Whether planning a preschool graduation, a high school or university conferral or a training course grad, there can be quite a lot of work involved in plotting and planning the ceremony. To help you out, Graduations Now have drawn on our years of graduation experience to provide you with an essentials checklist for planning any graduation.
Your first port of call is to estimate the number of attendees. Consider how many attendees per graduate you may want to limit attendance to plus any faculty members or press who may be attending. Once you have a view of the full potential audience size, you can factor in seating arrangements and therefore assess the size of the space you need.
Time and Date
You will need to consult with faculty as well as students/student families as to an appropriate time and date that may suit. Announce the time and date of the ceremony via e-mail and/or postal communication as far ahead of the ceremony as possible so everyone can make their required arrangements. Arrange a method of RSVP.
Once you have a view of the size of the space you need and a time and date, you must secure a venue. This will ideally be on campus as the school or college or if necessary, at a hotel, conference centre or a similar venue nearby, which can provide a PA system and/or stage. Remember to consider parking requirements too, as many guests will drive to the ceremony.
Arranging The Materials
There are lots of materials to organise for the big day – here’s what you need to order or organise:
Gowns and Hats
No graduation day is complete without the inaugural graduations gowns and hats. If providing these for students, consider how many you need to purchase and get an assessment of sizes required. An e-mail to all students asking them to indicate their required size will suffice. There are lots of “one size” gowns available which may suffice too – preschool gowns and hats are generally one size.
Custom Sashes and Stoles
Decide if you would like to have plain sashes or stoles or custom designed with your own logo and mix of colours. Contact us early to arrange for custom designs so that we can help you make them special.
Certificates and Booklets
Each graduate will need to be awarded a certificate on graduation day and these need to be ordered in advance, especially if you have custom requirements. You will also need to order booklets for attendees of the graduation so it can be wise to obtain quotes for both from suppliers.
Will the graduation be catered? Whatever level of catering you intend on providing, be it basic refreshments, drinks and canapes or more sophisticated dining, you will need to arrange your catering well in advance. If your graduation ceremony is held in a hotel or venue, they can best advise on catering arrangements and pricing.
Will you have enough furniture available in your chosen venue to seat everyone? If not, consider what additional furniture will be needed. Do you need to hire chairs? A stage? A podium? Extra tables?
As The Graduation Approaches
Ensure to continuously promote the graduation day in the run up to the event. Notify any relevant media, send reminders to attendees and hang posters in the school, college or training facility.
Set The Agenda
Confirm the running order of the event, securing the time of any required speakers on the day. You will need to have a senior member of staff speaking and handing out the graduation certificates. Once the agenda is set, you can release it digitally and use it to have booklets printed for all attendees on the day.
On The Day
Ensure that attendees can easily find the room for the ceremony by posting directional signs in strategic places. Place signs from the car park to the main entrance and then every corner and walkway inside the venue leading to the ceremony room.
Get Set Up
Aim to be all set up and ready to go at least 1 hour in advance. The last thing you want is for guests to be arriving in scrambling for seats that haven’t been laid out yet or for the PA system to still be being tested as guests are seated and awaiting the start of the ceremony.
Graduation ceremonies are to be enjoyed. No matter your role in organising the ceremony, sit back and enjoy the joyous occasion, congratulate the students and celebrate with the other attendees. You’re witnessing a key milestone moment in someone’s life after all!