Getting married in the woods in Yorkshire!
Woodland wedding venues are often difficult to find, so I’ve pulled together a list of the best woodland wedding venues in Yorkshire for the perfect wedding. After a brief introduction about the benefits (especially with the coronavirus outbreak) of a woodland wedding ceremony, I’ll share details about the different woodland wedding venues you can get married at.
Are you looking for a barn wedding venue near York? Have a look at this
<<< list of ALL the barn wedding venues within 30 minutes of York >>>
A few woodland wedding FAQs
Is it legal to get married outdoors in the UK?
Yes and No!
There are plenty of licenced outdoor wedding ceremony areas to say “I do”- as long as they have a (cemented) structure that is licenced, then you can have a legal marriage ceremony.
But, if you want to get married outdoors where there is no licenced structure, no, the ceremony vows won’t be legally binding.
Plenty of people choose non-legal wedding ceremonies and then do the legal bit in a registry office at another time.
If you want a legal ceremony, you will need a registrar from the local district. You’ll need to register at your local registry office, and then book the registrars from the registry office local to where you want to get married.
Why should you choose a celebrant to lead your wedding?
Celebrant led weddings allow you to have your celebration how you want it, without needing to think about the legal restrictions (you can easily arrange the legal bit with just yourselves in a registry office before or after your wedding day). This allows you to choose from licenced and unlicenced outdoor wedding venues – greatly opening up your choices.
Legal outdoor ceremonies performed by registrars must take place under some form of structure – but if you use a celebrant, you have none of these restrictions.
Another alternative is to have a family member or friend perform the ceremony – but remember, not everyone will enjoy this pressure, and celebrants have many wonderful ideas about how to make your wedding personal to you.
Not requiring a licenced venue opens up the number of outdoor wedding venues greatly, and gives you the freedom to have the dream wedding for you. Handfasting ceremonies and other interesting ways to tie the knot may be much more in line with your personalities than a formal wedding ceremony.
Why should we get married outdoors?
Thinking about conditions and situations that will reduce the spread of coronavirus can be a good way of reducing the risk at your wedding.
With government advice and guidelines changing almost daily, all we can do is make best guesses.
Outdoor gatherings will be safer, and allowed sooner, than indoor ones.
And smaller gatherings will be allowed before large ones.
So, it will be much safer to plan a small outdoor wedding than a big indoor one!
Lots of people feel much more relaxed outdoors. Four walls and a low ceiling can feel very claustrophobic when filled with lots of people – stress levels increase, it can get hot very quickly, and people with children have to resort to ipads and snacks to keep children quiet and entertained.
Imagine a family with young children who have travelled a few hours in the car to get to the wedding. It’s a hot day and the kids are getting restless. They quickly smarten themselves up from the car journey and are ushered into a small row of seats inside a calm and neutral room. The kids are wriggling about. The parents are telling them to sit still and be quiet. The people in the seats in front can hear the stress and can’t help but feel a little less relaxed. Everyone is speaking in quiet voices to match the formal atmosphere as the registrars are preparing their documents. The marriage is a formal and legal ceremony. Once it is over, everyone breathes a sigh of relief as they get outside in the open.
Now, imagine the same people at an outdoor ceremony. The kids can freely run about and play without getting in anyone’s way. People can speak as loud as they like because voices are amplified less outdoors. There are no walls limiting anyones gazes so the atmosphere isn’t as formal. No one is grumpy! The marriage is a relaxing and happy event.
What’s so good about getting married in a woodland?
Trees will provide shelter from wind, shade from harsh sunlight, and a beautiful natural backdrop which needs little or no decoration.
Wide open spaces are lovely, but woodlands can focus the attention with trees acting as suggested walls. Nothing too enclosed, but also not so open that the whole even feels small and insignificant.
5 woodland wedding venues in Yorkshire!
In no particular order!
1. Escrick Park
A totally outdoors ceremony venue, with no buildings or covers – with no interference from any staff, it’s a clearing in the woods.
Near Escrick, south of York, not licenced for the legal ceremony, no toilets at woodland, no cover in case of rain, no minimum guests, can seat 150 guests, no facilities for catering at woods.
An ancient oak clearing with seating for up to 150 people – no buildings in sight! This woodland wedding won’t be a legal ceremony.
What happens if it rains? Enjoy it! You’re hardy Yorkshire folk, and the tree canopy will slow the rain a bit anyway. This is a proper outdoor woodland wedding.
You can hold the wedding reception at Escrick Park, or not. It’s quite nice to have a woodland without any formalities – you can turn up with your wedding party and get married however you like. There doesn’t even need to be a member of Estate staff there.
There is parking a short walk from the clearing and an area just outside the clearing that has access if you want to park a drink or catering van.
The ground is pretty level, but the clearing is covered in bark chippings, so not suitable for wheelchairs.
Accommodation near Escrick Park
Here is a list of airbnb accommodation within about 3 miles of Escrick Park.
A family-run venue, nothing corporate about it, but well equipped to cater for big parties. Great if you want something rustic, but not so rustic you have to do everything yourselves!
Between Wakefield and Huddersfield, licenced for legal ceremony, toilets on site, cover in case of rain, no minimum guests, can seat 120 guests, facilities for catering.
Part of the Whitley Beaumont Estate, this historic (some of the oak trees are estimated to be up to 300 years old) 8-acre woodland has views over Yorkshire.
