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Have you been tasked to plan your company’s gala dinner and not quite sure how to go about doing it? When planning gala dinner events, the first step is to identify the purpose of the occasion. This will set a foundation and guide decision making. For best results you can use our gala dinner checklist which we’re sharing in this article.

Keep reading for more information about gala dinners and how to go about creating an event to remember!

What is Gala Dinner and Its Purpose?

A gala dinner is a big formal or semi-formal function that starts with a drink reception before guests move into the main function hall for a sit-down dinner. Dancing and sometimes entertainment are part of the event.

Its purpose can vary from an awards ceremony to being a fundraiser and more.

20 Points Gala Dinner Planning Checklist

1. What is the Purpose and Goal of Gala Dinner?

A gala dinner can be held for the following reasons:

  • To celebrate a company’s major achievements or many years in the industry.
  • As a formal awards ceremony function to acknowledge staff’s achievements.
  • To promote the company’s brand.
  • As a fundraising event for a chosen charity.

Identifying the purpose will help you list the primary goal and desired outcomes for the event as well as your target audience.

2. Establish the Gala Dinner Budget

Expenses such as venue hire, entertainment, live music, catering and administration all need to be factored into your gala dinner budget. If you’re hosting a fundraising event, include marketing costs in your budget.

Create a spreadsheet to add the costs as you receive quotes and invoices, and continuously monitor expenses to make sure the event is financially viable for the company.

3. Submit the Budget to Directors or Senior Management for Approval

When tasked with planning a gala dinner, the leadership should have agreed on the purpose and goal of the function. This can be presented to the Board of Directors or senior management together with the budget for approval.

Before submitting the expenses outline for approval, make sure you’ve covered all cost expectations to avoid overextending the budget once you start planning details.

4. Pick a Date and Venue for Gala Dinner

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Pick a date well in advance so you have ample time to plan the event design and for invitees to accept your invitation. Consider factors such as cultural holidays that could impact key stakeholders and prevent guests from attending your gala dinner.

Consider the following when identifying a venue:

  • Capacity (including dancing and entertainment space)
  • Amenities
  • Environment and atmosphere
  • Costs

Booking a hotel ballroom venue is a popular option for companies who expect high standards and prestige to be associated with their corporate gala event.

5. Book the Gala Dinner Venue

When you’ve identified the venue for your gala dinner, contact the functions management team and request a meeting. This gives you the opportunity to finalise the date of the event as well as negotiate costs and the rental contract.

Find out about venue deposit arrangements, cancellation notice periods and any add-ons that could support, affect and enhance your gala dinner function.

6. Set Up a Gala Dinner Planning Committee

Now is the time to source reliable individuals from within the company to support you with planning and coordinating the gala dinner event. When setting up the committee, pick people with different skills such as financial, marketing, administration, design and communication.

Assign roles and responsibilities to committee individuals and communicate and meet regularly to ensure the planning process is running smoothly and everything is on track to be ready by the big day.

7. List Corporate Sponsors and Donors for Fundraising Gala Dinners

If you’re planning a fundraising gala dinner, you’ll need to identify and list potential corporate sponsors and donors to ensure the event is a success. This will require engaging with organisations and individuals who may be interested in supporting your cause.

Keep updating the list as more prospects are identified.

8. Send Out Sponsorship Proposals (for Fundraising Events)

Draft and finalise a sponsorship proposal or letter that can be sent to potential funders. Personalise each letter to appeal to the specific interests of your possible sponsors while highlighting the benefits of supporting and raising money for your event.

Emphasise how much their contribution would make a difference to your cause and the gala event.

9. Decide on Entertainment for the Function

Consider the potential cultural preferences of your target audience before picking entertainment for the gala dinner event. Align performers and entertainment activities with the theme of the event (if you have one) and consider having a professional event emcee for the evening.

Entertainment can include:

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10. Prepare Invites, Banners and Other Promotional Materials

Prepare and design invites and promotional materials such as banners, using the company’s brand and colours. It’s important to make these attractive and appealing to potential invitees, especially if you’re hosting a fundraising gala event.

Consider using design software and tools for a professional look and check that all information is correct including dates, times, contact details, the venue and directions.

11. Submit Invites and Promotional Materials for Approval

It’s important to get approval from the appropriate company representative such as the marketing manager before printing and sending out invites and promotional materials. When planning this stage, factor in the time it will take to get this approval as to not fall behind on the process.

Once approval has been obtained, finalise the printing process.

12. Organise the Catering Requirements

Planning the catering includes deciding on the cuisine and menus for the gala dinner. Consider the different dietary needs of your attendees and make a list of potential catering companies to contact.

A formal sit-down dinner often entails a four-or three-course meal and a professional catering vendor can assist you here plus organise essentials such as crockery, cutlery and glassware.

13. Manage Logistics for Parking, Security and Transportation

Logistics such as parking and security at the venue need to be handled so your event’s attendees’ safety & convenience needs are met. Traffic control, transportation to and from the event venue and signage need to be considered to ensure everything runs smoothly on the night.

Emergency procedures must be put in place to ensure the safety of everyone attending the gala dinner.

14. Recruit Event Staff and Volunteers

Develop a recruitment strategy to take on event staff and volunteers who can handle various tasks on the night of the event. These people will ensure all gala dinner activities run smoothly so you and your guests have a good time.

Hiring a gala dinner event management company could fulfill this role for you, saving you a lot of worries the day of the event!

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15. Final Approval of the Guest List

Before sending out the invitations, make sure the guest list has been approved by the gala dinner event manager. The planning process should include the time it will take to finalise the guest list and for the event manager to approve it so you’re not delayed in sending out the invitations.

Give your potential guests ample time to accept the invitation, especially if you’re targeting a corporate sponsor that often has many events to attend throughout a year.

16.  Send Out the Invitations

By now, you should be ready to send out the invitations to your target audience. Double-check email addresses or other forms of delivery to ensure your potential attendees receive your gala dinner invite.

Include an RSVP date and make sure to follow up with potential attendees who haven’t responded closer to the deadline.

17. Promote Fundraising Gala Events Through Different Media Platforms

If you’re planning gala corporate events for fundraising purposes, you need to promote the event through different media platforms to create awareness and excitement. The following marketing approaches can be used:

  • Social media
  • Email campaigns
  • Radio and television
  • The company’s website

Social media marketing is one of the most popular platforms when you want to reach a wider audience and leverage more opportunities to raise funds before the event takes place.

18. Streamline Registration and Ticket Sales

Registration and ticket sales are particularly relevant to fundraising gala dinners and need to be streamlined to avoid costly pitfalls! Use an online platform to handle this process and ensure that it collects useful information such as names and contact details.

Test the platform to ensure it offers a user-friendly experience, especially the payment process.

19. Prepare Speeches and Presentations

Speeches and presentations need to be well-prepared before the actual event. Designated speakers must be allocated and informed of the gala theme to ensure they align their speeches or presentations accordingly.

Visual and sound aids such as microphones and other presentation hardware must be organised before the event takes place.

20. Do Final Checks One Week Before the Gala Dinner

Final checks need to be done one week before the gala dinner takes place. This includes:

  • Confirming key stakeholders such as venue and catering management teams are on track.
  • Checking that keynote speakers, entertainment and event emcees are on board.
  • Finalising logistics and making last-minute adjustments where necessary.

Addressing hitches in the last week leading up to the gala function will guarantee a successful event on the night.

Conclusion

If you need help organising a gala dinner for your company, contact our team at That’s Innovative. We’ve been in the event business since 1999 – you won’t be the first nor the last client to use our gala dinner management services!

We know the best venues, and have excellent entertainment to engage your guests, and our specialised sound and media team is ready to assist you. What’s more, we have a wide range of experienced emcees most suitable for your gala dinner.

Simply click the “Contact Us/WhatsApp” link below, fill in your contact details, and we’ll get back to you within one business day.