Tips For Planning an Event in the Great Outdoors

What creates a more lasting impression than an outdoor event? Don’t miss the opportunity to showcase your organization in the ultimate venue – nature!

As the temperatures rise, people are anxious to get outdoors. What better place to hold an event than under the brilliance of the sun or a blanket of stars?

Outdoor events offer some of the most memorable and pleasant experiences, but with it comes a multitude of extra planning. Mother Nature is magnificent, but also unpredictable. How can you plan for both the expected and unexpected events when using an outdoor venue?

1. Plan for the worst. When picking an outdoor venue, consider what back up plans are available for inclement weather. For example, when using a park, find out if there are shelters available to use if you get caught with showers or high winds. Using a tent? Are there flaps that come down and protect your guests against rain & wind?

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2. When using an outdoor space at a hotel, ask if they automatically reserve an indoor meeting space as a back-up. If not, find out what they suggest and if possible, hold a room inside as an alternative location, even if it involves a cost.

3. Let your guests know in advance when and where the outdoor event will be held. Offer suggested attire based on the expected temperatures and/or theme of your event. Proper attire is a must. Women will want to know they should stick with flat shoes or wedges so their heels are not sinking into a lawn or trudging through sand.


4. Easy access to bathrooms! Check on the accessibility of restrooms for your guests. If using a park, be sure to make sure the facilities are in good, clean condition and request they be refreshed and monitored, before and during your event. If there is no easy access, you will need to rent portable restrooms. If the thought leaves you unsure, be comforted in knowing that there are some newer, deluxe versions that are quite nice and upgraded.


5. Often, you need to bring in your own caterer for outdoor events, especially in non-traditional spots like parks. It is important to find out all of the licenses, permits and/or approvals needed in advance. If you are serving alcohol, ask up front if it is allowed and inquire about any special fees associated with both food and beverage.


6. Talk to your caterer and make sure they are equipped to handle serving food outdoors, particularly in hot environments. Make sure they or the venue provide adequate cold storage so no one gets food poisoning and you have plenty of ice.

7. Seating is a must and not all facilities offer chairs and tables. If they do, be sure to see them in person first. Impressions count so you want to make sure everything is up to snuff, including special linens and centerpieces. If they are not available, find an event company who offers these services, including pick up and drop off so you are not left scrambling.

8. Outdoor décor can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like. Find out what other groups have done and what the venue supplies. You can never go wrong with strings of white lights. If you are planning a themed event, like a luau or country theme, see if they have some decorations on hand to use. From flower leis to hay bales covered in blankets, make the most of your outdoor experience and have some fun!

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9. Safety precautions should be planned well in advance. If an unexpected storm with high winds or even a tornado or high tide come through, have a plan in place where your group needs to go, as well as your staffing plan to round people up quickly and efficiently. Both you and the venue should have a plan to monitor weather and make announcements as needed.

10. Planning to have a presenter or band? Be sure to take into account the acoustics you will have. If you need a screen outdoors you will have to get a sturdy screen and high definition projector with enough lumens for brightness to provide a good picture. Work with a trusted audio visual partner familiar with outdoor needs so your visual presentation and sound is not a flop.


11. The Rain Date! A good idea for your major event outdoor event is to host in on a Saturday. By doing this you give yourself a possible rain date of the very next day…provided you have an effective way to communicate the rain date info to your staffs.

People love gathering outside. There is something extra special with outdoor events. There may be a few extra things to add to your checklist, but it will be well worth the delight and memories your participants will receive!