Find out how to plan the most incredible event right in your backyard with tips on planning, preparing, decorating, running and enjoying the perfect garden event.
Whether your garden is small, medium, large or acres upon acres, it likely holds lots of lovely memories for you. It also holds a place to draw wildlife or to enjoy hobbies like painting or yoga. Also it has a practical purpose as additional space to use on your property for eating out, and relaxing. As if all of that wasn’t enough, your garden holds masses of opportunity for an outdoor event. A small garden can hold a good party and gathering. A large garden or acreage can hold a wedding reception, a summer fayre or even more elaborate events depending on how much space you have. There are numerous benefits to organising an event in your outdoor space including:
Of course, there is a lot to think about and plan, and the preparation is a full time job in some cases. But, it can really be worth it in the end. Especially when you see everybody looking happy, and you look back on the photos and see how much of an incredible day you planned and held.
If you are looking to hold an event on your property, this guide will help you get some ideas as to how to plan it successfully.
Safety is down to you and you alone. On your property, the responsibility of the safety of your guests lies with you. Yes you can ensure anybody working for you has insurance. But, ultimately you do not want a nasty accident on your hands and of course you don’t want anybody to get hurt!
One of the key parts of the safety of your event, is of course the planning. The amount of detail that goes into your planning should relate to how big the event is and how risky the components are. A gathering of 20 people for afternoon tea in the day is totally different to a full scale wedding reception with music, lighting, walkways over lots of the garden and a dance floor. Do a risk assessment of the event and that should tell you how much safety planning you need to do.
Somebody should be in charge of the safety, so that there is always somebody completely on top of safety arrangements. It could be you or if you are working with an events organiser than they may take responsibility. It doesn’t matter who it is. As long as somebody is totally on top of the safety and keeping track of it all.
Making a safety plan, preferably online on a central system that any staff need to see, is a really good idea. Even the smallest of events can benefit from having a plan in the case of a fire or an emergency. It just helps to know what you would need to do if anything happened. And it helps to be able to tell staff how to keep to safety rules and regulations.
You’re going to have a safe event, as long as you plan the safety element of it. It isn’t the exciting part, but it is an important part. It should always be at the back of your mind as you plan the event.
As the organiser you have a lot of responsibilities. Even though there are emotions and lots of people you know involved in the planning, the more like a project you can treat the event planning, the more well organised it will be.
There will be lots of things to decide well before the event goes ahead. Firstly you should be clear in what the event is being held for:
You should also figure out:
There will likely be questions that you have for your event depending on the size of your property and the type of event. But a really thorough discussion answering these questions and more will help you get a really clear idea of how to move forward. It could be worth asking everyone who is organising the event to come to a meeting. They can bring questions written down so that everybody is thinking of things other people may not have thought of.
Everybody needs a job or lots of jobs they are in charge of. Everyone should know what they are responsible for. It helps to use a project management app so that everyone is working from the same ‘hymn sheet’. Alternatively even a Whatsapp group with everyone on will be useful. Even the smallest of events can be ran using a project management mindset, which works by setting goals and deadlines you work to.
It is important that you plan to plan an event during a time when you have everything you need to commit to this process. It will be stressful, lots of people will be calling you or getting in touch and you will need to commit a lot of time to the process. Having the time to plan long in advance of the event is important. So you don’t end up getting stressed and planning the event poorly because you don’t have time to put effort in.
One of the best things you can do for yourself as the manager of this event is to be OK with calling in favours and being nice to people. You will get a lot more help and information if you lay on some charm!
The very first part of styling your event is preparing your outdoor space for the event. You can’t just decorate everywhere and hope for the best. How much you want to prepare the garden though is up to you. Some people will start planning a year in advance with special flower bulbs and landscaping so that the event is absolutely perfect. You don’t have to do that of course. But it really is worth preparing the area for an event so you get the maximum space and best blank canvas to work on.
To prepare your land for an event:
Ditch any rubble like bricks, old plant pots, broken ceramic tiles, large stones and other debris
Any weeds like thistles, blackberries or nettles need to be removed as they all add to that ‘overgrown look’
Any external wooden buildings like stables, sheds, animal shelters and pagodas could be varnished or painted to give an instant visual garden transformation
Trees are always a safety issue and having people on your land means they are going to be under the trees at some point. Have a professional check their safety and trim them so they aren’t an extra hazard for the big day.
If you have an outdoor area with floor tiles or decking, that needs to be fixed so it can serve as an additional social area for your event.
There will be things on your land you can use for the event. Flowers, wooden chunks (maybe taken from your tree trimming), branches, ivy, bales of hay. Lots of things can become cute additions to your event. So don’t throw anything useful away when you are preparing your garden.
Once the garden is prepared then the fun begins, it is time to style your event!
Before you can start properly looking at decorations you need to know what is going to be at the event. For example: your event may have tables, chairs, a gazebo, a stage, a food serving area, a bar and toilets. So you know you have to decorate those things and work around them with your decoration designs. You may just have one long table as your feature, which means you have to focus on that and the surroundings of that when decorating. Once you know what will be at the event and where it will be, you can start looking into your decorations and accessories.
There may be decorations that you have to include for practical reasons. For example, signage, wellington/ coat areas, picture walls and gift tables. Get creative with those elements and try to decide on a theme for them all. Cute upcycling and boho chic works really well for outdoor events. Especially ones that replicate festivals. For example: driftwood with painting on used for signage. Anything that needs to be included should be designed well as part of a larger design plan.
Your theme can be colours, prints, patterns, places – anything you want. Choosing a theme makes styling your event so much easier. Try to at least choose a colour scheme like white and pink. And perhaps an overall theme like fairytale or festival which will help guide your decor choices.
Basic decorations like lighting are so important for overall ambience. You can take a plain outdoor space and wrap fairy lights around the whole place. It will suddenly look like a romantic wedding set. Basics like lighting, seating and comfort will help to provide the basics that anybody likes to enjoy at an event.
Small details are where any event comes into its own. As the event is on your property, little details that relate to the property and its gardens could be really sweet. Perhaps you run a donkey sanctuary in which case donkey images and ears included in the decor could be very cute. Maybe you have bluebell woods so you could include bluebells in flower arrangements. Little details like cute straws, funky cups, the music playing or, the way you make it extra-special.
The main point could be a marriage, it could be to raise money, it could be the food. Knowing the point gives your decor focus because you know which areas are most important to guests.
Even the smallest of budgets can work with an outdoor space. You can get items for free or for very cheap at charity shops and farmers markets. Know your budget so that you don’t end up going into debt.
Hopefully you are feeling much more confident in planning your outdoor event. With plenty of planning, and lots of time allowed to plan, your event is going to be exceptional. Just remember to leave room to enjoy yourself when it goes ahead!