How long does it take to plan a gala dinner?

The perfect gala dinner requires a lot of planning and preparation to ensure that each element comes together seamlessly on the night. From building your guest list and setting your budget to choosing the right sponsors and fundraising activities, you’ll want everything to align to make sure the night goes to plan and that it’s everything you had visualised at the beginning of the planning process.

It can take several months and even upwards of a year to plan a gala dinner. The best way to keep the planning process on track is to put in place an event plan and timeline. Each gala dinner is different, but here is a general timeline of tasks that can help to keep the event planning process on track.

8-12 months before the event

Establish the what and why of your gala dinner and complete the groundwork.

  • Define the event’s purpose
  • Set your budget
  • Identify your fundraising methods e.g. ticketing, silent auction, raffle
  • Select a date and choose a venue
  • Look for sponsors or partners for the night
  • Plan activities, select speakers and book entertainment
  • Choose a theme

3-6 months before the event

Get the wheels in motion and spread the word.

  • Arrange your audiovisual plan and equipment for the night
  • Promote the event, for example via social media, radio or newspapers
  • Confirm speaker arrangements and finalise your entertainment
  • Check for any special venue provisions e.g. wheelchair access, parking arrangements and transport information
  • Start building an attendee list
  • Organise fundraising activities for the night
  • Book catering
  • Send invitations

2-3 months before the event

Establish on-the-night requirements, ramp up event promotion.

  • Organise decorations and table settings
  • Select food
  • Continue to promote the event, for example release special announcements to the press for media coverage
  • Arrange seat planning

1 week before the event

Finalise everything.

  • Finalise guest list and send an event reminder
  • Brief the team for duties on the night
  • Finalise seating plan and create place cards
  • Finalise guest numbers and send to caterers and partners.

1 day before the event

Get ready.

  • Conduct an audiovisual test
  • Make sure auction items, prizes or gifts are on site
  • Make sure everything is prepared for the night
  • Finalise run sheet

The day of the event

Manage the night and enjoy your hard work!

  • Decorate event space and tables
  • Hand out seating charts, the guest list and run sheet to your team
  • Make sure guests arrive
  • Keep the event running to time and deal with any issues as/if they arise
  • Enjoy the night!

After the event

Thank your guests and share the night with the world.

  • Send thank you cards to your guests
  • Finalise fundraiser and make sure participants received gifts or prizes
  • Share event photos
  • Develop an event evaluation outlining your successes and what you can improve on next time

Need to get your AV or staging prepared for your next gala event? We can help. Contact us today.

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