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Published on May 10th, 2010 | by iamstaggered

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How (And Why) To Get Married In A Field

This post has been a long time coming for a few reasons but, mainly, because we don’t want to spoil the day for our wonderful guests so even this post will be vague in the places necessary to keep things a surprise. All will be revealed in good time though…

It goes without saying that every single wedding is different and every couple has their own way of doing things. I had a big thing from the start about the whole process of ‘ranking’ guests by having a day list and an evening list – we want to have those we love to bits around us for the whole thing.Field_Panorama

This approach to the day has worked really well for us from a few angles. It’s made the guest list easier to put together and manage, thus keeping our stress levels down. By not having to give Aunt Ethel the old heave-ho from the day list it keeps family politics at bay too. I don’t have an Aunt Ethel, but you know what I’m getting at, we’ve avoided even having any of the usual ‘debates’ you hear of when one of the mums or dads thinks someone should be invited to the whole day not just the evening – that stuff throws the financials (not to mention the seating plan) into total chaos. We want someone there, they’re invited.

Take heed though, there’s a bloody good reason people have day and evening guests. Money. We spent the usual weekends trolling around venues, all very grand and lovely. Cater for 120 people? Cripes! Nowhere near feasible on our budget. On top of that the venues didn’t really to line up with the relaxed approach we were after, all a bit too formal.

Fortunately, another thing we really wanted was for our wedding to be ecologically sound where possible, (we’re not full-on whale-saving, tree-hugging greenies, but we do have a social conscience) which lead us to thinking about how it would be great to have a wedding in a field. Not everyone’s first choice, admittedly, but it seemed to fit with us as an idea. Somewhat of a posh festival vibe – you, me, 120 guests, I call that Pimms o’clock. Chin chin. Chocks away.

As I’m sure anyone in the early stages of planning their wedding will find, there are highs and lows. When we first spoke to some family about our field plan we started getting worried as most gave us a weird look and seemed to think we were a bit bonkers. Eventually, one friend said he’d been to a wedding years ago and his friend, an Australian, did pretty much what we’re trying to achieve. Apparently, it was the best wedding he’s ever been to. This one comment solidified the fact we were doing the right thing and we had to just go for it.

One of the first thoughts we had was to buy a field. With the expense of that we’d have to either be investing in some land to build on later in life (how odd is that plan?) or starting a permanent eco-wedding venue with ours as the first wedding. We’d still love to do this, but there’s no way we could have actually got it ready for our day. It was fun thinking laterally for a while.

After a lot of research and umming and arring, we booked a visit to see Claire and everything started to fall into place. More on Claire later, we’re keeping her side of things tightly under wraps in the run up to our wedding day – needless to say we’re fussy buggers and the fact we’ve got Claire involved is testament to how wonderful she is.

A wedding in a field comes with it’s own inherent problems to overcome. Something we’ve come to realise is weddings are no different from anything else big you’ll do in your life, so work with each other and you’ll easily be able to shift obstacles, lift obstacles or just put a tablecloth over them and use them as occasional tables. I’m amazingly lucky with Liz as she’s not so hung up on any wedding day fantasy that she’s not prepared to compromise in order to make it our day as opposed to her day.

So what obstacles? Loads. But some big ones we had (and still have to a certain extent) are:

The Weather – It’s a field. Can’t really do a lot about that apart from plan for rain, it’s June in England after all. We could take the Russian approach and get cargo planes to dump tons of cement dust in the clouds the day before to dry everything out. They actually do that. Or used to. Not an amazingly eco-wedding approach though, plus we don’t have a cargo plane. Or tons of cement.

The Dress – It’s a field. I know nothing about the dress, but a 70 foot train isn’t going to cut the mustard. It’ll drag through sheep shit fine, mustard cutting, nope.

The Legalities – It’s a field. As far as I’m aware, you still need a solid structure which is licensed in order for it to be a legally binding wedding. Liz isn’t really religious and I guess I’m classed as an atheist, I prefer realist perhaps, but that’s not a debate worth getting into with anyone. Ever. Different folks, different strokes. So we’re having a humanist ceremony, which has been explained in a little more depth in Bernice De Braal’s post about How To Organise A Humanist Wedding. A few people have muttered the occasional query in hushed tones, along the lines of “What the blazes is that?” and “Is that some kind of joke wedding?”

