It seems that many people do not know the difference between a Gala and a Dinner. Tacking the term “Gala” to your event does not make it Gala worthy…and often leaves guests feeling short changed!
Gala worthy events start with a Gala worthy location and I am proud to say that we are one of them. People want to see beauty, creativity and style! Bland and Boring location + Bland and Boring Meal = Bland and Boring Event. Location is critical especially with a limited decor budget.
A Gala typically serves an upscale dinner menu and bar package that is comparable to the ticket price – and allows guests to feel that it was a social and recreational investment for the evening. Generally, there is some type of theme or design concept that is carried throughout the event which creates brand identity for the organization or cause. Memory recognition! And finally, guests leave the event feeling that they were pampered and proud to have contributed to the evening (generosity can be a powerful motivator).
I cannot say that all Galas are Gala worthy and I have attended events that left me hungry, insulted and less than generous. Providing a beautiful experience, a delicious meal, whimsical touches and enforcing the message of who you are helping, all aid in making me believe it was worth the steep ticket price.
I do not make a meal from cheese and crackers, chicken skewers, meatballs or toasted ravioli so if you are a fundraiser, you need to rethink the appetizer buffet if you have selected the term “Gala” for your event. And never have a cash bar at an event with an all inclusive ticket price. Be it beer/wine/soda or premium bar, I better not have to pull out my wallet unless I am making an auction purchase or donation. It just reads as CHEAP!
Successful Galas have committees that are receptive to feedback and members that have event planning and culinary knowledge. I have been very fortunate to work with three very successful gala events recently, The St. Louis Chapter of Wish upon a Wedding Blissful Wishes Ball, The Lydia’s House Gala, and the Asthma and Allergy Orchid Ball have earned the title of Coronado Ballroom Gala worthy! I had the pleasure to serve with many St. Louis industry professionals to create these special events and among them was the talented and charming Katie ‘Moro’ Saeger. Katie brought a clear vision to the table of how the evening was to flow and practical logistics that worked. Thank you! From the starscape ceiling to the wonderful meal, it was a lovely evening. We love working with our local and very talented vendors!
We live in a time when cost takes priority and making people feel special is secondary. I can tell you that I have grown many of my non-for-profits and seen them double in size as they made their evening an experience. Guests need to walk out the door knowing they want to attend next year…and fortunately mine have. Helping people is a great gift but it comes with great responsibility. Call me if you need a little inspiration. Wishing all of you a successful fundraising year!
Gala worthy and St. Louis Wedding Professional Hall of Fame Inaugural Inductee