Event planning has many moving parts year-round, but things get even more complicated when planning outdoor events. While they’re usually more informal and easygoing than indoor events, outdoor events need to account for more variables – including permits, restrooms, and weather conditions. Here are 10 outdoor event planning tips to make your first summer get-together one to remember!
1. Find a Fitting Venue For Your Outdoor Events
Your outdoor venue must align with your event’s goal and accommodate the activities you plan to have. For example, when planning outdoor events you want your event to have yard games, it will be most successful at a local park or athletic field. The venue’s surrounding environment also plays a significant role. Here are some unique factors to consider:
- Ground conditions
- Tree cover
- Nearby attractions (walking trails, scenic views, etc.)
- Wildlife (especially pests and poisonous plants)
Your outdoor venue also needs sufficient parking space. It doesn’t need to be a paved lot – any flat, stable surface will do the job on a nice summer day. However, if your guests need to park on grass or dirt, a rain shower will throw a wrench in your plans. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast in the days before your event.
Lastly, you should be able to fit porta-potties on the premises if the location doesn’t have available indoor restrooms. Try to put them in a shaded area to avoid overheating.
2. Acquire Permits Early
No matter the venue you choose, you’ll need to acquire some permits from the local municipality. You might need permits for zoning, lighting, food/beverages, a higher guest capacity, and other essential parts of your event. Research the required permits for your area and get full approval well in advance of the event.
3. Follow Other Safety Rules
Aside from government permits, your venue’s property owners will likely have specific safety requirements. You might need to follow these rules:
- Noise ordinances
- Fire safety codes
If you plan on having bright and loud attractions like music and fireworks, consult the property owners and local authorities before getting the equipment. Make sure everything is allowed first, then make the investments.
4. Get Seasonal Food and Entertainment
Your foods and beverages should fit with summer to make the event more picturesque. Barbeques, stir-fries, and pasta dishes are great options because they’re easy to cook outdoors and serve in large quantities. They also offer plenty of room for unique recipes and customizations. The beverages should be sweet and refreshing.
Your entertainment should also fit the summer aesthetic when planning outdoor events. Fireworks are a go-to option for many event planners during the summer. Still, you can also provide these fun attractions:
- Live music
- Scavenger hunt
- Drive-in movie
- Water games
These attractions will keep your guests active and engaged, but they won’t wear them out in the summer heat.
5. Protect Your Guests
Protection from the elements is a crucial part of your event’s success. Offering a covered area is a great way to prepare for anything, whether there’s a chance of rain or bright sun. Tents are a versatile option, as you can choose one to fit your needs based on the number of people, location, seating requirements, and size of event space.
If you have the budget for it, you can also consider providing guests with the following gear:
- Fans and heaters (summer temperatures change rapidly as the sun sets)
- Rain jackets or ponchos
- Bug spray
- First-aid kit
You should also encourage your guests to bring their own protective clothes and tools. Send them weather forecast updates several days before the event to keep them in the loop.
6. Make Your Venue Accessible
Make sure your venue is accessible for all guests by providing handicap assistance features, including ramps, solid lighting, and clear signage. You should also play on the safe side and get more portable bathrooms than you expect are necessary. Assess your venue and establish the areas that need to be tweaked for non-able-bodied guests.
7. Limit Your Event’s Footprint
Planning outdoor events requires more responsible setup practices than indoor events to avoid harming the environment. To minimize the event’s footprint, you need to stage your lights, sound system, tents, seating arrangements, and other equipment. Here are some ways to accomplish this goal:
- Use LED light fixtures.
- Rely more on natural lighting, if possible.
- Buy local food ingredients.
- Integrate recycling and composting.
- Eliminate paper and plastic products.
- Use solar energy to power your electric appliances.
These sustainable efforts will help the environment and make setup and cleanup more straightforward.
8. Set Aside More Time for Setup and Cleanup
Speaking of setup and cleanup, you should set aside more time for these procedures. Your summer outdoor event has more variables and risks than indoor events, such as facing sudden thunderstorms, working in extreme heat, and protecting your equipment from the elements.
You might have to postpone setup and cleanup on short notice, so giving yourself more time will ensure any crazy summer weather won’t interfere with the rest of your plans. Make sure you establish clear roles for everything, from staging the lights to setting up the chairs. Everyone should know their responsibilities to avoid stepping on each other’s toes.
9. Get Guest Feedback During the Event
Talk to your guests throughout the event and gather feedback about the food, entertainment, and other amenities. If they express any discomfort, you can find a solution before the day’s end rather than wait until afterward and read a bunch of negative reviews.
Guests will appreciate your professionalism and proactiveness and be more likely to attend future events.
10. Have a Backup Plan
As previously mentioned, a sudden change of weather can put your entire event on hold if you’re not prepared. Try to secure an indoor facility to shelter your guests and equipment if this scenario happens. Human error might cause a problem as well, so keep a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and other emergency tools nearby at all times.
Make Your Outdoor Events Memorable
Everyone loves a warm-weather outdoor get-together, but not everyone loves planning it. As the event planner, it’s your responsibility to tackle the tough tasks necessary to make your event a success. Food and entertainment are the obvious factors, but you also need to find the right venue, follow the rules, get permits, and make the area comfortable and accessible.
Follow these tips to make your outdoor summer event a memorable experience for everyone involved – including the guests and your team.
Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine Revivalist, and she enjoys keeping up with the exciting world of event planning and hospitality. Follow Cora on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more life, style, and home inspiration.