An immersive woodland venue where horses are welcome.
We talk to Amie Price of Firefly Tipis, who manages Forest Lodge Weddings on behalf of site owners Hannah and Jeff Hibbs. The small team worked hard to keep couples’ dreams on track through Covid and are now looking ahead to how they can bring more woodland wonder to nature lovers this season and beyond.
When did you start your venue business and what is its history?
Forest Lodge Weddings started in 2018 when the best friend of Little Lodge Farm owners, Hannah and Jeff Hibbs, asked to get married in their woodlands. It was from the success of this wedding that Forest Lodge Weddings was born in collaboration with us at Firefly Tipis.
Little Lodge Farm already offers holiday accommodation and equestrian breaks and the venue side of the business is an excellent diversification.
Tell us about your location and site
Set in a secluded private woodland at Little Lodge Farm in the heart of Thetford Forest, the Forest Lodge site is surrounded by nature. Covered by a canopy of trees, it is our aim to realise woodland wedding dreams for couples looking to embrace the great outdoors.
We offer rustic, bohemian and classic weddings – they can all benefit from this magical and mystical setting in the forest. We are also horse and dog friendly so couples can bring their beloved animal along to the ceremony or make their entrance atop a horse!
The main challenge with being an outdoor venue is the good old British weather, so our wedding season runs from May to September.
What facilities for outdoor functions do you offer?
The natural woodland canopy is perfect for outdoor ceremonies. We also offer a giant Nordic tipi along with rustic props and furniture, on-site camping and lodges (subject to availability), exclusive use of a mobile horsebox bar and luxury toilet hire. There is also the facility to stable a horse before and after the ceremony.
What services do you offer?
We are licensed to hold legal ceremonies and offer bespoke wedding packages which include wedding planning and an onsite wedding coordinator.
Describe how you researched and sourced your structures
All of the structures needed to gain the ceremony licence were researched and granted with the help of the local council. The tipis offer something different to the traditional white marquee and they fit in perfectly with the woodland venue and theme.
How do you work with your customers to make their event unique?
We work very closely with all our customers and help them with everything we can from start to finish. Our team takes away the stress and strain of organising a wedding with over 12 years’ experience in the industry.
How do you publicise yourself?
We publicise ourselves through our website and have Facebook and Instagram accounts. We have had some excellent coverage in local press and are planning print advertising in wedding magazines and to attend some wedding shows.
How would you describe your style or unique selling point?
We are a completely unique rustic outdoor woodland wedding venue.
How did the pandemic impact you?
Covid has had a huge impact on us. We lost thousand of pounds worth of business in 2020-21 with the country being in lockdown and then with the restrictions put in place. It meant that many weddings couldn’t take place and had to be postponed. We worked with all of our customers to rearrange wedding dates not once but twice on some occasions.
It was such a difficult time for many couples that had to make the decision on whether to go ahead with a wedding with restrictions on guest numbers or to postpone or cancel completely. We were lucky that we were able to help so many rearrange their weddings and kept in constant contact with couples, suppliers and staff to ensure that all needs were met during this time.
How large is your team?
We are a very small but close team and work with some fabulous local suppliers.
What are your plans for next season?
Our plan is to spread the love for the great outdoors and have our wedding business thrive, with the possibility of offering more on-site accommodation.
Describe your average day mid-season
Early to rise and late to finish, on your feet most of the day coordinating the wedding couple, guests and suppliers.
What do you enjoy about the business and why?
The days may be long and hard at times, but it’s such a joy to see a wedding couple finally have the day they have dreamed of with all their friends and family around them.
What other outdoor hospitality sectors do you operate in?
We work closely with the owners of Little Lodge Farm who offer lodge stays, camping and are hosting a music festival this year.
What are you most proud of?
What we have achieved with a small piece of beautiful woodland.
What advice could you give to someone coming into the industry?
It’s hard work, long hours and there are many working weekends during the wedding season, so make the most of your time off. But it is very rewarding!
Firefly Tipis www.firefly-tipis.co.uk
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Forest Lodge Weddings