You have to plan for the unexpected. Let’s focus on one circumstance where this is always true: unless you have control over god or mother nature, you need a rain back-up plan for an outdoor event. You can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard, “It never rains in this month.”
One can create magic in a tent
For most rain back-up plans, this means having access to a tent that has flooring, air conditioning or heating, and a good drainage system. Recently, I did an event in the desert and we were told that it only rains 3 or 4 days a year. Well, as you might have guessed, it poured. (There is still a big debate about the truth of global warming on our planet. As an event designer basing my thoughts on my experience with the weather, there is no question in my mind that we are in trouble.)
Building a tent made out of bamboo
The great news is that technology with tents has improved dramatically. I love working in a tent. For me, it is like having this blank canvas where you can create anything without any restrictions.
While working in India, I was shocked and wonderfully surprised that they build some of their tents out of bamboo. At first I was hesitant, then it made perfect sense. Bamboo is a very light and strong material that’s often used for construction because of its abundance in this part of the world.
Inside the bamboo tent
Lighting can create magic outside of a tent
Here’s some advice for working in tents:
1. Don’t forget the draping. Sometimes clients just want a blank tent (this is more cost effective), however there is nothing more romantic than a beautifully draped tent.
2. Anchor the tent. Yes folks, years ago I had a tent built over a pool. Along with the rain there was heavy gusting wind and the tent blew away. (Luckily for me there were no one in it.)
3. Know your fire codes. Most cities have very strict rules about fire-proofing all fabrics and materials including tablecloths, so make sure this is done. This can be very costly, but obviously I don’t have to tell you why it’s important. Once it’s done, make sure you have your fire proofing certificate on hand in case anyone asks for it.
Sometimes you do just get the perfect day for an outdoor wedding
Most clients love the romantic idea of having an outdoor event (a notion I don’t disagree with–there is nothing more magical than having an event under the stars), but always make sure you go on the record to tell them about all the risks involved and what they need to have a solid plan B. Then, ultimately, it’s up to them to decide. And, of course, we always pray for the best.
What is the one experience where you wish you had a plan B?