We chat to Bronte Hall about starting over post-pandemic hiring out giant tipis for weddings and events with her partner Brett Jackson.
The last 18 months have been challenging, to say the least; the whole of the weddings and events industry has felt the effect of the pandemic but I’m sure we’re not alone when we say that we really can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
For the last three weekends we’ve been “sold out” – it’s wonderful to walk into the unit and see it stripped bare of all of our equipment because it’s at various sites across Yorkshire. It’s out doing what it does best – creating the perfect backdrop to a memorable wedding, party or event for our lovely clients.
This is a stark reality in comparison to this time last year when the unit was empty because we’d decided to sell everything. Tipis, furniture and anything that we didn’t need had to go. We really battened down the hatches and cut all of our overheads to ensure survival through such an uncertain time in life, let alone business.
Fast forward to today and we’ve got 10 brand new giant tipis, bespoke furniture, new vehicles and a fresh team of build crew. The challenges we’re facing now we’re back in the season and actually building tents are those we can cope with – vehicle maintenance, staff shortages, someone’s missed an essential bit of build kit when loading up, so you’ve got to run it out last minute… But this is all part and parcel of what we do and keeps things interesting and each day different.
If I said the typical day started a good hour before the crew arrive to the unit, with a civilised breakfast and a cup of tea, I’d be lying… This is always our grand plan but during the season we work seven days a week and sleep is a luxury! The reality for us is a 30 minute dash from throwing the quilt off, to jumping in the shower, then grabbing a quick slice of toast (with a boiled egg for Brett) before opening the front door and stepping into the unit… Usually there’s two or three of our crew already there cracking on with the day’s tasks.
Duties in a morning rarely differ; the clients and job builds are different, but we always follow the same format. Vehicles are loaded/unloaded, checked and secured to get on the road. Tools and packed lunches are loaded then the different crew teams set off for their day on site. Usually, we have two teams out daily, this amounts to four vehicles with trailers and 10 crew members.
It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve talked through the plan, checked the vehicles and job packs there is always that little niggle that you’ve forgotten something. Nine times out of 10 we haven’t and it’s just your overactive brain playing tricks on you because it knows the pressure we put on ourselves to make sure our jobs are perfect.
Everything we do has an element of urgency. With our events we rarely see repeat clients. The majority of our business comes from weddings and these are a once-in-a-lifetime event, there’s no second chances so we must get it right first time. Each of our clients and couples get our full attention in the lead up to their event. This starts in the office with six and four weekly check lists and is carried right through to the build day when the crew create the tipis in the exact formation that has been 12-18 months in the planning.
We don’t like problems – we don’t really have time for them… Of course, the nature of the job means we do encounter things that don’t go quite to plan occasionally but the show must go on and in the fast paced environment that we work problems get solved.
Brett and I are lucky that we are surrounded by a team that are smart and hard working. Each member fully understands the ethos of what we do and why we do it.
We do rush around on a daily basis and run out of hours in the day and days in the week, but believe that taking some time out is important, not just for us but for the team. I could quite happily sit at my laptop from 8am–8pm and not stop but this isn’t healthy or productive, for anyone. Brett and I try and make sure we have 30 minutes for lunch. When we can we’ll have lunch together, often with Katy our event planner. It’s a good time to fill each other in on the different elements of our days and also assign action tasks to each other’s ever growing lists!
At the end of the day we are more often than not exhausted! But we can’t complain too much… our workload is concentrated to six months of the year. April to September is when we’re in the season and it’s seven days a week and countless hours each day. October to March is when we take stock, get a regular sleeping pattern back and spend more time with our loved ones (who get somewhat neglected during the summer season).
The reasons we love doing what we do are quite literally endless. If we didn’t have the love for weddings, events and tipis it just wouldn’t work! No two days are the same, none of our clients are the same, none of the builds we embark on are the same. This keeps it interesting – we never quite know what to expect when the vehicles leave the yard in a morning, but you can guarantee the crew will come back with a story…
We’re unbelievably proud of what we’ve achieved, proud of our team, and proud of each other. What we do isn’t easy, it takes hard work, dedication and all of your time but the results we get make it more than worthwhile. Receiving feedback from ecstatic couples, birthday guys/gals, their family and friends puts it all into context. We can say, proudly, that we contribute to a huge part of our clients’ events and our contribution forms part of their memories that will stay with them forever. To add to this, we do it together – every step of the way.
About Bronte Hall and Brett Jackson
Bronte and Brett have been in the wedding industry for 10 years. Four years ago, Brett launched his tipi hire business and two years ago, Bronte joined the team. The perfect duo, Brett heads up operations and is most often found on site with his factor 50, not too far away from a tipi pole. Bronte is usually in the office chatting to clients or buried in a gripping excel spreadsheet!
About Garden Weddings Tipi Hire
Covering Yorkshire and surrounding areas, Garden Weddings Tipi Hire erects giant tipis for weddings, parties and events. The office is based at Brett and Bronte’s home and flagship venue, Skipbridge Country Weddings. www.garden-weddings.co.uk