by Matt Alderton | June 29, 2014
Summer is a season full of opportunity. Its warm weather means a choice of both indoor and outdoor venues, for instance, and its abundance of seasonal fresh produce means a chance for menus to shine. However, summer presents just as many challenges as it does opportunities, according to Arthur Backal, CEO of Backal Management Group and event manager of New York's Apella, Event Space at Alexandria Center. Here, 10 of his "Top Tips to Planning Successful Summer Events":
10. Embrace Seasonal Venues
Says Backal: "The summer is short, so take advantage of the season while you can. Be sure to pick a venue that showcases stellar summer season views or has an outdoor space."
 
9. Save-the-date ASAP
Says Backal: "Summer is the height of travel season. With so many of your guests planning trips during the summer months, you want to send out your save-the-dates ASAP." 
 
8. Leverage Invitations
Says Backal: "Invitations are your first chance to grab guests' attention and get them excited about the big day. Unusual invitations are perfect if you're looking to create a memorable summer party, but stay true to the theme of your event as it'll give guests a taste of what to expect."

7. Utilize Clever Themes
Says Backal: "Whether you're creating a fully themed summer extravaganza or a more low key dinner, the most successful events always make clever use of the key messages of the host's brand. Think about colored lighting to complement a brand identity or creative touches which nod to key messages."

6. Don't Underestimate the Power of Color
Says Backal: "For spring and summer, the bright color trend continues with yellows mixed with other vibrant colors, such as hot pinks, oranges, and purples. For the rustic craze, white goes perfectly, as well as muted pinks, pale blues, and pastel yellows."

5. Talk with Building Management About Air Conditioning
Says Backal: "To ensure a happy crowd, be sure to discuss air conditioning with the venue staff when planning an indoor event during the summer. Generally venues will have constant air conditioning, but when large crowds are coming together in a smaller space, the last thing the guests should be is uncomfortable or sweaty while reveling and networking. Be sure to discuss beforehand."
 
4. Plan Labor Around Weather
Says Backal: "For events that involve a lot of production and set-up, it is wise to look at the weather for load in and load out times during the summer season. Setting up in 100+ degree heat for hours will be exhausting for event staff and the process may take longer. Be sure to speak with the venue to see if it's possible to set-up in the morning or evening hours when it is cooler to ensure a speedy process and not to worry about heat exhaustion."
 
3. Choose Menu Items Wisely
Says Backal: "Provide lighter, non-creamy fare for your cocktail party stations and your meal, to reduce the risk of spoilage. Summer menu items of cold, refreshing veggies, cold seafood, mango skewers and gazpacho shots are far more palatable in hot weather than heavier, cream-sauce dishes…and they're often less expensive. Also, healthy items will be a big hit as many of the event revelers will be conscious of their beach season bodies!"
 
2. Add Frozen Drinks to Your Bar Menu
Says Backal: "For your guests' comfort and enjoyment, get creative with the ever popular boozy popsicles!"
 
1. Plan Menus Around What's Seasonal and Local
Says Backal: "This tip works for any season, particularly in the summer months. Build vibrant, colorful salads or crudité platters around what has been seasonally harvested. Crafting dishes based on what looks and tastes fresh that day will help you get creative."
 

Source: Apella, Event Space at Alexandria Center