7 Considerations for Finding the Perfect Outdoor Venue

  • By Jeffery Hall
  • June 18, 2018

Whether you are hosting a formal wedding or a rustic hoedown, the venue you choose can make or break your event. While a traditional venue is limited to what works with the existing walls, doors, flooring, lighting, and so forth, an outdoor venue is a blank slate that you can design to fit your theme. Still, there are 7 very important considerations to take into account before you sign a contract for an outdoor venue.

Mother Nature
At St. George Events, we have you covered with misting fans and portable heaters. Still, you need to determine what the weather is likely to do during your event, so that you can make the necessary arrangements ahead of time. Do you need to create space for your guests to store umbrellas? Should you give away handheld fans? How will guests get to the restroom facilities if there’s a downpour?

Also consider the needs of any vendors you are hiring. Caterers need a sheltered work area. If it will be hot outside, try to provide refrigeration to supplement the coolers they will provide. Your emcee, band, and other professionals should be given a protected space to work rather than trying to handle electrical equipment in the rain or perform in gusty winds.

The View
An excellent view is often a selling point for an outdoor venue, but you need to be sure that it works for your needs. A sweeping vista is perfect for an event with hundreds of attendees, but could make an intimate dinner for 10 feel a little lost. Likewise, if the venue has room for 5 people to watch the sunset, but you’re inviting 200, 195 people won’t get the point of your venue selection. A cliff edge might be the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic, but downright dangerous for a nighttime event with drinking and dancing. Visit your top 3-5 venues at different times of day, and walk through the basics of staging your event there.

Practical Considerations
At an outdoor venue, you are responsible for attending to your own needs and those of your guests. Is there ample space for generators away from the main festivities, or can you use electricity from an existing building? Is there room for portable toilets, or are there public restrooms available on site? What if the site needs to be weeded and raked? Are these jobs included in the rental fee, or will you need to take care of them right before your event?

Ambient Lights and Sounds
At an outdoor venue, you have both the blessing and the curse of the complex interplay between natural lights and sounds. Be sure that those at your venue serve the theme and mood of your event. Designing your lighting and soundtrack will be far easier if you are working with, rather than against, nature.

Legalities and Venue Rules
If you plan to serve alcohol, have a bonfire or other open flame, or conduct other activities including playing loud music, you might need a permit. Your venue may also have a list of prohibited activities. Before signing a contract, discuss the details with the venue representative to learn what you need to do to stay legal and within the rules.

Critters
Visit the venue at the time you plan to hold your event. Some amount of wildlife is a given, especially at more remote outdoor venues, but hordes of black flies or a plethora of raccoons could be a deal breaker. Ask about pest control, and whether you are allowed to use items like citronella candles to keep critters at bay.

Space and Design
Make sure that the venue truly fits the design you have in mind. Is there level ground for a dance floor? Room for your tents and canopies? Enough parking, and a reasonable path from the parking area to the event space? Look for a venue that naturally fits with the ideas you have rather than trying to force a design into a space where it simply does not fit.

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