Essential Guide For Planning A Groundbreaking Ceremony

It's impossible to say exactly where and how groundbreaking ceremonies got started. We do know it was in antiquity, and back then, a groundbreaking ceremony was a ritual performed to prepare the land before a construction began. Today, the goal of a groundbreaking ceremony is a marketing activity to create interest in a new building project and it's usually organized by the developer for their client. You've been nominated to organize a groundbreaking ceremony for a new company site. Where do you begin?, the best online one-stop shop for groundbreaking shovels, hard hats, display stands, and all the tools you need for a memorable groundbreaking ceremony event. To assist you, we have compiled an essential guide for planning a goundbreaking ceremony:


Choose a Date and Schedule the Groundbreaking Ceremony

A groundbreaking ceremony, also called first sod-cutting ceremony, takes place before construction begins. There are a number of things to consider before you choose a date. Groundbreaking ceremonies are essentially, architectural rituals that go back to ancient times. You don't have to be a numerologist to grasp the significance of dates, especially for a sod-cutting event. You don't have to be a meteorologist either to know the best time of the year to hold an event outdoors. How about other events happening at the same time? A groundbreaking ceremony kicks off the construction of the project, therefore you'll want to consider all these things when picking a date. This is what we recommend:

Check your city or town's event calendar. Going online to your township's website should do it. Make sure there isn't a conflict with annual activities or other events going on at the same time that can detract from your groundbreaking ceremony. Of course it would be wonderful if you could conduct the groundbreaking ceremony the same day of your birthday, or your parent's wedding anniversary - but not if the Billboard Awards are taking place on that day! Check the construction calendar and work with the contractor on picking a date that won't interfere with any preparation work they're doing on the site. And finally, consider the time of year for the best weather. Holding a groundbreaking ceremony in Miami, Florida in the middle of August is not a good idea due to the hot, humid weather. You want people to enjoy themselves, not to faint from a heatstroke. The point is to consider weather, conflicting events, and construction schedule.

branded shirt

The Devil is in The Details - Plan Them Carefully

There are a million creative angles and groundbreaking ideas that can make your event interesting and fun. Everything from the area's historical past, its architectural styles, famous people, and pop culture can provide a theme for your event as long as it is relevant. What you do depends on the type of business holding the groundbreaking. If this is the sod-cutting ceremony for a children's museum, your theme can incorporate groundbreaking kids shovels, balloons, miniature wheelbarrows, and entertainers that will draw a portrait, create balloon sculptures, or similar kid-friendly activities. If the groundbreaking is for a fitness center, your theme can be athletics and you might want to have a local sports personality participate as a guest speaker.

Sod-cuttings, dedications, etc., are presentations that include speakers and speeches. There is a protocol for the speaker lineup and this is usually started with the host, or the person representing the company or business conducting the groundbreaking. The host may introduce local government officials, such as councilmen, mayor, etc., a member of the clergy, or other celebrity relevant to the event. Speakers are introduced in an escalating order, in other words, the highest ranking or most important person is the last to be introduced and this person in turn officially declares the event open! Each of your guest speakers should deliver a short speech, and guess what? This is all part of the antiquity of groundbreaking ceremonies when the land was "consecrated" for the hope of a safe construction and an auspicious business venture. Depending on the lineup of speakers, each should have something relevant to say about the project. Speeches may include mentions of historical past achievements of the area, past personalities who were pioneers in the field, and similar anecdotes that highlight the project and also maintains the crowd's interest. Keep this portion of the program short and sweet with no more than 5 minutes for each presenter (shorter if possible - you'll be surprised how much you can say in 2 minutes!) This portion of the groundbreaking ceremony shouldn't be more than 20 - 30 minutes in order to keep a high level of energy among the guests in attendance.

