Tips for planning a Tipi Wedding...
Tipi weddings are all the rage at the moment and people absolutely love the boho backdrop, the festival vibe and the ability to be able to do just about anything they want with their wedding. You can personalise decor, timings, catering and make it all completely your own.
Whilst they do provide the flexibility to make your wedding so personal they also require a little more work. I've photographed quite a few Teepee weddings now and whilst all couples say that they require more effort, all of them say its totally worth it!
Here you will find some tips from me as a photographer and also previous couples who got married in a Tipi! I hope that you find something useful here to help you in the planning process and if you have an questions for me or the couples feel free to comment at the bottom and I will get answers for you!
Why choose a Tipi wedding?
The chances are that if you are thinking about this kind of wedding you want something different. Maybe you have been to lots of hotel style weddings and you want your friends and family to experience something different. Or maybe you want something more relaxed that you can make totally personalised to you. Either way having a Tipi wedding means that your day is going to be more flexible and ultimately more you. You decide the food, running order of the day, the drinks, entertainment - everything!
“We chose this type of wedding as we wanted something a bit different having worked so many hotel weddings when we were younger. We liked the idea of being able to tailor it to our tastes, we also liked that we could do it a little cheaper than a good hotel wedding due to the amount of guests we have.” Nick and Megan, September 2017
Choosing your setting
Finding somewhere to put your tipi might be a decision that is already made for you, or it might be the one thing that is left to organise, either way it's worth thinking about a few things…
From a practical point of view:
* Is there good parking nearby - parking in fields is fine but remember if it is wet there is a good chance people may get their cars stuck - so is there something you can put in the field/ on the grass
* Toilets - are there toilets nearby or will you need to hire some - there are some great luxury toilet hire companies out there so don't panic if you can't find some that are already there. Alternatively Village Halls are great as they normally have toilets and a small kitchen inside.
* Are there places nearby for your guests to stay - if not you may wish to hire some luxury tents - Village Belles have some amazing tents which aren’t too expensive and sleep up to 5 people, take look - pictured below.
- Think about which way you want the Tipi to face and where your guests will arrive from - you want your guests to have the best view out of the tipi, however you don’t want them to have to trek too far if the ground is wet
“Find the land before you book!! Try sports clubs (cricket grounds, golf clubs, rugby clubs) as they tend to have good drainage if it's wet.” Amanda and Andy, September 2017
From a photography point of view when you are choosing your setting try and think about a few things:
- Is there a nice backdrop for photos - trees and greenery work well, or good views
- Don't rely on great weather - have a backup plan for rain
Choosing a tipi company…
There seems to be more and more Tipi companies popping up. My favourite and go to company is Big Chief Tipis. Hayley and the team are amazing and as they have been doing this for a while they really know there stuff and I think that is so important. You want to know that they have all bases covered. There inevitably will be things that you don't think about and guaranteed that Big Chief will! Other companies I have worked with include Papakata Tipis, Teepee Tent Hire and I have also been to a wedding with Tipi Chic as a guest. All of which have been good.
TIP Remember EVERYTHING is priced separately and the costs can soon add up.
“ Go and see the company before you book. Hire as much as you can from one company. You can haggle and it is easier to sort out taking everything away.” Amanda and Andy, September 2017
TIP - Hire staff to clean up the day after - so worth it. The last thing you want to be doing on your first day as a married couple (especially if you are slightly hungover) is cleaning up from the night before.
Catering and Bar
Every Tipi wedding I have been to has been different when it comes to food! I have photographed weddings that have had three course meals, sharing platters, hog roast and pizzas. So don’t just think that because you are getting married in an alternative way that you have to compromise on your food choice - go for whatever you fancy! Things to think about though:
- Access to electricity, water, fridges and prep area
- Waiting on staff - who will run the day?
- If you are using a Village Hall or kitchen - think about how far the Tipi is away from the building
TIP Before you choose a caterer, decide on the type of food you'd like.
