Beauty and privacy attracts those seeking something genuinely different for their big day.
A short drive from Port Isaac and Tintagel, inextricably linked with the legend of King Arthur, lies Tregildrans Quarry from where Elizabeth Tom, whose family have been farmers and quarrymen in the immediate area of St Kew for nine generations, owns and manages Cornish Tipi Weddings.
Tell us about your venue
We’re located five minutes inland from the famous fishing village of Port Isaac (home to both Doc Martin and the shanty ensemble, Fishermen’s Friends) on the North Cornish coast. Our 20 acre site, clothed in ferns and bluebells, is unique; a woodland valley folded around a clear, spring-fed lake created from the old Tregildrans Quarry. Obviously a site of this nature presents many challenges when becoming a function venue, not least the fact that we are off grid.
What made you decide to cater for weddings?
We didn’t set out to be wedding planners, but we have found that the beauty and privacy of our existing glamping site attracts couples who want something genuinely different for their big day.
What facilities do you offer?
We have a fully licensed wedding pavilion in a little clearing in the woods for outdoor wedding ceremonies, a big marquee in a specially landscaped meadow for receptions and parties, and on-site accommodation in our tipis and wild camping for over 200 people.
What services do you offer?
We provide a full wedding service from first contact down to every detail of the day itself, with experts in the office ranging from dedicated wedding co-ordinators to venue staff. Whatever a couple’s dreams and inspiration, we help make their day the way they want it to be. We know set dressers and party makers, celebrants, photographers and puppeteers, storytellers and nannies, interesting caterers and homemade pasty makers, local breweries and organic apple juice crushers. We can offer a Cornish piper or harmonising fishermen, haunting Celtic harp or pulsing didgeridoo. Outside power can produce serious dance, rollicking ceilidh or a tiny PA might be sufficient for an elegant string quartet or gentle acoustic set.
How did you research and source your marquee?
We kept our eyes peeled on the internet, talked to contacts and made decisions based on budget and style. It’s constructed of wood, willow and canvas and located not on a manicured lawn but beside a clear brook and under a canopy of oak and ash.
How do you make each wedding unique?
Pretty much everything we offer is unique! Couples might be drawn to a vision of a fairy glade; the sparkly slippered bride and beaming groom exchanging vows beside a mighty oak before they and their guests embark on a procession past stream and hedgerow, accompanied by flute and fiddle. Children, clutching posies, skip alongside as all make their way to a tented pavilion filled with food and flowers. After the sun sets, candles in paper lanterns throw soft light across the winding paths leading to a party lit by a thousand fairy lights. Couples might consider Cornish designers for special outfits using recycled or vintage clothing, artisan jewellers and local suppliers of seasonal food and drink. And they’re bound to be drawn to a low impact environment utilising a small amount of resources and renewable technologies.
Like many businesses started round the kitchen table, we were short on capital investment but big on ideas and commitment – one that extended beyond our own immediate area into the global community and environment. We’ve always believed that our personal philosophy of ‘do as you would be done by’ should extend into everything we do – be it sourcing Fairtrade cotton for our company T-shirts through using recycled materials to house our new office, to our pricing structure with regard to people with children, single parents, etc.
From the beginning we deliberately took an old fashioned, more organic approach. This meant working with the community and the environment rather than against them, building slowly from a small base, learning how sustainability and best business practice could work together. We attempted to shape our plans to produce as low a carbon footprint as possible, as this was not only ethically sound but eminently practicable for a fledgling green business. Every day we make decisions with our principles in mind.
How do you publicise yourself?
We use websites, social media, blogs, some very limited print advertising and occasional wedding fairs. Our glamping business is on Cool Camping and we feature in Alastair Sawday’s ‘Handpicked and Inspected Special Places to Stay.’ For weddings we are on Festival Brides, Green Union, Natural Wedding Co and national blogs such as Love My Dress alongside a plethora of other media, press and website reviews.
How would you describe your style?
We are committed to providing a genuinely individual service that is both highly enjoyable and environmentally sustainable. Our style is Bohemian, rustic and eco-friendly.
What challenges have you faced?
We’ve experienced problems with planning, wedding licensing and noise pollution, which have resulted in difficulties with both the neighbours and the local council.
Have you any other hospitality interests?
We have 20 authentic style North American tipis and two spacious bell tents. The tipis are made of cotton canvas on a framework of locally sourced wooden lodge poles, bound with twine and hessian rope. These majestic structures are more than 18 feet high, providing a generous living area. Eleven tipis are situated in the Village Field and the remainder are on private sites, bordered by trees and hedges, situated singly or doubly in private clearings.
Over the past 20 years we’ve had fun with drumming workshop weekends, corporate team building, university reunions and hen parties, inner city children, yoga retreats, outward bound adventures, meditation and healing, find your inner man, learner divers, canoers and kayakers, Brownie groups and church outings, adventure trekkers and walking groups, surprise birthday weekends, bird spotters, artists, surfers and historians. A pretty diverse bunch, but all of whom appreciated the beauty and simplicity of tipi life in our hidden valley just minutes away from some of the most spectacular coastline in the UK.
Do you enjoy the business?
I enjoy being in control of my own business, but work long hours for less profit than many of my peers.
Your advice for those entering the industry?
It’s probably safer to work for someone else!
A: Tregeare, Pendoggett, St Kew, Cornwall, PL30 3LW
T: 01208 880781