groundbreaking ceremony invitation from Greenvelope

Your construction project is about to hit the ground running. Celebrate this huge step forward with a memorable groundbreaking ceremony. It’s the perfect way to share the news and get the community excited about what’s to come.

But what is a groundbreaking ceremony, exactly? And how do you plan and host one? Here’s our simple guide to groundbreaking ceremonies and planning a standout event.

What Is a Groundbreaking Ceremony?

Nobody’s sure when it first began, but the tradition of breaking the ground before a project has been a long-time ritual. In the past, this ritual represented making a sacred deposit to the earth, in exchange for a strong and lasting foundation.

Today’s groundbreaking ceremonies follow a similar theme. They’re a ceremonial event where we gather to celebrate the start of a construction project on the ground. Ground is often literally broken by way of a ceremonial shovel, and it’s a chance to talk about the project with those that helped make it possible.

Groundbreaking ceremonies are a great opportunity to bring everyone together to celebrate, give thanks, and share news about the project. That’s why you’ll often find media in attendance — it’s the perfect way to generate a little buzz around what you’re doing.

How To Plan an Impressive Kickoff Event

Man speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony

Groundbreaking ceremonies are well worth having — especially if this is a major project or it’s been a long time in the making. But where do you start with planning one? Here’s a simple walkthrough of how to plan a groundbreaking ceremony.

1. Set Your Date, Time, and Location

While these events are meant to mark the start of construction, chances are you don’t want to host your event on the first day that works begin. The site would be busy with construction experts trying to get on with things, and chances are it’d be pretty messy too. Instead, arrange the event a few days or a week beforehand so there’s plenty of space for your guests to gather and listen.

Set a time for your event that makes sense for your guests. Many groundbreaking ceremonies for corporate buildings happen during the day so that it’s easier for the media to attend. Getting your guests there should be no problem since it’s a work-related celebration.

If you’re hosting a groundbreaking ceremony for an arts or culture venue or a community venue, you might want to hold it in the evening. This gives the general public a better chance to attend and hear more about your plans.

When it comes to location, that’s pretty much sorted. It makes sense to host your groundbreaking ceremony at your new building location. Pick a spot on the property that works well for the structure of the event. You’ll want an area where there’s plenty of safe space for guests to gather and mingle.

Think about accessibility and how you can help your guests reach the ceremony site safely. You might need to request a temporary pathway to be created, or arrange for golf buggies to be available to transport guests around.

2. Arrange Speakers and Guests of Honor

It’s common at a groundbreaking ceremony for there to be a handful of speeches. These will be about the construction project, the journey to get to where you are now, and the gratitude you feel for everyone who’s helped make it possible.

Before you start sending out invitations to guests, create a list of the speakers you want and get in touch with them for their availability. Speakers will often be people with responsibility at your organization. You’ll also want relevant guest speakers from partners at a construction firm, architects, or funding organization.

In addition to your speakers, create a list of guests of honor. These are people who were impactful in getting your project to where it is now. These might be funders, your board of directors, or a construction partner. If the building will benefit a particular nonprofit or branch of the community, invite a handful of these people along as guests of honor.

3. Create a Guest List

Once you know who your guests of honor and speakers are, it’s time to build the rest of your guest list. Match your guest list size to the space at your ceremony site and the intensity of your project. If it’s a major build you might want to invite a lot more guests than if it’s a small construction.

Split your guest list into a few groups of people. First, invite company executives at partner organizations and companies that contributed to the project. These might be building consultants, construction managers, architects, and financial contributors. Next, send out invites to key people within your local community. You’ll want there to be a sense of excitement and pride about your new venture.

Lastly, create a list of relevant media professionals to invite to your ceremony. This is a great opportunity for you to get your project in the press, so don’t skip out on public relations. Send out an invitation and press release to press contacts at local and regional radio stations, news outlets, and TV channels. You could also invite influencers, bloggers, and livestreamers if their audience aligns with yours.

4. Figure Out the Details

With a date in mind and a well-rounded guest list, it’s time to start thinking about the specifics. You’re hosting a groundbreaking ceremony at your project location, but the finer details need ironing out.

Plan your agenda or itinerary for the event. Work out when you’ll have speeches, who’ll do the welcome, and whether you’re going to have live or recorded music. Think about whether you’ll need a DJ, whether you need to hire transport for guests, and how to arrange your site and decor.

Think about booking caterers and consider what you’ll serve. Most groundbreaking ceremonies are short events, so light drinks and appetizers make perfect sense. Make sure they’re not too tricky or messy for attendees to enjoy. As well as catering, make sure there’s a place on-site or close by where people can access a restroom and trash bins.

5. Send Your Invitations

With your event planning well underway, you’re now ready to send out your invitations. Figure out what you want to say, refine your guest list, and get the word out there.

You could spread the word about the event with a simple email, but we love the wow factor of sending digital invitations. Not only does this create a fun first impression, but you can also take advantage of technology to help you manage RSVPs, share helpful event details, and communicate with your guests.

