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How to organise a formal Brisbane

h i g h s c h o o l f o r m a l s. c o m . a u

how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012

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how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012

EDITOR Mandy Weidmann 1300 653 305


PUBLISHER Direct Digital Publications Pty Ltd ABN 98 118 909 069 Head Office: PO Box 1516 Coorparoo DC Qld 4151 p: 1300 653 305 f: 1300 769 823

DISCLAIMER Direct Digital Publications Pty Ltd takes no responsibility for materials in this publication or claims made by advertisers, or errors or omissions. Readers should not act on any representations made in this book without independent verification.

COPYRIGHT © 2012 Direct Digital Publications Pty Ltd


2012 how to organise a formal Editorial Your essential formal event checklist Getting your formal organised The first meeting Organising an organising committee! Choosing a date and a venue Budget Themes We must not forget… 1. Permission Forms 2. Security 3. Official guests 4. Photography 5. Student liaison 6. Thank you Have we thought about…? 1. Linen and chair covers 2. Balloons 3. Flowers 4. Menus and place cards 5. Props 6. Lighting 7. Sound 8. Favours Handling the guest list Sponsorship Fundraising Post-formal activities Search for formal suppliers how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012

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Visit one of our showrooms or our website to see our latest collections:

Queensland: 708-712 Gympie Road, Chermside l Shop 7, 366 Moggill Road, Indooroopilly l 148 Wood Street, Mackay l Shop 2, 64 Sugar Road, Maroochydore l Shop 3, The Metro, Cnr High Street and Musgrave Street, Rockhampton l 114 Charters Towers Road, Townsville l South Australia: Suite 3, Upper Level, 370 Main South Road, Morphett Vale l Victoria: 968 High Street, Armadale.


how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012

editorial A night to remember How to organise your formal In America they are called ‘proms’. In the UK, they’re the ‘grad balls’. Here in Australia, the ‘formal’ is a word on the mind of most high school seniors. It’s a lavish celebration of the end of 12 years’ schooling. But magical nights like this – full of great hopes and expectations –don’t just happen. It is an important night and we at want it to be just right: after all, this is a once-in-a-lifetime night to remember! There’s a lot of organising involved. That’s where this guide comes in. A night to remember – how to organise your formal provides the essential checklist that will ensure you have every aspect covered off and can relax and get on with enjoying your fabulous event. Enjoy! Direct Digital

how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012


Your essential formal event checklist

Getting your formal organised

Organising a formal is not a oneperson job. This is a major event. It requires a dedicated, motivated group of people to pull it off because it’s not just about finding a place, going there and having a good time.

Some schools have a protocol in place regarding who is involved in the organisation. It may be the responsibility of the prefects, or senior leadership team; you may elect a committee; or the school may appoint a committee.

Look at this list of things to Volunteer if you can! Chances organise! are you’ll learn heaps of useful organisational skills, have fun and • Venue make lifelong friends along the way. • Music • Food • Theme • Invitations • Menu/place cards ADVERTISE • Seating plan YOUR BUSINESS • Entertainment • Sponsorship • Fundraising • Security • Permission forms • Guest list email: phone: 1300 653 305 • Official guests • After party activities • Thank-you • Student liaison



how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012

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The first meeting

Organising an organising committee!

You need to know who’s doing what. Now is the time to appoint A committee usually has a mixture your key committee members and of student and staff representatives. sub-committees. Read on for more Decide straight up who makes what details about these roles. decisions: what the committee can You need a venue and you need decide and what is up to the school. a date. Perhaps that’s already determined. Some schools have Appoint a chairperson, secretary and created a tradition of having their treasurer. You’ll also need a school formal on a particular Friday or representative (a staff member). Saturday of a particular month, • Your chairperson is the chief at the same venue, booked a year coordinator. This person needs (at least) in advance. Your school to be mature and responsible, representative will be able to advise willing to take on a lot of work. you. The chairperson is ultimately responsible for the final decisions You need a budget too. Work out and has to keep everyone on roughly how many people are track. going to attend. How much are you willing to pay for a ticket? Multiply that and you have a rough budget within which to organise the whole event. And remember – that’s not just the venue. That’s food, drinks, entertainment, decorations… Read more about how to set your budget. Draft up a timeline, working backwards from the date of your event, listing everything that needs to be organised, by when. Our checklist will help you.


how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012

Your secretary needs to be extremely organised.The secretary handles all correspondence, takes minutes of meetings, keeps all information filed and in a folder for handover to next year’s committee. Preferably a whiz with Excel.


