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

What events are eligible?
This year's competition is open to events that have taken place between Sept. 1, 2013, and Aug. 31, 2014. Events that place after Aug. 31 may be entered in next year's competition.

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.

When is the Gala Awards 2015 ceremony when the trophies are given out?
It will be Jan. 9, 2015, at The Special Event in Anaheim, Calif.

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.

I understand my entry will be a mix of DVDs 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 DVD. The DVD 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 DVD too. You will send the DVD plus printouts of your PDFs, your photos, your Entry Form and Referral Letter to Special Events—we will process your entry for the judges, removing any material that reveals the entrant's identify.

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

How should I submit my paperwork and DVD?
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.

I'm confused: What goes on the DVD and what needs to be printed out on paper?
The DVD--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 DVD, 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: Your payment and a copy of it (that is, a photocopy of your check or your credit card payment form); 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).

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 DVD labels, production schedules, etc., for your name.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

When are Gala entries due?
The regular deadline is Sept. 15 by 4 p.m. Pacific Time; the fee is $99. The special "late bird" deadline is Sept. 22 by 4 p.m. Pacific Time; the fee is $135.

When do I found out if I am nominated?
The nominees in each category will be notified by Nov. 14, 2014.

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

Credit Card Payment Form

Gala Budget Template