Weddings to Concerts: Protect Your Outdoor Summer Event From Weather

By By Katy Galimberti, Staff Writer
July 29, 2014, 12:58:08 AM EDT

When hosting a party or planning a wedding with a vision of an outdoor extravaganza, the instability of weather adds another key factor into making a successful outcome for guests. Summer, while ideally makes for the perfect outdoor party season still battles thunderstorms, strong winds, rain and oppressive heat.

Event planners across the country deal with all different conditions and have key steps to make ensure a safe, fun event that coincides with the original vision even if fighting the weather becomes necessary.

Jump to: Weddings | Corporate Events, Reunions, Etc. | Festivals, Concerts



Brides may have the perfect, Pinterest-inspired outdoor wedding in mind, but that doesn't mean the weather is going to cooperate on the big day.

With rain, lightning, wind and oppressing heat all a factor, wedding planner Sharokina Pazand stresses the ultimate importance of a plan B.

"You need a plan A, B, and a plan let's get married," she said.

As CEO of City Girl Weddings in Chicago, unstable weather is always an integral factor in any event she plans. Most brides, she said, don't think about weather ruining their day. Most brides have an idea that they've been dreaming about for years and are emotionally attached to the picture in their head.

She takes it on as her job to match that vision, but prepare the event for all circumstances.

In the initial planning meetings, Pazand makes certain that clients know that alternative plans are necessary when trying for an outdoor event. This includes allocating money in the budget for tenting options, a potential second venue and even various indoor photo locations.

If a wedding is set for the summertime, Pazand reminds her brides that high heat and humidity can sometimes be just as detrimental to the big day.

"You have to think about the guests. There are times when it's so extremely hot outside that it can be completely miserable," she said.

If temperatures are boiling, there are still ways to make an outdoor wedding comfortable. Pazand suggested using large outdoor umbrellas, pulling double duty with programs that are also fans, keeping a cold water station nearby and having an air-conditioned area for young children and older guests to wait in until the ceremony is about to start.

As the wedding day develops, Pazand explained that she and her team continually check for weather updates for the most instant alerts possible.

It's important to pay attention to rapidly changing weather conditions in the summer especially when guest safety could be at risk. MinuteCast™ has the minute-by-minute forecast for your exact location when thunderstorms and lightning are a threat. Type your city name, select MinuteCast™, and input your street address. On mobile, you can also use your GPS location.

If the forecast looks grim, tents are set up or the wedding is moved to a second venue. Pazand assures that guests stay within their budget and find an outdoor

space that also has a backup, indoor option available if tents are going to be too extravagant. From around $2,000-$4,000, depending on size and location, tents might not be an option for everyone.

Pazand underscored that the best thing to do to prepare is a good plan B as even the most tightly crossed fingers will not prevent inclement weather.

Corporate Events, Reunions, Etc.


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Similarly to a wedding, planning an outdoor corporate event, retreat or reunion requires a solid backup plan.

Becky Navarro, event planner for Pearl Events in Austin, Texas, expressed the same need for a dependable plan B. However, when planning events for such a large amount of people without the pressing travel demands of a wedding, sometimes the only thing left to do is cancel an event.

Navarro explained that at festivals and other city-wide events held at an outdoor venue that a tent in the middle of a soggy field is not going to help. If the budget cannot withstand a second venue large enough to accommodate everyone, there is little that can be done but cancel and try again at another time.

Still, the plan B conversation happens at the initial meeting.

"We want to make sure that it's realistic and we don't disappoint anyone. People come to us all the time with visions of what they want it to be, don't think about what if. We are the reality check to that." she said.

Still, corporate clients usually comprehend the bottom line and are lenient as far as venues and ideas. Sometimes using a more feasible indoor option is best, though when clients hold on to the outdoor idea Navarro does everything she can it make it happen safely.

Informing guests about the location and proper dress is crucial. Using tents, working with vendors and keeping a good eye on the weather are all components to a successful event. Starting around 72 hours before the event kicks off, Navarro and her team will gauge the safety of the event based on the weather outlooks.

Ultimately, the decision is up to the client, but she does her best to keep the overall outlook on safety and practicality.

"What if we do it and there is bad weather?" she said. "People are going to leave and your event is not going to happen."

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The Governors Ball NYC Music Festival


Tom Russell, a partner at Founders Entertainment, organizes the three day music event with nearly 45,000 daily attendees.

The 2014 event was held June 6-8 on Randall's Island in New York City. Held on a giant field conditions can be completely altered by the weather.

As Tropical Storm Andrea battered the area in 2013, the island was inundated and became a sloppy, muddy splashing ground.

Still, the event was successful as avid music fans took the mud in stride wearing rain boots and enjoying the "unique" experience according to Russell. In operation since 2011, Russell said 2013 was "the most challenging year so far."

Heaviest rains fell on Friday, making for muddled conditions Saturday and a massive cleanup effort Sunday. Pools of mud were inches deep in areas.

After the event was over, event organizers re-plotted the entire park and ended up making structural improvements to the site so it would drain better if similar conditions ever struck during the festival again.

Russell cites a full service weather and emergency plan as the the number one aspect in staying as prepared as possible. Officials memorize the plan and the event works with nearly every city agency to keep attendees safe no matter the conditions.

In addition, the stages and food carts have to be ready for impact as well. Russell said all of the stages are properly engineered to withstand high winds. On the main stage, there is a wind monitor to help make the call for unsafe settings.

When winds reach 20 mph, workers lower stage frames and other production aspects as to ensure the stage is not susceptible to falling down. At 40 mph, a code red is called and shows are halted.

A larger part of the weather plan details evacuation policies in case of a hurricane or severe weather event. Organizers work with water taxis, shuttles and other city travel options to safely remove concert-goers from the island.

Governor's Ball employs multiple meteorologists to continually monitor the weather as the event approaches. That way, if necessary, guests can be alerted timely. Social media provides an easy platform to spread pertinent information. At the event itself, there is a PA system to spread real-time alerts.

"Our plan is constantly evolving based upon changing protocols, what other festivals encounter and what works for them and what doesn't," Russell said.

There have been notable weather-induced disasters at various festivals similar to Governor's Ball. In 2011, a stage collapse occurred at the Indiana State Fair, killing seven. AccuWeather meteorologists believe a gustnado stemmed out of severe thunderstorms and may have caused the collapse.

Patrons were alerted that an evacuation might have to occur before the deadly collapse.

Russell and the other organizers learn from similar incidents of how to keep everyone out of harm's way.

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