Use what nature has given you CarrieAnn Drinnen, owner of Serendipity Events, LLC shares, “Trees are the easiest to use in the design theme. Hang chandeliers, candles, lanterns and even bud vases to create a sophisticated vibe outdoors.”
Get creative with seating “There are so many fabulous options for outdoor furniture, and there are no walls to hold back your design,” says Katie Dowens of The Charmed Event. She suggests using mod furniture, hay bales, stumps, swings or rustic benches in addition to traditional seating.
Lighting Lighting can make all the difference in any event, and outdoor events are no different. Drinnen recommends using uplighting on the trees, bushes or any hard (surfaces) to create movement and softness. Use twinkle lights in the tree branches for a midsummer night’s dream effect, or use Japanese lanterns to add color and texture.
Paper, plasticor china? If your aim it to keep it simple, Pamela Howard of Howard & Howard Events and Chef Services suggests using what you already have for a casual feel. If your goal is to glam up the outdoor dining experience, set the tables with chargers, china and silver, and serve food on formal party trays. Add formal linens with a pop of color to really set the stage.
Plan for “better or worse” when it comes to weather Just hoping the weather will clear won’t cut it and only adds additional stress. Prepare for plan B, even if the weather calls for sunny skies. Drinnen says, “You should always have a backup plan in case the weather takes a turn. Have tents and umbrellas on hand and the ability to move the entire event indoors if needed.” This means, don’t wait for the first drop of rain to make a plan.
Food for thought Drinnen says, “Having the correct prep stations will make all the difference, so put thought into the foods you will be serving. For example, if you want to serve shrimp, be sure to have plenty of ice to keep them chilled. Another thing that is often overlooked is the type of icing used on the cake – buttercreams won’t hold up to extreme heat or direct sunlight, so be sure to place the cake in a prime location.”
Free your party from unwanted guests Prep for a party nuisance that is often overlooked, and we don’t mean those distant cousins. Having bug spray on hand for guests will work, but Dowens also suggests spraying table and chair legs to keep unwanted insects away from food. Depending on the season, you can never go wrong with a few extra strategically placed citronella candles.
Avoid the crowds Dowens also suggests using the food and bar setups to dictate the traffic flow for the event. If you plan to host more than 75 people, it is best to have more than one station if you are having a buffet and at least two bar setups.
Plan ahead for peace of mind Write down every detail of the day and then pull it apart, asking yourself what could go wrong, says Dowens. Then make a detailed backup plan. Once you know all of the possibilities, you can make adjustments on the fly to ensure a smooth event.