Annual RMA Dinner – Guidelines and Timeline

The 7 major steps to having a successful RMA Annual Dinner

[1] Date: Historically, RMA Annual dinners have been held in October. This allows for maximum participation, since it provides time for those members who leave New England for the winter to attend the dinner before they depart. In addition, the dinner is scheduled for the third or fourth week of October, allowing for the RMA monthly meeting to be held prior to the annual dinner, giving time for members to sign up whose plans may not have allowed them to previously make the commitment.

[2] Location: For the past twelve years the annual dinner has been held at the Marlborough Country Club (MCC) in Marlborough, MA. This location was selected because of its convenient location, space to accommodate 100 plus people, the cost of the facility, superb service, delicious food and the willingness of the MCC staff to accommodate our needs and desires.

[3] Time: The evening begins at 5:00pm with the opening of the “Cash ” The cash bar extends until 6:00pm. There is a need for 2 bartenders, since the members and their wives usually arrive in groups. With a single bartender the waiting period for service can be extensive; which can be frustrating for the members and their guests.

[4] Dinner and Social Functions: During the time the bar is open hors d’oeuvres are served and usually background music is provided. In the past several years we’ve had the good fortune to have one of our members-Bill Ladoulis – play his violin during this time. He has been joined by Ken Watson on the keyboard. They arrive early, set up the sound system and play some of the old time favorite songs. The music provides a pleasant and delightful setting for the evening. 

Dinner begins at 6:00pm. Salads are served in family style at each table. Serving in this manner (as opposed to separate plate servings) allow attendees to take as much or as little as they like.

Dinner is served in buffet style. This has been found to be the preferred method, since it allows each person to select the specific entrees he or she desires. Dessert and beverages are available after the main course is completed and before the entertainment of the evening begins.

To expedite the process, and be fair about the order in which members proceed through

the buffet line, the moderator will randomly select the sequence of tables from a pool of numbers and announce each table selected.

[5] The Evening Program:    Prior to seating for dinner, the President initiates the evening program.   The typical program covers the following topics:

  • Before being seated, the President asks for a moment of silence for those members we have lost during the past year; following this
  • A blessing is said, usually given by a member of the clergy, or an RMA member;
  • “Thank you’s” are announced to those helping prepare the annual dinner;
  • Awards are given- chocolate cigars- to members who have made a special contribution to the RMA. 
  • To close the program, the President introduces the evening entertainment and wishes everyone an enjoyable evening and a safe drive home.

 [6] Planning and Preparation:

 a) Announcement and Sign up sheet: The first announcement of the upcoming dinner normally appears in the March or April edition of the Cigar Box Bulletin. The sign-up sheet is first circulated at the July monthly meeting, and the details of the dinner are provided.

b) Entertainment: Selection of the entertainment for the evening is a critical function and requires identifying bands or individuals that will satisfy the taste and expectations of the RMA members and their wives. In the past two years a violin and keyboard provided soft music that allowed dancing, talking and the violin played at the tables which added individual pleasures. Please advise the musicians that it is important that the music be played at a level that allows the table conversations to be carried on, while also providing the music that those dancing can hear and enjoy. The process of selecting the next person or group to entertain can use these observations as guidelines. It’s necessary that the selection for the entertainment begin early- i.e. in January or February, since the calendar for good entertainers is often filled a year in advance. It is also important to see the performers live- in their performing environment to get a realistic appreciation of how they act and play.

c) Managing Assistants. Planning and bringing about events such as the annual dinner require the assistance of many people, and the coordination of many functions. Many of those providing assistance are current RMA members and their wives. This past year Peggy Angel and her sister Pat Hayes, the wives of two of our members who are now deceased, made significant contributions to the dinner. They prepared the table settings, coordinated the evening food preparations with the MCC staff, and were the greeting hostesses. Not obvious, but making for a smooth running operation was their handling of small problems that came up during the evening that required attention. For example, the last minute juggling of table assignments when there were cancellations and additions to the list of attendees.

d) Table seating:  Each table in the dining facility seats eight people (there are 2 tables for 10 available) with a total of 12 to13 tables. A number of the members have known each other for years and would like to share the evening with these friends. As such, members who prefer to have a table set aside for eight people can do so. This option is provided in the sign-up sheet- or members can contact the RMA dinner program manager and request a table.

e) Table settings: Each year there is a different design of the table settings. This past year, as in many years past, Peggy Angel created the table design. Each person attending receives a short program/menu they can take as a remembrance.  An RMA member prepares these and provides them to the person setting the tables.

f) Name tags: Each attendee is given a name tag upon arrival. These have been prepared by members of RMA, and given to the hostesses prior to the dinner.

g) Email messages– To keep members updated on dinner plans and activities, emails are sent to those who have signed up. If it looks like the number of attendees will be less than expected, emails can be sent (and phone calls made) to those who attended previous dinners, but have not signed up for this event. Board member may be asked to invite one or more members who had not yet agreed to attend.

h) Gifts for members attending: In the past it was decided to give each member attending the dinner a special gift. This practice may or may not continue- this is for the Board to decide.

i) Thank You Notes: Thank you notes are sent to those who contributed to the evening events.

[7] Finances:  The RMA Board determines the price each member will pay for the annual dinner. In the past the price has been about $50.00 per person. This is based on the expected cost to the Country Club, which includes food, the facility, and their staff plus the cost of the entertainment and the small cost of the table settings and gifts to members.

Income from the members for the dinner nearly covers the total cost of the dinner. If the cost exceeds the amount taken in, the Board has agreed- in the past- to cover the deficit. A few people have been invited to attend as special guests, at no cost to them. These are usually wives of members who are deceased, and who contributed to the preparation of the dinner. A formal invitation has been sent to the 2 Managing Assistants and the 2 members of the band and their spouses, total 5 or 6.

The treasurer signs the contract with the MCC and handles all the finances for the dinner, including payment of the entertainers and miscellaneous expenses, such as the table setting charges. In addition, he coordinates with the 2nd Vice-President to ensure members who have signed up for the dinner have paid.

[8] RMA Annual Dinner Timeline:


JanuarySearch for Entertainers for Annual Dinner. Attend their functions.
February Ditto
MarchMCC- set date for Dinner
Contract with Entertainers - RMA entertainment contract.
Cigar Bulletin- Announcement of Annual Dinner
AprilMCC-decide on menu and sign contract MCC
MayEstimate from MCC-make down payment
JuneRMA Monthly Meeting- sign-up sheet and give details of Dinner Annual Dinner notice with entertainment photo
JulyDecide on gift for attendees- Need Board approval

Cigar Box Bulletin Announcement
AugustRMA Monthly Meeting- sign-up sheet, table assignments

Cigar Box Bulletin Announcement

Email updates to members who will be attending
SeptemberTable settings, Name tags, Table seating, prepare Evening Program

Meeting Peggy and Jodi re Annual dinner

Treasurer and 2nd Vice-President name tag lists

Table Program - RMA Table menu

MCC and Entertainment- confirm and go over details

Contact members who previously attended but not signed up
Coordinate with Treasurer - signup list and paid list

Email updates to members who will be attending

Cigar Bulletin Announcement (Blast if necessary)
OctoberRMA Monthly meeting: Final sign-up
Final preparations- go over details with RMA members providing assistance, MCC, managing assistants
Annual DinnerTreasurer pays MCC Balance and pays Entertainers
Thank you Notes sent to those contributing to the evening events.