Morning and happy Friday gorgeous ones!

I’m so stoked to tell you that we’ve got the lovely Jacquie, of Elite Tents on the blog with us this morning. We’ve asked her lots of questions, so if you’re planning a tipi wedding, considering it or if you’re still on the fence, unsure as to whether it’s right for you trust me; Jacquie will be the one to sway you!

Just before we getting chatting to Jacquie, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for some special Elite Tents open day details that’ll be appearing on the blog over the next couple of weeks! Exciting stuff! Man, I tell you this much, if I had my wedding again…

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Tell us a little about yourself…

I am Jacquie and I run Elite Tents with my husband, Richard. Rich and I have been together for 25 years but starting up the business nearly 5 years ago was one of the most exciting and nerve racking things we have ever done! I previously worked as a primary school teacher (yes with loads of holiday over the summer) and Richard had been in his business for twenty years so we had reached a point where we both wanting a bit of a change.

My cousin and her husband set up the first ever tipi hire company. We saw their love for it, the pleasure it gave them and the fact that, despite the recession, they were always busy, so we decided to take the plunge! We’ve not looked back since. It’s amazing working with so many happy, positive people, helping them to make their dreams come true and I can honestly say I love my job. I just wish that tipis had been around 20 years ago when we got married!

I love reading, hot summer sunshine and sparkling champagne – all three at the same time is my idea of perfection! I also love to spend time with my kids who have been brilliant while we have been building the business – dragging me out of the study on occasions at 8.00pm saying, “Mummy are we having any dinner tonight?!” Thankfully we have moved on a little since then, at 16 and 14 they now make the tea for me! (Joking!)

Champagne, Reading + Sunshine… You’re a girl after my own heart, Jacquie!  Now, if you had a chance to go to any music festival, which one would it be?

Haha! I’d probably want to go to an 80s retro festival, to be honest! I grew up with Simple Minds, U2, the Waterboys and Kate Bush (I would have loved to see her at the Hammersmith earlier this month). My kids tell me my taste in music is not so cool, but I do manage to watch Glastonbury on the BBC (though probably the Radio 2 Hyde Park show is more suited to my taste!)

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What makes Elite Tents elite?

The one thing Richard and I promised ourselves when we started up Elite was that we would treat every event as if it was our own. Coming from a teaching background, I have a good memory for names and I believe that getting to know individuals and their needs is absolutely paramount.

We are strong believers in the fact that marriage is for life and, that being the case, the day you get married is of such importance! We want it to be perfect for all our couples. As we have grown and taken on our staff they have embraced this ethos and we get so many comments from our customers saying that we could not do enough for them, that the crew were willing to go the extra mile and sometimes extra MILES!

When we started we were the 6th tipi hire company to set up in England. Since then, we have gained lots of experience and we have grown, but we have decided to keep small enough to ensure we continue to offer this very personal and friendly service, so our customers too are ‘Elite’ – a select few. There are lots more tipi hire companies now, but they won’t necessarily give the special service your readers would get from us.

What are some of your favourite memories + experiences from previous events you’ve coordinated?

We have travelled all over the country to put up the tipis for all sorts of events – weddings mainly, but also festivals and parties. We have erected the tipis in beautiful walled gardens, castle grounds, stately homes, family gardens, on farmland and club house fields. But do you know, it’s hard to pick between them all, because every event is so different.

Couples put their stamp onto the tipis by adding bunting, pompoms, flowers and fairy lights. We had a couple last year who arrived at the tipis on an artic lorry, we’ve had doves released, helicopter arrivals, bouncy castles, fireworks… I just can’t pick! I think that’s what makes the tipis so amazing – like teaching at the primary school – every event is different, because every couple is different and I love working with them to help them realise their dream, their ideas and their perfect day.

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If our readers were to book you for their wedding, what can they expect?

That’s easy – amazing customer care from start to finish. Can I cheat here and use the words of a bride’s testimonial that came in literally yesterday?

Of course, hit me with it!

