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The Great Outdoors - Planning a successful outdoor ceremony
Australia is blessed with a wonderful climate and a unique and diverse environment, including spectacular scenery. This is one of the reasons why many civil ceremonies are held outdoors. An open-air venue can be a relaxed environment for a wedding, naming ceremony or any other special event. The benefits are space, scenery, fresh air and beauty. For a successful outdoor ceremony, there are some key steps you will need to take.
So… what are the rules?
No 1: Getting permission
Not much in life is free, even the natural environment. There are layers of regulation that apply to most open spaces depending on which body has responsibility for the area. Most commonly used parks, lookouts and reserves are controlled by either local council or National Parks in your state or territory.
Local councils usually require a permit, which means completing an application form well in advance and paying a fee. Fees will vary but could be a couple of hundred dollars. For information about available venues, permits and timeframes, check your local council website.
Likewise, national parks also require an application form for a permit and charge a fee.
Beaches are very popular locations for ceremonies. All areas above the high tide mark will require permission from the land owner – usually a council or national park authority, although some are privately owned by individuals or resorts. In theory the area below the high tide mark is not restricted but using this area is not recommended due to the risk of getting wet!
No 2: Conditions and restrictions
Most councils will have conditions outlined in the application form such as not allowing confetti or parking restrictions. National parks also generally have additional restrictions on the number of guests, chairs or other structures that can be installed, as well as environmental considerations.
Noise restrictions are common and many venues do not allow you to use a public address system. These conditions will be outlined in the application form, or information may be available on the relevant website.
Alcohol is banned in some public areas so this is something to consider before ordering that box of champagne. Signposts at the site will let you know of any restrictions, or contact the local council responsible for the area.
No 3: Notifying the authorities
In some cases, you may need to advise other authorities of your planned event, such as the police. Police have a responsibility for ensuring that any activity in a public area is safe and does not restrict other people using the area. Contact the police in your state or territory for more information.
No 4: Insurance
Many venues require that the event organiser has public liability insurance. This should be outlined in the application form. All celebrants should ensure that they have relevant insurance to cover them in outdoor settings.
Once you have ticked off all these requirements you are ready to plan the ceremony of your dreams. Remember to build a good contingency plan to take account of adverse weather, possible crowds or other events taking place at the same time, or transport issues.
Most importantly have a PLAN B!
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And if you'd like to contact Melanie, here are her details:
I planned my first wedding in my bush garden on our garden deck. Plan B was under the house is a largish covered area.
The morning of the wedding a Tasman low saw a deluge of rain and strong wind.
Plan B was enacted and underneath the house was turned into a chapel for the day. The rain stopped during the ceremony and the birds started to sing. Great feedback from the couple and their guests.