the UK had no legal value but an huge emotional value. That’s what matters, not who stands before you to conduct the ceremony and how legal it is. It doesn’t make it more real. And this might be good to know for people wanting their ceremony in their back yard: You can do the legal bit in the register office and then do a vow renewal in your back yard. Vow renewals may be conducted everywhere. Call your registrar and she will be able to help. This vow renewal will have now legal value but as I said before, it’s how you feel about it that makes it important. You can get married in a churche but still divorce after a year or you can do an unoficial ceremony and stay together for ever …

  11. Lisa, rob and I were ‘married’ by our good friend Dave, who became a humanist minister. We said our vows in my parent’s field with all our friends and family, perfect. It would have cost over £2000 to apply for a licence and the registrar for the day so we skipped that and nipped to the registry office on the Monday, cost about £60. Yes we weren’t legally wed on the sat, but we were able to do it in our budget, our way that way!!! Good luck xxx


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *