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How to Plan a Gala Event

Updated: Mar 19

Planning a gala event and hosting can be a memorable way to celebrate a special occasion or support a charitable cause. With delicious food, tasty drinks and plenty of dancing, galas are almost always a wonderful time. However, galas typically require more work than the traditional party. Here's a look at a few tips and tricks on how to plan a gala event that will be the talk of the season.

How to plan a Gala Event

What Is a Gala Event?

Traditionally, a gala event is a party that involves a catered dinner and a charitable auction. The purpose of a gala is often to raise money for various causes, but they can also act as a celebration for certain achievements or occasions. Typically, gala guests will include a few notable members from the community, and all attendees will wear formal attire. There may be performances, dancing and other entertainment options to round out the event.

How to Plan a Gala

How do you plan a gala? There are many steps involved when planning the perfect gala event. To get you started, here's a checklist you can use to ensure you have everything in order:

  1. Outline the purpose of the event: Before you do any other planning, you need to figure out your event's purpose. Are you raising money, recruiting students or celebrating a milestone? With a clear purpose, you can easily plan each part of your gala.

  2. Calculate costs: When planning any event, you need a firm budget for event costs. Determine your total budget for the event. Then, break down your budget into categories, such as food, decorations and entertainment. As you pay for items and services, track them in a spreadsheet so you can see how much of your budget you have left.

  3. Establish a fundraising method: There are many different approaches when it comes to raising money for a gala. Offering more than one option is a smart way to ensure every guest can contribute. Having a raffle, silent auction and advertising opportunities are a few fundraising ideas.

  4. Gather event sponsors: It's always a good idea to have a few sponsors for additional support. Whether through advertising, contributing donation prizes or providing food and entertainment, you can rely on sponsors to take care of several elements for your gala — you usually just have to ask!

  5. Choose a venue: A crucial part of event planning is choosing the right venue. Think about how many people will be attending the event, the entertainment options you plan to have and other factors that will determine your venue's capacity and amenities.

  6. Select catering and menus: Of course, you can't have a gala without a delicious dinner and drink menu. If you're planning a themed gala for a holiday, you'll want to ensure your catering aligns with that theme. Otherwise, you should consider dietary restrictions to ensure everyone has a meal they can enjoy.

  7. Pick entertainment options: In the end, a gala is a party, so it's always smart to have various entertainment options available. Be sure to hire a band or DJ to perform music. Other gala planning ideas for entertainment could be gambling tables, dance group performances, a photo booth, circus performances and more.

Lighting for Gala Events

Lighting For Gale Events: Sparking Lighting

One of the most commonly overlooked factors in gala event planning is lighting. Whether your venue is indoors or outdoors, lighting has a major impact on your event space's appearance and how your guests feel throughout the night. Therefore, putting some of your budget toward proper lighting can make a significant difference in your event's success.

Types of Lighting

There are plenty of options for event lighting for galas. At Illuminating Design, we offer numerous lighting selections for various applications, including formal gala events. Here's a look at a few options that can help create a beautiful atmosphere for a gala:

  • Bistro lighting: If you're holding an outdoor gala event, bistro lighting is perfect for creating a cozy, warm and lively atmosphere. Draping strings of bistro lights above a patio or deck adds a soft touch to any party. This way, guests aren't overwhelmed by harsh spotlights — they can enjoy a calm glow while mingling with guests.

  • Gobo lighting: With gobo lighting, you can reflect any kind of picture or logo. At your gala, you can have your company's or organization's logo set up near the stage or the entrance. This lighting can add a unique design element while also acting as branding guests can use to check that they're in the right place.

  • Pin spotting lighting: Often found at weddings, pin spotting lighting is dispersed throughout a space to highlight various areas. These lights may be displayed at every other wall panel in the room. Alternatively, you can use pin spotting lights to emphasize certain features, like buffet tables.

  • RGB lighting: RGB lighting comes with advanced capabilities that can add another layer of awe to your gala event. If you plan on hiring a string quartet to provide music, your RBG lights can be programmed to respond to the music. These lights can also display different colors, helping create themed rooms or add to the depth of performances.

  • Uplighting: Using uplighting, you can create a focal point at your gala. Consider placing uplighting throughout the main space to highlight the room. This type of lighting works in all kinds of venues, emphasizing points of interest or creating visual appeal. If you're hosting casino games in a separate room, you could display colored uplighting with a few softer lights to create a Vegas-type feel.

These are only a few of the many lighting options we have available for your gala event. Feel free to browse our lighting selection to see what else could work for your event. Whether you choose one or many of our products, we can help you design a stunning gala your guests will talk about for weeks to come.

Contact Illuminating Design for Gala Event Lighting

Illuminating Design is here to help you create the perfect gala event. Let us work with you to design customizable lighting solutions that match your venue's size and design.

Since 2004, we've been helping clients in the Atlanta area illuminate their spaces with gorgeous, professional light displays. Contact us today so we can assist you with your gala event!

A group of people holding lit lanterns outside


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