Forget a hotel or beach wedding, we talk to Jacqui Fereday from RSPB on why nature reserves are becoming popular places to host wedding ceremonies!
People often overlook outside wedding venues because of temperamental weather conditions, so why should couples not rule it out for their wedding?
There is just a short walk to the hide where the ceremony takes place. The weddings on the reserve attract people who are keen on the outdoors and are looking for a special area that is different and is close to their hearts. They tend to be interested in nature and love the natural surroundings. Because of this they are not put off by the weather. For the first civil service we held guests came in weddington boots. Cream with bows on them.
How can getting married outside enhance the atmosphere of a wedding?
The hide that is licensed has the most amazing view. There is a bay window from which you can see a large body of water edged in golden reeds. There is always something to see, from Majestic red deer to many different types of birds. If lucky you will have the view of a passing otter family while saying your vows! The sound of nature as the party walk down to the hide is fantastic and very unusual. There are not many places where you can hear a red stag roaring in the Autumn or have a robin at your side down the tree lined path.
The sensory garden area at the rear of the visitor centre is perfect for photographs and the outdoor class room with its wooden frame and open sides is frequently used for Champaign receptions.
Please tell us about some of the weddings that have been hosted there.
The weddings have been slightly varied in the numbers (we can take up to 40) and attire. We have had the bride and groom in traditional wedding outfits to smart casual. All work well with the reserve. All the weddings have been very relaxed and mainly low key. The hide has been decorated with greenery and candles with fairy lights around the doors and windows. One wedding covered inside the hide with cloth.
The paths to the hide have been decorated with handmade hearts and candles lining the paths. The brides tend to have natural flowers or simple bouquets.
What is the appeal of The Leighton Moss Reserve as a wedding venue?
I believe it’s because of the natural surroundings and the relaxed atmosphere. We can offer pond dipping and guided walks if the party wish. The whole experience is different. There is also the bonus of catering on site so we can offer tea and scones to a full blown feast.
How can people who are not wildlife experts appreciate the setting?
The setting speaks for itself; there is no need to be an expert in wildlife to enjoy the walks on the reserve. The garden has an abundance of bees, butterflies and dragon flies in the summer, as well as a great area to sit and enjoy the sounds and scents.
How do photographers respond to such organic surroundings at the weddings?
The weddings we have had up to now have all been very complimentary about the setting. It lends itself to some great photographs. There is the pond dipping area which winds into the centre of the reeds this is a popular place for photos.
Please tell us about a typical wedding day at Leighton Moss reserve.
The couple usually drop off any decorations we need to put up for them in the morning, or the day before. The first partner or groom arrives and is guided into a separate room for consultation with the registrar, followed by the second partner or the bride.
The guests are gathered in our education room which can be decorated. They are then ushered down to the hide for the ceremony. When the party are gathered the ceremony begins. This can be between 20 mins or half an hour depending on the service. We have had a registry wedding followed by a blessing. The party then have their photographs taken, in and around the reserve and garden. This can be followed by the champagne reception then back to the centre for a buffet.
We pride ourselves in having the experience of 1,000s of visitors coming to enjoy the nature reserve. We feel we can offer something a bit special for those people wanting a low key wedding in lovely surroundings. We are really flexible to their needs. They are getting married in a bird hide on a nature reserve and it’s a fantastic experience offering a different sort of day.
Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay nature reserve Myers Farm, Storrs Lane, Silverdale , Carnforth, Lancashire. LA5 0SW