So you’ve planned your event months in advance. The venue is booked, catering ready to go, invites sent out, activities planned… everything set in motion. But then… disaster strikes.
You look at the weather.
70% chance of rain and thunderstorms. All-day.
You panic! How could this be happening?! You spent months planning this event, and now torrential downpour is threatening your big day. But have no fear: the day can surely be saved. We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves to whip out when the weather gets rough, so you can be rest assured that your event will go as planned (albeit with a little change to ensure the weather doesn’t put a damper on things)! With that said, here is our foolproof method for banishing those gray clouds over your plans. (Metaphorically of course, unfortunately, we can’t control the weather — but wouldn’t that be neat?)
First… ask yourself these questions
The preparation for bad weather should come long before the 7-day forecast is out. In fact, you should be planning for the worst from the very beginning. Incorporating a “bad weather plan” into every single step of the planning process will be a lifesaver in the unlikely event you do face rain, hail, snow, heatwave, etc. While you’re doing the prep work, ask yourself these questions as you go:
1. What happens if you lose power?
With thunder and lightning storms, snow, etc, there is always a chance that the power could go out. In this case, you’ll definitely want to have backup power. Have discussions with the owners of the venue to see what their protocol is in the event of a power outage.
2. How are you going to ensure that the venue remains safe?
If the event is outside, wet or snow-covered, floors are going to be a hazard. Also, people may be tracking mud and water in from outside. If it snowed the night before, snow piled up outside the venue could also pose a major inconvenience and even danger. Work with the venue staff to come up with a plan to keep your attendees safe.
3. If worst comes to worst, will you be able to reschedule the event?
If the unthinkable happens and conditions become too hazardous to feasibly hold the event, then you will have to have a plan in place for rescheduling. Check with the venue when you are looking to book to see what their cancellation/rescheduling policy is.
When the show goes on
So the weather sucks, but everything is in place for the event to continue to run smoothly (albeit with a few new changes in place to accommodate for the inclement weather). How do you account for any hiccups? Here are some tips:
- Place large, absorbent floor mats at all of the entrances to the venue to minimize water on the floor.
- If your event is outdoors, make sure any slippery surfaces are covered with mats or blocked off accordingly.
- Mark any wet spots with the appropriate caution signs.
- Keep in touch with all of your vendors, as well as venue contacts. You will want to ensure that everyone is still able to arrive on time and as planned, and that the weather isn’t preventing any of your food, decor, etc from showing up on schedule.
- If the venue is outdoors, tents will be your best friend. Cover anything and everything, and make sure guests have plenty of refuge from the rain. You don’t want to force your attendees to stand out in the cold the entire time.
- Provide parkas and perhaps even umbrellas to guests. If your event is somewhat upscale and/or you have the budget to accommodate it, providing extra protection from the rain is a great way to ensure that your guests are comfortable and stay dry throughout the event.
If cancellation is in the cards…
Having to cancel or reschedule an event is a huge bummer. However, in the event that inclement weather poses safety hazards to your guests, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Bad weather can also affect transportation, so be mindful that many guests may be grateful to have the event rescheduled. Another tip is to read the fine print of the contract with your venue before you sign to see if they have what is called a force majeure clause. A force majeure clause is included in most venue contracts to protect the facility from being held liable if they are not able to hold up their end of the agreement due to circumstances out of their control, i.e. natural disasters.
Bad weather doesn’t have to mean a bad event. Your attendees can still have a blast, and they might even forget about the dreadful weather outside. But in the event that you do have to cancel, don’t feel bad about it either. These things happen, which is why having a plan from the very beginning is essential.