The value of a walk-through

To pull off a glamorous event, start with a site inspection and logistics.

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Generally, any venue or property deemed “off-premise” is going to involve a tent. Or two or three or more. As an event planner, I cannot stress enough how important a site inspection or walk-through is to the success of the event. The best approach is for a tent specialist to accompany the client, event planner, event designer and caterer on a comprehensive tour of the grounds to envision how the event will unfold. Although event details may not be final, every conceivable logistical challenge is reviewed to ensure an accurate plan and project cost. Some items to consider include:

  • How will guests arrive? By car? By bus? Is there space for cars to pass each other? Is a covered walkway needed to get guests from the parking area to the party?
  • Where will guests first touch the ground? Is the ground level and hard? Are porta-pathways or custom-built stairs needed to allow guests a safe entrance?
  • Are there guests with disabilities who will require a ramp for entrance to the event?
  • Where will each part of the event take place? On an existing terrace? On the lawn? In a field? On a tennis court? In a parking lot? Over a pool?
  • Where will the entertainment be placed? How much space is needed? Is a green room tent required?
  • How much power is available on-site? Are generators needed? How many and where will they be placed? Do they need to be screened from view?
  • Will the event take place on the grass/ground? Or will a subfloor be needed to level off the ground and offer protection from soggy terrain?
  • What is the style of food service? Seated dinner? Cocktail style? Food stations, buffets or bars?
  • Is there a lounge area that needs to be placed under or just outside the tent?
  • For an outdoor wedding ceremony, what is the backup plan for bad weather?
  • Where will the caterer set up? What is needed: ¬†water, power, equipment, trash, lighting? Does this area need to be floored or ramped?
  • What outdoor lighting, for ambiance, special effect and safety, is needed?
  • What restrooms will guests use? Are portable restrooms needed? Is there accessible water or is a self-contained restroom trailer required? Is a tent needed to hide the potties?
  • Are there eyesores that need to be hidden, such as septic tanks, A/C units, sheds or wood piles?
  • Is there a concern for climate/temperature control? Are heaters, fans or air conditioning units needed?
  • If bad weather occurs before or during the event, where will the excess water go? What severe weather control measures are in place at the site? Are tent sides with gutters available?
  • Will professional pesticides be needed to control insects?
  • Is there an after-party? Where do you envision this happening? Do you want a separate tent for it?
  • Are there domestic pets that need to be secured from the noise and construction area for the animals’ safety (as well as the workers’)?
  • Is a dance floor needed and if so, where will it be placed?
  • How accessible is the site? How will that impact the setup time required by all vendors?
  • For access during inclement weather, will road ply be needed to prevent turf damage and work disruption?
  • Where will event professionals be permitted to park their vehicles while the event is installed? Can heavier machines be placed in a safe area near the site?
  • When does everything have to be removed and cleaned up?
  • Where will garbage and trash be taken during installation and during and after the event? Is a dumpster needed? Will it need to be hidden under a tent?
  • Does the landscaping company or gardener need to be consulted on tent placement in relation to overhanging branches, septic beds, irrigation systems or decorative improvements?

Walk-throughs aren’t the most glamorous aspect of planning a tented event, but a productive walk-through results in being able to foresee potential problems, which contributes to pulling off a glamorous event.

Melissa Paul is owner of Melissa Paul Ltd. Paul is a brand storyteller for the luxury wedding industry.

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