By Rachael Russell
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life can be completely unpredictable (and it never hurts to have a surplus of toilet paper stashed in your basement). So when you’re planning an event months or even years in advance, it’s important to think about contingency plans in case unexpected circumstances throw your event off course.
Whether it’s a hailstorm, wildfire smoke, a physical ailment, or a worldwide pandemic that’s derailing your original event plans, the show can still go on if you are prepared.
There’s nothing like an elaborate fall wedding ceremony under Tivoli lights on The Lincoln Center’s Rooftop Deck as the sun sets behind the foothills. That is, until those dark clouds roll in the night before, threatening to unleash a wintery mix on all your guests. With proper preparation, this unexpected weather event doesn’t have to be the end of the world—which is why I always recommend renting a backup space. The Lincoln Center offers backup space rentals at a 30% discount so you can easily move your event inside to one of our beautiful ballrooms if the great outdoors doesn’t cooperate. If you prefer to stay outdoors regardless of weather, renting tables with tents or a large party tent for an outdoor event is also a great way to prepare for inclement weather. But keep in mind outdoor alternatives can’t protect against wildfire smoke or various other outdoor surprises that Colorado sometimes brings like high winds or a foot of snow in September.
It’s probably not a part of your vision to come down with a cold or twist an ankle prior to your event, but it’s important to remember that it could happen. So if living in a bubble to prevent sickness or injury isn’t an attainable goal, I recommend the following: prepare an emergency bag filled with medications and items you many need in a pinch, like anti-inflammatories, ice packs, cold medicine, and antacids. If planning to wear heels, have a backup pair of comfortable flats that can be utilized in the event of a minor injury like a stubbed toe or twisted ankle, or any dance-related injury of the sort. In the unfortunate instance that you come down with a serious illness that will put your guests at risk, make sure that you are familiar with the policies of your venue so you can reschedule or cancel your event accordingly.
Of course, the recent pandemic is something we didn’t even know we should be prepared for, but now that it’s here, it’s been added to the list of circumstances needing a contingency plan. Again, I urge you to be familiar with your venue’s policy on rescheduling and cancellation. Ask your venue how they handled the pandemic, and expect their answer to apply to any similar happenings that may occur in the future. If you’re open to hosting a scaled-down event, keep a second guest list of your closest family and friends so you have a benchmark for how small you’re willing to make your event before opting to reschedule.
Preparation is key. As an event coordinator, I imagine dozens of scenarios when planning an event and make sure that I have a Plan B if any of them come to fruition. I also know to expect the unexpected, so if the unimaginable occurs, I remember to be flexible, innovative, and communicative. I recommend the same for my clients. Plan ahead, and as one of my esteemed colleagues always says, “hope for the best, and plan for the worst.”
Rachael Russell | The Lincoln Center, Conference Services Coordinator | firstname.lastname@example.org