FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Watch our Interactive Knowledge Hub Video to answer the questions that are relevant to you:

Organising your own outdoor wedding or event can be overwhelming, especially as there are so many marquee and tipi companies out there telling you different things.

Elite Tents have helped in over 800 events and have nearly 10 years of experience, so we have put together some of the most Frequently Asked Questions to help clarify some of the phrases and details you may be wondering about. This message from Jacquie, the owner of Elite Tents gives an introduction and covers some of the key questions you might want to ask…

It is a misguided rumour that arranging an outdoor wedding celebration is expensive and very difficult to co-ordinate. This couldn’t be further from the truth and I would like to help put your minds at rest with a few guidelines and checklists to help you through the very straight forward arrangements. To get a free plan and checklist, please download our wedding brochure which will guide you through the key steps you need to take.

As a general rule we try and stay within a 40 mile radius of our warehouse in Aldridge WS9, especially in the summer months. This is largely for your protection – if you find a fairy light string is out on the morning of your wedding it is no good us being a 3 hour drive away. We do occasionally travel a little further afield outside the peak summer months or if despite the distance your venue has an easy route to it. Our package prices include free delivery to anywhere within 40 miles of our base but if you are further away do check with our office team whether we are able to accommodate you.

Yes – there are opportunities throughout the year to see the tipis and the sailcloth tent dressed to impress. We normally hold 4 open days throughout the year each at one of our Dream venues. Check out our open days page to find out more.

Find out how out Tipi and Sailcloth Event specialists can help you with your planning.

In truth not for the tents, they will go up on a slope if needed, but you need to be able to put a drink on a table without it sliding off or spilling, so if you are not sure if you ground is suitable test it out by taking your table, chair and drink of choice outside.

A single tipi is 10.3m in diameter, so each additional tipi is a multiple of that plus a little extra for staking and strapping. The Sailcloth tent comes in a range of sizes and we will advise you of the best size for your guest numbers.

Most venues/sites don’t need a site visit but in order to decide whether yours does please just take a few minutes to consider whether your site meets the following criteria. If it does then a site visit is not necessary, if you are unsure of anything please give us a call or drop us an email citing your concerns and we will have a chat with you and if needs be arrange to come and see the site. (Please also refer to the floorplans to check you have sufficient area for the number of tents you require.)

Checklist:

  • the location for the tent(s) should be a reasonably flat, level surface with no protrusions and no overhanging trees or other obstruction
  • the ground should be  suitable for taking 2ft (60cm) tent pegs
  • the ground should not be flooded or impervious to water
  • the ground should have no underground power or utility services within 1 metre of the surface.
  • the grass will be cut so as to be no more than 3 inches (8cm) long.
  • there is a safe means of access both to the site and to within 20m of the tent(s) location for our Land Rover and trailer
The tents can be set up anywhere where there is grass and enough space. We have erected the tents everywhere including in people’s gardens, farmer’s fields, pub grounds and stately homes. If you are struggling to find a place we have worked at over 100 different venues across the Midlands so we will almost certainly be able to help you find the venue that suits your style and budget.

Over the past 10 years we have worked with so many fantastic venues but from 2018 we have chosen 6 venues in the Midlands area who are truly amazing to become our Dream Venues. These six venues have each been hand picked firstly because they are gorgeous, but also each one has its own special features that may appeal to you. To find out more about how to find the perfect venue for you check out our Venues Page

If you find a venue yourself that’s great – we can put up our tents on private land, farmland, stately homes, National Trust venues and campsites to name a few. Just make sure you have permission from the owner and if you need our site checklist to establish whether the site is suitable just drop us an email and we will be glad to help.

The key difference between the two types of tipis are that the Nordic TENTIPI manufactured ones are authentic. Designed and crafted in Sweden, with their roots solidly in the culture of the Sami people, these amazing structures are designed to deal with metres deep of snow and need no weatherproofing. The English tipis, produced many years later, are a copy of the authentic design using Scottish wood and a different type of canvas. For information about the difference this canvas could have to your celebration watch the canvas comparison video on the Origins of Our Tents page. But it isn’t just the fabric that makes a difference to us, the authentic tipis from Tentipi are truly special. Watch the video below to find out why.

