You’re planning an event, an outdoor event. Everything is set – venue, food, drinks, entertainment, décor – it’s all ready to go. RSVP’s are rolling in and your event is shaping up to be everything you’ve envisioned. Fast forward to event day…. Have you checked the weather? Look outside – what do you see? Weather everywhere can be unpredictable. If you’re here in Kansas, you could see anything from sun and blue sky to wind, rain, hail, snow, and/or lightning in temperatures ranging from freezing to blistering hot and sometimes all in one day! (You think I’m joking about that last part, but as I write this the temperature is going from near 60 degrees, calm and balmy at 4:30 a.m. to 40 degrees in about 20 minutes. Temps will be dropping to the mid-20’s tonight. Kansas weather is weird.)
The Shay Chic Crew will rarely plan an outdoor event without an indoor backup option; but if your dream event absolutely must take place in the great outdoors, here are a few tips to ensure you’re prepared for what may come your way on your big day!
Zoning and permits. Once you have your perfect outdoor venue located be sure you know what, if any, permits are required and all the can’s and can not’s before booking your vendors and sending out invitations. If you choose a private venue, this information should be available through the venue coordinator. If utilizing a public venue (parks, campgrounds, etc) this information should be available through your local city or county offices.
Tents: No matter your favor with the weather gods, there is always a chance for inclement weather and you want to be sure you can minimize or eliminate the potential hazards that can bring the party to a screeching halt (and damage expensive equipment in the process). Tents are a great way to do just that. Be sure to choose a tent with sidewall options. You will also need lighting inside the tent after the sun sets. Heating or cooling options should be explored as well to keep everyone comfortable.
Keep it comfy: Speaking of comfort, some outdoor event facilities are designed specifically for that purpose and make planning these events easier. Those venues may already have tables and chairs, lighting, pest control and restroom facilities available. If not, those are amenities you’ll want to make sure are in place. You will also want to ensure you have plenty of water to drink and depending on the time of year you’ll want to consider those items listed above as well as fans to keep guests cool or light blankets to keep them toasty. If temperatures are extreme, talk to your tent vendor to explore ways to keep everyone in the mood to celebrate.
Choose weather friendly décor. Instead of fabric-covered or cushioned chairs, choose something easy to clean and dry like wood, plastic or metal. Rather than light, top-heavy floral centerpieces that are easily blown around choose lower profile pieces that are heavier or add weight to the base of your vase so that they stay in place with a few gusts of wind. Avoid glass décor; no one wants to deal with a glass cut from a broken center piece. If you want the soft glow of candlelight, opt for battery-operated candles vs live flames; firefighting should not be something anyone has to tackle on their event day. (Many outdoor and some indoor venues do not allow live flame candles for this very reason.)
Confirm outdoor plans with your vendors. An outdoor event doesn’t mean you won’t need the same equipment as an indoor event and may require additional supplies for some vendors. Tents take several hours to set up and tear down and are generally set up a day or two prior to an event and taken down a day or two after the event. This will need to be approved by your venue site in advance. Caterers will need to know where they will be prepping and serving from as well as if they’ll need to bring equipment to protect the food from the elements or unwanted guests of the insect or furry variety. Other vendors such as photographers, lighting/sound, and your entertainment will need to ensure they have adequate power sources for their equipment.
Set expectations for your guests. Will your event be outside for 6 hours in the middle of summer? Give them a chance to wear comfortable clothes and pack some water. Is your event on hilly terrain? Let your guests know about that so they can choose sensible shoes.
Have a backup plan. If your venue has an indoor backup option, confirm that it can accommodate the same number of guests as the original outdoor venue. Indoor venues have a maximum capacity due to fire codes and other safety restrictions and can vary greatly from venue to venue. Let your vendors know how far in advance of your event you will make the call. Communicate your indoor backup plan to your vendors and guests as early as possible so you’re not scrambling to reach everyone with instructions the day of your event.
Stick to the plan: You’ll be able to enjoy your day and if the unexpected happens, you’ll be ready. If you fail to prepare for and execute the plan, you will be more miserable than your guests are.
Still planning your event? Shay Chic Productions is your full-service shop for weddings and events. We offer planning and design services, theme development, and custom décor. We have a network of stellar vendors to meet all your needs from venues, caterers and bartenders to speakers and entertainment to photography and transportation, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re at the very beginning or filling in the last parts of your plan, reach out to the the Shay Chic Crew for all of your event needs!