Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Tipi-tastic - Our wedding tipis

Happy Wedding Wednesday lovelies! After last week's post sharing some pictures of our wedding, which was featured on Boho Weddings I thought I'd write about our venue choice today, gorgeous tipi marquees from Beautiful World Tents.

Tipis have been getting more and more popular over the last few years as a great alternative to a traditional marquee for weddings and parties. One of the main reasons we chose to go for them is that I sing at weddings most weekends of my life and didn't want our own wedding to feel like a night at work. I've seen more billowy white marquees than I can count but knew that we definitely wanted to have the reception in the field at my parents' house, so when I found out about the tipis I was excited that there was a non traditional option out there. I showed them to Tom and he was instantly sold so we started to investigate further.

Image from Beautiful World Tents
It turned out that there were only two tipi companies that served Sussex, where we were getting married. There are about six companies UK wide that offer the tipis, which are all made by the same supplier, but each company seems to stick to their own geographical areas.  I'd heard a lot of great things about Papa Kata but on enquiring they suggesting trying The Stunning Tent Co and Beautiful World Tents as they are closer to the south. We got quotes from each and Beautiful World Tents came in slightly under, mainly because they were the nearest so less expensive to transport to us, so we booked in for an open day to see their tents in the, er, canvas.

Image from Papa Kata
The open day was a great way to get ideas and a feel of what the tipis had to offer. I would highly recommend seeing the tipis before you book them as there are lots of different lighting and furniture options which are made much clearer when you see them up and on! Beautiful World Tents has four tipis set up when we went which gave us a good feel of the size of them and how you can arrange them together. Each tipi was set up with a different lighting and furniture arrangement to give a feel for the different ways they can work.

In the interests of thoroughness we did investigate other tent options. There are lots of beautiful alternatives to a traditional square marquee - have a look at Raj Tents, White Canvas Tents, Arabian Tents, and The Pearl Tent Company for some lovely ideas.

Image from The Pearl Tent Company
But we kept coming back to the tipis and their natural beauty so we confirmed the booking and went for five tents - three for dining, one for dancing and one for drinking! This was a massive part of our wedding budget so knew that the decorating of the tents was going to have to be very homemade and creatively done. Luckily we made a saving from not going to a venue as we were able to buy the booze from supermarkets when it was on offer and sourced the caterers ourselves instead of having to play hotel / venue prices.

Next came the decisions on tipi layout, table arrangement, lighting options, fire pits, dance floors and bars. These are all things that you should bear in mind if you're having any sort of marquee wedding. It's worth remembering that you don't have to get the above extras from the same company you are getting your marquee from - often the best value can be got by mixing and matching suppliers - although this does take some organisation for delivery and collection times. We ended up getting our tables, chairs and bar from a local marquee company, the main chandeliers, fire pits, mirrorball (oh yes) and fairy lights form Beautiful World Tents, dance floor from a pretty special company called Funky Floors, dance floor lighting from our band (no extra charge - always check what your band / DJ will provide before you shell out for this!) and bar / chill out furniture was begged, borrowed and stolen from friends and neighbours. 

Beautiful World Tents were really accommodating when we asked if we could have our tipis put up earlier than usual on the Wednesday before the wedding. The guys arrived to put them up bright and early and were so sweet - my dad had been worried about the field turning to a mud pit as there had been so much rain so they suggested carrying the poles etc from the drive instead of driving onto the field. The tipis went up pretty fast and it was all very exciting and made it feel pretty real!

It took a full day to put up all 5 tipis and we had to make a decision before the guys left on whether to have the sides open or shut. Much as we would have loved to have a full side open, the weather had been so changeable in the run up to the wedding that we went for the safe option and just had one entrance opening near the fire pit.

Thursday was spent making the tipis gorgeous. This was a real all-hands-on-deck day - decorating five tipis ourselves was no mean feat! Tom's family home had been cleared of ivy the week before so he and friends and family spent the day hanging this all over the framework of the dining tipis. It made such a difference bringing in greenery and something fresh and natural around the wooden poles.

Action shot!
To add a softer feel, we also hung huge fabric bows made from organza at key points around the dining tipis with fishing wire. A fiddly job but so worth it - I'll be doing a tutorial on producing these bows for Boho Wedding soon.

I'll write about decorating and laying the tables up and creating the sweets table and our photo bunting in different posts. The other bits of decoration around the seating areas were numerous candles in pinks, blues and purples, a few cushions dotted around and jam jars of flowers left over from the main table decorations. 

Here are some pictures of the tipis all trussed up on the day. We were so thrilled with the way they looked and our guests were blown away with them. Get in touch if you have any questions about organising a tipi event or if you have some pictures of your own tipi-tasticness you'd like to share with Homespun Honeys everywhere!

Photography credits: All photographs of our wedding day by Tino&Pip Photography; pre wedding shots by Melissa Bowden

Tipi Companies: Papa Kata is having an open weekend on the 13th and 14th October; Beautiful World Tents's next open day is 22nd September. Go and check them out!

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