How to have a Garden Wedding and associate ramblings.

From the very beginning, we knew we’d have our reception in our lovely garden. We also knew we’d marry in a registry office, neither of us being at all religious. That was all we knew though-did anyone else find it massively overwhelming doing the actual planning? The finding a registry office, giving notice, paying deposits, living in one county but wanting to marry in another….the perceived complexities of the process completely blindsided me. And the wedding magazine ‘Countdown Checklists’ didn’t help either-chocolate fireguard anyone?! We ended up phoning our local council offices, and speaking to a lovely guy called Dan. My exact words to him were, ‘Dan, I want to get married. Can you help me?’ The poor guy, I could almost hear him fall off his chair…I quickly clarified that I did in fact have someone to marry, it was the actual wedding I needed help with! To his credit, Dan was fantastic-he told me exactly who to phone first, what they’d say and who they wwould pass me on to and how much it would all cost.

I won’t sit here and pretend I know the exact process off the top of my head, the council websites are fairly clear and quite helpful but I would advise phoning and speaking to a real life council employee who can tell you in plain English what steps you need to take.

We had ruled out Winchester and Oxford’s Registry Offices, purely due to their distance from our home. Despite the utter gorgeousness of both cities and the potential for some to-die-for photos, a 70 mile round trip versus 15 miles to and from Basingstoke was a bit of a no-brainer! We were really very lucky, even though Basingstoke itself is no Oxford, the Registry Office is a beautiful Georgian building and the room we married in was full of light and so airy. 

I think most of you married ladies would admit to having uttered the words ‘I wouldn’t do anything differently’ regarding your big day. The truth is, we definitely would. It’s only through what I’ve learnt of the Wedding Industry and just how much is possible that I know now HOW I would have changed our plans. The changes are few, and we’re lucky enough to have loved every bit of our day wholeheartedly-but I still have teensy regrets.

In our parallel wedding universe, we’d have legally wed on the Tuesday before, at 10am in the morning. We’d have had my best friend and Phil’s best friend as our witnesses and then we’d have spent the day lunching, walking, doing a bit of this and a bit of that. To marry on the Tuesday would have cost ¬£42.50. Our Saturday ceremony was 10x that. It’s not worth getting crankypants about, but it goes to show the power of the ‘traditional’ wedding, doesn’t it? On the Saturday we’d have done almost everything exactly the same, but with a Humanist blessing in our garden, by our river. With all 65 guests able to bear witness. As much as being able to celebrate our union in our lovely garden was the most wonderful opportunity-we would love to have said those immortal words to one another in a spot we can look out on every day.

Teensy regrets are just that though-they way we did things has no effect on the promises we made or the life we vowed to share together. It’s healthy to be able to sit here and say that if we could do it again it’d be great to change this and that, but ultimately we wouldn’t change each other and that’s all that matters.

Categories: Wedding Planning, Wedding Reports
4 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted March 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    It is so nice to know that others, although they loved their wedding day, have little regrets too.

    Love the post really lovely message.

  2. Esme
    Posted March 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Not sure I should tell you this, but that's exactly what we're doing! (She says feeling a tiny it smug…) It was the cost for us, as well as the Humanist idea, doing exactly what we wanted. I can't say that our parents really 'got' what we want to do. My Mum is convinced that the moment the registrar on the Wednesday before says 'I now pronounce you Husband and Wife', I will declare that I don't need anything else and cancel the wedding. Really?!

  3. Anna K
    Posted March 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    In my parallel wedding universe, I'd have scrapped all the pomp and circumstance and got married on a cliff edge wearing a hessian sack. No really. At least your parallel wedding universe bears some resemblance to your actual one!

  4. Posted March 30, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Esme no wonder you're feeling a little smug!

    Anna, I'm with you on the cliff edge part but the hessian sack? It would do nothing for my english pasty complexion.

    I'd have run away to Skye and got married on the shore of a loch with a couple of deer as witnesses and an osprey as a ring bearer (did anyone see the Owl/Hawk ringbearer on Don't tell the bride that time?!) x

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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