Howzat for a location for your wedding

Jeff and Annette Dawson
Jeff and Annette Dawson
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Betrothed couples are being encouraged to consider alternative locations when choosing where to tie the knot.

Wigan is one of only three local authorities in the country offering a “freedom” wedding package, allowing couples to get married almost anywhere.

So instead of the usual church or hotel, people can opt for somewhere special.

They must still have a legal ceremony, but can then choose a personal venue for their wedding. The first couple to tie the knot using the scheme was Jeff and Annette Dawson, from Swinley.

They completed the legalities at Mesnes Park Lodge before going to Wigan Cricket Club for a ceremony.

They chose the venue because it was large enough for their 120 friends and relatives and they had held several special events there in the past.

Mr Dawson, 62, said they were happy with the freedom package and recommended it to other couples.

He said: “When we got to know about it, we thought it was amazing.

“That’s why we decided to have it. We could have it how we wanted it to happen.

“It was amazing. It was unique to us.”

The freedom ceremonies offer a much wider range of possible locations for couples.

This could be somewhere grand or a low-key venue to reduce costs.

Deputy registrar Fiona Dutson said: “The thing that puts a lot of people off getting married is the cost, but this way you can fit it to whatever your budget is. You can have it at home or maybe at a family barbecue or you can go to a social club.”

The package launched six months ago and many couples have shown an interest.

She said: “Weddings have changed so much over the last few years.

“Long gone are the days of just marrying in either your local church or the register office and certainly the popularity of TV shows such as Don’t Tell The Bride and Celebrity Wedding

Planner all highlight that people want something different, something no-one else has had, something that has a special personal meaning.

“We are proud that we try to be forward-thinking, open-minded and genuinely try to accommodate couples’ wishes to personalise their weddings.”