One of the most important details of planning a gala event is to set the date and find a location. These two important pieces go hand in hand and should be taken care of as far in advance as possible. If you don't have very many options when it comes to a venue, be flexible with your date. And be sure you know if any permits are necessary for the type of event you're planning. The staff at the venue should be able to help you.
Assign a small group to be in charge of the guest list while the rest of the committee irons out the other details of the night. After all, you can't hold a gala event without guests to buy the tickets. Each committee member should bring a list of his or her contacts for inclusion, including connections to any large corporations or other social committees. Depending on your budget, consider buying a contact list from a local PR or direct marketing firm.
If you plan to hire a band or provide entertainment, book them shortly after setting the date to ensure their calendar doesn't fill up. You should do the same for your caterer or event planner, if you're hiring one. Of course, keep in mind if you're incorporating a theme for your event, you want to know what that is before you hire any entertainment or caterer so the gala will be as cohesive as possible.
Setting the theme is a fun, creative part of the planning, but don't get too carried away brainstorming ideas. Set a clear deadline for the committee to choose a theme, so the rest of the details can fall into place. We'll discuss more theme ideas on the next page.