shovel with bow

Plan ahead who will be digging first dirt! This is usually the Owner or owners, or the company's CEO and other top VIPs. It is possible you will be needing more than one groundbreaking shovel. has the best online assortment of crafted quality groundbreaking shovels. Here you can find the perfect sod-cutting shovel or shovels for your event. All our shovels are full size ceremonial shovels measuring 42" in height with a 9" width at the blade. They are customizable, and have stainless steel heads, (the shovel head is made up of the blade and the socket) and a D-style handle grip. The D-style grip is specific to ceremonial shovels because it offers a particular holding position of the shovel that works best for photos and videos. With the exception of our long-stem shovel, traditional style, (no grip) ceremonial groundbreaking shovel, all groundbreaking shovels have a D-style grip handle. The Standard Chromed Stainless Steel Groundbreaking Shovel has a polished steel blade and an all-wood D-style grip; the Deluxe Ceremonial Groundbreaking Chrome Shovel has a polished chrome finish with a steel and wood grip; the Groundbreaking VIP Mirror Chrome Ceremonial Shovel has a labor intensive process of mirror polishing so fine, that you can see your reflection, and the VIP Ceremonial Groundbreaking Mirror Gold shovel, our top of the line ceremonial shovel, has a highly polished golden mirror finish, making it the perfect groundbreaking shovel for a sod-cutting event of aristocratic proportions! In addition to the classic groundbreaking shovels, also offers colorful ceremonial shovels with shiny, glossy color in blue, red, yellow, teal, pink, and orange blades. For sod-cutting ceremonies where children will participate, we have miniature-size shovels 26" tall with a 6" blade width. These color shovels are available in the same glossy finish of the full-size color shovels, and both the full size and mini size shovels have D-style metal grips. Our mini shovels are also used as a keepsake presented to VIPs in the organization.

shovel display case

Covering the Logistics

Start planning early. Give yourself at least 3 months in advance to order supplies such as customized groundbreaking shovels, and any other customized item you plan to incorporate in the theme. Consider elements such as a stage and a podium, and a PA system. Plan appropriately for the weather and remember that a nice tent will not only bring a touch of class to the event, it will also cover you from rain! Will there be parking available in the street, or will you be providing shuttles to the site? Groundbreaking events are not full day affairs but depending on the time of day you may want to offer refreshments and finger foods. This means you may have to set up a food area and maybe hire a caterer. Will there be official photos of the event? Create a display with the ceremonial shovels, hard hat, display stand or dirt box, and ribbons and bows. The convenience of a groundbreaking shovel display stand is that it holds the ceremonial shovels in place for everyone to see, before and after the ceremony. Setting up a display of the ceremonial shovels creates an ideal spot for official photographs or video. If you want a posh event, consider using an event carpet runner in front of the groundbreaking shovels display with a step and repeat backdrop behind the ceremonial shovels. If the event attracts a large crowd, using stanchions and rope will keep the flow of traffic streamlined at the photo station.

Shout It Out!

Once the planning stage is finished, you are ready to get the word out about your groundbreaking ceremony. The purpose is to create a buzz and for this, you need to invite the right people. Guests at a groundbreaking ceremony include key company people, local government officials or community leaders - remember, the press follows people like the mayor, the police chief, etc., and of course, invite the press! If you have sponsors, be sure to include them in the program. Work with local chambers and don't forget to invite people who made the construction process possible such as bank representative, the architect, contractor, engineers, or any other person who contributed to the project. It is customary to recognize and thank these people during the presentation and give them a special memento or keepsake of their participation in the form of a plaque, a trophy, or a medal. Check out AWARDS category for a look at our different selection of plaques, medals, and other keepsakes.

key to the city in display case

Social media platforms like Eventbrite, Meetup, Facebook, Instagram, and others are perfect for spreading the word out to the general public, but sending out personal invitations is still considered the best form to communicate an important event, to the people you absolutely want at your ceremony. Protocol dictates that invitations should arrive three weeks before the event but when inviting community leaders, government officials, or members of the press, it is best to give them a month's notice to make sure they can attend. Ask for a return response directly to you. This will ensure that you know exactly who to expect. Consider signs and banners displayed throughout the town, or community. This helps inform the locals and others who aren't on social media.

Keep an organized and always updated guest list. Delegate this task to one person. This person should be in charge of mailing out the invitations, keeping a list of the RSVPs, and contacting those who haven't responded. This person should be able to answer any questions that come in after the invitations have gone out! This approach helps people who may have questions about the event get accurate and consistent information. Maintaining a detailed an organized list is easy with an Excel sheet that will generate a complete and up to date final guest list. On the day of the event, collect the business cards of the attendees by organizing a raffle. The raffle can be a miniature size groundbreaking shovel that commemorates the event!

diagram of customized shovel

Follow Up After the Groundbreaking Event

The event may be over but your work isn't - especially if you want to get all the PR you can get! Be sure to reach out to all the speakers, celebrities, special guests, sponsors, and everyone who helped you put together the event. This is the time to post photos and videos on your social media pages, contact the media and share photos and videos they may have, tag, and cross-reference or share with guests  who are now following you on social media and who also may have photos or videos of the event.

Present the ceremonial groundbreaking shovels used in the ceremony to each of the persons who wielded them. For this, has groundbreaking shovel display cases that will protect and display the ceremonial shovel as a keepsake for a long time to come.

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