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Choosing between either a Legal Civil Ceremony or a Wedding Blessing at Upthorpe Wood

So what’s the difference,

obvious to some but if you’ve just started out on your wedding planning journey then it’s all a bit confusing. Your woodland wedding at Upthorpe Wood can be conduct in one of two ways. The choice is yours.

Simply put you may choose from either getting legally married at Upthorpe Wood, this is quite a privilege as there aren’t many woodland weddings venues around who can offer you this option. Your service is conducted by the local Registars, ours are based in Bury St Edmunds. You will legally leave the ceremony as man and wife.

Or you may choose to forgo the legal part until another day, and have a wedding blessing at the woodland, conducted by a celebrant. Your celebrant is not authorised to conduct a legal wedding. Our celebrant at the woods is Allan, I’m sure loads of you have met previously.

Either option will cost roughly the same, a Civil Ceremony (celebration ceremony &legal part) is around £700, a blessing is around £500.

Since becoming a woodland venue licenced for Civil Ceremonies we have seen many couples choosing the legal option however for any number of reasons couples can still opt for a blessing.

Now, we’ve heard all sorts of stories such as legal wedding ceremonies being much more formal with no leeway for couples to write their own vows, allow readings from friends or family members, recitals, acoustic music or not allowing animals being present but we can honestly say, in our experience with our local registrars who we’ve had the pleasure of meeting... this really isn’t the case. They are just as happy to conduct your service exactly as you wish. They’re more than happy to go off piste and ceremonies are always full of laughter and of course ... applause!

Here at the wood, if you decide on this option your ceremony has two parts- one a celebration ceremony, which is the wedding ceremony which everyone is used to seeing, you’ll say your vows and exchange rings. Following this our couples are whisked away along with 2 witnesses, to either our barn or woodland den, to conduct the legal part which takes 5-10mins.

Now this makes it sound like I’m more in favour of this option... that really isn’t the case. Both are beautiful.

Some factors to think about regarding legal civil ceremonies:

Our numbers are limited to 110 max. that includes bride and groom.

No alcohol is allowed to be served for one hour before the ceremony.

Pets are ONLY allowed by prior arrangment.

No religious influences will be allowed, so no hymn, crosses, angels, prayers etc.

A celebrant led wedding is just as great. Celebrants come in all shapes and sizes, ours, at Upthorpe Wood, comes in the shape of Allan! If you’ve visited Upthorpe Wood then you will have certainly met him.. and his slightly eccentric ways!! Oh yes, did you know just how great he is at addressing crowds, he loves a wedding and has an amazing way of putting not only our couples and guests at ease but also keeping them truly engaged in your precious moment.

The decision to keep our celebrant in-house was a no brainier, we spend lots of time getting to know all our couples and many continue as good friends, so who better to conduct your service and keep you both calm along the way.

To make the wedding blessing legal you will need to book a service at your local registry office a few days before or after your Upthorpe Wedding. How about including Hand Fasting..which is where ‘tying the knot’ came about, or the fun Jumping the Broom, here you sweep negativity from you past, sweep positivity into your future and then both JUMP!! Followed by your entire crowd of family and friend. There’s so many different ceremony styles, Allan will talk you through them all but bare in mind that you can also, if you choose, write your entire ceremony from start to finish. Allan will be at hand if you need some guidance as to what it could include.. readings, music, anecdotes from special family members etc. Either wedding ceremony normally takes between 20-30mins.

Our ceremony glade is the most romantic spot to hold your service, set in a quiet woodland corner below the ash and oak trees, there’s plenty of space to seat your guests. With the dappled light flickering through, its an amazing place, one to remember forever.

However, please feel free to hold your service anywhere within the venue. If you’d prefer for everyone to be seated in the barn... no problem. Here at Upthorpe Wood, we especially love a bit of confetti throwing at the end of any wedding ceremony! Dried flower petals is our preferred choice and readily available in all sorts of colours and concoctions. Please get in touch to talk through your requirements for an Upthorpe Wood Wedding.

photos by

Rosie Kelly Photography

Emma Kenny photography

Haines Aubrey Photography

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