What if it rains?
Thanks to the great British summer, it’s the question every event organiser expects.
Whether you’re planning a relaxed barbecue, a drinks reception on a grassy lawn, an outdoor festival or a spectacular firework display to finish off an evening of fine dining, the weather can make or break the experience.
Having a wet-weather contingency is an essential part of any event plan. Here’s how to weatherproof your day, and guarantee sunny smiles all round, whatever the weather.
Take the outside indoors
Even if you’re planning an outdoor event, it’s always wise to build indoor space into your plan. Whether it’s a quiet room where guests can take a break from a lively atmosphere, or a second ‘zone’ of a party with a different feel, you’ll add value and variety. Get creative with decor to make the spaces interact. Why not use astroturf and flowers to give a garden feel, or buckets and spades for an indoor sandy beach?
For a big event, allocate some of your seating to marquees or inside buildings; hot weather can be just as much of a problem as rain in summer, and you need to provide guests with shade.
Have a back up
Your indoor space will ease some of the pressure, but it may not accommodate all your guests if there’s a downpour. It won’t help to rescue a rained-on barbecue for 250, either.
Build a practical contingency into outdoor events where food is served. Give the catering team and set up staff enough advance notice that the venue is changing. That means five hours at least for a large event; the day before if they have equipment to move or items in storage. Make sure in advance that the catering facilities of your back up location will allow you deliver a similar level of quality, too: not all kitchens are the same. And use every opportunity to communicate the change to your guests, via social media, your web presence and individual contact details.
Expect the worst
Branding umbrellas and rain ponchos means your guests will take away a useful item they’ll reuse in future – and, if they need to, on the day itself.
If the sun shines, you’ve got parasols for the middle of the day. If it rains, your guests can see you’ve planned ahead – and your brand will be front and centre in any photography. Don’t be afraid to talk about the weather in your social coverage, and to share snaps of guests having fun despite the rain.
Even a lovely summer’s day in the UK can be chilly by late afternoon or evening. Whatever the forecast, if you’re expecting guests to stay outdoors after dark, invest in some cosy blankets and warm rugs. They’re perfect to snuggle up with around a fire pit, or as fireworks explode across the sky – and you’ll welcome them just as much if rain-soaked guests need to warm up.
The same goes for a good hot cuppa. If you’re able to serve coffee after a meal, build in the option for a warming cup of hot chocolate or tea too
If you’ve dreamed of blue skies and instead you’ve got a washout, it might sound hard to find the positives. But a well-planned event should make hay even when the sun doesn’t shine.
Empower staff to handle any complaints by giving them a strong, clear briefing at the start of the event. Make sure it’s evident to clients and guests that you’re working hard to give them the best possible experience. If it feels like you’re all making the best of it together, you can harness some good old British underdog spirit.