Inventor of the first and original giant ceremonial scissors that cut, Kimberly Baeth, of Golden Openings, shares her most requested and booked ceremonial events that they do each every day around the world, the products they manufacture, customize and sell and what a business should do for each one.

Why have a ceremonial event? Are you a new start-up? A new franchise owner? Are you a new business, re-opening your business after a fire or expansion or new phase? A business that is celebrating a merger with another company? A business that changed its name or moved? All of the above are reasons to celebrate!

Answers might include:
o To introduce your business to the public.
o To increase awareness and educate the public about your business.
o To build or strengthen personal relationships with VIPs, the Chamber of Commerce, business owners, vendors, customers and the public.
o To thank employees.
o To draw traffic to your business and let them know your new address.
o To create a unique celebration that attracts media coverage.

1.) Ground Breaking – A Ground Breaking, also known as a sod-cutting turning the first sod or a sod-turning ceremony, is a traditional ceremony in many cultures that celebrates the first day of construction for a building or other project. Such ceremonies are often attended by dignitaries such as politicians and business people. The actual shovels used during the ground breaking is often special ceremonial shovels, usually shiny gold,chrome or custom painted with the company colors and logos, meant to be saved for subsequent display and may be customized. We have an entire chapter about this event, as they are very popular, events to have, before having a ribbon cutting and grand opening.

2.) Sledgehammer Ceremony – This is a twist on a ground breaking ceremony if a current building is being demolished and a new one is going to be built in its place. A demolition ceremony marks beginning of new era for a company and the president or owner often wears a hard hat, safety goggles and uses a sledgehammer to swing at the old bricks and motor building or sheetrock inside, for photo opportunities. Sometimes the sledgehammer is gold. Employees and dignitaries can be invited to participate with sledgehammers or hammers, too.

3.)Topping Out Ceremony– Ever since I was a little girl, I remember seeing Christmas trees or an American Flag on top of buildings under construction, that were just about finished. What is this all about? Why a tree and/or the flag, and why was I looking up instead of watching where I was going? Rituals like these are held once the last beam is placed atop a structure. There is evidence that this practice dates to at least 700 AD. Scandinavian mythology at the time held that each tree had a spirit of its own, and that people originated from trees and returned to trees after death. Before constructing a home, the builders would ask the forest to allow them to use a tree. After the home was constructed, the highest leafy branch of the tree was attached to the roof, so that the tree spirit might still have a place to live. Over time, the mythology evolved and instead of multiple tree spirits there became only one forest god. Now, the tree branch was attached to the roof as reverence to the forest god. Like many traditions, the topping out ceremony made its way to the rest of Europe and eventually to America. It has thus been a part of the timber framing culture in this country since the beginning. Although the tradition is not common in stick-built construction, it is widely practiced by ironworkers today. Ironworkers not only use trees when topping out their structures, but they also use flags or a combination of flags and trees. I believe highest structure ever topped out with a tree was the Warsaw radio mast, and it is over 2100 feet tall. Regardless of the structure being completed, the topping out ceremony is always a cause for celebration. There is usually a toast, a meal is served, and the construction workers are thanked. For large structures like bridges or skyscrapers, the topping out ceremony is usually a large media event, too. The Dutch have an associated tradition called pannenbier. The national flag is hung from the highest point of the building, and only lowered once the building’s owner provides free beer to the builders.

4.)I-Beam Ceremony or Topping off Steel Ceremony - This is when the final steel beam is nearly in place at the new building and the milestone is marked completing a major phase or end of the construction process. An I-beam topping off event is a building construction tradition that occurs when the last beam is placed atop a structure. Employees, dignitaries, and members of the public are invited to sign a steel beam (sometimes it is also painted white) that will then be lifted into place in the organization’s new facility. This crane lifting ceremony may or may not be part of the event. To celebrate, the host invites the public to sign a beam (literally everyone sings the painted beam with Sharpies or permanent markers) that will be placed into the structure. The “Leave Your Mark” event, which also includes a public ceremony to hear remarks from the “big wigs” and of course, photo opportunities. Keepsakes are sometimes given out in the shape of the I-Beams or other construction tools.

5.) Cornerstone Ceremony - The cornerstone (or foundation stone or setting stone) is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.

Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription on the stone indicating the construction dates of the building and the names of architect, builder, and other significant individuals. Some cornerstones include time capsules from, or engravings commemorating, the time a building was built. The foundation stone often has a cavity into which is placed a time capsule containing newspapers of the day or week of the ceremony plus other artifacts that are typical of the period of the construction: coins of the year may also be immured in the cavity or time capsule.

Normally, a VIP of the organization, or a local celebrity or community leader, will be invited to conduct the ceremony of figuratively beginning the foundations of the building, with the person's name and official position and the date usually being recorded on the stone. This person is usually asked to place their hand on the stone or otherwise signify its laying.

Most of the ceremonies involved the use of a specially manufactured and engraved trowel that had a formal use in laying mortar under the stone. Similarly, a special hammer was often used to ceremonially tap the stone into place.


7.) Soft Opening - A soft opening is when you open your doors without advertising. Soft openings are valuable when you wish to train your staff for several days before the official (advertised) grand opening event. Restaurants like to have these to practice cooking and serving, before opening to the public. Sometimes the meals are free, discounted or open to friends and family, only.


8.) VIP Night – The VIP Night is a private celebration for your business. Typically, attendees include: the mayor, chamber of commerce staff, community officials, local business owners, family members and others. This event is by invitation only. Usually, it has a different invitation than the public grand opening postcard, it is more upscale, may contain a bar with alcohol, live music or other entertainment, servers, a meal or heavy appetizers and take-home branded gifts.


9.) Ribbon Cutting Ceremony - This ceremony marks the official symbolic opening of your business. It serves the purpose of connecting you with the community, mayor, chamber of commerce and local business owners in the area. Most choose to have this ceremony during their VIP night or during business hours for business owners and so elected officials can attend. It can also be held during the Grand Opening or even at each event. The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony usually includes Ceremonial Scissors, Ribbon and Bows, and can include many other accessories.

10.) Grand Opening – The “Grand Opening” is the advertised public celebration of your new business. It’s the big days that you will make a splash in the community and be the talk of the town. It could (have) included a Ground Breaking, Soft Opening, VIP night and Ribbon Cutting too, if done correctly.


11.) Grand Re-Opening – To open again after being been closed for a period of time, having moved, changed its name or even merged with another company.

Ceremonial events are extremely important marketing activities for your business. It is your only chance to make a “first impression” with your customers in the community, on social media and for that matter, the entire world”, stated Baeth. “We’ve specialized in ceremonial events and products for 21 years and perfected how to do it and now we do it on a global basis! So let’s get started, and with energy!

Call us for a free check-off list or consultation.  1-800-378-3630 or write [email protected]