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Let’s look at what subcommittees need to do.

Job#1 Compile a list of all committee members with: • home phone number • mobile phone number • email address.

Venue sub-committee – locates a number of suitable venues, liaises with the functions managers, and presents a shortlist to the committee. Your committee may want to inspect the short listed venues or you may want your subcommittee to do this as part of their assessment. Music sub-committee – sources a suitable DJ, band or jukebox for the night, and makes a music selection that’s appropriate for the evening.

Distribute this list to all committee Entertainment sub-committee – members. sources entertainment in addition to • Your treasurer must be responsible for preparing and overseeing a budget for the event, and recording money received and spent. It’s best that this role is shared with the school. The school will usually handle the money. As a protocol – and a security measure – always have two committee members authorise a payment. Your school representative will help you with money matters. •

Your school representative is a member of the teaching or admin staff who will ensure the school’s principles and ethics are complied with.

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your music (like a roving entertainers or a fun sideshow). Food sub-committee – works with the chosen venue to select a menu. They will need to pay particular attention to any special dietary needs of guests.

Choosing a date and a venue The date and venue will run pretty much hand-in-hand because you can’t have one without the other.

Review your school calendar for Theme sub-committee – chooses events. Avoid the beginning of exam a theme and then sources the block! And the night of the footy decorations or a professional finals!! theming company to transform the Keep your minds open to alternatives. venue. Theming is ultra-popular. Does it have to be an end-of-year Read about some of the hottest extravaganza? themes around. Date will also be dependent on Invitations sub-committee – designs what’s available as a venue. Again, the invitations, gets printing quotes keep your minds open. and chooses a printer. This committee also keeps track of the RSVPs.

anning your dream wedding? Menu and place cards sub-

Planning your dream formal?

committee – designs and produces the menu and place cards. This group works closely with the Foodies and the Invitation sub-committees.

Seating plan sub-committee – decides who sits where. It’s not easy trying to ensure everybody sits with friends or at the table they want!

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Most cities have large hotels and convention centres that handle these events all the time, but you may wish to go for something completely different. Our High School Formals website suggests lots of great places. Consider some of these venues: • city hotels • ballrooms • reception centres • convention centres • theme parks • cruise boats • museums • art galleries • warehouses • zoo • aquarium • historic buildings • RSL and other clubs • marquees • restaurants • golf clubs The five-star city hotel may be everybody’s first choice, but you may find the local RSL club can offer the same facilities at a fraction of the cost. And don’t rule out your own school hall! What you save on hiring a city ballroom, you can spend on professional theming.

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Get your committee members talking: throw around ideas. A marquee might be nice, but do you have a suitable place to erect it? How many people are you likely to be catering for? Would a river cruise be practical? Your venue sub-committee can draw up a short-list of possible venues and then approach them to find out: • available dates • cost You might be blown away by the look of a place but how much will it cost each person? Think about it. Is it affordable? Everyone – well, most how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012 13

people! – will want to be a part of this night of nights. Don’t choose a place Budget that makes it exclusive to a few, right Running a large event will encounter from the start. The ticket price is not a lot more expenses than the cost of the venue hire and food/beverages. the only cost involved in a formal! These are some of the other items Tip: Make an initial online enquiry, you need to pay for: requesting information about • band hire availability, pricing and menu. • DJ hire THEN actually visit the places on • any other entertainment your shortlist. Talk to the functions • pre-dinner drinks with parents manager. As a sub-committee, • room decorations narrow your list down to three • table centrepieces venues. • linen • chocolates Remember your school is on show. • flowers Your choice of venue will be a • special invited guests reflection of your school. Run your shortlist past your school liaison • gifts committee member (the teacher or • printing principal). Each sub-committee will need to When you have made the final submit an estimate of their costs. decision, the venue’s functions These rough estimates totaled manager will be the point of contact together are then divided by the for your DJ/band, decorators etc. number of anticipated paying Add the function manager’s contact attendees. That’s your ticket price. details to your master list. It looks too expensive? Look at If you are lucky enough to find an ways to offset the costs. Be creative! unusual venue, such as an aquarium Can you fundraise? Can you seek or theme park, this can set the theme sponsorships? This guide explains for your event. how. Done well, they’ll dramatically reduce your costs.

