For newlyweds Chris and Grace, nothing was more important to them on their special day than their friends and their tipi. And not necessarily in that order. Queenstown locals, these two knew from the start that their wedding needed to include a gorgeous, Nordic tipi (if we don’t say so ourselves), and planned the rest of the details around it. Set at the stunning riverside oasis that is The River House Wānaka, Chris and Grace said their I-do’s at the perfect little spot between Wānaka and Hawea, right on the banks of the Clutha River. Dreamy.
Though working with a tight budget, Grace and Chris’s wedding just goes to show that you can still have a stunning tipi wedding without breaking the bank. Hoo-rah for us regular folk. Deciding on a small affair, the loved-up couple went for a single tipi with our basic package, including flooring and internal lights. They called in favours from friends, used furniture from onsite, and catered the event themselves. News flash: turns out you don’t have to invite 200 people and spend pots of gold on a fancy wedding. Just stay focused on what’s important, and don’t sweat the details. These two did just that, and their dream day was as perfect as it could have been. Tipi and all.
We chat with the bride herself to get the inside scoop on their big day.
Where did your wedding planning journey begin?
We always knew we wanted a small celebration, with just our closest friends. Unfortunately, our families couldn’t be here due to the New Zealand borders being closed, so instead we planned to have another celebration one day back in the UK with our friends and family from home.
Did you have any must-have vendors? If so, who and why?
Gather & Gold were a MUST have for me! I have always loved the natural materials and the stunning aesthetic of the tipis – I really didn’t care about anything else, except having a tipi wedding. It gave us that extra reassurance that no matter what the weather was looking like on the day, we either had shelter from the rain or shade from the sun. All the while looking fabulous, of course. Win-win.
Did you have a clear vision of what you wanted, or were you guided by your vendors?
We totally had a clear vision for our day. We knew exactly what we wanted, and that’s what we got. Originally, I had always dreamed of getting married in my mum’s garden, so we knew we wanted to have something in a beautiful outdoor space. Combined with our Gather & Gold tipi, the River House Wānaka totally exceeded our expectations. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect match.
What’s one thing you’re glad you did?
We got the floor matting, as recommended by Sarah from Gather & Gold. It really did finish off the space so nicely, and set up the dance floor space perfectly!
What was your favourite moment of the day?
Taking the time to go for an hour for photos with just Chris and I. This gave us the time we needed to really take in the day, and just spend some time together just the two of us. I’d been worried about missing out on all the fun back at the house, but it was really special to just be, as the new Mr and Mrs.
Favourite small detail?
Seeing the handmade buttonhole I’d created on my husband’s jacket, woven together from flowers and grasses I had grown and collected over the year.
What was your favourite laugh-out-loud moment?
Hands down, when one of the groomsmen split his trousers dancing too hard under the tipi!
Any advice to future tipi couples that you wished you’d known?
Make sure you’ve told someone where the switch is for the fairy lights, and put them in charge of making sure they are turned on! We forgot to turn them on at the beginning, so we spent half the day without the lights on. Oops.
Any tips for couples that have just gotten engaged and are planning a tipi wedding?
It’s your special day, so do what makes you happy. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, and don’t stress about the small details. You know what your vision is, and as long as you have your loved ones around you and a tipi to celebrate under, it’s going to be the most magical day.