In June, we headed to a venue that is just around the corner to Big Chief HQs – The Wellbeing Farm – and started the build of three of our Big Hat tipis for the lovely Laura & JJ. After we had finished the heavy lifting, we left the tipis to the team of florists and event organisers to transform them into a multicoloured dream of flora and fauna. When we popped back over on the Saturday morning before the guests arrived, we were so blown away with the finished result that we decided to ask Laura to write a blog post for us about her journey of planning an outdoor wedding. Here is her story….
“After being whisked away on a surprise trip to Paris in November 2014, I had no idea what would be coming next. As a farmer, JJ isn’t the most obvious romantic, and I was so overwhelmed and excited to be in Paris that it didn’t cross my mind that he would be proposing. We have been together since meeting at Harper Adams University 3 ½ years ago and like I said, I’ve never had him down as a romantic sort. But wow did he pull it out of the bag. He told me we were going for a meal at 58 Tour Eiffel…we were a little early, so we went for a walk in the gardens beneath the tower, and there he pulled a ring out of his pocket and proposed! He went down on one knee (…although it was more of a lunge as it was raining and he didn’t want a wet knee!) and as he put the ring on my finger I turned around and the tower was all lit up and sparkling…it was just magical!!”
“Within a few weeks we were thinking of wedding dates…I wanted a late summer wedding…but marrying a farmer I was told that was just not an option…HARVEST!! So we set a date in early summer…the 6th June. No idea why we picked that day, it just felt right! And that’s when P’Interest took over my life and shopping at Hobbycraft became more than a hobby.
We both knew the sort of wedding that we wanted…country-chic…rustic…personal…but most of all FUN!
We could have held the wedding at JJ’s family farm in Bedford, but I wanted to have the wedding at home in Wigan and at my church. This was something that was really important to both of us. I searched for venues in the area but couldn’t find anything that felt right, and JJ was adamant he didn’t want a standard hotel wedding. I started to look at hiring a marquee, and JJ suggested/insisted that we had a tipi. At the time I wasn’t convinced by the idea, but for once I was so glad of his stubbornness because it was the BEST decision we ever made.
Working with Big Chief Tipis has been an absolute pleasure. Our Little Chief Sarah and the team, made our wedding day absolutely perfect. From initial site visits, to me changing my mind about the floor plan (several times!!)…to making sure that we had enough space for our dance floor, Sarah couldn’t do enough for us and we are really thankful to her for all of her hard work and patience!
If you are looking for a way to make your wedding magical, memorable and unique then you have to have a Big Chief Tipi wedding. It’s not just the tipi that we loved, it was all the little ‘extras’ that made it so pretty – like the fire pits in the middle of the dining area (…they proved essential for keeping our guests warm on a particularly windy day!), and the wooden walk way and naked wooden entrance. The long trestle tables were perfect for serving up our rustic sharing platters for our wedding breakfast, and the chairs added a touch of elegance to the day.
The glitter ball hanging above our dance floor was the perfect addition for any first dance. And then of course…the fairy lights; twisted around each pole of the tipi, it was beautiful.
Big Chief allowed us to decorate the tipi as we wished, this included our very important hanging flower shelf above the top table!!”
“We held the wedding at The Wellbeing Farm and the food was really really good; we had sharing platters of hog roast, roast chicken and leg of lamb with lots of salads! Lots of our guests commented on how great the food was, and no one went home hungry!”
“Flowers were really important to me and I wanted them to be a real focal point of the day. We both wanted them to have that ‘freshly picked’ look, keeping it really natural, some in planted pots which we could keep after the wedding. I found a local florist ‘Wild & Wondrous’ in Blackrod and I cannot explain how amazing Nicola and her team are. She was the first florist I went to and I knew she would do a brilliant job for us. The flowers were absolutely perfect and she really understood the look and feel we were wanting to create; from the jam jars of flowers, the flower archway and the hanging shelf of flowers above our top table.
Wild & Wondrous also created our gorgeous table seating plan; made up of planted pots, boxes and crates, our place cards; a luggage tag with a sprig of lavender and table name signs; pots of lavender with a little flag marking each table. We also had lanterns and lights hung over the dance floor, which created a real party feel! She’s an incredible florist and we can’t recommend her enough!”
“I had six bridesmaids along with my pageboy and flower girl (who at ten months started walking just a few days before the big day!). JJ had six ushers and two best men to rival my entourage! We didn’t really have a strict colour theme…I wanted pastel colours for my bridesmaids and found these lovely mint green dresses in Debenhams. It was a great choice and they all looked beautiful in them with their pastel coloured bouquets.
JJ knew that he didn’t want anything too formal for him and his ushers, so chose this blue suit with purple waistcoat from Ted Baker. The ushers, best men, my dad and pageboy also wore blue Ted Baker suits hired from Moss Bros.”
