North Carolina has a beautiful summer and as we head into early fall, there’s truly no better time to plan an outdoor event. Tent Guys has you covered on the best tips and practices to plan your next outdoor event.
Start by ensuring your event or party is suitable for the outdoors, and that the venue or site has the proper permits.
A party, charity event, or wedding for the outdoors? Absolutely! A technology conference seeking the performance and convenience of a convention center? Well, maybe not. Fully consider the main function and objectives of your event; if more than one of them can’t be met, then perhaps you should postpone or find a suitable indoor venue. Once you’ve decided to move your event outside, work with your vendors and site management to ensure that all proper permits are acquired to host the event.
Be mindful of noise at your event, and if you’re hosting at a house, neighborhood, or highly populated area, it’s good form to notify or invite the neighbors to the event.
As soon as you know you’re moving the event outdoors, contact your vendors and update your invitations to guests!
First, vendors. Contact your vendors ASAP, and be (emotionally and financially) prepared to make last minute changes. A vendor may not be able to accommodate the new outdoor site, or may need more information from the site manager to pull off the event.
While moving an event outside is a big decision for the planner, it also may influence your guests’ decision to attend and thus your guest count. You’ll want to ensure you let your guests know as soon as possible about the changes to the event in order to allow your guests to make and request accommodations.
Oh, but weather! How do you plan an outdoor event and rely on the weather forecasts?
Every bride or event planner dreams of their big day for their outdoor event filled with sunshine (but a few clouds, not a scorcher), a nice 74-degree midday peak, and a slight, but steady breeze to keep guests cool and happy. On the other hand, we all must prepare for the opposite. Rain and thunderstorms tend to strike on the daily in Charlotte, NC during the summer, and although the downpour may only last an hour, you’ll want to be covered. Temperatures can also soar into the 90’s and leave guests vulnerable to the sun. So what’s the best way to plan for the unexpected and ensure that you’re covered? A tent rental.
What kind of tent for what type of event?
The best way to ensure that you’re renting a tent that meets your event needs is to contact one of our event specialists at Tent Guys. We take into consideration a number of things to estimate how much tent square footage your event will require, and equip you with the right rentals and accessories to power your event. Be prepared to answer the following:
- What are the number of guests in attendance?
- What is the intended function of the tent?
- What time of day is the event? Do you need power for light, A/C, or heat? What are your power requirements and is there a power source at the site or venue?
- Do you want to enclose any part of the tent?
- How much space at the venue is available for a tent?
- What surface will the tent be placed on (e.g. grass, concrete, asphalt, etc.)?
- Will all guests will be seated together during the event?
- What type of seating will be employed – seated dining, ceremony seating, cocktail party seating, or standing cocktail parties?
- Will there be a buffet?
- Will there be a bar?
- Will there be a dance floor? If so, what size?
- Do you need a stage under the tent? If so, what size?
- Will you need any accessories for the tent, like a beverage cart, guest check-in table, linens, or drapes?
The Tent Guys offer tent rentals ranging from our smallest size at a 10×10 High Peak Tent to our largest size at 40×100. Consulting with our specialists is the best way to ensure you’re renting a tent that meets your event needs.
How can I power my tent for my outdoor event?
Heading outdoors doesn’t mean you’re roughing it in the wilderness. We offer equipment rentals like our portable generators to bring power, lighting, sound systems, and other electronics to your event.
How can I keep guests cool in a tent at an outdoor event?
Tent Guys can provide you with everything you need to keep your tent cool and your guests happy.
- Your guests are sure to be fans, of fans. Proper ventilation using fans and blowers will move air around the tent and make the tent feel cooler and less stagnant.
- Open the sidewalls of the tent, or add doors to your tent to keep open. In the times of a pandemic, good ventilation is encouraged. In fact, if your event is occurring midday, you may want to take off of all of the side all of the tent and simply have a very effective and open gazebo to shade guests from the sun and encourage airflow. The sidewalls are very easy to open and close, and as night comes and temperatures fall, you can simply shut the side walls.
How can I keep my guests happy? Embrace the outdoors!
- Change the menu for the outdoors. Maybe you had a buffet planned a year ago, but between the COVID-19 pandemic and going outdoors, bagged meals, a BBQ, or picnic style offerings are sanitary and unique alternatives for your event. Instead of community tables for dips and appetizers, ensure each table has their own dips, condiments, etc—basically, try to minimize communal contact with utensils. You will also need to keep food temperature and control at the forefront, and how it’s being prepared and stored in the outdoors. Rent the appropriate equipment such as warming trays to keep your hot food hot, and pans filled with ice to keep cold food, cold.
