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.

Holding a business event can help boost customer loyalty, while reinforcing brand identity and building thought leadership. There are several styles of event which are suited to different types of businesses depending on the industry, the business’ target market, whether the business markets via B2B or B2C, and the business’ goals.

In order to choose an event that successfully engages your customer or clients, you should ask: How will the event benefit my customer or my client’s business? Will my clients make sales through the event? Will my clients have the opportunity to network with industry leaders at the event? Will my customers or clients enjoy the event?

Here are a few event styles which are highly engaging:

Trade shows and exhibitions

Trade shows and exhibitions provide a platform to feature new products and showcase your brand. Trade shows are generally B2B events which allow industry professionals to build brand awareness while networking, whereas exhibitions are geared towards B2C businesses and provide a platform to drive sales and conversions. Industries which benefit greatly from trade shows and exhibitions include hospitality, travel, technology, retail and cosmetics.

Gala dinner

A gala dinner is an evening event which involves a sit down dinner for guests. This form of event is a great way to facilitate professional networking within your industry. A gala dinner is generally a professional celebration of a business achievement, for example an anniversary or a lifetime achievement, or charity event or fundraiser. It is usually a black tie event and follows a certain theme, involving entertainment, styling and speeches.


A symposium involves a panel of experts presenting on particular topics, discussing trends and proposing potential solutions for industry matters. Holding a symposium is an effective method of building thought leadership for your business and is a great way to engage clients or customers on specific industry issues.

Award ceremony

Holding an industry specific awards ceremony is a highly effective way of positioning your business as industry leaders. Like a gala dinner, an award ceremony usually involves a catered sit down dinner, and includes entertainment, drinks and sometimes a theme. Holding an award ceremony event can help cultivate professional networking within your industry.

If you would like some help planning your next event, talk to us today.