We like the idea of being able to say what we want to say, something that’s personal and means something to us specifically as opposed to what we’re told to read out, so humanist works for us. As it’s not legal, by the time we get married in a field we’ll have had a legal ceremony a few days before – we’re keeping it simple for that and going to a nice room at the registry office in Cambridge with just close family then taking them all for a couple of pints of ale and posh bangers and mash for lunch. And that’s it.

Liz is happy, she gets two dresses.

pig-not-on-a-stick-yetThe Food – It’s a field (If you do something like this you have to keep reminding yourself of that fact to stay level-headed about everything). There are limited options unless you’re spending more than you would on a more formal country house bash. This is another reason we’re lucky to have found Claire. We wanted a field, she runs a field-based wedding venue on her farm. We wanted a hog roast, they breed their own free range, organic pigs and are happy for us to shove a spike through one in the name of a good knees up (sorry vegetarians). We wanted good food, she owns a deli AND runs a catering company. And she’s in Yorkshire, where Liz was born and raised and as we’d like to settle down there one day, the decision was a no brainer.

So that’s vaguely what we’re doing. There are a load of other details which I’ll post after the event, but it’s got to be a good sign when we’re about six weeks away and I’m not stressed, just really excited and looking forward to it all. After all, I don’t think the best day of your life should make your lives total hell for six months beforehand…

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6 Responses to How (And Why) To Get Married In A Field

  1. Ailsa says:

    Hi Dan, I’m trying to plan a wedding in a field on a very limited budget. Do you have anymore tips???

    Ailsa Macduff

  2. Dan says:

    Hi Ailsa,

    There are loads of ways to save money. Inevitably though something has to give – either quality goes down or, if you’re good at it, becomes more earthy and in-keeping with a field wedding. Or the amount of time you spend goes up in order to save paying someone else to do it.

    We spent many hours constructing our own invites, order of service etc. Liz made fantastic button-holes which would have cost a vast amount if they’d been bought in. We basically did as much DIY as possible on these things to save money but also make it as unique a day as we could.

    Best suggestion would be to put an imaginary budget together of what you would do if money was no object. Look at the bottom line, then think about ways you could achieve the things you want on a shoestring or get family and friends to contribute.

    In the end we didn’t do all of the below, but it might be a good starter for ten to get your brain going;

    Instead of presents, sell tickets for the wedding, as it’ll be one hell of a good party.

    Grow your own flowers. Plant wild flowers which you know will be in bloom or fully grown when your wedding is taking place. Perhaps delegate this to a green fingered relative.

    Grow your own pigs. If Claire hadn’t had a working farm, we would have got my dad to earmark one of his piglets for the hog roast (see photo above!)…

    Don’t put money behind the bar. People love a free bar, but most people fully expect to have to pay for a beer. Perhaps get some local ales in? It won’t be fancy but these often work out to be about £1 a pint and they loan you the tap and spile to set it up. Lager’s more complicated so get cans doing a booze run ahead of the wedding?

    We got our toasting champers from France as we were in the Champagne region for Christmas. We did a blind tasting session with the ten of us that were out there. Everyone put the expensive stuff at the bottom of their list and there was one bottle which was just under 1 Euro per bottle. Yes, one Euro. Every single person had it in their top two. Saved us a fortune and I don’t think anyone noticed the plastic corks on the day either…

    Whittle down the numbers. Not something you’ll want to do, but it will get to a point where you can’t resist dividing the budget by the amount of guests to see the per head cost. You’ll save money by having less people, but it’s the people tat make the day so be careful.

    Do you know someone with a field? Ask if you can use it. If not, a local friendly farmer you can buy a bottle of scotch for?

    Keep in mind there are some inevitable things you will have to pay for like toilets. Even the posh toilets we had at ours ended up with a water and lighting problem. It’s a wedding in a field though, so any problems are part of the day and you have to be pragmatic – it’s a cliche but we do actually look back and laugh now.

    Hope that helps… Have a cracking day!

    D.

  3. Nick says:

    Hi Dan,
    Sounds like you must have had an lovely day, the venue and arrangements sounded perfect. I’d be really interested in more details about the venue that you used. Please could you let me know?
    Many thanks
    Nick

  4. Iwan says:

    Hi Dan,

    We’re planning a similar sort of wedding, but struggling to find cheap land. We live in Yorkshire, so this Claire person sounds appealing. Could you forward me her details?

    Cheers,

    iwan

  5. Lauren Barker says:

    Hi Dan, thanks for the blog! We’re now in the same situation and wanting a very similar concept. Claire sounds amazing – are you able to put us in touch? I hope your wedding was wonderful! Lauren

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