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Tips for Planning an Outdoor Event in Lancaster, PA

Posted in Ask A Pro on by .

Lancaster County is known for its beautiful farmlands, stunning barns, and incredible views of the Susquehanna River. These breathtaking scenes have been the backdrop to countless weddings, family gatherings, fundraisers, and other outdoor events. 

If you are looking to host the perfect outdoor event in Lancaster County, be sure to follow these tips and suggestions. 

 

Budget

Before you sign any agreement or start announcing the event, make sure you come up with a realistic budget for your event. If you’ve already run events like this in the past, you may have some historical data to rely on. However, if this is your first event, you’ll have to make some inquiries to find out numbers on which to create a budget. 

There are ways to save money when planning an event but be careful to not cut corners. For example, you may find a venue that’s more affordable than others, but is missing a sound system, parking, and other facilities; this can quickly overrun your budget and make it more difficult to run your event. 

If this is a paid event, your budget can be impacted by ticket prices or sponsorship levels. Consider finding a few sponsors to sign on before you announce the event; this gives them exclusivity and it gives you confidence and an initial backer for your event. 

 

Driving Directions & Parking

Be sure to provide good driving directions for your guests. This is helpful for an event with a lot of out-of-town guests, as well as any event at a farm that’s out of the way. Your event venue can provide accurate directions and tips for those navigating by GPS. Consider making signs to direct your guests to the location and to parking at the venue.

 

Weather

While the weather is never something you can control, it is something you can plan for. Consider creating alternative plans in case it is raining or if your location is muddy due to recent rains. This can include a rain date or an inside location to move the event to. 

If you are planning an event in the shoulder seasons (March-April or October-November), consider the possibility that it could be colder than expected. You may want to rent portable propane heaters or allow for outdoor firepits for people to warm up. 

 

Restroom Facilities

walters-services-restroom

Most outdoor facilities do not provide restroom facilities, so you will want to offer this for your guests. 

For weddings and upscale events, you will want to consider luxury restroom trailers; these provide a level of class and comfort that your guests expect. While the trailers require power and water, they still allow you to offer upscale restroom facilities even in a field or remote location.  

For festivals, concerts, and other large-scale events, make sure you order the right number of portable restroom facilities. This number is determined by the type of event, length of event, and estimated number of guests. If you are serving food or alcohol, you’ll need to increase the number of toilets. Your restroom vendor will help you figure out the proper number of units to reserve. 

 

Advice for Vetting Vendors

No matter the type of outdoor event you are running, you will need to rely on vendors to make the event a success. There are countless caterers, DJs, AV suppliers, and party rental companies that serve Lancaster County. Which one should you trust? 

 

Here are some ways to vet your potential vendors: 

  1. Check out their website. If they don’t have a website, or the website hasn’t been updated in 3 years, it does not inspire confidence in them as a vendor. 
  2. Ask for advice. During your initial conversation, ask for some advice on planning the event. Do they sound confident and knowledgeable about planning events? Are they taking the time to learn about your event, or are they just trying to upsell you?
  3. Ask hard questions. When talking to a potential vendor, ask them what happens when things go wrong and what they do to make it right. 
  4. Talk to references. Don’t just take their word for it; ask other event planners who have hired them. Find out what it was like to work with them and if they would hire them again. 

 

*Blog post submitted by Walters Services

 

Walters Services Inc.

650 Firehouse Road
Grantville, PA 17028
866-266-3704

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