There are a number of things which will determine the cost of your tents – the structure you choose, the number of guests and the time of year are all key. Plus it will depend on the choices of furniture that you put inside. We have included packages on our website for the most popular set ups but every event is unique so we will work with you to ensure that your set up suits you and your guests perfectly.

The answer to this is dependant on two key factors; how many guests you have (both daytime and evening) and secondly, what furnishings you’ll want in the tents, e.g. bars, fire pits (tipis) and dance floors etc. In the case of tipis, one tipi can accommodate up to 70 guests, two tipis can accommodate 70-120 guests and three tipis can accommodate 120-150 guests. If you have more than 150 guests, more tipis can be added to suit your numbers. In the case of the sailcloth tents, we have named them with their capacities in mind e.g. the sailcloth 100 accommodates up to 100 guests, the sailcloth 180 accommodates up to 180 guests, the sailcloth 240 accommodates up to 240 guests and the sailcloth 300 accommodates up to 300 guests. Whatever your numbers are, we are able to create a bespoke quote for you to ensure you have the right size structure for your event.

This very much depends on what kind of style and atmosphere you want to create. Tipis tend to suit a more laid-back vibe, being rustic in style and very versatile weather-wise. As they are manufactured in northern Sweden, waterproof and cone shaped to withstand windy conditions, they are pretty much an all year round tent. The sailcloth tent is much more traditional in style but with some rustic elements of wooden poles to set itself apart from regular marquees. Its beautifully translucent, luminous fabric glows by day and radiates amongst its surroundings by night. However, it is no ‘fair weather’ tent as its revolutionary weather shield wall attachment technology eliminates gaps that let in wind and rain. The sailcloth tent is perfect for a New England style white wedding. The best way to make a decision on which tent best suits you is to come and see them in the flesh at one of our many open days.

To confirm your booking we ask you to sign a booking form which reserves the items you would like, and pay a 50% deposit. The deposit can be broken down into 3 payments if you choose.

The balance is payable one calendar month before your event.

Yes we do take card payments. The office team will be able to organise that for you.

Yes but all of our prices on the website already include VAT.

The damage waiver sum is a charge of 5% of the net hire cost of your contract. By paying it we will indemnify you against any losses that we suffer arising from accidental equipment damage or loss (beyond the £500 excess), while you are responsible for the tipis.  You will remain responsible for any loss or damage resulting from your negligence or legal liability.

You are directly responsible for the first £500 of damage or loss, which will be covered by your damages deposit. In effect this acts as an excess. If the equipment suffers no new damage or loss whilst in your care, the damages deposit will be refunded.

Please be aware the damage waiver and refundable deposit only apply to accidental damage to the equipment on your hire contract with Elite Tents Ltd. We strongly recommend you also take out wedding insurance with a bone fide insurance company.

When you book an outdoor event especially a wedding you are probably spending a lot of money. So our advice is to insure your event just in case something happens which means you need to cancel or postpone it. Just make sure you choose a reputable insurance company and check the terms and conditions to make sure you are getting the cover you need. (E.g. if you want a fire pit in the tents make sure that the insurance allows for that.)

Events only need licensing if “licensable activities” are taking place, these include:

  1. the performance of a play (this means any piece where a dramatic role is acted out);
  2. an exhibition of a film (this means any display of moving pictures);
  3. an indoor sporting event;
  4. boxing or wrestling entertainment;
  5. a performance of live music;
  6. any playing of recorded music;
  7. a performance of dance;
  8. or entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance.
  9. the sale of alcohol (either at a cash bar or as part of a ticket price)

Numbers 5 and 6 mean that included in most weddings and parties there will be a licensable activity. However for a licence to be required for activities 1 to 8 they must take place “for a consideration or with a view to a profit” which means that a band performing at a wedding would not require the event to have a licence unless the guests have been charged an admission fee whereas a charity concert where donations are sought from the audience would need to be licenced.

