Getting married outside of a religious setting is way more common than most people might think. Seventy percent of Australian wedding ceremonies are conducted by civil celebrants, according to data from Australian Bureau of Statistics, and therefore not in a church or other religious building.

What are the alternatives?

If you are looking for an alternative ceremony location, then certainly having a non-church wedding gives you heaps of scope to personalise your big day. From how the setting is styled and adding personal touches to personalising your vows.

Here are a few things to think about before making the final decision about where you want to get married.

What you need in a wedding ceremony venue:

  • Space for all your guests
  • Adequate parking or access to public transport
  • Access to toilet(s)
  • Suitable terrain and access for elder or mobility challenged guests- is it far to walk, is the surface they will be walking on stable etc
  • Seating if you have guests who would find it difficult to stand for the pre wait, ceremony and afterward ceremony congratulations
  • If outside, a backup plan if it rains and making sure that the  back up plan is suitable and what you want. You do not want to be stuck in some dingy room or a shelter that is far too small for the bridal party and guests.


Would you love to get married outside surrounded by nature, beautiful flowers or towering trees? Here are some of the areas you can choose from:

An outdoor space at the reception centre. Often this is available at most reception venues. However, this space may not be their main priority so check if it has the feel and look you are wanting. Whilst it can be easy for all involved, there are a few things to think about:

  • Do they have a wet weather option other than just popping your decorations in a hall or the corner of the reception area?
  • Is there an extra cost and what is the cost comparison to a more suitable venue?
  • What will guest do between the ceremony and reception?

A private garden. Can be a great option for an outdoor wedding. No public photobombing of your wedding photos or unwanted onlookers at the ceremony. Private gardens usually have more scope with what you can do as far as styling, decoration, music and throwing confetti. They can have some lovely intimate spaces that are unique and can give you some very one-off photo opportunities. They may have limited parking and toilet facilities so check these out as well as their wet weather options.

A local arboretum, park or botanic garden. Check out your local green spaces. In every city or town there are plenty of local parks and public gardens to choose from. They are however  very public spaces so you may find you have a few uninvited guests, a bit of photo bombing and often noise associated with lawn games, big groups picnicking or traffic.

You will need to check with the governing body (usually local councils) to see if you:

  • Need a permit,
  • What you can bring into the space as far as decoration, chairs etc.
  • Are there are any costs involved?
  • Can you include music?
  • What about throwing confetti? even biodegradable may be off limits.
  • Is there a bad weather back up plan such as a covered area or our you allowed to erect a marquee for shelter?

A beach weddings.  These can be stunning. A few things to consider:

  • Check with local council to see if you need permission, what rules and regulations you need to adhere to and if there are any costs involved.
  • Think about the time of day for your ceremony, often by the afternoon the breeze has picked up and it can be very windy. This may not be the best look in photos and will play havoc with arbours and other decorations.
  • They are usually very public areas so you may find you have a few uninvited guests.
  • Consider the noise of the public, seagulls and the pounding surf
  • Will the bridal party and guest be able to walk across sands in high heels?
  • Regardless of the timing the sunlight can be quite harsh and glary so are you going to be to get those perfect shots.
  • Surfers and bathers in the background of your photos may not be the look you are going for so choose carefully.

Your backyard. (or your parents) This may be stressful for the owner having to get their garden looking nice, but it can be a simple and cheap alternative.

National park. Here is a great article that lists all the necessary consideration


Public Building. You may consider a Public building that is either architecturally stunning or quirky such as a museum, an aquarium, the zoo.

Inside at your reception venue. This can be very convenient for everyone and quite relaxing for the guests but here are a few things to consider:

  • You may be looking for different things in a ceremony location and the reception venue. Is the space they have what you had envisaged for where you want to say your vows.
  • Have they got a separate area to hold the ceremony in or does the room have to be “flipped” before you can sit down to a meal?
  • What is the extra cost?
  • What will guest do in between the ceremony and the reception? If they are in different locations there is a least some time taken up – do you want guests to start eating and drinking as soon as the ceremony is over?
  • Having separate location does split the day up and gives everyone the feeling that we were married “here” and the celebrated our marriage “here”. 

Local community hall or surf club. These are often DIY options and you can then set the space up as you like.

If you’re planning your wedding and looking for a beautiful, non-traditional ceremony or reception location, we would love to invite you to tour The Secret Garden. With plenty of locations to choose from you can tailor your wedding to your personal tastes and create the wedding of your dreams. Get in touch here to book your wander through the garden today.