Licensing a garden structure

Essential information for venues wishing to apply to licence a garden structure

If a free-standing or gazebo structure is approved, then the following special licence conditions will be applied:

  • Civil marriages and civil partnerships will only be celebrated in a free standing/gazebo structure during British Summer Time only (last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October) each year.
  • The structure must be regularly available to be used for the celebration of civil marriage ceremonies or the formation of civil partnerships.
  • The structure will only be approved if it forms part of a larger venue, which must include one, or a number of other approved ceremony rooms.
  • No food or drink may be consumed in the free standing/gazebo structure one hour prior to and during the ceremony.
  • Any other activities taking place in the grounds, especially near to the free standing/gazebo structure and the adjacent area to be used for guests, are to be kept separate from any ceremony.
  • Whenever a ceremony is booked within an outside structure another licensed ceremony room must be kept available so that if for any reason the ceremony has to be moved inside, venue staff are able to set up the room at short notice (30 minutes).
  • The maximum number of quests attending at a gazebo ceremony must not exceed the maximum number of guests permitted in the other ceremony room. This is to ensure that the entire party could move into the other ceremony room if it became necessary.
  • The structure must provide a seemly and dignified venue in which civil marriage ceremonies and civil partnerships may be celebrated.
  • The decision as to whether, because of inclement weather, a ceremony has to be moved into a ceremony room inside the venue will be made by the responsible person on duty at the venue after discussion with the Registrar. The decision of the Venue and Registration Staff is final.
  • It is the responsibility of the approved premise to make this clear to your couple at the time of booking. (We would suggest the couple signs a separate form at the time of booking. Surrey County Council may also apply this rule).
  • These conditions will also apply to any non-statutory ceremony provided by Surrey County Council.
  • The county council reserves the right to amend, add to, delete or otherwise change these conditions from time to time, and in this respect the decision of the county council is final.
  • If you are considering including an existing free-standing or gazebo structure in your application or building a new structure you must speak to the Surrey County Council licensing team to ensure that it will be acceptable.
  • Any venue wishing to construct a free-standing or gazebo structure to be used for the celebration of civil marriages and the formation of civil partnerships must obtain the relevant planning approval before applying to licence the structure.
  • The venue is responsible for seeking approval by the local planning authority.
    A free-standing or gazebo structure must be permanent and immovable and in this respect the decision of the county council on what is considered permanent and immovable will be final.
  • The structure must have a brick, stone or concrete base and ideally this should be raised above the surrounding ground level.
  • The structure should have a roof, which should be tiled although other coverings, eg; thatch, will be considered providing they are waterproof and are a requirement of the local planning officer and/or a conservation/heritage decision. The roof should be supported by brick, stone, concrete or wood pillars or walls. The space between pillars may have trellising or other decoration. The roof should overhang the structure to provide shelter from strong/hot sunshine and/or rain.
  • The front should be open and sufficiently wide to enable the ceremony party to enter. Steps may need to be provided if the structure is raised above the surrounding ground level.
  • The structure should be of sufficient size to accommodate the following:
    • Two registration staff,
    • A table (size approx. 4' x 3') and two chairs,
    • The couple (bride and groom or two partners)
    • Two witnesses
    • Comfortable space in which the ceremony can be conducted.
  • The decision of the county council on what is considered sufficient space will be final. The structure should be provided with electric light and power.
  • An appropriate microphone system should be installed for the registrars to use which will allow all guests to hear the ceremony.
  • Consideration should be given to the area immediately in front of the structure where guests may be seated or stand. Soft ground should be avoided and a hard standing may need to be provided. Sufficient room must be available for a central aisle to allow the ceremony party to make their entrance.
  • Similarly, the route from the main building should also avoid soft ground to the structure (not grass or muddy pathways) and hard standing may need to be provided. Carpet may also be required to form an aisle.
  • The main reason why a ceremony may not take place in the free standing/gazebo structure will normally be because of inclement weather. Inclement weather can include wet, cold, heat and other extreme conditions.

Please note: It is the approved premises responsibility to ensure that the use of any outside free-standing or gazebo structure continues to meet any planning permissions required by the local council.

If you have any questions regarding licensing a garden structure, please contact us:

The Proper Officer for Registration
Venue Licensing
The Mansion
70 Church Street
Surrey KT22 8DP