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.
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 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.
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 drinks or catering van.
The ground is pretty level, but the clearing is covered in bark chippings, so not suitable for wheelchairs.
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.
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!
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.
Dalby Forest wedding catering
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.
Accommodation for a Dalby Forest wedding
As the wedding would take place at the Dalby Forest visitor centre, there is no on-site accommodation. However, there are a number of choices nearby.
One of the closest accommodations to Dalby Forest visitor centre is at Pexton Moor Farm. This is a Camping and caravan site with a total of 42 pitches, plus 5 glamping pods, and a holiday cottage which sleeps 4 to 6 people.
Pexton Moor is a 5 minute drive (1.7 miles) or half an hour walk from the visitor centre.
There are also two Forest holidays locations in the forest, but because there are not public roads through the forest, the journey from them to the visitor centre is about half an hour by car.
A little closer than Pexton Moor Farm, but in the opposite direction, this cap site has space for 10 tents and has 6 camping pods.
Forest Holidays Keldy
There are 59 cabins with hot tubs here plus a children’s play area, an eatery, a shop and bike hire.
Forest Holidays Cropton
Crompton has 57 cabins along with a shop, cafe, and bike hire facilities. They also have a pavilion which can be hired with catering facilities… just in case you wanted another big party during your woodland wedding holiday!
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!
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 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 newly weds can sleep in a woodland cabin. And further accomodation is available in Hazlewood castle for bridesmaids and other wedding guests who require a little more elegance!
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
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.