Unlike shooting a movie where if there's rain you can call a weather day and reschedule, live events held outdoors have the tricky drawback of being, well, live. So, your guests have arrived, the speakers and stars are scheduled, technical's on standby, the exquisite food is being prepared. Then the heavens open and the rain cascades down. But the show must go on. The question is how.
When you become an old and experienced Event Planner, like me, you can feel it in your bones... When it's going to rain; when something is just a little bit off... But don't rely on inner warning mechanisms (like bones) to make a plan. If possible, always have at least one contingency rain plan in place. Sound obvious? Not necessarily when you on a tight budget and the brief is that the audience must see the stars.
#1 Solid Foundation
From your initial event brainstorm keep the weather top of mind. When your Creative suggests taking your audience to the big baobab tree in Limpopo to commune with nature, do the research for a back-up venue made out of bricks and mortar so that if it rains you've made a solid plan.
It's hard being boringly practical when you're in the initial stages of planning for an event. You want the bells and whistles and to show your clients the 1700 year old baobab tree. But budget, up front, The Plan B cost of a marquee / tent (with side panels) or a venue nearby. Negotiate with local suppliers based on *if it rains* but this amount needs to go, from the beginning, into your main budget. Your client will thank you later.
Having covers are (like your tool and props boxes) invaluable to an Event Planner, so make a long-term investment in some good-size and quality tarpaulin covers. These are a saving-grace when a few hesitant drops of rain splutter down and you need temporary covers on tables, flowers, food, equipment etc.
Don't take it for granted that your tech team have made a rain-plan, very often they take their weather cue from you, on the set-up day. Which is too late! Check what tents / covers they have and make sure they bring them. A reminder on the call sheet will also help.
#5 Everyone on the Same Page
Guests should be made aware of the *in the event of rain* plans. Have these with the map that's sent to them. Don't go into too much detail - just one reassuring sentence so they know you've got it covered.
#6 Movement Order
Include Plan B in your call sheet movement order. Run through it with the crew so they know the evacuation plan if it starts bucketing down during the show. WRT to transportation: off-site, vehicles and drivers to be on standby.
For drizzle (or sun for that matter) umbrellas are your BFF. And they make great photo props too. Consider them (budget permitting) as branded gifts for guests, hire them or if you're a real pro - use your own branded ones. But be warned, they are very popular and prone to *walking off* after an event.
Having blankets or shawls on hand during cold weather / evening events / guests coming in from the rain are always a blessing. A similar story to umbrellas, they are corporate gifts that keep on giving.
The way you and your team respond to bad weather, or any crisis, makes or breaks an event. Your cool head, problem solving skills and sense of humour will save the day and keep your clients coming back for more.
Kelly McGillivray, Squadron Leader at theSQUAD
Incredible challenges are what take us to the moon and back. theSQUAD work to outdo themselves with bigger, more authentic, lump-in-your-throat, goose-bump-inducing, pulse-raising, smile-widening, can't-believe-that-just-happened experiences. We look forward to you joining us for the ride.
Contact: Kelly McGillivray
*** Thanks to Rich Townsend Photography for the beautiful Event photos.