Holding an Outdoor Event

The following checklist was compiled by Nicole Marsh, CMP, DMCP, president and CEO of The Arrangers, a Denver-based destination management and event planning company (arrangers.com).

Selecting the Venue • What is the venue's hold policy? Many outdoor spaces are government-owned (e.g., parks) and cannot be reserved without a deposit.

• What else is going on in the area during the time of your event? Are there any public events at the venue that would create increased traffic or parking issues?  

• If in a public space, what are the policies regarding facility usage, specifically restrooms? Will others have to walk through your event to use the restroom?  

• What is the ground surface of the venue? You might need to consider placing a sub-floor or spend extra time stabilizing tables and chairs if the ground is uneven.  

• Will any construction around the facility affect the logistics or aesthetics of your event?  

• Are catering facilities available? If not, you might need an area for catering trucks or catering tents to set up.  

Venue Policies • What does the liquor permit cover? There might be separate policies and requirements that cover your event space. File for all permits well in advance.  

• Can you stake for tents or inflatables? You might need water barrels or cement weights on certain grass or parking-lot surfaces.

• Do you need to amplify music or announcements? Be sure you and your client are aware of how a noise ordinance could affect your event area.

• What are the venue's policies regarding helium balloons, glitter, confetti, etc.?

Weather-Related Concerns • Will your event happen rain or shine? Do you have a backup in place or possibly event insurance? If it will go forward in rain, have ponchos available for guests.

• Will you need heaters, or tents for shade? If the event is on a hot summer day, consider purchasing misters and provide sunscreen (and possibly bug spray).  

• Be aware that floral arrangements do not stand up for extended periods in direct sunlight or heat, and helium balloons will deflate in extreme heat or cold.  

• In windy areas, do not use any high-profile décor items, and be sure to use stretch linens or tie high cabaret linens or clip linens to dining tables.

Event Logistics • Is there adequate power available, or do you need a generator? Is running water accessible? What are the rules/permits regarding water use?

• What does existing lighting cover after dark? Will you need to supplement?

• Added delivery and set-up fees for tables and chairs might apply, based on the logistics of getting them into your event area. Ask the venue about any exclusive or preferred relationships with rental companies.

• Do you need additional security, or is it required? You might need overnight security for set-up and striking, as well as off-duty police if the public can enter easily.  

• Be sure you have an adequate number of trash cans, dumpsters and recycling bins. You might need to pay someone to clean up the area before your event, as well.

• Do you need an EMT on standby at the event?

• Let attendees know in advance if they need to dress appropriately, e.g., casual clothes, coats, sneakers.  

• Is the venue easily accessible and parking ample? Provide maps, signage and parking guidelines for attendees.