7 Essentials in Planning a Gala Event Checklist

Save yourself from the overwhelm and start planning for a gala event with poise. Whatever the size is the event, we prepared a checklist that can help you find order and rise above the mess. Have confidence in doing the groundwork — it’s a lot easier when you start early and have supportive people around you. Without further ado, here is our gala event checklist you can use as a guide on the whole planning process.

Planning a Gala Event Checklist

1. Check the event budget

With the talk of hosting a gala event, budget is a subject often determined earlier in the whole planning process. Discuss with the committee the working budget you have and potential financial sources or connections you can maximize for the event.

Once you have an idea of how much funds you currently have, you can now proceed with the budget and allocate the readily-available funds for the essentials. Source for the potential venue, caterer, and other vendors that fit your budget — shortlist and make necessary adjustments but no need to commit yet. Use this template as an inspiration to see which is important for the big day:

Doing this can also give you an idea of how much more you need for the event should your budget be a lot lower than the market price. Strategize on funding and negotiate rates for other event add-ons you’d like to implement further. You can set tiered prices for benefactors or even finalize ticket prices to get more funds.

2. Form the Gala Committee

Once you’ve worked on the budget, you can now proceed to form the gala committee. Invite members from your organization to support you in the leg work to successfully execute the event. Each committee can also help you in terms of sourcing for funding and negotiating set rates from potential partners. Sponsorships from respected leaders in the industry or brands can be explored too.

There can also be a committee that’ll touch base with PR-related concerns to get visibility and invite your target audience to the gala. They can help craft materials and build anticipation towards the big day. Usual marketing strategies still apply to these cases.

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3. Finalize the Program and Fill the Roles

Now that people are working on the background, you can now finalize the program and see which positions are needed to be filled in. You may plot the guest experience from their arrival til the very end of the event so you can place key persons at each touchpoint. Go through all the necessary details with this guide with you:

There will be a need to assign ushers, master of ceremonies, program speakers (if necessary), and even photographers to document the whole event. Only through ironing out the program that you get to determine and add more details to each segment. In some cases, entertainment is also added as icebreakers in between.

4. Getting down to the details and decors

The gala event date is drawing near at this point and you need to get your head together to ensure that all essential signages, materials, and decors were ordered. Look for a local supplier who can help you with the designing and printing of invitations, menu cards, signages, programs, and others.

At the same time, floral arrangements and decorations should also be secured and reserved for the big day. To save you time and effort, you can work with professional decor companies like VintageBASH in Toronto. They are respected and a go-to for anything event design related.

But if you opt to just rent, they also have quite impressive catalogue of amazing furniture and fixtures that may fit your concept. At the same time, they can also custom-specific decor pieces should you require a bit more fabricated. More than this, they are also well-connected with other vendors so you can shoot many birds at once by working with them.

5. Finalize the menu and guest list

So in between the production and finalization of the guest list, you’ve sent the invitations out and some have already sent their RSVP. This will be the perfect time to finalize your guest light and have an estimate of how many will be attending the gala event. With this, seating arrangements can also be planned ahead of time. Here’s a sample guest list you can fill out:

At the same time, you can now also finalize the menu with your shortlisted caterer and ensure it covers the specific dietary restrictions of some guests. You can also double-check the time allocated for the food so you can ensure that the menu will be in amazing condition even after quite some time during the program.

6. Polish the program and double-check everything

By this time, you have less than two weeks before the event. We recommend that you go over the whole program and check potential loopholes that need a bit of fixing. Besides this, you can also proceed to double-check everything — all the contracts and ensure that vendors will be there. Though seemingly unnecessary, it’s always best to reconfirm with everyone and everything because we only have one chance to ace this.

This will also allow you to resolve potential issues ahead of time and look for better alternatives. You can also have backup plans and align the committee so they can be quick on their feet to ensure that all is well. Foresight on potential issues can save you from a lot of drama on the big day.

7. Kick off the program and send a thank you note afterwards

Run through all the important details early to ensure that’s everything in place at least three hours before the event. Double-check everything and see to it that everything’s according to plan. You can rely on your committee since they’ve been briefed and aware of potential fixes that they can do for specific concerns along the way. Once the event is done and the takedown was completed without issues, you can definitely call it a success!

All that’s left to do on your end is to finalize the financial reports and document the whole event for the organization you’re working with. You should also not forget to send thank you cards to the attendees and to also treat your committee with a filling meal over dinner. Also, stay true to the objective of the gala event and ensure that all funds raised are allocated to the beneficiary — add a few photos of this as well to the thank you card.


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