This week we are delighted to bring you a look at the tipi wedding of Gemma and Ryan. A beautiful wedding with lots of personal details and touches which really represent the couple’s personalities. Gemma has also offered some fantastic advice to any new brides and grooms for organising and planning a tipi wedding, so be sure to read to the very end.
What made you decide on an outdoor wedding?
Whenever anyone asked me ‘where would you like to get married’ I always used to joke ‘where i’m happiest – in a tent in a field!’ This wasn’t a surprise to most who know me as I’m heavily involved with Girlguiding as a Guide Leader, and take my Guides camping every year. What I didn’t expect was that Ryan would go along with this crazy idea that I’d always had lurking in the back of my mind!
How did you find your wedding venue (Bawdon Lodge Farm)?
I think it was after we had visited the Bawdon Lodge show around tour, and my dad got talking to Lynn! The rest, as they say, is history! Bawdon Lodge appealed to us due to the many positive client reviews and the experience and positivity of Lynn and Richard. It also helps that their farm is well equipped and the grounds stunning! (And located just down the road from a campsite I’ve camped as a Guide and subsequently taken my Guides there!)
What did you both wear, where were your dresses from, what about the rest of the bridal party?
My dress was supplied by Brides of Ashby, I couldn’t recommend Nicola enough. My dress designer Benjamin Roberts, sadly has now gone into liquidation. this happened during my order, but thankfully they upheld it!!
The suits were hired from Quorndon Formal Hire. Bridesmaid dresses were from John Lewis (Purple) and Asos (Grey) Bride and Bridesmaid shoes were Irregular Choice. My maid of honour Lucy, was in a grey dress due to falling pregnant during the engagement, so needed a maternity dress – she was actually due 2 days after the wedding!!
How would you describe your ceremony, where did it happen, how did it happen?
I knew I didn’t want a church wedding and more of a humanist ceremony, and I came across Jo from My Perfect Ceremony at the Sami Tipi Autumn Showcase. She was so friendly and warm and didn’t seem to mind that I didn’t fully know exactly wanted! I had always hoped that our ceremony was to be outdoors, under the big tree at Bawdon Lodge, but sadly the weather did not prevail on the day. I had convinced myself so thoroughly that it wasn’t going to rain, I hadn’t fully engaged with the wet weather plan of the ceremony inside the tipi, so when we had to change our plans at the very last minute on the morning of the wedding day, I’d be lying to say I wasn’t disappointed. As it turns out, it was the best accident that could have happened, as looking back on photos and talking to friends and family, they all commented on how intimate and cosy the ceremony was. Jo took on board the story of how we met, and weaved it into a little story to entertain the crowd, whilst Ryan’s mum read Union by Robert Fulghum, and 2 of my best friends, Joe and Ben, were tasked with the 2nd reading. I had not heard what they were going to say until the ceremony, and I can honestly say it was the best! They had taken the 6 Guide Laws and applied them to marriage, specifically Ryan and I. My Guides provided a Guard of Honour as I walked into the tipi to an arrangement of Coldplay’s ‘Ink’ arranged and recorded by Ryan’s brother Owen, and as we left they sung an adapted version of one of our campfire songs called ‘Linger’ whilst providing a marshmallow on sticks salute! (toasting marshmallows is their favourite thing to do on camp, and a ‘make your own s’more’ were also our wedding favours!!)
How did you feed your guests in the day and evening and what influenced your menu choice?
We enlisted the help of Thomas the Caterer. The daytime food consisted of Ham Hock and deconstructed picalili to start, Thomas’ award-winning chicken and leek pie with creamy mash and veggies (served family style) and chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice-cream.
We weren’t disappointed! The ham hock was chunky, the brownie was soft, and the pie was epic! I’ve never seen so much meat in a pie! I was excited to see how people would cope with the ‘family style’ serving (one big pie in the centre of the table and people help themselves) so it was great watching people take on the challenge!
The evening food was pulled pork cobs with apple sauce or salsa, and wedding cake! (A choice of 4 flavours; fruit, amaretto, carrot, courgette and orange, and chocolate!)
How would you describe your theme/styling? What colour pallet did you use? Did you do this all yourself?
The theming actually caused quite a problem initially as I hadn’t really a clue what I wanted! All I knew was that wanted it to be as relaxed as possible, and not like my sister’s who had got married a few years previously!! Purple was always going to be in my pallet as it’s my favourite colour, but I felt it had been done to death in weddings, so I wanted to mix it up a bit. Grey was the colour of the majority of Ryan’s clothes when I first met him, and some purple’s can be a bit grey, so that seemed to fit! I think the brief I kept saying to myself was to make it look effortless, non-styled and countryside inspired. I wanted people to walk into the tipi and know instantly that they were at the wedding of Gemma & Ryan – thankfully this worked as a uni friend who attended whom I hadn’t seen in person for a few years commented “it’s as if you’ve exploded in here Gemma!” haha!
