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Gala Awards 2021: How to Enter This Year's Competition

The categories and rules for the Special Events 2021 Gala Awards competition

THE CATEGORIES

Our Gala Entry Portal is here.

1. Best Fair/Festival
Do not enter trade fairs/exhibitions here; please use #15: Best Event Marketing Campaign, below.

2. Best Fundraising Event
Must include both gross and net money raised, in U.S. dollars. Live or virtual.

3. Best Event Produced for a Nonprofit Organization
Client must be a registered nonprofit. Do not enter fundraising events in this category; enter in #2, above. Live or virtual.

4. Best Wedding Budget Under $1,000 Per Guest

Category refers to ceremony and reception only, not multiple-day events. Be sure to include a budget (use the budget template here), which must include the RETAIL* (use the budget template here) value of food & beverage, venue, decor, floral, entertainment, lighting, invitations, labor and installation costs. Do not include bridal party clothing, rings or honeymoon. Live or virtual.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

5. Best Wedding Budget $1,000 and Above Per Guest

Category refers to ceremony and reception only, not multiple-day events. Be sure to include a budget (use the budget template here), which must include the RETAIL* (use the budget template here) value of food & beverage, venue, decor, floral, entertainment, lighting, invitations, labor and installation costs. Do not include bridal party clothing, rings or honeymoon. Live or virtual.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

6. Best Multiple-Day Event Program for a Corporation or Association
Refers to a sales meeting, training meeting, incentive, etc.

7. Best Tent Installation

8. Best Achievement in Technical Support
To be entered by a company directly responsible for the structural shell of the event: rigging, AV, power distribution, etc.

9. Best Achievement in Logistics
Applies to overall challenges faced during preproduction. Live or virtual.

10. Best Entertainment: Budget Under $100,000

Entertainment booked and produced to complement a theme. Be sure to include a budget (use the budget template here). The entry must include RETAIL* entertainment budget (use the budget template here) breakdown. Do not enter entertainment available to the public on an ongoing basis. Judges will consider the performance alone unless you indicate that you wish technical aspects of the production—such as lighting, staging, special effects—to be considered as well; if so, these elements must be included in your budget. A video link is required.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

11. Best Entertainment: Budget $100,000 and Above

Entertainment booked and produced to complement a theme. Be sure to include a budget (use the budget template here). The entry must include RETAIL* entertainment budget (use the budget template here) breakdown. Do not enter entertainment available to the public on an ongoing basis. Judges will consider the performance alone unless you indicate that you wish technical aspects of the production—such as lighting, staging, special effects—to be considered as well; if so, these elements must be included in your budget. A video link is required.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

12. Most Outstanding Spectacle
Refers to an event with more than 5,000 attendees.

13. Best Event for a Private Individual: Budget Under $1,000 Per Guest

Do not enter weddings here; enter in weddings categories, above. A budget (use the budget template here), is required. Include the RETAIL* value of invitation, decor, food & beverage, labor, entertainment, sound, lighting, venue, installation, planner’s fee, transportation, etc. (use the budget template here). Live or virtual.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

14. Best Event for a Private Individual: Budget $1,000 and Above Per Guest

Do not enter weddings here; enter in weddings categories, above. A budget (use the budget template here), is required. Include the RETAIL* value of invitation, decor, food & beverage, labor, entertainment, sound, lighting, venue, installation, planner’s fee, transportation, etc. (use the budget template here). Live or virtual.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

15. Best Event Marketing Campaign
Enter only events that serve as the actual advertising/marketing technique. Entries must demonstrate how the events served the client’s marketing objectives.

16. Best Event Venue
Please explain what features make the venue the best showcase for a special event.

17. Total Décor: Budget Under $250,000

A budget (use the budget template here), is required. Include the RETAIL* design/decor/lighting budget (use the budget template here) breakdown.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

18. Total Décor: Budget $250,000 to $500,000

A budget (use the budget template here), is required. Include the RETAIL* design/decor/lighting budget (use the budget template here) breakdown.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

19. Total Décor: Budget Above $500,000

A budget (use the budget template here), is required. Include the RETAIL* design/decor/lighting budget (use the budget template here) breakdown.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

20. Best Event Produced for a Corporation or Association: Overall Budget Under $250,000   

Refers to a single event; enter multiple-day events in #6 above. A budget (use the budget template here), is required. Include wherever possible the RETAIL* budget (use the budget template here) breakdown for the entire event: invitation, decor, food & beverage, labor, entertainment, sound, lighting, venue, installation, planner’s fee, transportation, etc. Live or virtual.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

21. Best Event Produced for a Corporation or Association: Overall Budget $250,000 to $500,000

Refers to a single event; enter multiple-day events in #6 above. A budget (use the budget template here), is required; include wherever possible the RETAIL* budget (use the budget template here) breakdown for the entire event: invitation, decor, food & beverage, labor, entertainment, sound, lighting, venue, installation, planner’s fee, transportation, etc. Live or virtual.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

22. Best Event Produced for a Corporation or Association: Overall Budget Above $500,000

Refers to a single event; enter multiple-day events in #6 above. A budget (use the budget template here), is required; include wherever possible the RETAIL* budget (use the budget template here) breakdown for the entire event: invitation, decor, food & beverage, labor, entertainment, sound, lighting, venue, installation, planner’s fee, transportation, etc. Live or virtual.

