Our regular guest blogger Rachel – editor of Mosaic Brides – is giving me the morning off, as she takes control of these pretty pages to debate the pros and cons of a wedding at sundown. No more worries about getting to the church on time: if you’re going to be fashionably late, why not make it official?! Over to Rachel.
With images by Jonny Draper Photography
Rachel says: As marriage laws have been relaxed over the years couples have been given much more say over when and where they tie the knot. One of the most recent changes to marriage laws means ceremonies can now be conducted outside the traditional hours of 8am to 6pm so couples can get married at any time of day or night – depending on the venue, of course.
It seems crazy that it’s taken this long for the rule to be relaxed considering it was initially introduced in 1837 to stop people marrying the wrong partner in the dark before the days of electricity (awkward).
The change is seen as a good thing for those looking to save money on their wedding day as it gives them the option to hold their celebrations in the evening, which means less expenditure on food, drink, entertainment and venue hire.
But, as the law was only changed in England and Wales last year (there are no restriction on the hours of weddings in Scotland) the difficulty may be finding a venue that provides the option of an evening wedding, as most would prefer couples to hire the facilities for the majority of the day and evening.
Before deciding on whether or not to say ‘I do’ at dusk it’s worth taking a look at the pros and cons in a little more detail.
Save – As previously mentioned the biggest plus point is considered to be the savings couples can make by holding their celebrations in the evening. So instead of forking out for a champagne and canapés reception plus a main wedding breakfast and evening meal, couples should be able to get away with feeding their guests just the one time. Similarly you will only require entertainment for the evening and the venue hire should be less for the amount of hours you require it for.
Relax – A later ceremony means no rushing around during the day. There will be plenty of time to decorate the venue, take receipt of flowers, cakes etc and make those final checks ahead of the ceremony. This also means more time for the bride and her maids to get ready and make the most of the venue’s facilities (halleluiah).
Personal preference – If you’re not marrying during traditional hours there’s certainly no need to stick to all the formalities. For example after the ceremony you could enjoy a cocktail hour (a trend particularly popular in America) without the fear that your guests will crash and burn before the party really gets started. Also instead of a formal sit down meal you could have street style food or a buffet so guests can mingle and the disco/live entertainment can get underway. If you are a real foodie however, the money you save on only needing to feed your guests once can be pooled on the main meal so you can really go to town and treat your guests to something special.
No lulls – We’ve all been to a wedding where we’ve found ourselves stood around with nothing to do but listen to the sound of our stomachs rumbling. A later wedding means less time to fit things in and so the proceedings should move swiftly from one part of the celebrations to the next without guests becoming bored.
Setting the scene – An evening wedding can make for a more atmospheric and romantic occasion with low lighting and twinkling fairy lights and candles. Creative couples can go all out on a decedent theme to suit the mood such as Great Gatsby with sparkling décor, elegant lighting and glamorous attire.
Grateful guests – A later time of arrival means guests can travel to the venue on the wedding day so those coming from further afield don’t need to book more than one night’s accommodation. An evening wedding, particularly on week days, can also mean that guests don’t have to take a full day off work.
Blink and you’ve missed it – Most couples are put off the idea of an evening wedding simply because they’re told a wedding goes too quickly so they should make the most of it with a full day of celebrations.
Nerves – Many brides, grooms and those that will be making a speech can suffer terrible nerves on the wedding day awaiting their moment in the spotlight. A later wedding means a longer wait and more time for nerves to build.
Venue – As previously mentioned finding a venue for an evening wedding can be tricky as many places will prefer couples to hire the facilities for the day and evening. Also local authorities and religious groups aren’t forced to conduct marriages outside the traditional hours, so finding someone to conduct the legal part could also prove challenging.
Photography – Getting married later in the day, and particularly in the winter, means less natural light for photographs. Those getting married at venues with gorgeous grounds and stunning views will more than likely want to use them as backdrops for wonderful wedding pictures which require daylight. Those who do choose to hold evening celebrations should look for a photographer who has some great night time shots in their portfolio to ensure they still get some standout snaps.
One area of the law that remains however is that 15 days advance notice is required for weddings – so they’ll be no drunken Ross and Rachel style wedding ceremonies taking place in England just yet!
Rachel Parry is a regular guest blogger for Brides Up North