Everyone loves a great award show. But what makes an awards ceremony really stand out? Best practices, as well as tips from the pros are all here for you to create a memorable and glittering occasion.
While food is a major component of award shows and other social events, there are a multitude of other things to consider. Planning an awards ceremony involves careful consideration of the location, venue, room, entertainment, theme, decor, lighting, vendors and, timings.
This post is everything you need for how to plan a gala dinner. The production schedule, award ceremony playlist and many more small details all contribute to the success of the occasion.
While focus of this article is Awards Events, much of the information is applicable to many types of evening events, such as black tie events,
gala evenings and gala dinners.
When people are headed to a conference or convention, and are asked why they are attending, the answers usually include education, networking, business, etc. Rarely are the awards or gala evening food-focused events mentioned. Yet, upon their return, when asked how the meeting went, the first thing they usually start talking about is the awards evening/dinner/party/social event they attended, including both positive and negative experiences.
Definitions of an Award Show, Gala Dinner and Black Tie Event
Before we explore the tactics and strategy for planning a glittering evening event it is important to understand what the different terms and definitions mean.
WHAT IS AN AWARD SHOW?
An Award Show is an event to celebrate excellence and achievements of individuals or organizations. Also referred to as award ceremonies, award giving ceremony and award shows, events are often held in the evening and most commonly are a formal, black-tie occasion. The award ceremony meaning is often to celebrate and recognize achievements.
WHAT IS A GALA DINNER?
A gala is a glittering occasion, generally including dinner and entertainment. Guests wear their best outfits, including ballgowns and black tie attire.
WHAT IS A BLACK TIE EVENT?
What is meant by black tie event is a social occasion and dress code requiring formal attire. Traditionally evening events, dinners, balls, award ceremonies, fundraisers and parties are often black tie events. If you have ever wondered what to wear to a black tie event, keep reading!
Etiquette and Dress Codes for Black Tie and White Tie Events
There is often a lot of confusion about the dress code requirements for evening events. Here is the definitive explanation of what is (and isn’t) acceptable for black tie and white tie events. Knowing what to wear to an award ceremony is quite important. Think carefully about the award ceremony dress code.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO A BLACK TIE EVENT?
A black tie event dress code is formal evening dress. Black tie event attire is less formal than white tie dress codes.
Men should wear a dinner jacket, known as a tuxedo in the Nigeria, and a white dress shirt, cuff links and a black bow tie. A cummerband or waistcoat should be worn with smart, formal shoes.
Women generally wear a long, floor-length evening gowns, jewellery and heels. Shorter, glamorous cocktail dress can also be black tie appropriate.
WHAT IS A WHITE TIE DRESS CODE?
White tie is the most formal of all dress codes and is also known as full evening dress or a dress suit. White tie signifies the fanciest and most special of events and occasions.
For men, white tie requires a full suit with black dress tailcoat worn over a white starched shirt, waistcoat and white bow tie. The suit should be black, not white. A regular tuxedo should never be worn for white tie events.
For women, a long dress is essential, but amped up from black tie event dress. For events of the highest level, gloves may also be expected.
Planning an Award Show or Evening Event
DEFINE THE REASON FOR THE EVENT AND BE SMART
Hosting an awards ceremony is a big deal for everyone that will be recognized and celebrated. Before planning an award show, gala dinner event or black tie event, the first thing you need to focus on is the reason for the event. If you were planning a conference or exhibition you would approach the event in this way, and a social occasion should be no different.
Is it an icebreaker reception, an awards dinner, a retirement party, a holiday party, a fundraiser?
The possible reasons for hosting an event are endless. Think about the outcomes you want to achieve.
This post focuses on award galas, but the ideas are useful for any type of gala.
Once you know why the event is being held, you need to create SMART objectives.
SMART objectives are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
For example: This Gala Event will produce 20% more revenue from sponsorships in the next three months.
While demographics describe things like age range, gender, education level, etc., psychographics are about lifestyle. A person living in New York can have the same demographics as someone living in rural Kansas, and have totally different lifestyles. Psychographics include personality, values, opinions, attitudes, hobbies and interests. Psychographics explain ‘why’ they are there.
Creating the Ultimate Award Presentation Event
An award is an honor or recognition given to individuals or groups for a variety of reasons. An award can be for an accomplishment, such as winning a sports event, or a lifetime achievement award. There are awards for the Member of the Year, Educator of the Year, etc. Awards are public acknowledgements of excellence.
There is typically a nomination process, with a committee assigned to select the award recipients.
SHOULD AWARD WINNERS BE TOLD BEFORE THE EVENT?
There is some debate on whether to let recipients know in advance or surprise them at the event. When you are on the receiving end, recipients often prefer knowing in advance, so they can prepare their award ceremony speech and appropriate remarks, rather than being put on the spot. This gives the opportunity for acceptance speeches to be more polished, although the element of surprise is removed.
KEEP YOUR AWARD SHOW FRESH AND THE ALCOHOL DEBATE
Many meetings reserve one night to present awards. Meeting planners and caterers need to find ways to take the tediousness out of awards presentations without sacrificing the recognition that winners deserve.
An awards banquet is often part of a grand banquet given on the last night of the meeting. However, this approach has several drawbacks. For one thing, meeting attendees have just survived an intense few days of meetings and other business activities and are ready to party.
Most of them have probably been to one or more receptions earlier in the evening and have consumed a few alcoholic beverages. And if wine is served with the meal, the group may become loud and boisterous.
In summary, exceptional awards events do not happen by chance. It takes a lot of planning and logistical expertise to pull it off. Every element must be considered, from the menu to the décor and beyond. You must know who is attending, what they expect, what they need and how you can surprise and delight them. The award recipients must be made to feel as special as the occasion.