Outdoor events and parties are perfect when the weather is warm and the skies are blue. However, it actually takes planning and effort to have a successful outdoor event.

The perfect outdoor venue should be attractive and have essential amenities for your guests such as ample parking, access to a kitchen, tables, chairs and toilets. If the venue does not have any of these essentials, it is always useful to consider hiring them.  Mobile chillers will keep your drinks cool, portable toilets will ensure guests comfort and gas stoves will mean hot food. Look into hiring these items locally. There are plenty of reputable companies that hire out tents and outdoor function essentials in South Africa. Another consideration is tables and chairs. If there are no tables and chairs, you will need to hire them. Tiffany or Wimbledon chairs are usually popular choices at outdoor events. Folding tables are also popular as they are easy to transport and are not bulky. Tent manufacturers actually hire these items out as well. It is cost effective and convenient to get everything from one supplier. It is more cost effective and time efficient because everything is transported at once.

An ideal venue should be a comfortable temperature for guests. Tents can get very hot and stuffy when the temperature rises and it is full of people. Fans or mobile air conditioners will keep your guests cool and circulate air. Hiring these can be expensive but they are worth it, especially in summer.  Make sure you arrange for electricity at your event, you don’t want to be stuck with hot and bothered guests, warm drinks and cold food! Be sure to check if you need an electrical permit for your event.

Another great tip for large outdoor venues is signage. Help your guests to find their way to the portable toilets, event marquee, welcome drinks and parking with prominent signs and arrows stating exactly where everything is.

Parking at outdoor events is another important consideration. Ensure your parking area is a comfortable walking distance from your venue or consider a park and ride option for guests who will not manage a longer walk to your event tent. It is also helpful to look into event security so that unwanted guests or petty criminals do not take advantage of the open space. A few car guards and a security guard at the entrance will ensure your guests and their cars are safe.

If you’re planning a wedding, try to choose an outdoor venue that has access to a building where the event planners, bridal party or groomsmen can have space away from guests to freshen up or take care of things ‘behind the scene’. This will ensure an event that runs smoothly without your guests seeing little things like bridal make up touch-ups or phone calls to your caterer.

The weather is unpredictable so it is best to plan an event that allows for this. A tent is essential for any outdoor event. If you plan on pitching a tent then the ground should be level. It is better to have a large grassy patch or paved area for an outdoor event as well. Ideally, on a large grassy patch, you can comfortably use a peg and pole tent, Bedouin style stretch tent or a marquee tent. On a paved area, you can use a structured aluminium frame tent, alpine tent or stretch tent comfortably. Good quality event tents are manufactured here in South Africa and are for sale or hire. There are even peg and pole tents for sale which are very affordable. The tents use the best quality canvas tent fabric and are even suitable as military tents, refugee tents and function tents. If you’re having a very large function or event it is useful to consider hiring a few smaller tents for catering staff, food prep and your welcome drinks. Draping can also be a nice touch and adds a touch of elegance to your wedding or party. Many tent manufacturers offer this service as well. Remember to make sure that the location you have chosen allows tents to be erected or look into getting a tent permit for the area you have earmarked for your function.

Don’t forget to arrange entertainment. The best entertainment at a party or wedding is non-intrusive and not very loud. This allows for guests to interact comfortably and hear their conversations. It is a good idea to hire a stand-up comedian or a few mime artists to set the tone of your event.

For any large event to run smoothly, planning is essential. Make a list of everything you will need to hire and contact the relevant vendors. Find a caterer and choose your menu and drinks. Now you will need to focus on logistics. How will you transport everything you need to get to the venue? If you are hiring your tables, chairs, crockery and tents from one vendor it simplifies things. They will usually have everything delivered at the same time and have staff available to assist with setting up. Your next concern is your timeline. You will need to determine a timeline that has your function set up and ready for guests half an hour before arrival. These are some of the decisions you will need to make, what time will your tent need to be erected, what time will your tables need to be laid and what time will your food need to be ready to serve? Once you have a plan of action you will need to inform all your service providers of your expectations. If your tent needs to be erected by 9 am so that your tables can be set up by 10 am, they need to be aware of this. Your caterer will need to know what time you expect your meal to be served so they can plan accordingly. With good planning, your function should run smoothly and be enjoyable for you and your guests!

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