6 Things to Look for in the Perfect Outdoor Venue
Warm weather means finally shedding our layers and spending more time in the sunny outdoors. This is also the time that big events make the move outside, with beachfront weddings, park parties, and making the most of all that being outside offers.
When picking an outdoor event venue, there are a handful of factors to consider outside of just the space itself. Time of year will dictate many of your options, and not all outdoor venues are created equal.
In addition to price and size ranges you’re looking for, here are six elements to consider when shopping around for an outdoor venue.
1. A distraction-free zone
For special events like weddings, birthdays, and retirement parties, you want all eyes on the guest or guests of honor. Because of this, it’s wise to choose a venue that’s far away from other noisy events and activities — the farther away from the interstate, other gatherings, or other high-traffic zones, the better. If it’s a space that hosts several events at one time, ask what amenities will be shared, and which are private for you and your guests.
It’s also important to ensure that your event won’t be a distraction to others. Is the venue equipped with the permits to accommodate live music or crowd noise? Discuss noise expectations before you book — a working A/V system and stage don’t imply permission for high volume.
2. An aesthetic that matches the event
There is a major difference between “rustic” and “primitive.” Vintage backdrops are nice for photos, but guests deserve no less than the best when it comes to event aspects like bathrooms and dining areas. Even venues in camping locales have upped their game over the last decade, furnishing event guests with updated spaces that balance natural beauty with modern reliability.
When booking a more out-of-the-way event, ask about high-speed internet and power outlets. While most locales have these things covered, bandwidth may be limited. Some of the more delightful getaways are also fairly off-grid; know what you’re buying when you book somewhere remote. And communicate to guests before they arrive if services or access will be limited so they can prepare in advance.
3. Plenty of flexibility
While the draw of holding an event outdoors is the natural element, unexpected weather events happen. Consider what might happen if the temp turns chilly or a flash storm appears. Does the venue offer indoor space for last-minute needs?
Even if you’re certain that your special day holds nothing but blue skies, consider that full exposure to the elements isn’t a good choice for everyone. Guests need a way out of the sun and wind, so opt for venues that provide adequate shade and a way to cool off or warm up as needed. Accessories such as outdoor heating lamps or mist fans are nice perks for events in weather extremes — if your venue doesn’t provide these, ask if you can rent them from outside vendors and incorporate them into the event.
4. An accommodating team
If your event includes bringing in vendors, talent, or businesses, make sure your venue can accommodate them all comfortably. Will food trucks have plenty of room? Do bands know where their busses can park? Even if you have just one or two caterers coming, make sure they have space to set up and do what they do best.
Likewise, guests should also expect red-carpet treatment, even ifthe space is mostly green. Parking should be accessible for those with mobility issues. Roads leading in and out – as well as parking spaces – must be paved or at least drain well in times of rainy weather. (Guests getting stuck in the mud is a real thing!) Knowing that your venue is prepped for seasonal parking headaches will give you peace of mind, which is exactly what you need while hosting an event!
5. A focus on safety
Outdoor events can often come with more unpredictability. Even with most people understanding the hazards the natural world presents, it can’t hurt to do a double check of areas that can be a risk to children or pets. Are lakes or rivers far enough away from the main activity? If not, can there be a boundary to avoid mishaps? Will railings or decks be safe for the smallest of attendees?
The last thing you want to have to worry about is the safety of your guests. While your job isn’t to babysit, parents and caregivers can easily become overwhelmed at big functions, making the task of looking after little ones incompatible with celebrating. Plus, if you don’t have event insurance, you may end up with a serious issue on your hands. Know what obstacles exist to keeping guests free from harm, and see that the venue makes matters of health and safety a high priority.
6. A photo-worthy environment
In our Instagram-fueled day and age, it can’t be denied that photo and video are two of the biggest reasons to book a venue. Engagements and weddings are two top events that require only the most beautiful backdrops, and outdoor spaces bring together natural elements with amazing lighting to boot. It’s perfectly OK to pick a place based on how it will look in your professional pics.
Don’t be too embarrassed to ask the venue for their input on what they think is the most picturesque spot in the venue. Depending on your event type, this is the designated place where you can take staged photos, set up a DIY photo booth, or host the cocktail hour to ensure you and your guests can get A+ snaps.
Whether you’re hosting a big blowout bash on expansive farmland or a small soiree on a restaurant patio, the openness of an outdoor event creates a freeing feeling for guests that’ll ensure your party is one to remember.