If you're planning a Winter wedding in a tent or teepee, then you need to read this post - it's full of helpful and practical advice from the wonderful PapaKata. They really are experts when it comes to outdoor weddings, they wouldn't be on our recommended supplier directory, The List, if we didn't rate them highly. And we've featured countless weddings from PapaKata couples over the years too who have all been thrilled with the service. There are all sorts of things you need to think about if you're having a teepee wedding, let alone a teepee wedding in Winter time, so settle down with a cuppa and prepare to take notes...and once you're done, make sure you read this post on planning a Winter Wedding if you missed it first time around.
How long does it take to set up your tents?Amanda Monaghan, Owner and Director, PapaKåta: We need a full day to set up two Teepees or a smaller Sperry Tent. For larger set-ups, the build would need to go into a second day, to complete the interior finishings like the lighting, flooring and furnishings. Complex jobs, for example, building a tent over a swimming pool, which we’ve done before, or a larger number of Teepees for a wedding with several hundred guests, would require longer.
What kind of ground is required? What happens if the ground is waterlogged?When hunting for the perfect setting to place your tents, be aware land needs to be flat and well draining. Sometimes the ground may require some levelling or having the grass rolled before the big day. 90% of our events use woven matting (with a waterproof sheet underneath), which works with high heels and looks great in our tents. However, if your wedding is in winter, or your venue can be boggy or get waterlogged, we usually recommend hard flooring that sits below our matting. This is an extra cost but is something that would be discussed on your site visit. If a client hasn’t booked hard flooring, but the weather is particularly poor and the ground is waterlogged on set up, then flooring can usually be brought to site at short notice (an additional charge) or we would try and identity an alternative position for the Tents.
What happens if the weather is stormy on set up day?Occasionally we sometimes we have to change the days of set-up and take downs because of weather. In particular, we can’t put the Sperry Tents or Teepees up or take them down in very high winds, so set-up may be delayed. However, we like to schedule in build days on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to give a cushion for a weekend wedding, and we would always keep the client fully informed and do our very best to not disrupt plans.
How warm is it inside the tents?However much planning we do the British weather always throws some surprises our way. But if it’s cooler than expected we can provide heating, so it really doesn’t matter what the weather does outside. Our gorgeous open fires are hugely popular in the Teepees, and do give out some heat but are more for creating an ambience and focal point. We recommend having heaters if the outside temperature is going to go below 15oC. Because of the uncertainty around the British weather we’re normally happy for clients to order heaters the week before their wedding. The time of year and weather will also dictate how much of your tent can be open and how much needs to be closed in to ensure that guests are warm and cosy.
Where does the fire pit need to be located within the tent?Our open fires need to be positioned in the centre of the Teepees, to allow the smoke to be drawn up and out of the smoke flap at the crown. In cold weather, about one hour ￼before guests arrive we recommend clients turn the heaters on and light the fire to make sure it’s super cosy as guests arrive. You can’t have a fire inside the Sperry Tents, but we can supply an outdoor fire pit, which makes a fabulous entrance.
Do you have any special Winter Warmer tipples your bar staff recommend?For our Autumn Open Weekend, Speakeasy Libations, one of our favourite bar companies in our Little Black Book of recommended suppliers, served guests with two ultimate winter tipples: The ‘Smoking Bush’, bacon infused bourbon with maple syrup and rosemary finished with cherry wood smoke and garnished with crispy bacon, and the ‘Sloe n Steady’, sloe gin elderflower liqueur strawberry puree topped with an elderflower foam! Hot chocolate stations are also a perfect addition to any winter wedding, with lots of delicious toppings, and maybe decanters of dark rum and vanilla vodka so guests can make their own boozy versions!
Is there anywhere where guests can pile coats/boots?Coat stands can be hired and can be hidden at the entrance with a screen, furniture or decoration. If you are hiring a catering tent, then sometimes there may be room within it to utilise as a small cloakroom, but always talk to your caterer to see what functional space they need to prepare and serve from.
What’s your favourite way to style your tents for the winter?Open fires inside the Teepees and fire pits outside both the Teepee and Sperry Tents will create a wow winter entrance. Keep guests toasty and ramp up the luxe factor with super soft reindeer skins on benches or faux fur throws draped over chill out furniture. Lighting is so very important for winter weddings and can create a fabulous atmosphere from day to night. We recommend directional spotlights that can point onto tables, uplighters to give a feeling of intimacy in tall tents, and to add colour to the canvas with magical effect, and lots of ambient lighting such as festoon lights and fairy lights for that added sparkle. Lanterns and candles will create a beautiful ambience – we just worked on a Sperry wedding with 350 pillar candles! Scent is a powerful way to lock in special memories of your wedding day. Our new ‘Share the Love’ candle can be burned on the day of the wedding to create a divine, intimate ambience in the tents, and long afterwards, as soon as the scent is released you'll be transported back to the memories you made under the stars.
Rain - is there a covered walkway between tents/toilets if required?For winter weddings, and let’s be honest, all English weddings, it’s best to have a wet weather contingency. Toilet Tents can be hired, which cover the whole of the portable toilet unit and connect into the main tent, creating a useful space for a cloakroom too, but they do add a considerable cost. Use matting to create a walkway to your tent, toilets and parking in case the grass is wet. Bespoke covered walkway solutions can be created but we don’t offer these as standard. We always recommend catering tents that connect into your main tent, so that food can be served without the need to go outdoors. And positioning your dancefloor at the entrance to your tent creates the perfect drinks reception space if guests have to go under cover.
All images are taken from the latest PapaKata open day in York. If you'd like to attend the next one, keep an eye on the PapaKata website for details and please do get in touch with the team if you're considering a Teepee or Sperry Tent wedding.
Teepees & Sperry Tents: PapaKata | Sperry Tent Florals: Lucy MacNicoll | Teepee Florals: Hart Company | Cake: The Barn Bakery | Stationery: Confetti Sweethearts | Catering: The Hog & Apple | Bar: Speakeasy Libations | Crockery & Glassware: Whitehouse Event Crockery | Photobooth: Booth Revolution | Hay Bales: Pretty Little Extras | DJ: DJ Boon