Can you get married in your garden? Find out before planning your backyard wedding!

Research shows that many people are planning a garden wedding this year, but is it legal to get married in your garden in the UK? Here's what you need to know

garden wedding
(Image credit: Getty/Westend61)

Can you get married in your garden? Many couples eager to tie the knot will be asking themselves this question as COVID shifts people's preferences towards smaller, more private ceremonies. For many couples, their garden design ideas have just morphed into wedding planning ideas.

From April 12th, up to 15 people are allowed to attend weddings and receptions. In May, these numbers get lifted to 30 – still very small for a wedding, which will likely have an impact on how people plan their big day and where they choose to hold it. Recent research* shows that 56 per cent of people would be satisfied with getting married in their gardens this year – but is it legal to have a garden wedding?

garden wedding

(Image credit: Getty/ Heide Benser)

We're sorry to disappoint those of you who live in England and Wales – but you cannot legally get married in your garden. You have to register your marriage at a licensed venue; some of these venues are outdoors, but none of them are in people's gardens. 

What you are able to do is register your marriage legally at your local registry office and then have an informal wedding ceremony in your garden, conducted by a celebrant. A celebrant is essentially a self-employed professional who conducts weddings, but they are not the registrar and cannot perform the legal part of the marriage. 

garden wedding

(Image credit: Getty/Hanneke Vollbehr)

There is one other possibility for holding a legally binding wedding in your garden – if you apply for a marriage venue license. It's more complicated than it sounds: you'll need permanent and 'immovable' premises on your property that can hold at least six people and used regularly to conduct weddings (highly unlikely for most people). The official guidelines state that 'any premises outside this definition, such as the open air, a tent, marquee or any other temporary structure and most forms of transport, would not be eligible for approval.'

In other words, unless you're planning to start a side wedding business in your garden and want to build a 'permanent structure' to facilitate this, a garden wedding is out. What is very much allowed, however, is a terrific wedding garden party in your garden once you've popped to the registry. Browse our garden party ideas for inspiration. 

And if you live in Scotland? You're in luck – you can get married in your garden, although COVID measures and number limitations will apply. 

* Research data kindly provided by Hayford and Rhodes.

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.