- Avoid litter and provide plenty of trash stations and dish bins. Paper products may be the way to go to keep tear-down and cleanup easy.
- Check the pest control site status of the area and prepare accordingly. Bug spray, citronella candles, or citronella-filled tiki torches are guests’ best friends. Pests love a good feast too, so come prepared with lids, coverings, and netting designed to keep bugs away from the food.
- Keep sanitation and health at the forefront of your outdoor event. Sanitation stations might include hand sanitizer, wipes, disposable gloves, and extra face masks. Sunscreen is always good to have on hand, as well as a first aid kit.
- Include outdoor games and activities like giant Jenga, cornhole, or water sports and bubbles for the kids. Fire pits are always a crowd pleaser for toasting marshmallows or warming up on a cool, fall night, and waving sparklers in a send off is much less of a concern at an outdoor event. Whatever brings your guests together is sure to be memorable and a real hit.
Plan and communicate about accessibility for your outdoor event!
Even if guests do not ask for accommodations, we always recommend striving to be accessible and inclusive. Common misconception planners have is that if they don’t know about a disability among their guests, then there’s no need to plan accessibly. A better way to plan an event inclusively is to communicate with those who may have permanent disabilities and require accommodation (i.e. someone who uses a wheelchair, and knows what they may require for meaningful participation), those with “invisible” disabilities (i.e. chronic pain, fatigue, asthma, etc.), and those with temporary disabilities (i.e. someone with a broken or injured limb, who may have never had to ask for accommodations before and may not know how).
When you move your event outdoors, leave space on your updated RSVP’s or registration forms to allow attendees to make a request for assistance requirements, or provide contact information for the venue for where guests can directly make accommodation requests.
Meeting ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements is helpful to guests not only with disabilities, but also those with younger children, older family members and guests who may have mobility needs, and even for bridal parties – think of the bride who may have on a larger gown with many layers and need space and a plus-one for using the restroom. Proof or disclosure of disability should not be required, and you should allow opportunities for attendees to make requests for reasonable accommodations ahead of the event, especially if the event has moved outdoors and lacks a venue or site manager.
Public accommodations, such as indoor venues like theaters, arenas, hotels, venues, and convention centers are required to meet ADA standards. A great resource to check out for temporary accessibility event planning is on the ADA website linked here. Although certainly not comprehensive, here are few of the questions you can ask your venue about regarding accessibility:
- Is there an accessible pedestrian route? If not, is it possible to modify the route to make the routes temporarily accessible for the event?
- Is the space requirement for wheelchairs met outdoors? This would mean spaces and paths are a minimum of 30 inches wide by 48 inches long, and enough space to make a 180-degree turn (a circle diameter of 60 inches).
- Crushed stone/ or gravel, or compact and stale soil or short cut, dry grass can all be accessible outdoor surfaces. Weather can affect the usability of otherwise accessible surfaces. What is your venue’s backup plan for conditions that may make surfaces slippery or muddy? Is there the option to have a tent set up before the forecast calls for rain, or does the venue provides synthetic matting, rubber doormats, interlocking rubber tiles, or perforated rubber mats as an alternative?
- Are the restrooms located indoors or outdoors, and do they have at least one restroom that meets ADA standards?
- Portable restrooms come in two size options: standard and ADA compliant. The standard portable toilet is 91 inches high, 44 inches wide, and 48 inches deep from the outside; but inside, their depth is about 21 inches and width is about 42 inches. The ADA compliant portable toilets are deeper and wider, at 77 inches both ways. They also provide more floor space, making the toilets accessible for wheelchairs to maneuver.
- Events moved outdoors may also bring in mobile restroom trailers.
- Do you have enough toilets for your guests?
- Event planners typically recommend at least one toilet per 25 guests. Is there an open bar at your event? Adding more toilets will improve the experience for your guests. For example, if you have an event with 150 people, you should aim for 3-4 stalls for women, and 3 stalls for men. The summer season sees ADA compliant restrooms in higher demand, so booking restrooms should be a top priority if you’re moving your event outdoors and will not have access to indoor restrooms.
As with any event, there will be elements out of your control. Tent Guys will assist you with planning, reduce uncertainties, and ensure your next outdoor event meets your expectations.
At the end of the day, your outdoor event is all about having fun and knowing your guests are having a good time. You can rely on the experts at Tent Guys to advise you on the perfect setup to make your next outdoor event comfortable, functional, accessible, and unforgettable!