When it comes to the content, share the essentials like date, time, and location. You’ll also want to add some detail about dress code and what’s practical — comfortable boots might win out over stiletto heels. Include practical information about access, parking, and who to contact with questions or concerns.

Send your business event invitations out at least two weeks before your event, to give guests time to consider and reply. You might not always get a definite RSVP from everyone, and the business day means people’s plans can change, so be as flexible as you can when it comes to catering and capacity.

If your event has plenty of space and you’re inviting the whole community out, you could send a save the date instead. This lets people know they don’t need to RSVP and can turn up if they’re free to join you.

6. Make a Site Visit

Before your ceremony date rolls around, make sure you head to the event location for a site visit. This is a chance to get an updated look at how things are, so you can prepare your agenda, decor, and safety preparations around how things look now.

Take a walk through the construction site with the site manager and run through your final plans for the event. This is your opportunity to smooth out any concerns before the groundbreaking ceremony, so don’t skip this part.

7. Celebrate!

When the ceremony day rolls around, don’t forget to enjoy the moment. This construction project might have been in the works for years, and it might’ve been a tough journey to get here. Take it all in, celebrate your success, and use the opportunity to share your gratitude and excitement with those around you.

Our Groundbreaking Ceremony Must-Haves

Private event signage at a groundbreaking ceremony

Some people, especially those in the building industry, attend a lot of groundbreaking ceremonies. Make your event stand out by getting creative, putting in extra effort, and creating a memorable moment. Here are some ideas to help you make your ceremony a success.

A Professional Photographer

This event is one that you’ll want to remember for years to come. Make sure you don’t miss out on those lasting memories by hiring a professional photographer to capture everything.

You’ll want to make sure you get that first groundbreaking moment on camera. Make a plan with your photographer to stage photos of that big moment for the press, plus get a collection of group shots with your organization and construction and funding partners. Create a shot list of everything you’ll need for promotion or reference purposes.

As well as press photos, capture some of the energy and atmosphere of the event. Ask your photographer to take photos of people looking at a model of the building, enjoying conversation over a glass of wine, or greeting each other on arrival. These kinds of photos are perfect to share on social media and bring an authentic, human element to your project legacy.

An Impressive Entrance

Make a real moment of your groundbreaking event by putting on an impressive entrance. This can add a real sense of excitement to the event and make your guests feel like the ultimate VIPs.

Roll out a red carpet and light the space up with attractive golden lighting for a Hollywood spectacle. Swap the red carpet for a walkway of flowers for a new wedding venue, or create a walk through history with old movie posters for a new movie theater.

Think about what makes your project unique and take elements of that to create a memorable entrance. Your groundbreaking ceremony is a little like a preview event for the grand opening when construction is finished, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Banners and Signage

Signage is a must-have for a groundbreaking ceremony. Without an existing building or any obvious landmarks, it’s not always clear where your guests need to be. Help them out by installing plenty of signage that makes things obvious.

This signage doesn’t have to be boring, though. Use your brand colors to liven things up, or go all out with a rustic, lived-in construction theme. If you’re building a new restaurant or cafe, why not use menu boards for your signage? For a new arts and music venue, brighten up your evening celebration with neon signs.

Banners are also a business event must-have. Commission a large fabric banner with the building name for above your speaker stage, or add vertical banners to a showroom area that give more detail about your project.

Hard Hats and Shovels

Several shovel placed in a circle on the ground

It wouldn’t be a true groundbreaking ceremony without some ground being broken. Hard hats and shovels are an absolute must-have, and you can use them in lots of different ways.

Make sure your team is well prepared with shiny hats and shovels for the groundbreaking moment. Look for hats that match your brand colors, or have some made with your logo on them. Swap hardware store shovels for something with more of a wow factor by spray painting them gold or company colors.

There are lots of other fun ways to integrate these construction must-haves throughout your event. Have some hard hats made for guests to take away with them — they’re perfect for kids’ dress-up boxes. You could also create themed cupcakes, feature mini shovels in potted plants around the event, or create custom bottle labels for drinks with shovels and hats on them.

Bad Weather Protection

No matter how much we wish we could, we can’t control the weather. With any outdoor ceremony like this, you’ll want to come up with an alternative in case of rain or bad weather.

Think about whether you need tents or a canopy on standby in case you encounter rain. You might also need a shaded area if the sun is especially strong. Talk to your event vendors about different options, and figure out what works best for your event.

If weather can be unpredictable this time of year, plan ahead by creating a covered walkway and an area that’s dry and warm where guests can watch the groundbreaking. It also doesn’t hurt to have a handful of umbrellas ready for guests if they need them.

Host a Memorable Groundbreaking Ceremony With Ease

Planning and hosting a groundbreaking ceremony doesn’t have to be anywhere near as challenging as the construction process itself. Keep things simple and follow our step-by-step guide to plan and execute an impressive ceremonial event. These moments don’t happen every day, so make the most of it and capture memories to keep in your project legacy file.