Whatever your party problem may be, a Garden Party can be a solution.
Whether down to cost of venues, or distant locations, or lack of nearby accommodation, or whether you simply want to use your own caterers and serve your own wine without having to work off someone else’s menu design, garden parties will always be an absolute deal as an alternative type for a party theme.
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But where do you start, here are some of the things you should consider:
Unless you are getting married in South Africa or some other equally reliable climate, the chances are you will need to have provisions for bad weather! Furthermore, for any really gorgeous weather, you will still need to have an area of shelter for midday sun or for people who don’t cope well in the heat. The best scenario to make the most of both the weather and the scenery of your garden party would be to have an area outside for canapés, welcome drinks, or games, and an indoor area set up for any seated dinners or dance areas. At least then if the weather is awful, you can move the ‘outdoor’ parts into another part of the marquee, and there’ll be enough shade also for the sun. Marquee Hire companies will be able to advise you on the logistics of the different areas and cross-use for different eventualities. There are also lots of different shaped marquees so you can choose some huge open tents as a blank canvas or some more unique turreted marquees for less ‘empty’ space to start with.
Make it Pretty!
Dress the marquee, trees, tables, gates, plant-pots! Decide whether your party decor will have a particular ‘theme’ or if it just needs a colour scheme chosen. Get a scrapbook, or log in to your pinterest account and scrapbook some colours, designs, patterns, fabrics, and other decorative ideas. Remember, decorations don’t have to cost a lot, no need to buy everything, why not try your hand at a bit of hand making? Not only will it save money but it will also add a personal touch.
Depending on your event, you’ll probably need chairs and tables, for guests as well as for caterers and potentially gifts. Work out what you actually need and what level of comfort you need, and only pay for what’s necessary. You can dress up plain tables and chairs with a little bit of fabric and ribbon if need be!
What’s on the Menu?
Now, hosting a garden party for a large number of people will not be as straight forward as hosting a party at a catered venue. But don’t be put off! You can still use caterers – plenty of caterers are experienced with catering for outdoor venues. If you are going to hire caterers, make sure to discuss with them the fact that you’re not using a purpose built venue, and confirm with them what requirements they might have and what they are able to commit to in the circumstances.
If you’re going to do it all yourself, is the kitchen at the property sufficiently sized, from oven space to fridge space? Consider hiring or borrowing extra fridges or microwaves for the day. Will you need help serving the food, even for a buffet? Plan ahead and get friends’ teenage children to help out!
Late Night Hassle?
People usually like to drink at parties. Depending on the number of people you’re inviting to your garden party, you may wish to consider hiring an outdoor bar. Not only will it save you the job of sourcing large quantities of beer and wine at a decent price, a professional outdoor bar service will have enough stock and skills to make a few cocktails (especially your favourite cocktail if arranged in advance) and a variety of soft drinks for non drinkers. They will also provide sufficient glasses for however many guests you have, and most of all – they’ll wash everything up and take it away before they leave, saving you a lot of late night hassle!
The Toilet Trek…
Are you going to allow lots of people to trek back and forth through from the garden through to your toilet? If so, put down spare carpet/mats which both show the right way to the loos, but also protect your carpet from too much wear, tear, and mud! Also, make sure that plenty of toilet rolls available and it doesn’t hurt to also craft a witty sign with any pleas to ensure people clean up after themselves, and any tips on using the flush if your toilet has any little foibles!
If the idea of many bums on your fragile toilet seat doesn’t appeal, hire a portable loo for the evening. Most Marquee Hire companies will offer this service, with a variety of grandeurs to suit any occasion.
Don’t forget that the party will change as the lights fade. People will have had a bit more to drink, and might get peckish. Will you have enough food for nibbles later on? Also, the natural lighting will start to fade, as will the warmth of the day. Do you need to consider outdoor heaters and lights for later on? It’s also worth checking how loud your music is going to be, as later on in the night neighbours need to be considered more. Either make sure the tent is able to ‘shut the doors’ to keep some noise in, or set the speakers to a specific lower level.
Dance the Night Away…
Whether you have a band for all or part of the party, or whether you use an iPod with some tested speakers, you will want to make sure that you have left enough space inside or outside the marquee for people who want to dance, or play games, or sit around chilling. Whether your garden has an existing patio that you can use for this, you need to check with your Marquee Hire company what different types of flooring they offer, make sure you don’t end up with high heels getting stuck in the lawn, or high heels taken off and people having to traipse around with muddy socks and tights.
Make Sure You Take Pictures!
Whether you’re having a garden party or any other sort of party, make sure you take pictures. Everyone loves remembering great times had together and the best way is to have disposable cameras or photo booths at parties or a designated photographer at special events. After the marquee comes down and the band has gone and the portable bar has been cleared away, it’s the photos that will keep the memories of your magical garden party.
As an owner of two businesses and mother of three, Karen is used to throwing parties, both in the corporate world and in her personal life. She has enjoyed using the services of Gig Tent in the past to get around some of the nightmares of hiring venues, to great results!
Photo Credit: Jennifer 真泥佛