• Dodmoor House

Outdoor Ceremonies at Dodmoor

Updated: Jul 16

Outdoor wedding ceremonies... Pretty, romantic, whimsical, and now fully legal in England (yay)!


As of 1st July 2021 (and until 5th April 2022*), it became legal for civil ceremonies to take place outside for the first time in this country. Prior to 1st July, under the then current laws for approved venues, the ceremony had to take place in an approved room or permanent structure... It is now possible for couples to have the whole ceremony outside!


The barns of course look wonderful inside with their pretty wooden beams and fairy lights, and many of you may well still wish to get married inside them (especially during the winter months!), however we are really looking forward to being able to provide so much more flexibility and choice!


We might be a little biased, but we think that the grounds of Dodmoor are just as beautiful as the insides of our lovely barns, and we are so excited for couples to say "I Do" within our gorgeous outdoor areas over the summer. There's the courtyard, the house and main lawn, and the garden behind the Catesby Barn, which is intimately enclosed by trees covering the field behind and the stunning stone of the barn.


'Front of House' outdoor ceremony. Images by Aaron Collett Photography


We believe that wherever you find yourself in Dodmoor, it feels special, but now that ceremonies can take place in several different areas across the venue, there will be a little more magic in the air.


Not only is this wonderful news for us and our couples getting married at Dodmoor, it's also a great step in supporting the whole wedding sector, and gives more options to all couples in terms of how they celebrate.


"A couple’s wedding day is one of the most special times in their lives, and this change will allow them to celebrate it the way that they want."


So we have put together some information for you below, in regards to how these outdoor ceremonies can take place at Dodmoor, and everything you'll need to know! We hope that we have covered it all, but if you do have any questions about your own wedding and the possibility of an outdoor ceremony, please email us directly at weddings@dodmoorhouse.co.uk.


'Top level of courtyard' outdoor ceremony. Images by Sophie Ann Photography


Why is this happening:

The Government believe that outdoor ceremonies are safer while Covid is still a potential risk, so they have given venues the opportunity to host outdoor ceremonies for a fixed period of time.

What are the capacities:

Catesby Barn lawn/Front of House/Main Lawn – We have 18 benches which seat 5 (6 at a squeeze) people each, so we are keeping our normal indoor capacity of 90-96 guests, which tallies with our sit-down wedding breakfast capacity.

Top level of courtyard – We can set up 12 rows of five chairs (2 and 3 either side of the aisle) in a traditional set-up, making a total of 60 guests. If you wanted a middle set-up, then this would reduce the maximum capacity to 30-36 people (for a ceremony in the courtyard, it needs to be guaranteed that there will be no chance of rain, as we cannot move all of the chairs inside at the last minute).

What if I have more guests for the ceremony (with an informal meal):

We can squeeze a few extra guests on the benches (especially with small children) or add some chairs at the back. The total maximum capacity for this would be around 110 people so there could still be an indoor option.

'Catesby Barn lawn' outdoor ceremony


Does it cost anything:

We are offering free set-up of the main outdoor ceremony area (with benches) at the back of the Catesby Barn, or on the top level of the courtyard (with chairs).

If you wish to have a ceremony in front of the house or at the main lawn, there would be a £200 additional set-up fee payable in advance (this could be reduced to £100 if the outdoor ceremony couldn’t go ahead due to bad weather, or cancelled completely if you changed your minds more than 24 hours before).


What can I add to my outdoor ceremony:

You may wish to hire one of our new Wedding Arches to help give the outdoor ceremony a stunning focal point - https://www.dodmoorhouse.co.uk/hire-at-dodmoor - and could ask your florist/decorate to add some extra decorative touches to these too.

Who decides if the outdoor ceremony can go ahead:

The registrars have the ultimate say on whether the weather will allow an outdoor ceremony, and while we will take an initial decision (with you) an hour beforehand if the weather forecast is uncertain, they have the power to over-rule this.


'Top level of courtyard' outdoor ceremony, with middle set-up. Images by Tim Hill Photography


What happens if the weather is bad:

We will set up an indoor ceremony as well, so we can simply revert to this plan if needed on the day. If you are planning for the ceremony to be in the courtyard, you can only have this if there is no chance of rain on the day, as we cannot move 60 chairs inside if is starts to shower – this is the beauty of the benches as they can be left out and a last minute decision can be made.


Can we have confetti:

Confetti would be (and has always been) strictly banned anywhere except for the courtyard. There would need to be a £100 refundable confetti clear-up deposit for any outside ceremony here, whether or not it’s biodegradable. This would be on top of any set-up fee (and include the back of Catesby Barn area).


'Main Lawn' outdoor ceremony

What about music:

We have a PA speaker system that can play your recorded ceremony music, while obviously any live music can be played outside.

What about drinks:

Guests are not legally allowed to consume alcoholic drinks anywhere close to the ceremony location (inside or outside) for around an hour before it takes place. The registrars prefer no drinks at all in this area (so there is no doubt whether there is a vodka in your coke!). The Dodmoor bar can still be open, but you would need to be careful about drinks not being consumed in the courtyard with an outside ceremony being held there.


What if I’m getting married after April 5th, 2022:

*This is currently only a temporary change to the law and may therefore not be extended beyond this date, but there is an official review in the autumn, which will consider an extension and there is ongoing review by the Law Commission into weddings, which could relax the current rules in the future.


'Front of House' outdoor ceremony. Images by Aaron Collett Photography

Why aren’t there outdoor ceremonies at Dodmoor normally:

Before this temporary change, the law stated that you could only get married inside, but this did extend to gazebos at some venues (as long as the couple, registrars and witnesses were inside the gazebo). Initial inquiries with the council indicated that they wouldn’t give permission for a gazebo at Dodmoor as it would be deemed to be too close to a Grade II listed building.

When do I have to let you know:

You would ideally confirm where your ceremony will be taking place (and the set-up for the back-up option inside) at your main planning meeting 2-3 months before your wedding, but you can update this up to around a week beforehand. We need an absolute final decision the morning before.

Can I get married anywhere else at Dodmoor:

We have so far cleared only these potential options with the registrars; we would be happy to discuss any other ideas with you, but they have to be on our property, easily accessible and safe.


'Top level of courtyard' outdoor ceremony. Images by Sophie Ann Photography

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