The owners of this woodland are dedicated to enhancing the woodland environment and they make sure everything is done in a way that is sympathetic to the plants and animals in the woodland. It’s a properly independent business run by a family who bought the wood to change their lifestyle.
With seating areas, hammocks, fire-pits, and a children’s play area, this woodland is perfect for the reception too. There are 2 portable shepherds huts which can be used as a bar, for a DJ or caterer. Toilets are provided which is a bonus!
A teepee which can seat up to 120 guests is provided and there is parking for 2 large coaches and space for about 30 cars. Power, water, fairy lights, and wedding coordinator.
What if it rains?
The ceremony area is covered and there is a massive teepee. Plus they provide umbrellas!
Accommodation near Cockley Woods
Having a large place to stay with family and friends will allow you to extend the wedding festivities. Both of these large houses (shown below) are less than 6 miles from Cockley woodland with hot tubs and sleep 13-16 guests plus dining tables large enough to seat everyone.
3. Dalby Forest
Proper big forest, not tarted up and superficial, but still accessible, great for a whole week forest holiday or honeymoon – great elopement or destination wedding potential, no minimum number of guests, can be big or small, and will fit any budget.
Near Pickering in North Yorkshire, licenced for legal ceremony, toilets on site, cover in case of rain, no minimum guests, facilities for catering.
The Great Yorkshire Forest
You can get married in the Great Yorkshire Forest! That’s 8000 acres of woodland!
A sustainably built building with an indoor (with breathtaking floor to ceiling views across the forest) and outdoor (on the terrace overlooking the forest) options – this venue allows legal ceremonies.
The venue hire price is very reasonable at £780 and includes the use of tables and chairs, plus they allow you access the day before to add decorations to the venue if you wish.
This is a really fantastic venue for a woodland wedding that can become a woodland holiday. Dalby forest is in the middle of the North York Moors and there are plenty of things to do and places to explore.
Catering at Dalby Forest wedding
The forest cafe
The forest cafe is the visitor centre cafe at Dalby Forest, they can provide buffet or barbecue meals, and the staff are very happy to help with any special touches or themes.
There’s also the option of nearby catering companies, especially if you are having a large tipi or marquee wedding. Fryton Catering is a local company based only about half an hour from the venue.
Capacity and Accessibility
No minimum guest requirement, the venue can hold 60-80 guests.
Level access into the building and areas outside, but no mention about a lift – this would need checking.
Options to add extras!
They are happy to recommend wedding vendors who can add luxuries – for example, an exquisite tipi for your wedding party with overnight glamping!
Accommodation near Dalby Forrest
This is the upmarket version of getting married in the woods – a legal ceremony, everything arranged for you, not good for a small wedding or disabled guests – not as rustic and natural as some. £11k plus
Between Leeds and York, licenced for the legal ceremony, toilets on site, cover in case of rain, 80 minimum guests, 250 max guests, catering, on-site accommodation.
A beautiful hideaway down an arched tree-lined path, set in 77 acres of woodland is a pagoda overlooking the waterfall and ponds. This elegant wedding venue also provides other indoor and outdoor wedding locations.
The woodland pagoda is licenced for civil ceremonies through the Selby district registrar.
The wedding breakfast banquet can be served under the trees with the chefs cooking on barbecue and pizza oven.
There are firepits which can be used for toasting marshmallows, and even a Tree bar for drinks!
A tipi with fairy lights (imagine the first dance!) will be included in the wedding packages, and a wedding planner to make sure the day runs smoothly.
Accommodation on site
The newlyweds can sleep in a woodland cabin. And further accommodation is available in Hazlewood castle for bridesmaids and other wedding guests who require a little more elegance!
Saturday weddings require a minimum of 80 adult guests with evening capacity of up to 250 guests.
What about rain? The pagoda is covered and the barn dance floor area is also covered (right next to the pagoda)
Disabled facilities – no.
5. Your local wood
By far the cheapest option, great if you live near a woodland and have lots of laidback guests who aren’t sticklers for formality!
Any public woods, not licenced for legal ceremony, no toilets on site, no cover in case of rain, no minimum guests, no facilities for catering.
Freedom to do what you want!
Who’s stopping you from arranging a picnic in your local woods? All your guests can bring their own picnic blankets and maybe even a basket of food. They can all sit or stand as you have your ceremony and then serve up champagne! The costs can be as minimal as you like – the cost of wedding outfits, a celebrant, a photographer (you still want wedding photos right?), and some food and drink – what a way to keep yours a relaxed and unique wedding, without forfeiting the deposit on a house!
A couple of bonus recommendations for your woodland wedding in Yorkshire
Woodland Wedding Photographer
With all your planning and so much beautiful scenery around, it would be such a shame not to hire a professional photographer to capture it all!
My name is Emma, I’m an outdoorsie, introvert friendly wedding photographer.
I love the outdoors – I had an outdoor wedding (which included a sudden heavy downpour during the ceremony), and I’m not afraid of a bit of mud and rain.
If you are looking for a wedding photographer who understands and appreciates the value of a natural woodland setting, please get in touch!
I couldn’t end this post about woodland weddings without making a recommendation of a perfect wedding celebrant. Louisa Starr of Starr Gazing Ceremonies.
I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing a wedding conducted by Louisa, and I was amazed!
She had clearly made a lot of effort to thoroughly get to know and understand the couple before the wedding. The ceremony was amazing – all the guests were involved, there were jokes, music clips, a handfasting ceremony… and even the inclusion of a radish from the couple’s allotment. It might sound a little out of the ordinary… and it really was – it was created specifically for them.