Number 9 only covers the sale of alcohol. You are allowed to give away as much drink as you like to your guests as long as you do not charge them for it.

Either party may cancel the contract within 14 days of its confirmation date without penalty subject to written confirmation being exchanged within that time.  We will return to you promptly any deposits or fees already paid by you. If after this period you wish to cancel the contract, a cancellation fee which is a percentage of the total contract price will be payable as follows:

  1. Between contract date and 4 calendar months before the event date – 50%
  2. Between 4 and 1 calendar month before the event date – 75%
  3. Any later than 1 calendar month before the event date – 100%

Sometimes circumstances arise where you might need to postpone your event. If this is the case then we will do our best to accommodate you but this may incur additional costs depending on the time of year, availability of the tents and equipment and amount of notice.

The crew will usually be on site at 8am and work through to complete your job in a day. A single tipi takes approx. 4hrs, two tipis around 6-8hrs, 3 tipis 8-10hrs to erect. We guarantee that your tipi will be set up no later than the day before your event.

The standard hire is for two days which for a Saturday event is usually a Friday put up and a Monday take down. However, if you want the tipis up early we offer a logistics package which will allow you to have an extra clear day before your event for decorating and preparation or a Sunday take down if your venue stipulates that. Please see the packages flier in your pack for further details.

The simple answer to this is no. Opening and closing the tipi sides involves repelling and strapping which should you not do this correctly might be dangerous for your guests. However in our experience, throughout the summer months customers tend to have the sides up even if it rains. The only question is how big you would like the opening to be, which will be dependant on the weather forecast. Our crew chief will discuss your options and advise you on the set up day.  The final decision however is yours and the opening however small or large has to remain like that for the duration.

As an alternative there is an option to hire our Wallflex system which allows you to have the sides up but fill the opening with clear, pvc walls allowing you to view the outdoors but keep out the elements.

Most events do not require a member of our staff onsite, however we do always have a crew chief on call who is available to attend site if there is an issue. When we hand over the tents to you on put up day we will go through everything with you.

You can have an outdoor wedding at any time of the year, provided you have planned with the weather in mind.

We have two types of tents – the Sailcloth tent is made with a market leading weather proofing system so rain and even snow would not be a problem. However the high peaks mean that excessive wind is not ideal, so in truth we wouldn’t recommend the Sailcloth between November and April. However the tipis, which originate from Sweden are designed and manufactured so that they can basically cope with whatever the British weather can throw at them! To find out more about the origins of these amazing tents you can read more HERE

Firstly, it doesn’t rain in the UK anywhere near as much as you might think. In fact statistically we have more dry than wet days in the UK each year. And even rainy days aren’t often nonstop rain. However, if it does rain on your event day, as long as you have made sure you have enough space inside your tents for all of your guests and furnishing, both types of tent are completely waterproof so there’s no danger of anyone getting wet – your guests will remain warm and dry. If you are planning on an outdoor ceremony, just keep ad eye on the forecast as then you might need to implement your wet weather plan (which is provided as standard when you book our outdoor ceremony package).

This very much depends on the time of year and the ambient temperature. If your event is in spring, autumn or winter you may need to consider hiring in heating. We have a fabulous supplier who will bring you indirect heaters which are thermostatically controlled and will keep your structure toasty. Adding the Wallflex system is also an option to keep out the elements during the colder months.

The tents need to be within 15 metres of a 13a socket which will provide enough power for the lighting we include. However if you have a bar, band, caterers you will require a lot more power than a single 13a socket. In this case you might need a generator. We can help organise this for you or give you information on what you would need.

You are responsible for the security and safe-keeping of the equipment for the duration of the event period so if you have any doubt that the tipis are secure we would advise you to ask friends to stay with the tipis overnight, or even book a security guard. You should take all reasonable steps to ensure that no unauthorised person has access to the site or the equipment. In case of theft where the tipis have been left unattended will be deemed as negligence.

