As warmer weather approaches and the outdoor event season comes into full swing, inclement weather and pesky insects may be on a mission to disrupt your plans. Use these tips to prepare for the worst and ensure your guests are comfortable throughout the event.
1. Be prepared for bad weather. Rain, wind, hail, hot and cold weather can all disrupt your summer event plans. Addressing these issues early on may save you some day of stress.
o Monitor weather forecasts as far in advance as available - typically 10 days prior.
o Have umbrellas on hand for the ceremony and to escort guests indoors. This can be helpful in case of rain and for sun protection as well.
o Have coat racks and floor mats available indoors to protect your décor from mud and drenched items brought inside.
o Verify that your décor is weather-appropriate and can withstand the environment. Metal chairs are not good for hot or cold days and cushioned chairs may not fare well in rain. Table and chair legs should be wide enough for soft ground. Hurricane lanterns and flameless candles will maintain ambiance even when it's a blustery day.
o Anchor décor to prepare for potential wind. Loose centerpieces, flowers, invitations and signage can all be blown around by strong winds. Fishing weights are helpful in securing linens and holding down other items.
o Rent air conditioners and space heaters to keep guests comfortable. Light blankets and shawls can be helpful and can second as a favor as well.
o Hold food and flowers until the last minute as they will spoil in both hot and rainy weather. 2. Plan for nuisances.
o Bug spray, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, fans and water will help keep guests comfortable during a long spout outdoors.
o During the planning process, you should look for ant hills and areas with swarms of gnats, bees or mosquitoes. In most cases, you can have the grounds sprayed in advance to get rid of pests.
o Cover food and open beverages to avoid attracting animals and insects.
o Prepare a shaded area for older guests and those who will not be able to remain in the sun for long periods of time. Patio umbrellas are a unique option for creating your own shade during the event. 3. Know the location's particulars at peak times.
o If you are planning a wedding or other seated staged event, know where the sun will be during the event and plan accordingly. To optimize the comfort level of wedding guests, the sun during the ceremony should be at their backs so there is clear visibility in the front.
o Plan to provide wind blockers if there aren't any naturally in place.
o Listen for additional noises. Car traffic, trains, construction and beach waves can all have an impact on the event's success. Key features, such as an altar or stage, should be placed where background noise is the least distracting. This will also help you adjust speaker and microphone levels.
4. Don't forget about lighting.
o All areas where guests and staff will gather will need lighting for any event taking place past sunset. This includes walkways, parking lots, hallways and bathrooms.
o Check with your venue regarding power capabilities and regulations for the outdoor space. 5. Bathrooms need tending also.
o Facilities that are too far away may result in unruly guests using your event surroundings as their personal outhouse.
o Public restrooms, such as park facilities or beach locations, may need a sprucing in order to appeal to guests. Add scented candles, air freshener, grooming supplies and toilet paper to enhance the appearance and functionality.
o Site staff may not be available to tend to these needs during your event. Check with your venue and schedule staff accordingly.
6. Test your communication and sound equipment early on.
o If you will be using walkies to coordinate entrances and entertainment, make sure to test them prior to the event.
o Remember that hills, trees and distance can disrupt signals.
o Added noise outdoors may also impact the functionality of handsets. Come properly equipped with headsets as a backup.
o Know the appropriate sound levels for microphones and speakers so all guests can hear through wind and background noise.
o Confirm city noise ordinances for the day/time of the event so neighbors are not disrupted.
7. Know the needs of your guests.
o Informing them of the outdoor location will allow them to prepare for grass or unpaved walkways; skinny heels may sink in the ground.
o Be ready for muddy grounds and prepare ways to compensate. Wood chips and hay are good options to cover pathways.
o Prepare for slippery walkways, wind blown objects, etc.
o Have accessibility options for guests with mobility issues. 8. Always have a Plan C!
o Reserve a tent/indoor facility/pavilion in case of truly inclement weather.
o If you plan ahead, you can have the entire secondary set up prepared in advance (DJ booth, table set up, food, etc.) for quick turnaround the day of the event.
o Creating a phone tree or emergency contact list in advance can inform guests of cancellations or revised locations at the last minute.
There's no way to prepare for everything, but these tips will keep you calm and ahead of the game in case of an emergency.
eNews April 2013