“My dress came from ‘Sense and Sensibility Bridal’ in Stockport and was called ‘Briony’ by Maggie Sottero. I absolutely loved it the first time I tried it on and knew it was the one for me. I felt like a princess in it, especially with my long veil! I wore flat ballet pumps from ‘Elegant Steps’ and my hair and makeup was done by Erica from Levida Beauty. She did an incredible job!”
“We were really lucky to have such kind friends and family that we managed to pull a lot of ‘favours’ to help with the wedding and it was really lovely to have so many people involved in creating our perfect day!
The cars were provided by JJ’s family. I had a Rolls Royce driven by his grandpa to take myself and my dad to church in; a BMW I8 driven by JJ to take us from the church to the farm and a land rover decorated with a flower garland, to take the bridesmaids…driven by one of the bridesmaids!! They loved it!”
“JJ’s mum and grandma made us the most fantastic wedding cake…”
“We served a selection of cakes instead of having a dessert and my friend Sarah, from Truly Scrumptious in Aspull, made the most amazing display of cakes for us, including our rustic Victoria sponge cake…there was something for everyone!”
“One of our ushers made us these fabulous light up letters to go on the stage…”
“We had lots of help from our bridesmaids, ushers and family the day before the wedding to help decorate the tipi…we really couldn’t have done it without them! Metres of bunting was handmade for us to hang round the tipi, jam jars were decorated with hessian and lace to use as tea light holders and lanterns and balloons were hung up!
Manchester String Quartet played for us during our drinks and canapés reception, and then again during the wedding breakfast. They are exceptional players and provided perfect background music for our guests.”
“For the evening’s entertainment we chose to have a ceilidh and booked The Riot Band, who were the nicest, most talented band. Their music was fantastic, and the dancing was so much fun, it got everybody up on the dance floor. It was absolute chaos, but it didn’t matter at all. Everybody loved it…everybody had fun which was just what we wanted!”
“We managed to muddle our way through our first dance to Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’…given that we’d only had half an hours practice the night before, everyone seemed pretty impressed…we even managed a lift in there too!”
“But, our first dance was completely blown out of the water when during the ceilidh, the band was asked to clear the dance floor for a special performance…the groomsmen dance. The funniest thing I have ever seen…my husband and his groomsmen dancing to Kenny Chesney’s ‘She thinks my tractors sexy’, complete with John Deere overalls! They’re a bunch of farmers…dancing definitely isn’t their forte but they put on a good show and despite some resistance from the odd usher, you could tell each and every one of them was secretly loving it!”
“We hired a rodeo bull for the evening…definitely a worthwhile investment to sort the men from the boys…”
“…or indeed the ladies!”
“The sweet stand went down very well with the kids…young and old!”
“We are both big animal lovers and so decided to name all of the tables after our pets…both present and past. We put a picture of each pet on each table…lucky that we did or our guests might have been left wondering why they were on ‘Bimbo’ table.”
“We also put little table games out to entertain the guests during the meal, like trivia and guess who. On the kids table, we provided them with wedding activity books and crayons.”
“I decided to have a go at making our wedding favours myself and made 150 packets of wildflower seeds, stamped with our names and the date of the wedding. It seemed like a good idea at the time…but was more than a little time consuming, even when I called on the help of my bridesmaids!”
“We wanted to make the wedding really personal to us, so we pegged photographs onto twine and hung them around the tipi. Some were photos of us together and all the things we had done throughout our relationship, and some were pictures of us as children.
(Another great thing about having a tipi…lots of poles to hang things from!!)”
“All of our wedding stationery came from HipHipHooray, who created the prettiest of save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards, order of services and menus. I really do recommend them for their beautiful designs and personable service. The products were of really high quality and we had so many compliments from guests about our invites.”
“I also ordered natural petal confetti from ‘Shropshire Petals’, the colours were so pretty and I think it was just an extra special touch to the day.”
“I’d put a lot of thought, time and effort into our wedding day in the short space of time that we had to plan – from getting the major parts right like the tipi, the food and the entertainment, to all the added extras that made it just that little bit more special. All of these things wouldn’t have worked had we not have had a Big Chief Tipi wedding, because it set the theme and the tone for the whole thing.
It was the happiest day of our lives and the tipi added such a magical feeling, it was like a fairy tale. So many of our guests have said to us that they have never been to a wedding like ours…or that they don’t usually like standard weddings because they are so predictable. Ours definitely wasn’t and so many were blown away by the tipi (…we’d tried to keep it a secret from most guests until the day). We really can’t thank Sarah and the team enough, Big Chief made our wedding day so special, they’re such a friendly and professional team and genuinely cared about making our day perfect. Thank you!!
When the time came for us to depart, we had a sparkler send off and a fireworks display, which was amazing! We jetted off ready for our honeymoon in the Maldives, whilst our guests kept partying until the small hours of the morning!”
Laura’s favourite moment of the day: “Seeing JJ waiting in the church…I couldn’t wait to join him at the front!”
JJ’s favourite moment of the day: “Seeing Laura walking down the aisle…oh and the rodeo bull!”