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The team from Hello Florida accepts its Gala Award at The Special Event 2015
<p>The team from Hello Florida accepts its Gala Award at The Special Event 2015.</p>

Gala Awards 2016 Competition Opens

Special Events Magazine Launches the 2016 Gala Awards Competition

The Gala Awards competition—the oldest and most prestigious award in special events—opens June 1. The award, given out annually by Special Events magazine, honors outstanding work in special events worldwide.

1. What events are eligible?
This year's competition is open to events that have taken place between Sept. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2015. Events that place after Aug. 31 may be entered in next year's competition.

2. When are Gala entries due?
The regular deadline is Sept. 18 by 4 p.m. Pacific Time; the fee is $99. The special "late bird" deadline is Sept. 25 by 4 p.m. Pacific Time; the fee is $145. Joint entrants—that is, one entry credited to two companies—are $200; in a first this year, two trophies will be handed out.

3. Can an event company from anywhere in the world enter the Gala Awards?
Yes! We are honored to receive entries from Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, etc.

4. I am entering the category “Best Achievement in Logistics.” Do I need to include a budget?
No! Only categories with a dollar figure in the title need to include a budget. So, if you are entering "Best Floral Design," you do not need to include a budget. But if you enter "Best Wedding: Budget Under $1,000 Per Guest," you do need to include a budget.

If you do need to include a budget, be sure the use the Gala Budget Template so that you include all the line items the judges are looking for. The judges realize that not all entries will require each line in the template, but try to follow the template as closely as you can.

5. I understand my entry will be a mix of CDs and a few pieces of paper, correct? No more binders, like you asked for in the old days?
Correct! Again this year, you will submit your entry on a CD. The CD will contain PDFs of certain documents—such as the 100 Words, the Description, the Four Questions and the Budget (if required)—along with your photos. If a video is required, this goes on your CD too. (Feel free to use a DVD if your video requires it.) You will send the CD plus printouts of your PDFs, your photos, your Entry Form and Referral Letter to the offices of Special Events—we will process your entry for the judges, removing any material that reveals the entrant's identify.

The CD is what the judges see. Since the Gala Awards entries are anonymous, be careful to keep information that identifies your company off your CD. That is, do not put your Entry Form or Referral Letter on your CD.

6. How should I submit my paperwork and CD?
Special Events is trying to cut down on the amount of trash that Gala entries generate, so the less material you use, the better. The papers can be stapled together, spiral bound or inserted in a slim binder. Please avoid including extensive collateral, such as menus and press clippings.

Please do NOT encase any pages in plastic sleeves.

7. I'm confused: What goes on the CD and what needs to be printed out on paper?
The CD--which is what the judges see--must contain digital versions of: (1) The 100 Words, (2) The Description (1,000 words maxiumum); (3) The Four Questions (1,000 words maximum for all four questions); (4) Photos (at least two and up to 30, all high-resolution). Please also include the Budget if your category requires it and a Video if your category requires it. Items 1-3 should be PDFs. Remember, the judges see the CD, so label it with the name of your event and the category you are entering, but keep your name as the entrant off of all items. So, do NOT put your entry form or Referral Letter on the DVD!

The paper items you send to Special Events are: The Entry Form; Referral Letter; 100 Word Description; Four Questions; Photos (a proof sheet format with up to 20 photos per page is fine); and the Budget (if needed).

8. As a Gala Award entrant, should I make sure to keep my company’s name out of the descriptions in the entry?
Yes! Be sure to double-check any CD labels, production schedules, etc., for your name.

9. But what about my client's name—is it OK to have that name in the entry? (My client's name appears in decor, on signage, on the invitation, etc.)
Yes, it is OK if your client's name appears in the entry.

10. But I am an in-house event professional--I created the event for my own company. Is it OK that my company's name appears in the entry?
Yes, that's fine—the purpose of many special events is to emphasize a brand. And the judges don't know if the in-house event professional or an outsider creates the event. Just remember to avoid referring to yourself as an employee of the "client" company.

11. There is no way my client will give me a referral letter. Does this mean I cannot enter?
No, you still can! The Entry Form has places for you to list your client's name and contact information. As long as this is completely filled out, you do not need a Referral Letter too.

12. How do I know what the Gala judges are looking for?
Here is a sample judge's sheet. You can see the judges rate on important criteria such as creativity, effectiveness, understand of objectives and professionalism.

13. Can I get my Gala entry returned to me?
No. All Gala entries become property of Special Events.

14. How do I pay for my Gala entries?
All payments—credit card or check—are made online at You can make one payment for multiple entries.

15. When do I found out if I am nominated?
The nominees in each category will be notified by Nov. 20, 2015.

16. Help, I still have questions! Whom can I contact for help?
You are welcome to e-mail questions here.

Here are all the forms you need:

Gala Entry Form 2016

Gala Budget Template

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