Awards ceremonies are always fun, but if you’re the one planning it for your company, it can be a little overwhelming to know where to begin. Whether you’re an old pro who has planned several awards galas or you’re organizing your first, here are some useful tips from Gary Taglyan, owner of the Taglyan Complex in Los Angeles. This venue holds several high-end corporate events a month, and they know everything there is to know about planning an awards gala.
Write Up A Plan
The very first thing to do is to write (or type) out a full brief of the awards gala. Be sure to include goals, ideas, location, the tone, an itinerary, and any other details—including the estimated guest count, what type of food to serve, and hopefuls for entertainment. Include any thoughts about the vision and theme, and what you’ll need to achieve it. Also, “Make sure to have an area for ‘potential problems’ so that you can begin solving them early,” says Tagylan.
Having a written or typed-out awards gala brief will both clarify your thoughts and keep everything organized in a place where you can double-check and keep notes as you progress in your plans. It’s also the perfect place to keep phone numbers and addresses.
Create A Budget
Directly after the brief write-up should come the budget planning. It’s important to do this before you begin planning anything else, since the budget will dictate what you’re able to afford. “The main expenses for an awards event are typically the venue, catering, beverages, VIP guests/speakers, and entertainment,” says Taglyan. A good venue will include things like table linens, dishes, and tableware in the booking fee, but any “extras” (such as custom centerpieces, a red carpet, or ice sculptures) will need to be budgeted for. And if you’re planning on doing any promotion for the event, don’t forget to budget wisely for that as well.
The good thing about finalizing a budget is once you’ve done it, you can determine how much to charge for tickets.
Select the Right Venue
Awards events are supposed to be glamorous and build up anticipation. “The event itself is an award, in a way, and so choosing a fitting venue is very important,” says Taglyan. The first thing, of course, is to make sure the venue to select has enough room for not only all of your guests, but also for your guests to be seated. Many awards ceremonies include a dinner, and if yours is, be sure to ask venue managers how many seated guests their space can hold.
Awards ceremonies typically require a stage with a podium, so make sure you find a venue that provides these. (It’s always a good idea to ask to see any photos of past awards events that they have hosted so you can get a visual idea.) And if your awards event is having live entertainment, make sure that there’s a stage areas with enough space for any instruments or equipment, and that the acoustics are good for the music.
As with any event, the food is extremely important. The right (or wrong) catering can make or break an otherwise incredible ceremony. This is why it’s smart to make sure the meal and snacks are delicious and presented beautifully. And, if you want to have a truly successful event, be sure to provide vegan and gluten-free options.
Most awards galas have a sit-down meal served, but there are several options for what style of serving to choose. You can go with a buffet, hors d’oeuvres, or family style. Make sure to consider this during your planning, since the serving style will determine how to navigate your guests during the event. For example, if you choose a buffet, your guests will have to get up and wait in a line, and you’ll need to figure out the traffic.
Awards galas need to be more than just a long string of winners being announced. Yes, there’s the food—but a great awards ceremony should also include some memorable entertainment. Whether you decide to go with a live band or instrumentalist, a comedian, dancers, a magician, or anything else, be sure to get someone crowd-pleasing and relevant to the awards themselves.
As mentioned above: whatever your entertainment requires, be sure that the venue you choose can provide it. A good awards venue will have lighting, screens, and a stage.
Remember, not everyone will receive an award at the gala, but they should nonetheless walk away from the event feeling like they’ve had an amazing time. With these tips as starting points, you’ll be well on your way to planning a truly stunning event.