*RETAIL refers to the amount that the client would normally be billed, including the planner’s fee or percentage of the budget based on services provided.

**The BUDGET template can be downloaded here.

PREPARING YOUR ENTRY

1) THE 100 WORDS
A 100-word synopsis of the event or service. Do not include your company name in the 100 Words.

2) THE 1,000 WORD DESCRIPTION
In no more than 1,000 words, please provide a detailed description—including the event date, name of the event, date/dates of the event, and number of guests—of the event or service. Tailor your description to the category you are entering. Do not include your company name.

3) THE FOUR QUESTIONS
These Four Questions must be answered for each entry. In no more than 1,000 words for all Four Questions, please tell us:

1. What were the objectives of this event/entry, and how were they met?

2. What noteworthy challenges arose, and how were they overcome?

3. How was the event/entry unique, distinctive and professionally executed? Give specific examples.

4. How does the event/entry demonstrate value for budget spent?

Break this section into four separate parts based on the Four Questions.

4) THE PHOTOS
Include AT LEAST 10 high-rez (1 MB) photos of your event; please remove watermarks. You may include up to 20 photos total. Feel free to add photocaptions. Photo collages cannot be accepted.

5) THE BUDGET
Please use the Budget Template here. Please submit as a Word document (PDFs can become corrupted in our system).

6) HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY
For each entry: Upload the 100 Words, the 1,000 Word Description, the Four Questions, Referral Letter (if available), Photos, Budget (if needed) and fees here. The Photos can be JPEGs or TIFFs. Do not include your company name. Each entry must be uploaded and paid for by Oct. 25, 2019, by 4 p.m. Pacific Time. (Late-delivery option: The fee is $160 if the entry is received/paid for by Nov. 1, 2019, by 4 p.m. Pacific Time.) Joint entries are $200 at all times.

GALA ENTRY CHECKLIST 

Be careful; failure to obey these rules means the judges will deduct points from or even disqualify your entry!

  • Did you include required elements? (See Rule 1 below.)
  • Did you make sure your entry is anonymous? Check to make sure you kept your name off the 1,000 Words, Four Questions, Photos. and Video Link. (No problem if your name is on the Referral Letter; the judges do not see this.)
  • Did you include at least 10 print-quality color JPEG or TIFF images? (You can include up to 20 images; no collages or watermarks, please. And feel free to add photo captions.)
  • Did you include client contact information on the Entry Form and online registration? This can stand in for the Referral Letter.
  • Does your budget include the planner’s fee or markups? (You don’t work for free, do you?)

THE RULES

1. Each entry must include: The 100 Word synopsis; the 1,000 Word Description; the Four Questions (1,000 words maximum for all four); the Photos; Referral Letter (if available); and the Budget—if required—using the Gala Awards Budget Template.

2. The Referral Letter should be from the client or vendor who contracted you or your company. It must state that you met the requirements of the job and that the client or vendor was pleased with the work done. If you are an in-house planner, your supervisor can write the Referral Letter. If no Referral Letter is available, client contact information on the Entry Form is fine.

3. All budgets submitted must be in U.S. dollars and retail (the amount the client would normally be billed, including planner’s fee or markup). Budgets must include the retail value of all items used, including donations and inventory. Use the Budget Template here.

4. In all categories, video links can be submitted in addition to the required photos. Video links are mandatory if you are entering Best Event Entertainment Concept and Execution. Do not include your company name on videos.

5. To qualify for the 2021 Gala Awards, the event must have taken place between between Oct. 1, 2019, and Feb 28, 2020Events that take place after Feb. 28 may be entered in the 2022 Gala Awards.

6. A company or individual can enter an event in more than one category. Each entry must stand alone and requires separate documents, photos and fees.

7. The categories entered must correspond directly with the work that was done. For example, if you enter Best Wedding, you must oversee the wedding, not provide only one element such as floral. (Here, it might be smart to consider a joint entry.)

8. Entries will not be returned. All material submitted to Special Events magazine becomes the property of the magazine—no exceptions.

9. Special Events magazine reserves the right to change the category of an entry.

10. The nominees in each category will be notified by March, 2021.

11. Awards will be presented on July 22 at The Special Event 2021 in Miami. Transportation to and from The Special Event is the sole responsibility of the nominees.

12. Members of the Special Events magazine Advisory Board will review entries using the Four Questions as criteria to select nominees and winners. All decisions are final.

13. Each entry is $99 if received/paid for by Jan. 25, 2021, by 4 p.m. Pacific Time. (Late-delivery option: The fee is $160 if the entry is received/paid for by Feb. 1, 2021, by 4 p.m. Pacific Time.) Joint entries are $200 at all times. All entries and payments should be submitted online here.

14. Ineligible events: Industry events based primarily on donations—e.g., events at The Special Event, ILEA chapter events, etc.—are not eligible. Events must have been created for a paying client or as part of an in-house event professional’s salaried job.

15. Anonymity: To ensure fairness, make sure your name/company name does not appear in your documents, as watermarks on photos, or on your video link. (It is fine to have your name on your Referral Letter because the judges do not see this.)

16. Questions? See our FAQ’s here.

17. Still more questions? Send an email here or at [email protected]

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