Every event and wedding planner has their chance to host an outdoor event – whether it’s just for a ceremony or for an afternoon garden party! So how can you avoid disaster when the weather decides to take a turn for the worst?
An outdoor venue requires meticulous preparation and backup plans. From décor to seating, you should expect the unexpected throughout your planning process!
Read on for 5 steps to choosing the right outdoor event décor.
Step 1: Keep It Sturdy
Of course, the most important thing to assess about your outdoor event setup is its stability. No one wants the food canopy to flip over from a strong gust of wind – that would be an absolute disaster! Keeping all elements of the décor sturdy and firmly planted will save you from potential emergencies.
If you’re using food tents, canopies, or arches, be sure to secure them to the ground extremely well. You can purchase a pack of tent pegs from an outdoor store, and use strong ties to secure each section even more. Our recommendation is to always have a backup tie or peg, just in case your initial one fails. You never know what can happen!
In terms of décor, be sure to fasten every piece to its original place. For centerpieces, use a heavy center or filling to keep them in place. With florals and vases, use string ties to keep them standing and secure.
However, the most important element to focus on is your table settings – napkins and tablecloths have a tendency to go flying first! Use double-sided tape to stick your linens to the table, and place napkins under a small decorative weight or the silverware. Your guests will be in charge of their napkins after the meal!
Step 2: Add Coverage
Just as the wind can wreak havoc on your event setup, the rain can bring misery to your guests. For outdoor events, always ensure there is an option for coverage or moving indoors. No one wants to stand out in the pouring rain while they’re looking their best!
Tents and canopies work well for this purpose, but you’ll need to make sure there is enough room for everyone to fit underneath. As well, try to keep them away from deep grass or dirt – this will just lead to muddy shoes and sinking heels.
For larger events like weddings, you should encourage your clients to choose a venue with an indoor hall in case of inclement weather. Your bride will NOT want to get soaked in the dress, makeup, and hair that she spent hundreds – even thousands – of dollars on! Remind her of this and she should jump on board right away.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning an outdoor event, add a note in your invitations for guests to bring a jacket and umbrella with them.
Step 3: Add Water Resistance
Even if it doesn’t rain on the day of the event, there may still be some lingering moisture in the air or on the ground you’ll need to fend off. Rain a few days before an event can make for soggy or slippery ground – which can seep into seating and other décor.
An easy way to mask the moisture? Invest in a water-resistant spray for your décor. Water-proofing products tend to come in various forms, like for fabrics or wood, and you can choose ones which suit the needs of your event. These will save most of your décor arrangements, but you’ll still want to have a covered area for guests.
Be sure they’re safe to use, and then spray away!
Step 4: Assess the Ground
When selecting your outdoor event venue, be sure to assess what the ground is like before signing any contracts. If you view a venue on a beautiful sunny day, you could be tricked into seeing well-tended grass and missing the softness of the ground. Grass is a great option for outdoor events – but it can turn to tragedy when rain strikes.
A soft ground will be difficult for guests to walk on (especially those in heels!) and no one wants to be flicking mud up at the person behind them. Another potential pitfall is the angle of the ground and lack of drainage systems. Without a place for water to run off, your event will become a soggy mess!
Step 5: Light It Up
Yes, most event planners already know how important lighting is for creating the perfect atmosphere at events. But with outdoor events, planners need to be vigilant of areas where it may be difficult to see where you’re going! Even during the day, cloud cover can make some areas dark and difficult to navigate.
An easy solution is purchasing light sensitive garden lamps, which will turn on when the sun goes down. Use them to light up a footpath, around a pond, or anywhere else you can think of! Stringed lights are also a great option, but lighting up the ground should be your first priority.