Planning Permission for a Permanent Tipi Wedding Venue

The wedding industry in the UK in the past decade has seen a big shift towards more personalised and unique experiences, moving away from the traditional church wedding ceremonies and function room celebrations. The rustic, natural aesthetic wedding stands out for its timeless appeal and the versatility of the venues. Creating an outdoor event space within a tipi creates a quintessential venue for couples looking to capture the essence of rustic elegance.

When hosting a wedding in an outdoor setting, however, it is essential to know the necessary planning permissions, as well as the licensing requirements and legalities for carrying out the weddings themselves. In this guide, brought to you by The Tipi Company, we’ll explore the key aspects of licences, insurance, and legal requirements that should be on your checklist when establishing a permanent tipi wedding venue in the UK.

Key considerations for permanent tipi installations

Establishing a permanent outdoor shade structure as a wedding venue comes with its own set of challenges, chief among them being planning permission. Historically, the UK supports ventures that contribute to the rural economy, especially as there are a huge number of grants available to support businesses to do so. Planning can be a complex process so it is important to understand the specific requirements that pertain to your property, such as size limitations, location considerations, and intended use. We would advise applying for pre-planning to gain guidance from your local planning authority on what they would like to see from the space. 

Consider the colour of your tipi too. Most of our tipis are manufactured in our Sand Beige colour, but our Forest Green or Mocha Brown may be more appropriate for your surroundings. The right colour can help a tipi blend seamlessly, and look as if it had always been there, which can be preferable for some planning committees. 

Due to the Great British weather and the conditions an outdoor structure can be subjected to, we have engineered a range of Enhancements with giant roll-up windows that are fitted along the front of the tipis. These Windows can be unzipped and rolled up in the hotter summer temperatures, whilst they can be quickly zipped down once the sun sets in the evening to create a cosy atmosphere inside. These fantastic additions can extend the event season for your tipi and transform it into an all-year-round outdoor event space. 

Our team of Tipi Experts can assist you during the process, providing you with floorplans, indicative pricing, and photos to help you with your planning submission. 

Civil ceremony licence for outdoor weddings

Before opening your tipi wedding venue to the public, navigating the legal landscape is a very important step. Not everyone will be able to obtain a civil ceremony licence, so it might be that your venue is only suitable for non-legally binding ceremonies where couples complete the legal paperwork at the register office beforehand. This then allows the couples the opportunity to hold a more personalised ceremony at your tipi venue led by a celebrant or even a friend. 

If you want to host legally binding weddings at your venue, you will need to apply for a civil ceremony licence from your local council.

When it comes to applying for your civil ceremony licence, you have to have a ‘fixed and permanent structure’ already in place that can sufficiently hold the couple, two witnesses, and two registrars. It’s part of this licence requirement that the couple must be able to stand within the structure for the duration of the ceremony – the guests can look on from the outdoor area. 

One solution that’s proven popular amongst our clients is the use of an outdoor wooden gazebo. It is here that the couple, witnesses and registrars can stand, while guests can either be seated outside under the sunshine, or a tipi can be used to cover the guest’s seating area.  

When the council assesses your venue, they will focus on the health & safety of your site, and it would need to be considered ‘seemly and dignified’ in order to be granted a civil ceremony licence. 

You can read more about the Approval of Premises Process in England and Wales on the website.

Other licences, insurance, and legal requirements

The specific licences needed to operate a wedding venue will differ based on the venue’s type and the number of events you intend to host annually. For example: 

  • Premises Licence or a Temporary Events Notice (TEN) – if you’re not already licensed to hold events at your venue, you will need to apply for either of these licences in order to carry out ‘licensable activities’ such as selling alcohol, serving food and providing entertainment. Deciding which of these licences to apply for will depend on the number of events you plan to hold each year. 
  • Tipis can be erected without planning permission BUT only for a maximum of 28 days per year. Some councils dictate that the 28-day rule includes set-up and set-down days too, while other councils say this applies to 28 separate event days excluding setup and set-down days. 
  • You will need to apply for planning permission if you want to erect a permanent structure on your site. 
  • We strongly recommend that anyone thinking of launching an outdoor wedding and event venue should contact their local council as soon as possible to talk through their requirements and what licences will be needed. 

What insurance do outdoor wedding venues need?

Insurance coverage is equally crucial during the initial setup phases and will need to cover potential liabilities and unforeseen circumstances. For an outdoor event to be successful, there are a lot of suppliers and individuals involved. The five types of insurance coverage you will need to operate as a successful outdoor wedding venue are:

  • Public Liability insurance
  • Employer’s liability insurance
  • Premises cover
  • Cancellation cover
  • Specialist equipment cover


Using an insurance broker to help you work out exactly what your site needs would be the safest option. Insurance companies such as Blythin & Brown are such a company that specialises in this field so it is worth reaching out to similar businesses that offer the same type of policy. 

It is also crucial that you obtain copies of the above insurance from all the suppliers you are permitting onsite to ensure their businesses are also adequately covered.

Helping you begin your journey to launching an outdoor wedding venue business

There is a lot to consider when it comes to the initial stages of launching your wedding tipi business, from gaining planning permission for a permanent tipi wedding venue to obtaining the relevant licences, but we at The Tipi Company are here to help you, every step of the way. We build more than tipis, we help build businesses. 

For more information on our tipis, the types we have available, and how they can transform your business, get in contact with the team at The Tipi Company.