GALA entries are due Sept. 8, and here, Gala judges weigh in on the good — and bad — ways to get your entry noticed. All Gala entries represent hard work; read on to get insider info that will make your Gala entry a Gala winner!

1

LET ME SEE.

Proving the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words,” judges frequently say they wish they could see more photos in entries. Adding extra high-quality photos packs a visual punch, allowing the judges to better appreciate your event. Don't just tell the judges why you deserve a Gala Award, show them why, with additional pictures that are large and of professional quality. Bear in mind that the event description and the photographs should complement each other. The photos should verify — not contradict — the claims in the description.

2

ONCE IS ENOUGH.

It's fine to enter the same event in multiple categories, but be sure to write an original entry for each category. For example, don't submit the identical entry you used for “Best Floral Design” in your submission for “Best Wedding.” After seeing the same entry in more than one category, judges begin to skim the now-familiar material, and consequently lose the full impact of the event. Therefore, they may deduct points if the submission does not address the specific category in which the event is competing. To impress the Gala judges, take the time to tailor your entry to its individual category.

3

AVOID DANGEROUS DEAL-BREAKERS.

As you prepare your entry, remember that neatness counts. Ragged pages, a mishmash of fonts, and binders that are falling apart — all these oversights hurt an entry's chances from the moment the judges open the binder. Such binders are, as judge Barbara Wallace, CSEP, of Corona del Mar, Calif.-based Barbara Wallace Weddings, says, “a challenge to wade through,” and put your entry at a disadvantage when there are many clean, well-organized entries waiting to be judged.

Be sure to assemble your entry binder in the way specified on the Gala Entry Form (on pages 34-35 of this issue, and on the Internet at specialevents.com/gala_awards). But don't feel the need to get fussy. Colored paper and fancy fonts might look pretty, but the quality of your event, not the binder, leaves an impression on the judges.

You can make only one first impression. Since the written description is the first aspect of your event that the judges see, make it memorable with a neat, spell-checked entry.

4

STAY SHORT AND SWEET.

Stay within the 1,000-word allotment on the event description. Answer all of the questions in clear, precise detail, and get to the point. Since the overview is meant to give the judges a mental picture of the event, create a concise and compelling description that the judge will find intriguing.

A first-rate entry answers the question “so what?” and convinces the judges that the challenges overcome to accomplish this event were noteworthy, making the finished product worthy of a Gala Award. As judge Larry Ott, of Newtown Party Rental in Newtown, Pa., explains, “Installing a tent in a flat field on a calm summer day is not going to get as many points as one that was installed on a cliff at the height of tornado season.” A word of warning to entrants claiming they've overcome “outrageous” challenges in the course of producing an event: Explain why that aspect of the job was troublesome. It's not enough to bemoan such common problems as cantankerous clients or rain on the Big Day. Remember that the judges have produced events, too; they know what qualifies as a difficult challenge versus problems that occur on a regular basis in the industry.

5

GIVE THE JUDGES SOMETHING SPECIAL.

All the judges express a desire to see something innovative. Howard Givner, president of New York's Paint the Town Red, says that his favorite part of judging Gala Awards is watching as judges review an event that is so fresh and creative, it makes the judge look up and exclaim, “Now, that's cool!”

Even seasoned Gala judges have not seen it all — wow them with your carefully crafted entry. While many good events enter to win a Gala Award, the judges ask themselves if an event represents the “best in class” for its category.




The Gala Entry Form appears on pages 34-35 of this issue. You can find more tips on entering and winning a Gala Award by visiting our Web site, specialevents.com/gala_awards.