I say this a lot yet it always gives me great pain to say this: The Americans are better than us at organising weddings. I find conceding to Americans very hard to do, but there are some times when there's simply no point in denying the blindingly obvious. Apart from having to have a blood test when you get married, which I do not agree with, Americans have the law on their side when it comes to planning weddings. You can get married almost anywhere, any time, by any one. In the UK however.... Oh boy!
The marriage laws in this country are so far behind the times they are RIDICULOUS. We've only been able to marry outside of a religious venue or register office since 1994! Historically, the Church of England had a stranglehold on marriage from 1754 until 1836 when civil ceremonies became legal.
All ceremonies must take place under a roof with no locked doors. No one can be prohibited from attending a wedding. All ceremonies must take place between 08:00 and 18:00. This anachronism dates back to before there was electric lighting. All ceremonies had to take place in the hours of daylight so that priest could be sure who he was marrying and the groom could be certain he had the right bride.
Currently in England and Wales, both the person carrying out the ceremony and the venue must be licensed in order for a legal marriage to take place. In Scotland the laws are more flexible if slightly more bizarre. Here a religious ceremony can take place absolutely anywhere, but if you want a civil ceremony north of the border, it can only take place in a register office.
It's time to stop all this bureaucracy. Weddings are meant to be happy, fun celebrations and worrying about fitting in lots of groundless criteria in order to make their wedding ceremony legal. The ANY Campaign is fighting to change the law. People should be allowed to marry anywhere, any time. Beaches, ancient ruins, gardens and night-time candlelit ceremonies are all prohibited under current law. This needs to change. The Church is looking into dropping the requirement for banns to be called on three consecutive Sundays before the wedding. This is not only an acknowledgement of how behind the times are legal system is, but it's great news for your budget too!
In the mean time, while we're waiting for the law to catch up with the rest of society, we just have to bend the rules, not break them. Dreaming of a night time wedding bathed in candlelight? Head to Scotland in mid December. Fancy paddling in the sea straight after your ceremony? Marry in a venue overlooking the beach. Want to marry in a garden, breathing in the floral scent of summer? Tie the knot in a conservatory filled with flowers and scented candles.