Formal Events

Tips for planning a successful formal event

A formal event is an excellent way to truly make an impression – top-notch food and drink, a sophisticated atmosphere and all your guests dressed up in their finery. Holding a formal event might seem like an overwhelming prospect, but a little planning and preparation will make for memorable experience for all. We’ve put together some handy hints to help you get on the right track:

Choose a date

Start by selecting a date. Evenings are best – people feel more comfortable in their formal attire after the sun goes down. If you want to ensure your guests to really let their hair down, schedule your event later in the week. Select a few dates that you’d be happy with; if you have room to be a little flexible, you’ll have a much better chance of securing your preferred venue.

Make a list

Next, sit down and make a rough list of the elements you wish to include in your formal event, and the guests you’d like to invite. Once your requirements are clear, it’ll be easy for you to narrow down your venue options.

Find a venue

Look for a venue that offers the facilities, atmosphere and décor to fit in with your dress code and the atmosphere you want to create. Try thinking a little “out of the box”; a venue with a point of difference – like a museum or sports facility – will add to the special ambience of the occasion. Consider transport for your guests – aim to choose somewhere that offers easy access to public transport.

Send out invitations

Send out your invitations at least three weeks in advance. For a formal event, mailed invitations are preferable over emails; choose an invitation that is elegant-looking and reflects the tone of the event. Make it very clear to your guests that it is a formal function and specify a dress code – there’s not much more embarrassing than turning up in jeans and t-shirt when everyone else is in suits.


Unless you’d prefer to have a sit down dinner, a cocktail-style formal function with delicious canapes is a great way to ensure that people mingle and have a good time. Sausage rolls and chicken nuggets probably aren’t going to be appropriate, but you don’t need to serve escargot or caviar either; simply ensure that the food is good quality and in plentiful supply.

A formal event will generally have the usual beer, wine and soft drink beverage menu; sparkling wine or champagne is a nice touch too, and cocktails on arrival will set a sophisticated tone.

Keep things fun

You want your formal event to be special, but not pompous; don’t be too precious about the details. If things go wrong, shrug your shoulders and laugh – your guests will laugh along with you. And remember that the venue staff are there to help you smooth things over.

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