Planning your first gala? Pro shares her tips to get you started!

HAot GalaWe know that every event planner wants to be prepared for that first meeting with a venue. But where to start? Don’t worry! We’ve gathered some tips from Courtney Padilla, catering expert at Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, on event information you should be prepared to provide when you meet with your venue coordinator.

1. Know your event.

Consider if you'll need a stage, dais or podium for your event.

Consider if you’ll need a stage or podium for your event


Is it a gala, a luncheon, a lecture? If you need to check your guests in, think about whether you’ll need a registration table. If you’re holding a meeting or conference, you may want a classroom or theater setup with the speaker as a focal point. If you have a speaker during a meal, think about a crescent setup. Round tables of 10 are great for an event like a holiday party. It is also important to know your entertainment plan – a single speaker needs a smaller stage than a panel or a band.

2. Consider realistic attendance numbers.

Review your group’s attendance history for similar events and base your projected attendance on past events. If you’re hosting a new program, Courtney recommends asking planners of similar events how well their events were attended. Hotel Albuquerque accommodates for an extra 3% more people at your event, so if you’re expecting 100 people, the tables will be set for 103 and 103 meals we be prepared.

3. Consider personal set-up time when devising an event time frame.

Factoring in your own set-up when discussing booking a room can help make sure the venue is available when you want it. You don’t want to book a venue starting at the time your guests will arrive if you know you’ll have things to do in the room ahead of their arrival because the room may not be free when you want to come in, Courtney says. Hotel Albuquerque’s team will set up tables and chairs and will place your linens and centerpieces. If you hire a decorator that person can take some stress off of your plate.

Think about whether you'll need time to place your own decor on tables

Think about whether you’ll need time to place your own decor on tables

If you have items that need to be placed at each table setting, plan on spending at least 30 minutes per 150 guests placing each item (so, if you have 300 guests, plan on spending an hour setting items).

If you plan to hold an auction, the hotel team will set up your auction tables and provide linens, but plan on setting out auction items yourself. Plan time accordingly to set up your auction based on the number of items you need to set out. Courtney recommends that you organize your items ahead of time so you aren’t pairing or grouping items as you’re trying to place them.

4. Consider dietary restrictions.

Many venues are flexible when it comes to vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options as well as food allergies. At Hotel Albuquerque we have some options that can cover all of these needs in one.

5. Think about whether you’ll need guest rooms for your event.

Attendees may want to spend the night ahead of your event if they are traveling longs distances and your event is early in the morning. Guests might want to spend the night following your event if it is scheduled late in the evening, like a gala or an awards show. If you think your guests will want to spend the night, it’s important to check for availability of banquet or meeting rooms and guest rooms at the same time. You don’t want to find out your perfect event venue is booked up overnight and you’ll have to shuttle your guests elsewhere to stay.

Courtney Ortiz it our Events and Catering Expert at Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

Courtney Padilla, Events and Catering Expert at Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town








Courtney Padilla is the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town Catering and Event Expert. Have a question for her? Leave a comment below.

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