The beauty of both styles of tent is that they are a blank canvas for you to put your own personality into. Some people put very little decoration into the tents, particularly the tipis which have the rustic feel. With sparkling fairy lights you really don’t need a lot of decor. However if you like bunting or pompoms they will lend themselves to that perfectly. There are lots of ideas on our YouTube channel to help give you ideas. If you want to dress your tents more formally, both types of tent  will also work with more traditional floristry. There are so many different decor options, the beauty of having an outdoor structure is that it literally can be whatever you want to make it!

 

Tea lights are allowed inside the tipis but please do ensure that they are inside containers that, should they be knocked over would extinguish the candle. No naked flames should be close to the equipment particularly the canvas or matting.

We do permit you to use your own fairy lighting provided they are the battery-operated ones. Unfortunately because of insurance we cannot permit the use of any lighting that may come into contact with the tipi canvas other than our own which we know has been appropriately tested.

Absolutely. The great thing about both the sailcloth and the tipis is that they give you the option to personalise the decorations inside. All we ask is that you make sure you use string, zip ties etc and not blu tack, pins or staples as these all damage the wooden poles and furniture.

It is your responsibility to clear away the rubbish and any personal belongings after your event and before our crew return to dismantle the tents. You will often find that the caterers will do a lot of this for you, or why not have a return party the day after your event where friends and family can help remove the decorations and clear up any rubbish. Some venues will provide you with a skip or large bin to use, but may charge you for it. Check with your venue.

We use a tightly woven, natural coloured matting in all of our tents that is very hardwearing and completely waterproof.

Owing to the tight weave of the matting and our experience of laying it, it is completely safe for high heels to be worn in the tents.

The tipis are designed specifically to accommodate a fire pit in the centre and we hire out gorgeous nordic Bamse fires for that purpose. They do give out localised heat, but most people choose these for their atmosphere and ambience – a great place to stand around and chat, toast marshmallow etc. When you hire a fire pit you will be provided with kindling and special heatlogs. The Sailcloth tent is not suitable for a fire of any kind however as although it has high peaks these are closed.

No. The heat logs provided are specifically chosen because they are carbon neutral and virtually smokeless therefore you must only use the fuel supplied by us. We are able to supply you with extra fuel should you require it.

This is a definite NO. Tents and marquees are included in the no smoking laws.

Yes, but it is at your own discretion – we have no issue with pets but it is your responsibility to ensure that no damage occurs to the tents or equipment as a result.

We are obviously going to be very biased and say Elite Tents, but there are a few other tent hire companies with the same ethos as us. When deciding which company to go with, make sure they are MUTA members and if its a tipi you’re interested in, ensure the company hires authentic Nordic tipis from Tentipi. Three companies we recommend are PapaKåta, Tipis 4 Hire and The Stunning Tents Company. One of the best ways to choose a supplier is to go to an open day, meet with the staff and check out the tents for yourself. For more information about MUTA, CLICK HERE.

If your supplier does not have a postponement clause within the contract then postponement actually constitutes a cancellation and rebooking. Therefore if your cancellation fee is 25% for example, you would expect the cost of postponing to also cost you 25%. However this is something that suppliers and couples are encouraged to discuss and agree upon so that the postponement can take place and parties can work together. If an agreement cannot be made or if a supplier cannot make a date that the couple finally settle on, then the supplier will probably expect to retain the booking/cancellation fee or deposit.

The wedding industry, unlike retail and many other service industries takes bookings ahead of delivering their service, sometimes years ahead. As a result of this, unlike a product that can be returned for a full refund because it can be resold, most wedding services can only be resold if the cancellation is well in advance. So for decades the wedding industry has commanded that weddings are paid for in advance, deposits are non refundable and cancellation fees are expected when things do not go ahead. However each supplier and each wedding varies so as a general guide there are three main things which will affect what happens if you cancel your wedding:

  • What you are cancelling
  • Who you are cancelling
  • Why you are cancelling

What you are cancelling

By nature of the industry, most weddings are unique – one off dresses, personalised decor, bespoke menus. The time and effort put into a wedding by many of the suppliers means that almost everything that you have chosen for your big day will have taken more time, effort and cost on the part of the supplier. In the main wedding suppliers offer you a ‘service’ rather than a product. Consequently the closer to your wedding day you decide to cancel the more effort will have been put into the service and the less likely it will be they can resell that date.