In terms of the Bar again I have seen this done so many different ways - all equally successful.
- DIY - hire the physical bar - buy the alcohol yourself and hire in staff and glasses - great as you can set the bar prices and also make a little money in the process. However, more stressful as you are responsible for everything.
- Half and Half - Hire the Bar from the Tipi company or a Bar hire company and get some one to do the bar for you such as Escapade Bars
- Go quirky - There are lots of different ideas such as horse trailers converted in to full bars such as Tipsy Trough, Prosecco Vans - Das Camper - ask local pubs if they do any external events too
TIP - spend a little bit of money on an organiser or planner to run the day - share the plans with other people so they know what is going on - share the load - don't take it all on yourself!
Don’t worry about the weather! The great thing about Tipi Weddings is that if the weather is amazing you can be outside as much as you want and even when you are inside you can have the sides open and bring the outdoors inside. Likewise if the weather is bad (trust me I have been to some rainy tipi weddings) they are so cosy inside and you can see the rain fall knowing you are warm, toasty and dry inside. One thing that people worry about is that it is going to be cold - let me re-assure you that it isn’t! They can come with heating, but in all honesty once the Tipi has been up for a day and gets bodies in it, they get nice and warm.
My moto is this with all weddings, not just Tipi weddings! Plan for the best, prepare for the worst! Plan all the things that you want to do as if the weather was going to be perfect, but make provisions for the fact that things may change. Have a backup.
“Don't worry about the weather too much, you cant change it, if it rains and even though it rained on mine every one still says how great a day it was and people pull together. Make sure you have plenty of blankets in case it gets cool in the evening. Nick and Megan, September 2017.
“Plan for poor weather. We were originally only having two teepees but are so glad we added the third. We had about 114 in the day and that fitted nicely. If it rains and you get covered in mud don't worry it's all part of the teepee experience (and mud washes out).” Amanda and Andy, September 2017.
Decoration and Personalisation
This is where a Tipi is a totally blank canvas. I always get excited when I am going in to a Tipi as to what they have done with it! Make sure that you allow enough time before the wedding day to decorate - at least two days and also, make sure you have a full team of family and friends to help! Don’t under-estimate how many people and how much time you will need! Check out the below gallery for some tipinspiration!
“Loved the fact we could do almost anything we wanted, it all felt very personal to us as we had picked everything and decided most things together. It also felt lovely in the days before the family and friends that came to help set up and decorate, it made the lead up all the more exciting for us, and created a real sense of family for us both and although we already knew we had fab friend and family, it just confirmed we couldn't have better!” Nick and Megan, September 2017.
“Plan, plan and plan. It is best to be as prepared as you possibly can so as soon as the teepees are up you can move in and set up.” Amanda and Andy, September 2017.
TIP - try stay organised as the days before go super quick with all the decorating to do, make sure you speak to all your suppliers in the run up so you can organise their arrival with what you're doing.
Other recommended Suppliers:
The Flower Farm - I recommend these guys to all my clients and many book them and are never disappointed.
Picking Posies - Becky is wonderful and if you are looking for wedding flowers with a difference she is your lady.
Red Floral - If you want WOW then I would highly recommend Red Floral.
Furious Styles (Wedding Band) - The most fantastic band, the music was great. A real mixture and they even came to set up in the morning and allowed us to use their equipment for music during the day and the microphones for speeches at no extra charge.
Worthington Films - If you are looking for a videographer my friend Matthew will do a fantastic job for you at very reasonable rates - check him out!
The Letter Light Company - Spell LOVE, spell your name - anything you want! They look beautiful.
As you are fully in control of your day you are also in control of the timings. The only thing I would say on this point is think about the time of year and daylight hours. For example, if you get married in July and its a beautiful day you may want to have your first dance slightly later as it stays light until around 9.30 so a lot of people still want to be outside.
I hope that this has been useful to you! As mentioned earlier, if you are having a tipi wedding and want to ask myself or any of my previous couples any questions do comment below and I will be happy to get back to you!