Top 6 Summer Event Planning Mistakes
Sunshine, blooming flowers, and warm weather—the summer is the perfect time to host an event, right? While summer weather may provide many more opportunities for outdoor events than the spring or fall, there are still several considerations to keep in mind.
The majority of weddings take place in the summer sunshine, as do many parties, but there are a number of things that can go very wrong! Bringing prepared food out into the sunshine can result in foodborne illness, for example, while not having enough shaded areas available can create sunburned, unhappy guests.
As an event planner, keeping your guests hydrated, healthy and happy at summer events is key. Here are six common summer event planning mistakes you don’t want to make!
1. Leaving food in the sun
The best piece of advice for a summer party or wedding? Keep the food out of direct sunlight!
As far as wedding traditions go, the cutting and serving of the wedding cake is one of the most honored. At a summer wedding, however, the magnificence of the cake becomes seriously compromised the moment it is exposed to the hot sun. Keep the cake in a shaded area at all times, and if you can, choose a wedding cake with rolled fondant or marzipan icing—they can withstand the hot weather!
If you’re hosting a summer party, there’s much more to worry about than simply a cake! You’ll likely be dealing with dishes full of perishable ingredients—potato salad and deviled eggs are two summertime favorites—so here are some top tips to make sure food stays safe and delicious:
- Place serving dishes in bowls of ice to keep them cool.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure meats are cooked to a specific internal temperature outlined by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)— hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees, while chicken breasts to 165 degrees.
- Never reuse the platter that was used to transport uncooked food to the grill. And keep tongs clean at all times—they are a breeding ground for bacteria!
- You cannot wash your hands enough when working with food! Keep them clean.
- Don’t take chances with leftovers—they may still look tasty, but hot, perishable foods that sit out longer than two hours are considered unsafe to eat and should be thrown out. Don’t eat leftovers from the fridge after four days, either. Safety first!
2. Not enough shade
Brides want sunshine on their wedding day, of course, but there is such a thing as too much sunshine! If the wedding takes place outdoors, the seating for the ceremony can be uncovered, as the guests will only be in direct sunlight for usually less than an hour. Any longer than that is too long to be in the sun, so other accommodations should be made to ensure the comfort of the wedding party and guests.
If you’re planning a summer party in the great outdoors, guests will certainly want to enjoy the sun and heat, but you’ll want to set up seating under large trees where people can have a cool break. The use of a tent is also a great idea—add tables and chairs inside the tent for guests to hang out with their drinks and cool off for a while.
3. More alcohol than water
It’s a party, so of course there are going to be alcoholic drinks. In the summer weather, however, alcohol can have dangerous effects on the human body. Dehydration can happen quite quickly, and often before your guests even realize they’re thirsty!
As the event planner, you can control the timing of the party or wedding reception and choose the best time for the open bar to begin. Cocktail hour (usually early evening, and after the wedding ceremony) is the time for light wines, while spritzers, beer and sangria can be served during the reception. Be sure to keep water and other non-alcoholic beverages handy throughout the entire event—a happy guest is a hydrated one!
Another mistake event planners make at summer weddings and parties is having a cocktail hour and reception that are too long too. Guests can get carried away with an open bar, so beware of the amount of alcohol your guests drink in the summer heat. Remember, dehydration can happen fast!
It all comes down to timing—you’re in control of when drinks are served, so keep cocktail hour short and make sure water is available throughout the entire event.
4. Not planning for bugs
There’s a reason that another word for bugs is “pests”! We don’t need to tell you how annoying they are, and during the summer months it feels like they’re everywhere.
Citronella is a tried-and-tested scent that can be purchased in various forms such as candles and oils. This repellant will help keep away mosquitoes, black flies, fleas and ticks. It can also be burned in a tiki torch that can be placed in the ground, making it perfect for your outdoor party!
Bug lanterns, which attract bugs into the light and then zap them, are also a great idea as they can be hung in different areas. These lanterns have become so popular that they no longer look like ugly bug killers, but rather very attractive lanterns to hang in a backyard.
Finally, no summer party would be complete without bottles of bug spray. A wise wedding idea would be to have bottles available to guests so they can douse themselves before the outdoor cocktail hour or reception.
5. Not making a rain plan
With the amount of planning that goes into a wedding, it’s absolutely necessary to plan for the worst case scenario—in the case of an outdoor wedding, this means rain!
There are several ways to be organized just in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate:
- Rent a tent months ahead of time that can be set up easily
- Get event insurance in case a big storm prevents some of your guests from attending
- Get creative with colorful umbrellas and even ponchos for your guests
- Make the best of it!
6. Leaving flowers in the sun for too long
Flowers grow outside, so they’ll be fine in the hot sunshine, right?
The flowers that are created for events such as weddings and parties are arranged carefully and not meant to withstand hours of heat. If they’re left out too long, they will wilt. If your clients are set on having flowers in their photos, be very mindful of how long they are sitting in direct sunlight and be sure to remove them as soon as the photos are taken. To avoid wilting altogether, plan for flowers that will not be sitting out for a long period of time—pick and choose which parts of the wedding you’ll bring them out for.
Your clients want to enjoy your centrepieces, bouquets, and other decorative flower arrangements, so be sure to care for them. Plan ahead by picking hardy summer flowers that’ll last throughout the whole event.