It’s only February and the thought of our 2015 graduates enjoying their warm and sunny commencement may seem a distant future. But now is the best time to start planning both your graduation ceremonies and the celebration to follow.
Planning ahead will afford you the best selections of rental items in the quantities you need and it will also give you ample time to lay out a Plan B, C and possibly even D to ensure Mother Nature doesn’t ruin your day.
Whether you’re a college or university planning a graduation ceremony for thousands of students or a family who simply wants to throw a backyard celebration, here are some helpful steps to get you started.
- Determine your guest list.
First and foremost, you’ll need to get a hold on the size of your guest list. For a college or university, this is likely to be in the thousands. Such large numbers means you need to plan in advance to reserve enough chairs and tents to accommodate your event. For a graduation party, your guest list, while much smaller, is still important for determining if you will need to rent any extra chairs or tables and the size of the tent that will work best.
- Decide how much of the event will take place outside.
Do you plan to have your entire ceremony take place outside? If so, you will need to rent enough chairs, tents and staging to essentially create an auditorium outside. If part or all of your ceremony will take place inside, you’ll need to identify how many extras chairs you’ll need to rent to accommodate your audience. For a graduation party, you’ll need extra seating on hand so everyone can eat and relax comfortably. Knowing the timeline of your event will help us give you expert advice on what you need to pull it off.
- Set a budget.
Just as you should for any event, you need to determine your budget so you know how to prioritize your “nice to haves” from your “must haves.” For your backyard party, a tent is a smart investment because it will keep guests cool and dry. A not so smart use of your budget is spending that same amount of money on balloons, for example. The same is true for colleges and universities who are planning their commencements. Know your budget and then prioritize items like tents, chairs and staging over decorations and accessories.
- Consider the needs of your entertainment or special guests.
Most graduation ceremonies require staging where special guests will speak and graduates will walk up to receive their diplomas. If media is invited, you will need media risers and live bands may also need their own stage or platform. Most of these items can be provided by an event rental company, but you need to think and ask about such details in advance so they don’t sneak up on you. At your backyard graduation party, you might also need some special staging or flooring for a DJ, live band or dance floor.
- Have a backup plan.
Finally and most importantly, you should have at least one backup plan to prepare yourself for inclement weather. Identify a location to have your ceremony inside or set a rain date. For at-home graduation parties, think about whether the inside of your house can accommodate your guests. If not, you will want to look into a different indoor location that can host your party in case of rain.
Will you be celebrating a 2015 graduation? Share your ideas or ask us your questions by commenting below!