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Published on May 10th, 2010 | by Staggered


How (And Why) To Get Married In A Field

Dan starts divulging a little about his big day, without giving the game away too much, as well as how he avoided guest list stress. There’s even a shot of a cute piglet at 3 days old. (It’s not the actual pig for the hog roast, before the hate mail floods in).

This post has been a long time coming for a few reasons but, mainly, because we don’t want to spoil the day for our wonderful guests so even this post will be vague in the places necessary to keep things a surprise. All will be revealed in good time though…

It goes without saying that every single wedding is different and every couple has their own way of doing things. I had a big thing from the start about the whole process of ‘ranking’ guests by having a day list and an evening list – we want to have those we love to bits around us for the whole thing.


This approach to the day has worked really well for us from a few angles. It’s made the guest list easier to put together and manage, thus keeping our stress levels down. By not having to give Aunt Ethel the old heave-ho from the day list it keeps family politics at bay too. I don’t have an Aunt Ethel, but you know what I’m getting at, we’ve avoided even having any of the usual ‘debates’ you hear of when one of the mums or dads thinks someone should be invited to the whole day not just the evening – that stuff throws the financials (not to mention the seating plan) into total chaos. We want someone there, they’re invited.

Take heed though, there’s a bloody good reason people have day and evening guests. Money. We spent the usual weekends trolling around venues, all very grand and lovely. Cater for 120 people? Cripes! Nowhere near feasible on our budget. On top of that the venues didn’t really to line up with the relaxed approach we were after, all a bit too formal.

Fortunately, another thing we really wanted was for our wedding to be ecologically sound where possible, (we’re not full-on whale-saving, tree-hugging greenies, but we do have a social conscience) which lead us to thinking about how it would be great to have a wedding in a field. Not everyone’s first choice, admittedly, but it seemed to fit with us as an idea. Somewhat of a posh festival vibe – you, me, 120 guests, I call that Pimms o’clock. Chin chin. Chocks away.

As I’m sure anyone in the early stages of planning their wedding will find, there are highs and lows. When we first spoke to some family about our field plan we started getting worried as most gave us a weird look and seemed to think we were a bit bonkers. Eventually, one friend said he’d been to a wedding years ago and his friend, an Australian, did pretty much what we’re trying to achieve. Apparently, it was the best wedding he’s ever been to. This one comment solidified the fact we were doing the right thing and we had to just go for it.

One of the first thoughts we had was to buy a field. With the expense of that we’d have to either be investing in some land to build on later in life (how odd is that plan?) or starting a permanent eco-wedding venue with ours as the first wedding. We’d still love to do this, but there’s no way we could have actually got it ready for our day. It was fun thinking laterally for a while.

After a lot of research and umming and arring, we booked a visit to see Claire and everything started to fall into place. More on Claire later, we’re keeping her side of things tightly under wraps in the run up to our wedding day – needless to say we’re fussy buggers and the fact we’ve got Claire involved is testament to how wonderful she is.

A wedding in a field comes with it’s own inherent problems to overcome. Something we’ve come to realise is weddings are no different from anything else big you’ll do in your life, so work with each other and you’ll easily be able to shift obstacles, lift obstacles or just put a tablecloth over them and use them as occasional tables. I’m amazingly lucky with Liz as she’s not so hung up on any wedding day fantasy that she’s not prepared to compromise in order to make it our day as opposed to her day.

So what obstacles? Loads. But some big ones we had (and still have to a certain extent) are:

The Weather – It’s a field. Can’t really do a lot about that apart from plan for rain, it’s June in England after all. We could take the Russian approach and get cargo planes to dump tons of cement dust in the clouds the day before to dry everything out. They actually do that. Or used to. Not an amazingly eco-wedding approach though, plus we don’t have a cargo plane. Or tons of cement.

The Dress – It’s a field. I know nothing about the dress, but a 70 foot train isn’t going to cut the mustard. It’ll drag through sheep shit fine, mustard cutting, nope.

The Legalities – It’s a field. As far as I’m aware, you still need a solid structure which is licensed in order for it to be a legally binding wedding. Liz isn’t really religious and I guess I’m classed as an atheist, I prefer realist perhaps, but that’s not a debate worth getting into with anyone. Ever. Different folks, different strokes. So we’re having a humanist ceremony.. A few people have muttered the occasional query in hushed tones, along the lines of “What the blazes is that?” and “Is that some kind of joke wedding?”

We like the idea of being able to say what we want to say, something that’s personal and means something to us specifically as opposed to what we’re told to read out, so humanist works for us. As it’s not legal, by the time we get married in a field we’ll have had a legal ceremony a few days before – we’re keeping it simple for that and going to a nice room at the registry office in Cambridge with just close family then taking them all for a couple of pints of ale and posh bangers and mash for lunch. And that’s it.

Liz is happy, she gets two dresses.

pig-not-on-a-stick-yetThe Food – It’s a field (If you do something like this you have to keep reminding yourself of that fact to stay level-headed about everything). There are limited options unless you’re spending more than you would on a more formal country house bash. This is another reason we’re lucky to have found Claire. We wanted a field, she runs a field-based wedding venue on her farm. We wanted a hog roast, they breed their own free range, organic pigs and are happy for us to shove a spike through one in the name of a good knees up (sorry vegetarians). We wanted good food, she owns a deli AND runs a catering company. And she’s in Yorkshire, where Liz was born and raised and as we’d like to settle down there one day, the decision was a no brainer.

So that’s vaguely what we’re doing. There are a load of other details which I’ll post after the event, but it’s got to be a good sign when we’re about six weeks away and I’m not stressed, just really excited and looking forward to it all. After all, I don’t think the best day of your life should make your lives total hell for six months beforehand…

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