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Outdoor Event Planning: 7 Tips

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Bring on warmer weather and outdoor events!

Warm, comfortable temperatures or even health concerns may inspire many of us to move outside for the perfect event. Whether you’re coordinating a wedding, backyard bash, or a corporate outing, your pre-planning often proves critical for the event’s success. To help reduce the anxiety factor, here are a few outdoor event planning tips to get you on the right path.

1) Make a back-up plan for inclement weather.

Reduce the stress of rain, wind, and storms by deciding in advance an alternate backup location for your event or at minimum, key parts of your event. Also, communicate to everyone the trigger point for enacting Plan B — whether it’s drops of rain vs. a full storm that kicks off the alternative.

2) Check your environment for any timing snafus.

Consider visiting your location on a similar day and at a similar time as the scheduled event. For example, what time do the lawn sprinklers go on? Is your wedding arbor set up so you will squint into the sun? Does your trash pickup conflict?  It may sound silly to check on these little things, but at the last big event I attended, the lawn sprinklers did turn on and get everyone wet. The kids loved it. The adults, not so much.

3) Examine your scene critically.

If you’re not detail-oriented, consider getting a friend to help. Look past the point of your immediate activity and see what else shows. Honestly assess where your prime activity will take place. Is it in front of that peeling door you’ve been ignoring and meaning to paint?  Scrutinize the scene from a long, middle, and close-up view.
Consider all of the angles, too, such as bird’s-eye and ant’s-eye views to check out the focus and whether it’s pleasing. You may be more relaxed about the scene’s details for a simple party vs. a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor wedding. To conduct a simple reality check, think about whether that seemingly small detail enhances or detracts from any photographs — for example, that basketball hoop over the garage may seem far from the bridal couple, but yes, it will show behind the arbor and be included in each and every picture.

4) Keep guests and participants hydrated.

This may seem obvious, but if your event will take a while or risks any delay, you may put people in the heat at risk. Learn from a recent University of Arizona graduation event where many people waiting in the intense heat without water ended up fainting, dehydrated, or taken to the hospital. Don’t risk sending your participants, guests, or vendors home by your short thinking.

5) Use signature touches.

While Pinterest boards make a great source of inspiration, deciding on and using your own creative touches makes any event uniquely yours. Be sure to capture those details with photography to help tell the day’s story. Determine what small things need to be featured with a few extra close-ups or even macro shots.

6) Consider color to set the tone and mood.

Use one or two consistent pops of color to unify your event. It helps set the stage and gives energy (use warmer colors such as red, orange, and yellow) or makes things “chill” (select cool greens, blues, and purples.) Darker sophisticated colors may serve you better in setting a more formal scene whereas bright, snappy punches of color liven up the celebration. Choose the appropriate tone or shade to make your event come to life.

7) Make a rough itinerary for the day and follow it.

If you’re caught up in your event, that’s awesome (and the way it should be)! However, should you forget to initiate key activities, you may be disappointed. Create an agenda for how you see the day unfolding and pass this along to vendors. If you don’t have an official event planner, consider appointing and delegating to a friend the authority to keep the schedule on time and take care of any emergency, big or small. After the event, reward your friend with an appropriately sized gift card for his or her help.

Time to Party

I hope you find these seven quick tips helpful in planning and enjoying your ultimate summer event. Be sure to include your photographer in these advance efforts to ensure that all of your planning translates into beautiful photographs. With event planning completed, you can relax and enjoy the party knowing that you have the hard stuff managed and the rest will be a piece of cake.

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