Totem Tipis' Open Weekend, Featuring A Lust-List Of Suppliers
As a blogger I am constantly on the lookout for great titbits of advice to tell my readers about. I love chatting about planning and styling tips - after all that's what I do - but it's always a treat to share some wedding inspo with you when the opportunity presents itself.
Context is very important in blogging (I'm not sure whether this is legitimately true, but it provides some structure to my otherwise waffling on) and so I'll preface this post with how I came to find myself at the Totem Tipi Open Weekend in the first place. I've been a fan of Sarah from Farm for a while now. Her instagram is a little slice of visual heaven and every project she touches turns to wedding gold, very like the amazing Pamella Dunn who is kind of the reason I knew about Sarah in the first place. I was just recovering from my Blog Awards celebrations last week when a new message popped up on my phone from the lovely Sarah herself. Would I like to come and blog about Totem Tipis' Open Weekend at Helmsley Walled Gardens? Would I ever!
I'm a bohemian free spirit at heart, although you wouldn't know it to look at me. When I was 7 years old, my cousins and I used to pretend to be the Spice Girls, so I would dress up as Posh Spice and I don't think I ever really stopped. But the idea of a wedding in a tipi to me is just the coolest thing. I'm lucky enough not to be married yet - when I say 'lucky enough' I mean that I can still have the chance to make my over-the-top Pinterest Wedding a reality - although after what I saw yesterday I know exactly what I'll be pinning to my board from now on. TEEPEES.
I've never been to Helmsley before, and let me tell you, it's worth going just for the drive through the North Yorkshire Moors. Had I not been trying to be incredibly petrol efficient by driving at 77mph the whole way there I would have pulled over and shot some panoramas, but I'm trying to not give the Shell Garage the sum of my entire life savings. The point is, it's bloody beautiful and Helmsley Walled Gardens reflects this tenfold. I have to give a shout-out to the man on the visitor check-in stand at the Walled Gardens as he was one of the jolliest, most helpful people I've ever met. Now that's great customer service!
Bank holidays always seem to grace us with the nicer weather, and yesterday was no exception. It was hot whilst still being breezy, and the sky was lighting up the Gardens like it was putting on a show. Immediately I saw the tipis sat regally amongst the flowers, against the majestic backdrop of the castle on the hill. (Rule 101 of blogging; get an Ed Sheeran reference in if and when you can). It looked like a fairytale secret garden, alive with magic pixies who could throw you the best wedding ever. If you're going to do a wedding open weekend then this is the way to do it!
Slight confession - and I feel super uncool saying this - but I'd never been inside a tipi before until yesterday. I had the impression that it was going to be fairly small, simply because my only other experience of 'tents' has been those super cramped ones a la Duke of Edinburgh. But my guess was very much inaccurate. The tipi had room for everything a great wedding requires - drinks, dining and dancing. Oh, and the best part, fairy lights wrapped around everything. If I was a bride I'd be sold on that alone. Beam me up Scotty!
I want to pause for a second to tell you a bit about Totem Tipi (you know, context) because I genuinely believe that even aside from all of the other amazing things these tipis have to offer, the real selling point is the fantastic cause that Totem supports. The whole concept of the tipis was dreamt up by the Connecting Youth Culture Team, or CYC if you're down with abbreviations, and any profits made by Totem feed back into North Yorkshire County Council and are used to fund the amazing work done by CYC. They run arts projects for 'at risk' young people, young people with special educational needs, and young people out of school across North Yorkshire - anything from a course on DJing or Graffiti Art, to putting on festivals and other events. Totem was born in 2015 after the tipis was used for one of these festivals and the CYC team believed that these tents have some real potential (they weren't wrong). It wasn't long before the wedding industry couldn't be ignored - weddings in tipis are just meant to be.
Heading up the wedding side of things is Charlie Land and with a wealth of experience she's already made some couples' dreams come true by advising on and supplying tipis for their special day. And it isn't just the unique and quirky venue that's been a hit with these brides and grooms; the added feel-good-factor that the money you have spent goes towards helping inspire and motivate young people is also a massive plus. Wedding suppliers have received a lot of stick recently for 'ripping off couples' and then 'lining their pockets with the cash'. I'd like to point out that that isn't true for a second - we all have bills to pay, if you don't like it find someone less expensive - but no-one could even make that remark about Totem. At the end of the day, I think we can all agree that wedding days are a little bit selfish. Maybe not in the really vain, self-absorbed sense of the word; but they are all about you and what you want. You have to book and pay for a venue anyway, right? Why not choose one that's tipi friendly, get some Totem's going on, and know that just by paying for your wedding venue you've provided young people with something that really matters - a future full of purpose.
If you're anything like me, then the first place you go to when you arrive to a wedding, or any other place with a watering hole, is the bar! So I thought I would approach this how I would an actual wedding in a tipi and hit up the beautiful pallet bar provided by Fusion Event Bars (all in the name of research, guys). I'll be honest, in the wedding world you will come across some preeetty tacky mobile bars; I hate to say it but it's true. So it was a breath of fresh air to see this rustic beauty standing their elegant and proud, looking like it was made for Tipi life. I'm a big fan of details and that's what you get with this bar - a bowl full of fruit, however essential it may be, added a stylish point interest and that Prosecco looked very inviting sat there too. Fusion was founded by Jules Lawrence and chatting to him you can tell that he's passionate about what he does. A little wedding planning tip from me to you: always pick a supplier who is passionate about their work, as they will absolutely deliver on anything that's promised, and they will be a joy to work with to boot. Oh and when your wedding bar provider holds an international qualification in cocktail-making you know that you're in safe hands.
