Planning an outdoor event? Think about these 3 things

Sponsored by: Your Gaillard
By: H. A. Fisher

In addition to its world-class stage and exhibition hall, one of the Gaillard Center’s hidden gems is the gardens and event lawn on the center’s grounds. This public park is an oval of about 11,000 square feet with paving, a rose garden and benches. An 8,500-square-foot terrace spills into the green space for added outdoor event capacity.

Charleston is a top wedding destination and it has a robust nonprofit sector hosting countless events and fundraisers. Add in business functions, private parties and cultural performances and it’s easy to see event space is at a premium in the busy Holy City. Plus, with the area’s gorgeous spring weather and picturesque fall season, hosting outdoor events is practically a must.

The only thing that can put a damper on a lovely outdoor soiree is that dreaded four-letter word: rain. Whether the event is at the Gaillard Center or another outdoor location, it’s important to plan for inclement weather.

Spring can certainly bring along showers, fall is right in the midst of hurricane season, and summer is h-o-t. So what you should consider when planning your outside function?

Consider the time of year and plan accordingly

Hurricane season is June 1 through Nov. 30 with the season typically the most active in September and October. Even a tropical storm brewing off the coast can generate quite a bit of rain and wind. It’s good to have an indoor backup plan during that time of year. And if you’re planning for several out-of-town guests, make sure they are aware of hurricane season risks and keep them informed should a serious weather issue arise.

Springtime also can be rainy but this is often managed with tents so make sure you’ve reserved enough from a local rental company just in case. Summer is guaranteed to be hot and humid so give some thought as to whether your event is appropriate for a steamy summer day. A formal wedding, for example, could make use of indoor/outdoor space like that at the Gaillard Center so guests can duck indoors to cool off.

Account for unwanted guests

Noseeums, gnats, flies and mosquitos are definitely not welcome at any party. It’s a good idea to spray the area in advance of the event and set out a few citronella candles. Have extra bug spray on hand for guests who may find themselves part of a bug buffet.

Make the food fit the outdoors

Is an ice cream bar the best choice for a July event? Maybe not. Work closely with your caterer to determine what food items will work best for an outdoor event. Ask about how the food will be kept hot/cold and how it’s covered to keep out pests. If it’s a warm season, plan for extra water and lighter fare to help guests beat the heat.

Lastly, make sure your guests are comfortable and they are sure to have a great time. In addition to bug spray and water, add some fans and place some cool towels in the restrooms. Be sure to inform your guests about the outdoor event setup. For example, women may opt to wear flat shoes if the event is mostly on grass or at the beach.

An outdoor event can be truly magical if you take the time to prepare and plan.