All of the styling was done by myself with help from my mum and sister (Megan). Bunting was handmade by my mum, with fabric from Low Woods in grey, purple and a floral fabric combining the 2. Table centrepieces were a joint effort between me and Megan. I had had the foresight to collect shells from the sides of the loch where Ryan proposed, as I knew I wanted to use them somewhere at the wedding, so the centrepieces had a jar of sand and shells, a lantern and flowers from Maria at Flower Patch, all mounted on rounds of wood from a tree chopped down from Megan’s garden.
All pallet signs were worded by myself and Ryan, then hand painted by Megan. I was conscious that so far a lot of the decorations reflected me (Ryan just let me get on with it!!) so we decided to have the table names after car manufacturers to reflect Ryan – top table Rolls Royce, then Gentry, Austin, Jaguar and Aston Martin.
I did, however, know I wanted our favours to be edible, or at least useful. Thanks to the wonders of Pinterest, I came across the idea of a s’mores kit. 2 chocolate digestive thins (thankyou McVities for inventing these just in time for the wedding!) a marshmallow and kebab skewer for toasting! This then allowed them to double as place settings with a name label attached to the box (all cut and written by myself – all 100!!)
The day before the wedding it was all hands to the deck from both sides of the family to get the tipi decorated, from a vision that kind of existed in my head but wasn’t going to be fully formed until I saw it happen in front of me – didn’t help that it was tipping it down for most of the day!
What are your Top Tips for planning a tipi wedding?
Read the Sami Tipi “The Ultimate Guide To Planning An Outdoor Wedding” book! Haha! That was a great way of putting my parents at ease, who expected me to get married in a church and hotel! So thanks for that!
Be prepared for it to cost more than you anticipate – or maybe this should say keep an eye on your budget?! Do all your research first about EVERYTHING – not just going into it blindly like we did a little!
Don’t worry about filling the tipi with decorations – I remember going to a showcase and seeing these beautiful dream catchers in every hat and then panicking that I couldn’t visualise a central focus, and everything I researched was going to cost loads. But then about 6 months later I went to another one where there were no extra decorations and everything was focused around the table decorations, and it was equally beautiful. So my advise would be don’t be afraid to let the tipi’s speak for themselves.
Do consider your wet weather plan carefully, and make sure you are comfortable with it if it needs to happen. That way it won’t be a surprise when it does! With our wedding being late September, we hired the front clear panels for the tipis these were a brilliant addition that protected us from the rain, and allowed us to make full use of the floor space.
If you’re on a tight budget, don’t get disheartened by things like Pinterest and the internet. I found myself pinning loads of images of perfect posed wedding scenes or interiors and found myself getting really bogged down with how I thought everything ‘should’ look. I had to keep telling myself that a lot of the photos could be fixed/photo shoots or had hired a professional stylist, (something I had chosen not to do) or were from America where everything is bigger! I also found this abundance of ideas was what was making it difficult for me to pin down my own ideas, as I liked everything and couldn’t see how it all fitted together. I found I had to ban myself from Pinterest for a while as I was getting frustrated with myself for being so indecisive. Eventually, I learned to just go with my gut instinct, with a little bit of support from close friends who knew me, and it seemed to pay off!!
Finally, plan in more than an hour to do photos! This was the one area I really struggled with on the day as it all seemed so stressful and rushed. Having a tipi and field to find people in, rather than just a churchyard or hotel lobby, is a lot more space and people move around! Trying to round people up was difficult, as there was so much space! If you’re using the ushers/best men as photo callers, MAKE SURE THEY ARE PREPPED! (Sadly this didn’t quite happen for us!) And something I learned about after the wedding – don’t be afraid to give guests a shot list, so they know when they are going to be needed for photos.
Flowers – The Flower Patch https://www.theflowerpatch.co.uk/
Hair – my cousin Jo Roe, who works at KH Hair, Leicester
Cake – Brides Mum
Band – The Authentic Professional Function Band https://www.theauthenticfunctionband.co.uk/music
Wedding Car (Rolls) – a favour/wedding present from a client of Ryan’s, so a big thankyou to Greg and Tom Duffin at Stonehurst Farm, Mountsorrel as it’s not something they normally do. The Gentry and Austin were cars that Ryan helped restore.
Bell Bliss for overnight accommodation for Bride and Groom!
Photographer – Osbourne Hollis
Sami Tipi – Tipis – https://www.samitipi.co.uk/
Bawdon Lodge Farm – Venue – https://www.bawdonlodgefarm.
Thomas The Caterer – Caterer – https://www.
My Perfect Ceremony – Celebrant – https://myperfectceremony.co.uk/
Dress – Brides of Ashby – https://www.bridesofashby.co.uk/
If you would like to discuss your tipi wedding just get in touch using the form below.