COVID-19 crashed in and postponed your big wedding plans? A public park or garden could be the perfect ceremony location for you. Here you can have an intimate wedding, with enough space for everyone to socially distance, in a beautiful setting, with a pretty affordable price tag. Not to mention, glorious mother nature turns on a show, so you don’t have to spend a fortune on floral styling. With a little planning, you can have the most beautiful wedding in your local park or gardens.
While parks are a public space, generally you can’t just turn up with 50 of your nearest and dearest, set up chairs and call it a day.
If you’re keen to celebrate your marriage in a park, seek out the local council responsible. Talk to their parks department and ask them if you need a permit.
A little upfront investment will give you the peace of mind that the space is reserved for you alone on the day, ensuring that you avoid any unwelcome fines for holding an event without a permit.
Top tip: If there is an option to book a structure that will provide cover in the event of bad weather, book it!
Ask the council whether there are any extra conditions on holding an event in the park. Council may have restrictions on the number of guests, length of event, use of music or general noise limits, alcohol consumption and removal of rubbish. Better to be safe than sorry and know all this stuff in advance!
Top tip: Like a house party at a mate’s place, you would want to leave the park just as you found it. Nominate a squad for clean up duty after the ceremony is over, or better yet, hire a vendor to come and help out.
When you are making your decisions about where to have your ceremony, consider accessibility and utility. Some of the glorious gardens we have available to us in Australia are huge.
Are you close to car parking? Toilets? Drinking fountains?
If you’re on the main thoroughfare, do you mind if members of the public stop to take a squiz?
If you’re somewhere secluded and beautiful within the gardens, how will your elderly or differently abled guests manage the walk in? And will your chair hire company be able to carry 30 chairs down a winding stone pathway to meet you at the waterfall for your ceremony?
If it is possible, visit your preferred ceremony spot at the time of year and day that you intend to get hitched. Look at the position of the sun, will you or your guests be looking into it during your ceremony And most importantly, is there any cover in the event of bad weather?
Top tip: Talk to park and garden staff, they may be able to open the gates so that people with additional support needs can be driven down to your ceremony spot, or might even be able to provide a golf buggy to assist.
Dress for the location not the occasion. If you’re planning a park wedding, look at getting a dress that doesn’t have a massive train. If a splendidly long train has been part of your dream for as long as you can remember, lift it so it doesn’t drag in the mud and collect debris.
Similarly, a silk covered stiletto is super chic, but not when you are trekking blue stone steps and well watered grassy plains.
Another alternative to avoid soggy wedding attire is to hire a carpet for you and your guests to walk down.
Top tip: Wear flats or a wedge shoe to the wedding and change into a stiletto later.
In Australia, we live in the land of drought and flooding rains. Be prepared for four seasons in one day.
This means bring all the gear!
If you’re not close to a drinking fountain, provide water for your guests on a hot day.
Give out cute little paper fans to keep your guests cool.
Provide insect repellent and sunscreen.
Handheld or freestanding umbrellas are handy in the rain, and in the sun.
Make sure you have some cover available – trees, a covered BBQ space, a gazebo or hire a marquee.
And like all good adventurers, be prepared to roll with the unexpected and change your plans.
Make a Facebook or WhatsApp group for your ceremony updates, so that if there is a last minute change on the day, you are not having to field calls from all the aunts about how to get to the new location.
If that drizzle turns into a deluge, or the mild summer afternoon becomes a furnace, activate your extreme weather option.
Your guests, their frocks and your do will be thanking you.
Top tip: In the event of extreme weather, have a back up ceremony location locked in and ready to go; think your reception venue, a local café, or even a mate’s place.
About Megan Jordan: Megan is a Melbourne based marriage celebrant that specialises in warm engaging ceremonies that are all heart and laughs. A lover of a chai latte, sustainable living and a bold bright print, Megan is a skilled storyteller and a passionate wordsmith. She will make sure that your ceremony is the highlight of your wedding day.