An expert’s guide to the ultimate gala dinner 

Whether it’s your first time hosting a gala dinner or an annual tradition, our expert tips and tricks are sure to make your event extra special. 

The main focus of a gala dinner is celebration and enjoyment. In fact, the word ‘gala’ hails from the Old French ‘gale’, meaning rejoicing. In this sense, gala dinners can simply be a celebration of a company’s achievements or a chance to highlight a milestone and serve as a way of giving back to employees, stakeholders and donators.


Grand entrance

Consider how you can make the entrance to your event special and a great space for first impressions to be made.

“Everyone remembers a beautiful entrance,” said Marilla Gair, Events Planning Manager at CENTREPIECE.

“Opt for some great lighting, flowers or even a red carpet to make your entrance stand out. Often clients like to take photos at the start of the evening as people arrive, so be sure to make your entrance aesthetically pleasing.” 

Great food

It goes without saying that any event where lunch or dinner is the main attraction needs to have quality food options.  

“Food and wine are really important and customised menus and beverages can add an extra special touch,” said Tania Marshall, Venue Manager at CENTREPIECE.

When hosting a gala dinner it’s important to consider the full variety of guests who might be in attendance and aim to cater to everyone’s needs. 

Often, a gala dinner will be a three-course affair with a couple of different food options for each. Our current Winter Menu is comprised of three main course options and extra sides, entrees and nibbles as requested. At CENTREPIECE, the focus is on Victorian-first ingredients that are grown sustainably and cooked to perfection. 


A consistent approach from the invitation to the menu and then the thankyou notes and beyond gives an elevated feel and is reminiscent of grand, old-school events. 

This kind of customisation is often something that is forgotten about for gala dinners, but just like you’d expect at a wedding, the stationary should be carefully considered to add an elegant touch.

Customised branding for things like napkins, table placements and invites can add a special touch and will give your guests a keepsake to remind them of your event. 

Run sheet

Another factor that should be carefully considered is the run sheet. At a gala dinner, the main aim should be enjoyment and fostering a sense of community, so try to avoid having lengthy speeches or awards that dampen the mood. 

Speeches and awards may play a role in the gala, but aim to break these up with food, drinks and entertainment to keep the atmosphere upbeat and fun. Having a clear guest journey planned from the start will help avoid any awkward breaks or long speaking parts. 

What to look for in a venue? 

Great standard inclusions 

When considering which venue to choose, look for inclusions that are going to make your life easier and add a luxury feel to your gala.  

At CENTREPIECE, our standard inclusions are a cut above, with elegantly textured linen, bespoke crockery, custom-made glassware and crockery and luxury furniture that are included in the event hire.

Everything you need to host an incredible gala dinner is covered, so you can relax and enjoy planning your event. 

Flexible spaces

A gala dinner is often a large-scale event, requiring space, a stage, food, drinks and more. In order to have a successful gala dinner, you need to choose a space that is configurable to the numbers you’re hosting and has all the things you need to entertain. 

Look for venues that can be flexible and offer multiple spaces that can have different uses. For example, you might want a red carpet, a green room, a stage space for speeches and also enough table space for hundreds of people to dine. This requires a specific kind of space, so be sure to ask about different kinds of configurations and capacities before you dive in. 

Great audio-visual options 

Audio-visual technology can be a creative way to spice up a gala dinner. From interactive experiences to live streaming, there are plenty of ways to make your gala dinner even more memorable using audio-visual technology. 

LED screens are a great addition to a venue, as well as having multiple rigging points that can hold weight. This will give you the flexibility to add exciting entertainment to your gala dinner and if the venue has great AV capabilities in-house, it can be much more cost-effective. 

CENTREPIECE has an exclusive partnership with Showtech, meaning our clients get access to rigging, staging, automation and technical services. 

Beautiful table dressing options 

At a gala dinner, the table dressing is one of the first things guests will see inside the venue. The table dressing should create a balance between food and aesthetics, allowing enough space on the table to be functional and practical but also look fantastic. 

At CENTREPIECE, we use beautiful custom-made plates, crockery, linen and water glasses to execute an art piece on the table as opposed to a basic table dressing. Often clients will also opt for personalised table placement cards, flowers and centrepieces to add the finishing touches to their tables. 


Add a touch of glamour to your gala lunch or dinner by hosting an event at CENTREPIECE.  

Purpose-built to be best-in-class for sustainable, flexible venue design, CENTREPIECE offers a range of versatile spaces ideal for galas. 

With seamless connections to the Melbourne & Olympic Parks precinct and the CBD, all the best things Melbourne has to offer are within reach. 

Get in touch with our team of event specialists and find out how you can make CENTREPIECE your next Masterpiece.