Making my way around the tipi I came across this gorgeous set-up from the fabulous Emily Lancaster who runs Emily K Weddings. Her style is breathtaking, and she gets the rustic look bang-on! One of my favourite things about Emily is that she's one of the loveliest people you could ever meet with undeniable passion, talent and tenacity, and it's an absolute winning combination. Get this girl as your wedding planner or stylist and you're onto a winner of a wedding day, I can promise you that! She comes from an interior design background, so what this lady doesn't know about style isn't worth knowing. Emily brought along her amazing mini-tipi which is the perfect hangout spot for kids during the celebrations. You know that you're not going to have screaming kids running around when they could be chilling in this beauty. It comes complete with cushions, blankets and colouring books - the perfect spot for a slice of zen. I would absolutely adore a similar one provided for planners to take 5 in whilst coordinating a wedding day, ideally complete with a 'push for prosecco' button.
Emily's signature style is evident in everything she does, which is how you know that she's a true professional. Her fine art approach and eye for detail means she's going to be one to watch, and I wouldn't be surprised for a single second if she is the go-to wedding stylist for the millennial era in the next few years. Emily you're a shining star and I salute you!
Okay, deep breaths. What you're about to see is bloody gorgeous, and I can't promise that you won't see what's below and immediately want to book Farm for your wedding because I know I would! Sarah's styling for the open weekend was rustic heaven but you know, the stylish kind. It's not twee, it's not vintage, it's lush enviable rustique at it's very finest. I have to say that I could have mistaken North Yorkshire for the mediterranean yesterday, sweeping past the tables bathed in fine white runners and foliage so perfect you just wonder 'how?!' How is someone this insanely creative and talented, that they can make hours of work look like they clicked their fingers and the pots and pans did it for them Beauty and the Beast style? All whilst singing some cute musical number, leg kicks and all. Just imagine, come evening time, all of those candles lighting the place up, sat amongst the runners providing a truly romantic glow to the festivities.
The styling definitely demonstrated the perfect wedding set-up you could achieve with a Totem Tipi. Six tables plus a top table fits the space perfectly and it's completely customisable to the day you want, although I'd definitely recommend the hanging floral installation which you will see in all it's glory once you scroll down. Hanging floral everythings are going to be huge, and so if you want one for your wedding day then you know who to turn to. Her name is Sarah and she is exquisite. She also has a great sense of humour which is always a massive bonus when working closely with someone to design your wedding. P.S. putting the cake table there gives a lovely focal point to the dining area and elevates your cake so that everyone can marvel at it.
One of my favourite parts about styling a wedding is the table settings - if that sounds nerdy then I really don't care because they make an incredible difference to the overall aesthetic. I can spend hours on Pinterest marvelling at the subtle placement of a spoon in a table setting, so you bet that I got a shot of Sarah's efforts here too. YES to the gold cutlery, YES to the menu and name card tied together with cord. YES to it all. Pure styling genius I tell you.
(A little aside - Farm's branding is simply stunning. The landing page of Sarah's website is so cool and creative that it just hurts. You know a supplier is good when you're simply running out of positive descriptions for them.)
Bringing a whole new and cool vibe to the term 'wedding toast'. And when a sign suggests you toast a marshmallow, you don't pause to think about it. Can more people have firepits at their weddings please? I feel like this would make the world a much happier place. The smaller tipi is a haven of comfort and relaxation. Sofas draped with blankets and snug throws provide the perfect place of calm, and allows people to have a break from all the dancing whilst still feeling involved in all the action these Tipis have to offer. I actually just want one in my garden so I can sneak out in the middle of the night to toast a marshmallow, warm myself by the fire pit and feel like a Boho Queen languishing in 'Fort Totem'. If this sounds good to you then you know that you need one for your wedding. It's the only way!
I'm going to let you enjoy the next few shots without all my babbling, so have a lil scroll until we meet again at my next paragraph. (This sounded a lot more romantic than intended, but let's just roll with it).
Let's talk about stationery. I have decided, of late, that it can make or break a wedding. Receiving a wedding invitation sets the tone for your wedding; it's the first thing people see that's associated with big day and so if the invitation is disappointing then I hate to say that people probably lower their expectations a little bit. If you don't care what people think, then good for you - that's probably the 21st century equivalent of enlightenment, but most of us do care what people think. And if you're spending all of that money on your wedding day, you might as well have people getting excited from the off.
Enter Gray Starling Designs! Firstly, I met Carolyn yesterday and she's one of those salt-of-the-earth people who you instantly like but we can honestly just let her amazing work do the talking because these invitations are just plain dreamy! You can just tell that every single aspect of the design has been thought about meticulously - the font, the colours, the style. I couldn't even pick a favourite out of those on display because they were all so fierce! (And I mean fierce in the complimentary Tyra Banks way - if you're not sure what I mean just google it and you'll not be left in any doubt). There was even a cool paddle design, for the order of events, that could be doubled as a fan! With designs this hot off the press we all need a fan right now #amiright? And let's talk about that paper runner embossed with the couple's name and date. This was one of my favourite details about the whole day; it's bold, it's unique and it's instagrammable as all hell! Gray Starling Designs, we like you a lot.
All in all this was an amazing day out. The team involved in putting it all together and being on hand over the weekend to offer couples advice, are an absolute roster of talent. Walking into that Tipi I wanted everything - the rustic bar to sip my prosecco at, the hanging floral installations to dance under, the styled tables to sit and roar with laughter at the speeches, the firepit to roast my marshmallows on and catch up with relatives around, the stationary announcing the date of my wedding in true style, and of course the tipis; to celebrate the happiest day of my life in, surrounded by all my family and friends. Thank you for inviting me, I had an absolute blast! Now go book everyone of these suppliers for your dream wedding. GO!