Posted by Jessica Ahmed on April 4, 2011
When booking a Band or DJ for an outdoor event, the logistical considerations increase exponentially compared to an event indoors. To make for a smooth and effortless wedding day, here’s a few lessons we have learned from over 20 years of creating seamless events in the great outdoors of the Colorado Rockies. We are always happy to perform on top of the highest mountain for you. These tips will help make your event special for you, your guests and your vendors as well. While many of these considerations are rare worse-case scenarios, our goal here is to enlighten you to things you might have overlooked.. Not to frighten you into canceling your outdoor event. It’s Going To Be Great!
1. Early set-up for your vendors is a necessity whether the event is inside or outside. Most bands require 2 hours to load in and test their equipment. Ceremonial musicians should always allow an hour. I’ll defer to caterers, bakeries and florists as to their specific time lines. If additional early set-up time needs to be built into the event you should expect that your vendors will want to be compensated for their time accordingly.
2. Ceremony and reception sites should always be accessible by vendor vehicles and rolling hand trucks. Much of our equipment is extremely heavy – If you can’t get a wheelchair to a site, you’ll probably have a tough time getting your vendors and their gear there as well.
3. Along those same lines of access: here in Colorado we often perform on the tops of some of the highest mountains in America. Always find out the procedures necessary to allow your vendors to drive their vehicles to the site. Most municipalities have rules on liability insurance to allow this. MAKE SURE that your vendor carries this insurance before you book them for your event as this can be a costly mistake! If a gondola or town vehicles are the only way for vendors to get their equipment to the event site, please understand that this will usually incur additional costs for the considerable additional effort.
4. Make sure that your reception tent is in good shape, free of leaks and professionally erected. The tent should have roll-down siding should wind and rain start whipping up. Having flooring is highly recommended as well. No one likes having their heels sink into the turf and it can be dangerous to your guests and vendors.
5. Always make sure that reliable power is never more than 100 feet from the event. If a generator is to be used, rent it from a professional event company. A home-style generator (like a Honda) might be able to keep a refrigerator and a couple of lights going during a power outage but it will not be sufficient for powering catering, decor lights, a DJ or a band. Not only can it bring your event to a crashing halt but it can damage very expensive equipment that your vendors rely on to do their jobs.
6. Staging is usually necessary when having a band perform outside. It should be flat and solid. You can’t set up (or play) a set of drums on an incline, grass, sand, rocks, etc.. It’s impossible and believe me, we’ve tried…
7. Weather is the one factor that no one at your event has any control over. Always have a backup plan and location for your ceremony. It can be the most beautiful day imaginable that morning but turn into heavy winds, rain or even snow by ceremony time. Have in the plan a point (usually an hour before) by which a decision will be made as to where the ceremony will take place. That way all your vendors will have time to re-locate and make the ceremony go off smoothly. If you need to execute the backup plan remember to Breathe and Roll with the Flow! Bad weather needn’t ruin the remainder of your event.
8. Most weddings take place in the late afternoon during the most intense sunshine of the day. Be considerate of your guests and try to not have them facing due West if possible. Keeping your ceremony short will be welcomed by many of your guests if they are staring directly into the sun…
9. Ceremony musicians should always be located in the shade and covered should it rain. Their instruments are often very delicate & expensive investments – even the electronics. You wouldn’t want to count on leaving your personal laptop out running in the direct sun or rain for over an hour and expect it to work flawlessly on command would you? Electronic keyboards are really nothing more than computers these days. Also remember to supply the ceremony musicians with chairs. They may or may not need them but it is a nice consideration and often overlooked.
10. In the case of lightening it should always be your entertainer’s decision as to whether the music continues or needs to stop. Playing electronic instruments during periods of lightning are a potentially life threatening situation and VERY risky for all. Usually, during this period we will put on an ipod through the pa system and vacate the stage area until the lightning has subsided.
11. When having an event in a remote location please give consideration to your vendors who are on-site for many hours both before and after your event. Plan on their needs for food and beverages, especially if they don’t have time to set up, leave for dinner and return in time to perform.
“You can’t change the weather”. Truer words were never said. I’d like to think the following quote will give you the faith that all will go well on your wedding day: “To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan”. No other event will start your life together like your wedding. Hopefully, having these guidelines in mind will help you develop you wedding plans and give you a happy and care-free day. I certainly wish you all the best on your special day!
In closing, whether you are a bride or groom, a wedding vendor or someone interested in this type of information, I welcome your comments and insights. Please feel free to share it with others or re-post it on your own site. Cheers!