Congratulations! You’ve finally done it. You’ve dreamed about starting your own business, and now, after months—or even years—of all that planning and prep work, you’re finally ready to let the world know that you exist. What better way to do that than by planning a fabulous grand opening celebration?
Ribbon cutting for Interabang Books in Dallas, Texas
First Things First: Set the Date
The first big ticket items to consider when planning a successful grand opening are the date and time of your event. If you live in Texas, hosting an outdoor event in the middle of July is not a good idea. The same goes for Maine during the winter. Weekdays work best for groundbreaking or ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Unless your business is located in a shopping center, you won’t get the attendance rate on a weekend that you would during business hours on a weekday. As far as time of day goes, mornings or lunchtime will usually be the most convenient for your attendees.
Groundbreaking ceremony for Windrose Tower
But wait! Before you start sending out those invitations, it’s important to make sure that no other major events are taking place on the day that you selected. Take a look at the social calendars produced by city magazines and blogs in your area. Visit your local chamber of commerce and visitors bureau to double-check that no other events are being held. You’ve put so much effort into making it this far; the last thing you want is to compete for attendance on the day of your grand opening.
Now that you’ve set the date for your grand opening celebration, it’s time to consider what you’re going to serve your guests. Will you hire a caterer, or are you providing the food and drinks? Mornings can be a lot easier to plan—especially if you’re handling the food yourself. Light pastries, coffee, and orange juice work perfectly. If you decide to host your event around lunchtime, a buffet is ideal. No need to worry about a plated, sit-down lunch.
Hosting your grand opening in the morning or at lunch also means that you don’t have to worry about buying alcohol. Generally, alcohol is only served at events that take place later in the afternoon or evening—in this case, a bit of champagne and a signature cocktail are all you need to toast the opening.
Live music is a nice touch for a grand opening, but it’s not mandatory. No matter what type of musicians you select, it’s key to have them play soft background music that allows for easy conversation. Think complementary, not overpowering.
Three Things to Remember When Planning a Successful Grand Opening:
1. First things first: business technicalities! Identify the zoning regulations for your area and the steps you need to take to secure a special event permit. If you plan to bring in outside food, be sure that all vendors have received the necessary permitting from the health department. Tackle these tasks as early in the planning process as possible to ensure that you and your team are worry-free on the day of your grand opening!
2. Inviting dignitaries, celebrities, or government officials can lend a certain amount of credibility to your business. If you have particular VIP attendees in mind, submit a request to their office as soon as possible, and be sure to follow up.
3. The last item may seem obvious, but it can easily be forgotten amid the plethora of other details. If you’re host a ribbon-cutting ceremony, remember to buy your ribbon and a pair of oversized scissors!
Ribbon cutting ceremony for Legacy West
Grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for La Moderna Pasta Factory in Cleburne, Texas attended by Governor Greg Abbott
Marketing is a key component of any successful event. It would be such a shame to put so much time, effort, and money into producing the most glorious grand opening anyone has ever seen, only to be faced with lackluster attendance on the day of your event. To avoid that scenario, send grand opening invitations one month in advance of your event. You can send out traditional invitations, but e-vites are even better. They’re easy to create, cost-effective to send, and they allow you to get an instant headcount while also keeping track of any last-minute cancellations.
Now, let’s talk branding! You want people in your area to become familiar with your brand, but even more importantly, you want them to interact with it, get excited about it, and then tell their friends about how amazing it is! For the grand opening of Interabang Books, we accomplished this by hosting different segments that engaged guests in a memorable way. A “make your own bookmark” station, a storytime reading for children, an author meet-and-greet, and other activities strongly promoted what they are all about: books and community!
Scenes from the Interabang Books grand opening
As a major shopping center, we took a different approach when working with the Legacy West team to produce their grand opening. Nationally-recognized bands, street entertainers, artists, free yoga sessions, giveaways, and other activations served to extend shoppers’ stay while making their time at the event more memorable and enjoyable.
Scenes from the Legacy West grand opening weekend of events
An entire weekend was devoted to the grand opening of La Moderna Pasta Factory in Cleburne, Texas! Guests first toasted the occasion at the kick-off cocktail party, which was followed by an inauguration ceremony featuring factory tours, mariachi music, and a ribbon cutting attended by Governor Greg Abbott. From signature cocktails, to logo-embellished menus, to lounge furniture and floral arrangements complementing the colors of La Moderna’s logo and packaging, branded touches abounded at every turn.
Featured lounge furniture: Perch Event Decor
For smaller-scale celebrations, something as simple as a takeaway item or free sample embellished with your logo can go a long way. Hot day? Why not give each of your guests a customized water bottle or fan? Bounce-back coupons are another easy way to get people to remember your brand and return for another visit.
Last but not least, alert the local media about your upcoming event and make sure the details of your grand opening are on all of the event calendars for your city. Consider hiring a photographer or videographer to document your grand opening. On the day of the event, encourage guests to post on social media by creating signs with your event hashtag, setting up a step and repeat featuring your logo, or hosting a unique activity that is just begging to be Instagrammed. You can even hold social media giveaway contests, like Levi’s did for the grand opening of Legacy West!
You’ve done the hard part of opening up a new business. Now, it’s time to focus on getting others as excited about your company and brand as you are. Use these tips to start laying the foundation for your event, and if you would like assistance in planning and orchestrating your grand opening in Dallas, Fort Worth, or beyond, we would love for you to get in touch with our team!
Legacy West Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting photos: Taylor Kiker for DFW Events
Interabang Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting photos: Sprouse Neuhoff Photography
Windrose Tower Groundbreaking Event courtesy of Windrose Tower
La Moderna Grand Opening, Cocktail Celebration, and Ribbon Cutting Photos: Jeffrey Wooten courtesy of La Moderna