There’s more to hosting a memorable summer party than finding a venue with the right capacity and running a free bar. As every planner knows, as the guest list increases, so do expectations. Pleasing hundreds of different people with varying tastes is a tall order, but there are lots of ways you can make sure your invitees have an amazing time at your party and remember it for years to come.
At Regent’s Conferences and Events we host fabulous outdoor events for up to 1,200 guests and have been a part of some spectacular parties. We wanted to share some of our learnings and give you some ideas that will ensure your summer party delivers.
Much of the success of your event will rest on your choice of venue. There are five main things to think about when weighing up your short list.
- Location – this will have a huge impact on your attendance levels
- Wow factor – first impressions count, make sure they hit the mark
- Pricing – ensure you can still afford the extras you’ve set your heart on
- Catering – food and drink can easily make or break an event
- Venue staff – the success of your party will rely on good relationships
Don’t underestimate the importance of each one of these areas and speak to at least two other planners who’ve held similar events at each of your final few options.
Whatever you choose for your theme, when it comes to decorating go big with a select, few ideas. For example, if you want to dress your space with fairy lights, make sure every tree, shrub and structure is dripping with them. If you’d rather go with Chinese lanterns, similarly, don’t hold back. These decorations will hold your large space together and then within this framework you can create smaller, more niche ‘zones’. Perhaps a seating area adorned with candles in jam jars or a candy station decorated in rainbow coloured ribbons.
Layout and movement
No doubt you and your team have come up with lots of fabulous little touches that are going to make your party even better than last year’s. Cocktail bar, open fire with marshmallows, steel drum band… whatever special touches you’re planning on having at your party, scatter them throughout your space to spread out your guests.
Remember, getting guests to move around your space to experience all these brilliant features is just as important as the ideas themselves. To encourage movement, think of your party as more of a theatre performance with different acts. Staggering the timing of activities (games, live cooking, music, speeches etc) throughout your event will gently move the buzz of the party around your space, sending out ripples towards which your guests will gravitate.
Interaction and infiltration
It’s important that all guests at any event have interactive experiences. This is harder to control at a large event as there’s a certain level of anonymity in big crowds which means some visitors may remain on the periphery. Ensure your entertainment, catering and/or activities physically move into groups of people. This will optimise their reach, bring together different cliques of guests and help lone visitors mingle.
Music and entertainment
There’s no substitute for live music at an outdoor event. Find a band that can help you take your party through its journey from welcome drinks, mingling and eating through to the dancing later on in the evening. Make the effort to see any potential bands live (you won’t regret investing the time in the research), and don’t scrimp on the numbers, a ten piece band really is twice as good as a five piece one! If your budget won’t stretch, a quality DJ will be able to fill the dance floor with the first track they play, or you could consider Karaoke – who could possibly resist? Entertainment in other forms might include games and activities like croquet and Jenga and performers like singing waiters or mime artists.
It’s never nice to think about worst case scenarios, but planning contingencies is hugely important, especially with large events. Unforeseen costs, public transport chaos, inclement weather, sick staff, bankrupt suppliers… compile a list of all the dreadful things that could go wrong and put as many back-ups in place as possible – including insurance.
Your summer party
At Regent’s Conferences and Events we know how important it is to understand your brand, goals and challenges. Our Events Team prides itself on pulling out all the stops to get you the results you want, from sourcing Shetland ponies for the children to ride on at a company’s family away day to creating a huge water pool for a Chinese theatre production, they can do (almost!) anything you ask. Our contacts book is bursting full of tried and tested suppliers and we know how to make the most of our private event space in Regent’s Park. To discuss your dates and ideas, give us a call on 020 7487 7540.