Managing Portland and Seattle Weather when Planning Outdoor Events

rain doesn't have to ruin your next portland event!

Though most people recognize Seattle as a rainy city, Portland is pretty much tied for wetness.  The trade off for beautiful coastline and such vibrant green scenery is that we get to experience moderate rainfall for roughly 70% of the year.  Fortunately, if you were born and raised in this climate, you are quite used to occasional sprinkle, and it should not be a reason to forgo celebration!

Let’s take a look at some super easy ways to prevent a rain cloud from ruining your next Portland/Seattle Event.

Umbrella Bin

Does your event take place partially, or entirely outside? Prepare ahead of time by setting up a few umbrella bins. You can buy sleek umbrella bins off of Amazon or other online retailers for reasonable prices.  If you go this route, try and find a bin that matches your decor. Stock these puppies full of cheap large umbrellas. If it rains, your guests can simply grab one and share it among a few other attendees.  If you are worried about the bins being an eyesore, just tuck them in a back room or out of sight until you are sure rain is imminent.

Rental Tents

A more robust solution is to erect large tents for your event. Rental tents come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most full size tents start at 10′ x 20′ and can grow to pretty much as large as you could possibly need.  With increase in size comes increase in cost and setup time. Tents over 30′ x 60′ in size will require more than three hours to setup and will typically need to be setup at least a day in advance. While tents can be expensive, they are incredibly effective at creating enclosed, rain-safe places, and can add an awesome decor element to your event. Just check out some of the awesome structures being built by Amazing Tent Company.

Rental Canopies

A more cost effective route than full tenting is to use 10′ x 10′ canopies. Many rental companies offer industry grade rental canopies for $100-$200. These canopies won’t provide a ton of cover for all your guests, but can be used strategically to cover other service partners you might have at your corporate event. Do you have a henna tattoo station? Cover it with a canopy. Do you have a catered buffet line? Cover it with two canopies. Do you have a beverage station? Canopy. It’s a quick, cost mindful way to keep your vendors happy and your services clear of water.

Outdoor Heater Rentals

Here is one that people don’t consider very often. Sometimes rain is not always the villain. When Portland and Seattle aren’t wet, sometimes they can be just downright cold. Consider renting a couple outdoor heaters for use by guest tables, in tents, or on the way into indoor sections of your venue. Rental heaters run off of butane or propane which can be supplied by your event rental company.  Propane from a single tank will run for 2-3 hours if the heater is on full blast the entire time. The rental of your heater generally will come with one tank, with additional tanks costing anywhere from $50-$200 depending on the size of the tank and the particular company you are renting from. Check with your rental company that they will handle the setup, fuel switching, and operation of these heaters. If you aren’t employing the company to stay onsite during the event, make sure you work with your event coordinator to insure that the heaters are monitored and refueled when necessary by their event team.

Indoor/Outdoor Venues

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to proactively protect your event against the elements is in your venue choice. Look for venues that have equal or complimentary space both indoors and outdoors. This way, should it start raining, it will be natural for your event guests to shift their way indoors to enjoy other aspects of the celebration.  Talk to your venue partner ahead of time to determine what areas are usable and if they have additional areas you can use in the case of rain.

Contingency Event Plans

While some of these ideas are great, it’s not always practical to rent a giant tent when you don’t know whether it’s going to rain or not. Work with your Seattle or Portland Event Partners ahead of time to come up with alternatives for space, activities, and more.  Your event rental person might be kind enough to load an extra tent on the truck for a small fee, but not charge you the full price unless it needs to be used. Work with your Seattle or Portland Bounce House Rental provider to come up with some backup indoor activities that can be switched to at the last minute. Event Planning, much like project management, is all about identifying risks and coming up with mitigation plans to avoid them or minimize the impact should they occur.

As a native Portlandian, a little rain never scared me, but not everyone attending events in Portland and Seattle share that same sentiment. What are your tactics for avoiding the rain and maintaining event attendee satisfaction?

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