“We knew from the outset that we wanted our wedding to have a rustic twist and, having exhausted local venues, we started looking into marquees. We knew we didn’t want any old bog standard white marquee and were delighted when we discovered Elite Tent’s Tipis. I viewed the tipis without my husband-to-be on a dreary rainy day in March, but even in these conditions I knew immediately that they were perfect for us! I was greeted by a toasty fire, a hot chocolate and Jacquie and her team made me feel incredibly welcome.

The Tipis presented a wonderful option for us, with flexibility around capacity and location and I just knew that my guests would get the same ‘Wow’ I had when I saw the tipis for the first time.

A few days before the wedding, Richard and a team of guys appeared on site, right on time and promptly got to work, by 15:00 the tipis were up and looked fantastic! They were just as we hoped and gave us the perfect venue for our reception.

As predicted, the ‘Wow!’ reactions started rolling in, we had our glass and crockery delivered, the delivery man was so impressed he had to take some photos as he said he’d never seen anything like them before! The bar staff were much the same, and my bridesmaids, and our families… You get the idea!

On the day, the Tipis were perfect. A wonderful mix of rustic charm and comfort, the fire pit gently crackled away keeping us cosy whilst the guests had their dinner before they all made very good use of the dance floor! I couldn’t imagine having had any other venue for our wedding reception.

After the wedding day was over, the tipis were dismantled with just the same care and attention as when they had gone up with no damage left to the site, leaving only wonderful memories that we will look back on for years to come. We can’t thank and recommend the Elite tents team enough for their wonderful service. From the very first day I saw the tipis, to our wedding day and beyond, they truly helped us create a memorable day that we will never forget.”

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How do you know if a tipi wedding is right for you?

I think couples who are thinking of having a tipi wedding need to be quite relaxed people – that’s not to say disorganised, because actually an outdoor wedding takes more organising than a traditional hotel type of one – but relaxed. If you’re the type of bride that will check with a ruler that the flowers are positioned correctly, getting married in a tent probably is not the best idea. But if you’re quirky, creative or imaginative and you want something different from your friends and family then tipis are for you.

Tipis are perfect for people who are fed up with ‘samey’ weddings in hotels, where you get ushered from one room to another and the only real difference between one wedding and another is who sat on your table and how expensive the bar was!

With tipis, you make the rules.

You choose what time the bar closes and you have power over what the prices are, you can choose and even make the decorations and consequently you make it is as personal to you as you want to, and we’ll help you. If you fancy seeing some of our ideas, there are loads right here on our blog!

What’s your best piece of advice for couples looking to plan a tipi wedding?

I think the key to planning a tipi wedding is getting the venue right. Finding a venue shouldn’t just be about the price, or even how lovely the views are. It has to tick a number of boxes but most of all it has to suit you.

If you’re looking to have an outdoor wedding there are three main types of sites you can consider. The first and usually most cost effective option is if you know someone with a huge back garden, a farm, or an area of land they’re prepared to let you use. An area of land like this will need you to source power, toilets and possibly water too (we at Elite Tents can help you to organise these).

The second option is to find somewhere you can hire – there are more and more places becoming available these days including holiday cottages with land, campsites, farmland and even some sports clubs or village halls. Many of these will include in the price: a power supply, toilet facilities, and possibly catering space.

The third and most expensive option is to host your wedding in the grounds of a hotel or manor house. The main benefit of this is that the views are likely to be exquisite and there is often accommodation available for you and your guests to get ready or to stay over. Some venues will have their own coordinator and you can even hold a civil ceremony at some locations.

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Finally, what’s your life motto?

My husband would say my life motto is something to do with shopping, or how life is too short to drink cheap wine, but when I actually stopped to think about this one I think I’d go with:

“Life is about moments – don’t wait for them, create them.”


It’s been so great getting to know Jacquie and her ace team over at Elite, we’re massive fans here at Festival Brides, so huge thanks to them for answering all our wonderings!

If you’d like to get in touch, head to the tipi division of our directory to find out more about Elite!

Peace + Love,

Clare X

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Wedding beauty on its way!