How to Plan a Black-Tie Gala

Written by missy nolan Google
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How to Plan a Black-Tie Gala
Plan your black-tie gala well to ensure that your guests have a memorable evening. (Chris Clinton/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Guests remember a well-executed black-tie gala months after it occurs and eagerly anticipate the next event. This formal social event allows guests to eat, drink, network and donate to a charitable cause. Men typically wear a formal black suit jacket and tie or tuxedo, while the women don beautiful evening gowns. Black-tie events create a sense of excitement in the community, and many guests have high expectations for the night. Don't let your attendees down -- plan an event that generates positive feedback long after the night ends.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Schedule your event at least six months in advance. This gives you plenty of time to reserve an appropriate venue, hire wait staff and a catering company, arrange entertainment, collect donations and generate buzz about the event. Reserve your venue before you hire staff to avoid scheduling conflicts. Ask if the venue provides chairs, tables and tablecloths to avoid an unpleasant surprise the night of the event.

  2. 2

    Delegate simple duties, such as mailing invitations and collecting price quotes, to friends, family members and co-workers. Black-tie galas, like most large events, require a considerable amount of time and effort. Don't plan a black-tie gala alone unless you absolutely have to.

  3. 3

    Create a dinner menu or choose several different appetizers. Enlist the help of a catering company or professional chef, if you are not a culinary expert. Keep the dietary restrictions of guests in mind, such as lactose intolerance or vegetarianism, as you plan your menu. Offer a wide selection of drinks, side dishes and desserts to please all palates.

  4. 4

    Contact businesses and individuals to collect donations in the form of cash, goods and services for a silent auction or attendance prizes. Angela Johnson, the director of community outreach and affiliate relations at PanCAN (Pancreatic Cancer Action Network), reminds event planners to keep accurate records for tax purposes and provide each contributor with a receipt. And be sure to keep fundraising donations for an individual in a separate bank account, recommends Martha Coakley, the attorney general of Massachusetts.

  5. 5

    Mail formal invitations printed on high-quality paper at least 60 days prior to the event. Do not use handwritten invitations or flyers. It is acceptable to create a Facebook event notification after you mail the original invitations. Post an ad or request a feature story in the entertainment section of a local newspaper or magazine. Do not publicly announce the event until you formally invite important guests, such as financial contributors and event sponsors.

  6. 6

    Arrive several hours early the night of the event to make last-minute preparations and adjustments. Make sure the venue is clean, organised and free of unpleasant odours. Verify that there are enough tables and chairs to comfortably seat each guest. Call the catering company to confirm that they have everything ready.

  7. 7

    Send a formal thank-you card to each contributor and guest no later than two weeks after the event. Thank them for attending or donating, and let them know how much you appreciate their participation. Include a link to the gala's website, if applicable, and post photos from the event. Share financial information, if your event had a specific monetary goal.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep your budget in mind as you plan your event.

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