Preparation key to outdoor events in the Northeast

by C.L. Fornari

In the summer, gardens and celebrations naturally go together. It's no wonder that when planning a wedding or party in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, people often choose an outdoor venue.

Linda Matzkian, owner of Hopple Popple Inc. in Newton, Mass., says that having a backup is always a good idea. "There's nothing more personal or beautiful than an outdoor wedding, and we do many of them in the spring, summer, and fall," says the highly rated party planner. "But because we live in the Northeast, we have to have a plan B. If it's stormy, the bride needs to know that there's a second plan in place. We always make a backup, indoor plan as well."

First, you must decide if your yard is suitable for the party, says Dorothy J. Mourouzis, owner of Westchester Event Planning Services in Thornwood, N.Y. Does it have room for a tent should the weather be too hot, cold or wet? Are you able to obtain proper permits and comply with local regulations about music and parking? The cost of an outdoor wedding can vary depending on how elaborate the celebration. A party for 150 people can average $20,000 to $34,000 in the Northeast.

Mourouzis also advises that something as simple as where the sun shines is essential information. "Depending on the time of year, knowing when the sun sets for pictures is very important."

If the party will be held in the evening, consider applying a mosquito repellant a day or two preceding the event. Most garden centers sell effective repellants that are made of mint or garlic so there isn't a concern about spreading something toxic in your yard. Apply before the party so that they are no longer detectible to the nose.

Since some edibles might invite squirrels, crows and other animals, don't put food outside too far in advance. From Boston to Washington, D.C., summer evenings can be hot, so choose food that won't spoil quickly when placed outdoors.

Water the lawn deeply the day before spreading any repellant, or two to three days before the wedding. Don't water just before the event because foot traffic on wet soil will do more damage than the same pressure on drier soil. If the turf is watered deeply a few days before the event, the roots below the surface will still be damp even though the top layer of soil is dry.

When most people consider a garden party, they immediately think of flowers. Carolyn Verdi, a special occasions consultant in Philadelphia, says that it's often a good idea to get professional help in this regard. "If the weather is nice, the guests will be outside more. So it's a good idea to make the outside area look attractive. There are plant rental companies that can assist with this and most florists can also be a great help."

C.L. Fornari is a writer, garden consultant, professional speaker and radio host who is dedicated to creating beautiful landscapes and successful gardeners. She gardens on Cape Cod, blogs at WholeLifeGardening.com, and offers other garden articles at GardenLady.com.


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