Outdoor events are great, but you always need a rain plan. Always. The weather is often unpredictable and you can’t mess around. It’s surprising how many events are planned to be outdoors without an inclement weather plan, and the host just crosses his or her fingers.
In determining your rain plan, you can either provide a shelter, or have a backup location indoors. For the former, that is almost always a tent, which is not inexpensive. The good news is that a tent in an outdoor location can often enhance an outdoor venue, providing shade or lighting (depending on the time of day), or even heat if it’s unexpectedly cool.
A tent is an added expense, but it does let you take advantage of your original venue of choice. Sometimes, though, you just need to move the whole event inside. As the event host, it’s up to you to make sure that you have another place to go.
If you’re working with a hotel or some special event venues, an alternate location will usually be on hold for your event. This should be in the contract. However, the alternate location could be an interior ballroom, which could be a major letdown when your original venue was an outdoor courtyard with amazing views. Also know that hotels will require that you make a call on where your event will be held prior to the event set up. This should also be in your contract and it can range from a few hours to 24 or 48 hours prior. Sometimes the hotel won’t let you make the call at all, rather relying on the weather report (for example, if there is a 70% chance of rain or higher, they are definitely moving indoors).
Other venues might not have an alternate space available. For example, an organization I support had its annual event at a beautiful art gallery with a lovely courtyard. The entire venue was filled to capacity, both the gallery rooms and the outdoor courtyard. It was a perfect late spring night and the weather cooperated. But what if it had rained? The venue literally could not have held all of the guests. Luckily the organization realized that they dodged a bullet and moved their annual event to a larger venue this year.
While some venues can be more proactive than others, it’s always up to the planner or host to make sure a rain plan is in place, and to have an understanding of how the rain plan will be implemented.
Don’t forget that the weather can be pretty wacky. I was coordinating a wedding in Maryland over Memorial Day weekend, a traditionally hot and humid time of year. In fact, last year it had been 90 degrees. For the rehearsal dinner, which was held outside in a tent, it was cold and windy, never getting as high as 50 degrees! Luckily they were able to acquire a heater for the tent, but no one ever thought that would be necessary in May!
Do you have any good stories about weather impacting your event?
Photo credit: BizBash