Therefore if you decide to cancel you should expect to pay a percentage towards the overall costs of the business. This percentage will vary from suppler to supplier but will be a pre-estimate which includes the running costs of the business: rent, rates, admin costs, insurance, IT, marketing etc.

Who you are cancelling

The large ticket items you have booked for your wedding will almost certainly be the ones that you booked the earliest. These are things like your venue, caterer and possibly the dress. With all of these you should have signed a contract committing to your date and requirements. The dress is a slightly different situation as depending on where you purchase it, the dress may fall under more ‘general retail’, but if it is bespoke, a designer dress or has been altered specially for you it would fall into the same category as your venue and catering as something that cannot be easily resold. The smaller ticket items, like photographers, bands, florists and make up artists are usually booked closer to the event date and so may have lower cancellation terms. However the most important thing for you as a couple is to check the contract you signed, because the truth is that when you sign a contract it is a legally binding document – whether you have taken the time to read the Terms and Conditions or not.

Why you are cancelling

Until 2020, the most common reason for a couple to cancel their wedding is shall we say ‘a change of heart’. Sometimes couples split up or simply decide marriage is not for them. In these situations the contract rules apply unless a supplier is able to resell the date in which case they may choose to refund part or all of the cancellation fee/deposit. However that is their decision and not a right. Some couples also have to cancel for other personal reasons; illness in the family, a change in their circumstances, a move to another country. All these things too are specific to the couple and therefore the supplier contract would need to be adhered to. And because these things happen, many couples take out wedding insurance which covers cancellation, means suppliers are paid and the couple are not left out of pocket.

The pandemic of 2020 has created another reason for cancellation – the inability to actually go ahead with a wedding date. Since the ban on weddings was brought in when lockdown began on 23rd March 2020, weddings for that year were all set to go, many suppliers had bought new stock, got full diaries and busy weekends ahead. Couples had their hen and stag dos planned, even nail appointments – the fine details were all in place. And then the ban came.

The advice from the CMA and government initially was to postpone, which is what many couples did, but most wedding contracts did not have a clause for postponement in their contract and therefore in truth the postponements were legally a cancellation and rebooking. This meant that in many instances couples who had signed a contract regarding cancellation could be asked to pay a second booking fee or a cancellation charge.

When lockdown first began, there was much talk of force majeure. This is a phrase used by many to describe things that are out of our control.

The legal definition varies from country to country and in fact it is not used as a legal term in the UK, however the meaning is generally understood in the following context:

Force majeure events are usually defined as certain acts, events or circumstances beyond the control of the parties, for example, natural disasters or the outbreak of hostilities.

In fact many of the wedding contracts that were scheduled to provide for events between 23.3.2020 and 14.8.2020 were in fact frustrated. The definition of which is below:

If a contract is frustrated, it is automatically discharged at the time of frustration. This means that the parties to the contract do not need to perform any future contractual obligations. In addition, parties to the contract cannot claim damages for non-performance of these future obligations.

In order to determine whether or not your contract is frustrated you will need to look at when you made the decision to change your date. The lockdown came in waves of 3 weeks and so if your date was not in the lockdown when you requested to postpone (i.e. cancel and rebook) then your contract was not frustrated. Sadly the lack of clarity as to when weddings could go ahead meant many couples and suppliers not really knowing what was best. To make it worse, ceremonies were reintroduced back in July but receptions from 1st August which was later revised to the 15th August.

Moving forward should the UK go into another full lockdown, if you choose not to postpone your event and the wedding could not legally go ahead, your contract would be deemed frustrated.

