This year has been a fabulous one, packed with so many awesome weddings and amazing couples. So many enquiries are coming in for couples having their day in a Marquee or a Tipi and often on parents’ land or a field which they’ve had permission to use. These recent weddings have inspired many conversations amongst me and my photographer friends recently because these kind of weddings are often dream weddings for brides and photographers alike. But doing things your own way can sometimes bring it’s own problems.
Firstly, the easiest way to hold a Tipi/Marquee wedding is to find a venue that already has one in situe, this means the venue will organise all the logistics which will minimise the stress. If this is too costly or you want to go it alone, read on!
So let’s just assume you’ve either got a gorgeous farm house with stunning countryside surrounding it or you’ve convinced a local landowner to let you use the land for your dream wedding in a Tipi or Marquee. This means you’re going to have to arrange everything from the kitchen to the toilets, from tables and chairs to flooring, it’s by no means the easy way to plan a wedding but it does allow you complete flexibility to plan the day you want. Lets cover a few things that you’ll need to know when planning this kind of wedding:
Who’s in charge?
When you’re getting married at a ‘Venue’ they have an awesome and very experienced team of wedding planners, coordinators, bar staff, waiting on staff who take care of everything on the day. Most importantly there will be someone who runs the day and makes everything run to time. When you plan our own wedding you’ll need someone who can organise people, get them from the garden to the marquee and liaise with the caterers to make sure you eat on time and the hog roast isn’t burnt to a crisp! This aspect really is key to fitting everything you want into the day and making sure it runs smoothly so that your suppliers can deliver the best possible service.
Consider asking a confident friend to be the master of ceremonies or even someone from the catering company or your DJ if they are set up early. Is there a family friend who wont be part of the wedding who could act as coordinator? They’ll need a list of your timings and they can make sure things stay on track.
Most people choose a self run Tipi/Marquee wedding because they want a relaxed and informal day which is all about the fun, so it’s not uncommon for couples to tell me they don’t really have set timings. But trust me, you need timings! Now don’t get me wrong, weddings rarely run to the second and often run over by 15/30 minutes or more but having timings to work to will make your day flow much better, and ensure that everything happens early enough for you to relax and enjoy the party! It will mean that your suppliers know where to be and when and when they are organised they will do a better job.
The main things you’ll need to decide are:
Wedding Breakfast – allow at least 2 hours between the ceremony or arriving at the Tipi before planning to sit down to eat. Your Photographer will need some time to capture a few family portraits for you but most importantly to capture the natural moments as your guests relax and have fun. We also need time to photograph the details you have taken time over like the table decorations and the cake and I take my couples away for 10-15 minutes before the meal to capture some lovely natural portraits.
Speeches- Whether you’re doing this before or after you’ll need to decide when it’s happening so that your guests and photographer know where to be
First Dance/Cake Cutting- This is usually done at the same time and at the start of the evening reception. The tricky thing when you’re in a marquee or Tipi in a field is knowing where the day ends and the evening begins. So having your DJ ramp up the music at 7pm as your evening guests arrive (if there are any) tells your guests the party has started. The first dance is usually done after the evening guests have arrived or around 7/8pm depending on the timings of your day
The most important thing with timings is to allow enough time for things to happen but not so much that your guests get bored. This obviously can vary depending on how far you’re travelling from the ceremony/bridal preparations but make sure you factor in time for your guests to congratulate you after the ceremony, travelling time, photos at the church if you are having a church wedding etc.
Tipi & Marquee Wedding Essentials
Remember that unlike hotel weddings you need to provide absolutely everything if you are in the middle of no where in a field! To finish, here’s a useful list of things you might want to consider and some lovely suppliers who can help you make it happen.
- Parking – allow space for parking and have a plan for if it rains and people’s car’s get stuck in the mud!
- Toilets- you can hire some pretty posh standalone toilets nowadays, some even have a telly in them
- Ask your entertainer/DJ if they can provide a dance floor
- Ensure you have a separate covered awning for your caterer and check what access to power they need
- Let the local residents know you are planning a party- if there are houses nearby you don’t want noise complaints so send them all a letter letting them know in advance what’s happening and what time the noise is likely to finish
- Have a plan for rain, you’re completely exposed to the elements so if the British weather is at it’s finest make sure you have thought about dry walkways for your guests, is there enough space for them to have the drinks reception inside?
- Directions- make sure you mark the turnings clearly so your guests can find your wedding!
- Baskets of essentials in the loos with everything from painkillers to plasters as your guests can’t really nip to the local shop!
Here’s a few of my favourite suppliers:
Tipi/Marquee Hire: PapaKata
DJ/Dancefloor Hire: Alex Birtwell
Mobile Bar: Van De Bar
Hog Roast: Shaws Farm
If you fancy some wedding inspiration check out these lovely weddings which were in gorgeous marquee’s/Tipi’s in a field or garden: