How to Plan the Perfect Gala

happy waitress holding a tray full of glasses or welcome drinks

Often, when we hear the word “gala,” we associate it with lavish décor, world-class catering, and a dress code fit for the Gods. This scenario is easy to envision, but realistically, the amount of planning that goes into hosting a gala event is quite extensive and far from luxurious. A proper gala comprises of entertainment, food, accommodations, themed décor, and commonly, a sponsor. When an event is considered a “gala,” it is held in hopes of raising money for a specific cause. Due to this, it is common for event planners to seek out volunteers or sponsors to provide the food, drinks, and entertainment. Without proper planning and organization, not only will the guests have a less than pleasant time, but the fundraising goal will unlikely be reached.

Here are some crucial elements that go into appropriate planning of a gala:

Determine Your “Why”

First things first, if the purpose of your gala is unclear, the planning process will be harder than necessary. Defining the goal and reason for the gala can help determine what support is needed, while also installing excitement within the community. It’s important for the guests to feel informed and included in the event, especially if their money will be involved. If guests feel confident in the charity of choice and purpose of the gala, more donations and sponsorships could occur. Researching and choosing a charity before any planning occurs can ultimately benefit your budget and make for a successful gala.

Set a Ticket Price

The price you can charge your guests for entry is determined by how many guests are expected. Correspondingly, before establishing a price, take into consideration the cost of the venue, food, and entertainment if necessary. Although most aspects of the event will likely be sponsored, it’s important to plan accordingly in case of any fallouts or mishaps. Additionally, offering higher-priced tickets for “VIP” guests can bring in more money while giving guests a feeling of prestige. The VIP tickets can include elements such as gift bags, entrance to a raffle, or something as simple as separate guest seating. These higher-priced tickets should be offered in a limited quantity to increase the demand. While selling tickets to a gala is not required, it’s a great way to raise extra money.

Obtain Sponsors 

More times than not, the initial amount of money available for planning a gala is not that impressive. Therefore, finding sponsors and volunteers is crucial for any gala event. It may sound like an impossible task, but gathering enough sponsors to cover every aspect of the event is the goal. This can be done by offering free advertising in exchange for a company’s service. For example, you can offer to include a local restaurant’s business cards with each guest’s ticket if they cater the event. Securing sponsors will be beneficial for not only the gala but also your personal network building. This task will require you to make new contacts, form relationships, and utilize every aspect of your network. Using local sponsors can result in free venues, catering, entertainment, and even prize donations for an auction.

Choose a Fun Theme 

You can elevate any event with a creative theme. Choosing a theme such as black tie, disco, or medieval times can deliver a unique experience for your guests. Not only will a theme make the gala more entertaining, but it can help the planning process when it comes to determining the type of food, décor, and dress code. If a theme is in the plan, it’s important to be consistent and make sure the décor, entertainment, and table settings are planned accordingly. Depending on how large and complex the gala is, it can be advantageous to contact specialists that are more familiar with the chosen theme. The specialist could sponsor the event and help decorate with a more experienced eye, ensuring the theme is prominent.

Entertain Your Guests

Aside from good food, a unique theme, and beautiful décor, a gala should include entertainment. Whether it be a local magician, singer, or belly dancer, keeping guests entertained will increase their willingness to donate, due to them having a pleasant experience. Finding entertainment that ties into the gala’s theme will increase the wow factor and aesthetic of the entire event. During this stressful time of planning such an intricate event, the most useful tool you could use are your connections and people in your community. On account of the gala being held for a charity, the likelihood of people being open to contribute is high. A gala is more elaborate than most events, so if you put in the work, results will come!