Outdoor events feature natural ambiance, flexibility and an element of relaxation--no matter how formal the celebration or gathering might be. But outdoor events are also inherently higher risks from an event professional’s perspective, involving more preparation and logistics than indoor productions. There are several important considerations when you are trying to successfully navigate outdoor events.
1. Schedule strategic site visits.
When handling an outdoor event, site visits--with and without clients--need to be planned strategically. If you are coordinating a wedding ceremony, for example, your site visit should occur at the same time of day and year as the ceremony will be held so you can get an accurate picture of what light and temperature conditions will be. It can also be helpful to visit after a heavy rain so you can take note of drainage patterns and other areas of concern.
2. Plan for inclement weather for every single event.
The factor that can most complicate outdoor event plans is the weather. You cannot predict it with 100 percent accuracy, and no matter how your client protests, “hoping” it will not rain or snow has absolutely no impact on reality.
We take a multi-step approach to rain plans. First, we monitor weather reports carefully and take a long look at the five-day forecast. It’s a mistake not to consider the weather in the days leading up to an event. You might luck out and get perfect event-day weather, but rough weather in the days leading up to the event could well mean that the ground is completely saturated and unstable, requiring additional equipment and supplies. Attention to the weather for the full week prior to the event allows you to anticipate such needs.
We also require our clients to sign a tent agreement as an acknowledgment that outdoor events come with the risk of adverse weather conditions. It says that our recommendation for your event in a region that is subtropical is that you plan your activities to include a tent. If a client doesn’t agree to hire a tent, the agreement is proof that we made a professional suggestion that was declined. It is protection if the client’s bad decision is responsible for anything going wrong due to weather that could have been anticipated on the event day.
3. Consider other weather woes.
Precipitation isn’t the only possible weather challenge for an outdoor event. Excessive humidity can cause guest discomfort. On the other end of the thermometer, a severe cold snap could kill all existing greenery, necessitating landscape services to repair the look. When planning an outdoor event, you always need to be prepared for the effects of all kinds of weather.
4. Address the needs of all your vendors when out of doors.
Electrical access at an outdoor event might be readily available, or it might need to be provided by the client in the form of a generator or access to a nearby building. Not having electricity could mean that your live band cannot perform as planned, or that your caterer will be unable to start meal preparation. Access to water and portable restrooms can make or break the event, and something as simple as whether or not you are allowed to stake the sides of a tent can completely make or break the day.
Outdoor events come with a lot of complicating factors. Your attention to these details will make you an invaluable asset to any client trying to navigate their outdoor events.
Kim Sayatovic is the founder and chief creative officer of Belladeux Event Design, a full-service wedding and event design firm based in New Orleans.