The final aspect of the ‘force majeure’ and frustrated discussion is that it will vary according to what is being supplied. For example, if you are still going ahead with a smaller wedding you will be able to and indeed should continue to employ those suppliers that can legally work for you:and have been contracted for your event. Where a wedding is still taking place the contract is not frustrated. So if you have booked a photographer, cake maker, caterer, tent or venue, even cars the best advice is to work with those suppliers to vary your contract to suit the smaller celebration.

Fortunately, most couples and suppliers managed to reschedule or vary their contracts early enough by mutual agreement, which while somewhat disappointing, removed some of the anxiety for all parties.

The CMA recently advised couples that they would be entitled to a refund if they cancelled their wedding or for example if they postponed their date but one of their suppliers could not fit with that date. However this is advice. A court ruling for a venue recently ruled that in terms of refunds/cancellation fees they were entitled to 37.5% of the contract prices which was the proportion of the contract that covered the business costs of existence – the ability to run. Another ruling closer to home also ruled that a 50% cancellation fee was enforceable when the cancellation had been requested at the start of lockdown for a wedding in September.

The answer as to whether you are entitled to a refund is different for each event and each supplier. It will depend on the contract you signed, the circumstances in which you cancelled and the ability that the supplier has to provide a service.

The pre-estimate of the damages a business would suffer in case of a cancellation have for their purpose two principal objectives, i.e. (i) to enable the proper management of bookings in line with industry standards and (ii) to provide an income stream to cover the business overhead costs and make a profit. In the wedding industry, bookings tend to be made well in advance; the average time between a booking being placed and the event date for our tents for example is 17 months. It is therefore increasingly unlikely that a cancelled date will be filled the closer to the date the cancellation takes place.

Therefore most suppliers in the wedding industry, retain part of the price in the event of cancellation by a client. There has been much discussion about what is fair or unfair to charge as a cancellation fee, and some will quote ‘unfair terms’ regarding the need to pay a cancellation fee. However as referred to earlier, the nature of the wedding industry is such that bookings for related goods and services are taken a considerable time in advance and operators would simply be unable to run their businesses if bookings could be cancelled at a later date without assuring some income for the business given the slim chances of being able to secure a late booking in each case. It is testament to the reasonableness of provisions of this nature that clients historically agree to pay on this basis, both for us and other providers of goods and services in the wedding industry.

The cost of cancellation fees however, will massively vary from one supplier to another. A hairdresser with whom you have a hair appointment will be quite likely to resell that appointment, even at short notice, so will probably not expect a large cancellation fee. A photographer who works from home will probably need to cover their admin costs, but the closer to the date your cancellation is, the higher that fee might be as it is increasingly unlikely they will get work for the date they have been cancelled. A venue however will need to cover many more overheads – the costs that enable your venue to exist through the year and so be available for all the events they book. So their cancellation fee will almost certainly be calculated as percentage of the overall contract rather than a simple loss of booking fee. In real terms this is usually between 25% and 100% depending how close to your event date you cancel. You must look carefully at the Terms and Conditions for each supplier at the time of booking and before you sign any contracts. It is also our advice that you take out wedding insurance with a reputable company as soon as you book your first supplier so that should you need to cancel you will be covered.

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Proud to be a MUTA member

Elite Tents are proud members of MUTA, the UK’s only trade association dedicated to marquees, tents and structures. Being a MUTA member isn’t as simple as paying a subscription fee. We’re bound by a code of practice, follow an industry-leading best practice guide, and are regularly inspected on-site and at our premises to make sure we meet the highest of standards. (Which we always do!) So, don’t take a risk, use Elite Tents and you’ll know you are in SAFE HANDS.

Authentic Nordic Tipi Association

Elite Tents insist on Tipis made by Tentipi and are proud members of the ANTA. Tentipi have been manufacturing Authentic Nordic Tipis for over 25 years and their quality is second to none. With a Tentipi Tent you DO NOT NEED TO WORRY about having a 'weatherproofing option' as these tents were designed for the weather in Scandanavia and will stand up to wind, rain or whatever the British weather can throw at them!