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Tip: The school administration usually handles the money. Its business department will have suitable accounting software.

Themes looking to Whether you are get the girl , w ho s e th l a ste at your next n fu e v ha t s ju r o EAR will make formal event, F G st fashion te la e th h it w n e it happ ssories. in suits and acce



HERE * email: phone: 1300 653 305

The days of putting a bowl of flowers in the centre of the table are long gone: themed events are increasingly popular. Theming adds excitement and colour to your evening. It can be as conservative or as over-the-top as you wish. A group of students can get together to decorate the venue – or you may choose a professional theming company. They’re experts in setting the scene.

What’s hot now? • • • • • • •

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We must not forget…

1. Permission Forms Your school will probably seek signed parental permission to attend the formal. It provides the school with some legal protection in case of accidents.

3. Official guests Official guests – not paying attendees – are people like your school principal. Your committee’s school representative needs to provide the committee with a comprehensive list to ensure no-one is forgotten.

4. Photography Yes, there’ll be a lot of happy snaps taken but your committee really needs an official photographer to capture this big event. The cost Also check on cloakroom facilities. of photos will be an extra; not Your guests need someone safe to something that’s included in your leave handbags, cameras and coats ticket price. during the function. 5. Student liaison Keep your Year group informed and interested. Make sure there’s an early date claimer. Whip up excitement and support for formal and make sure those RSVPs roll in on time! 2. Security Check that your venue includes security staff. You may need some extras.

6. Thank you When the formal is over, your committee needs to write thank-you letters to all played a part in making the event a success.

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2. Balloons Balloons are a great way to fill a large space economically and you have heaps of creative options: from a simple bunch of balloons on each table to a scatter of loose balloons over the dance floor or a net drop to finish the night.

Have we thought about…?

For more dramatic effects, use giant 90cm balloons, exploding balloons and exploding balloon walls.

Foil balloons provide an exciting way of theming your event. Foil stars are a 1. Linen and chair covers great complement to any Hollywood You only have to look at a photograph theme. of a table set without chair covers or overlays to see the huge difference 3. Flowers this makes to your event. Yes it will Flowers are a classic table decoration. add to your ticket price but there are A floral centrepiece is simple, clean some ways to bring the cost down: and timeless. For something a little more upbeat, use exotic flowers and • Hire the chair covers and sashes cane. and get a group of volunteers to fit them. (This may be a job to ask of 4. Menus and place cards parents since you may be tied up The Menu and Place cards subat the hairdressers!) Allow at least committee can unleash their creative 20 minutes per table of ten. For skills to make these, continuing with an event with 40 tables, that’s 14 the night’s theme. Hand-made cards hours’ work – or seven volunteers and scrapbooking takes time but the results will be memorable keepsakes. working flat out for two hours. • Disposable chair covers are new Your menu card should also include: to the market. They cost around • thank-you’s to business sponsors $3 each and are not as time- • space for signatures and well consuming to fit. wishes how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012 17

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some background information on the theme.

Handling the guest list

Your school will have rules about 5. Props Props can be hired to complement partners (e.g. whether they must come from your own school if it’s coany theme. ed or have to be school-age). 6. Lighting Your theme may be to die-for but RSVP – responding to the invitation if no one can see it, the effect will to attend – is a must. be lost. The right lighting creates Accurate records need to be kept of ambience. A professional theming who is coming – and who’s not. The company will be onto this. If you’re Invitation sub-committee will need a doing your own decorating, ask a complete list of who has been invited professional lighting company for and will need to work closely with advice and help. the Treasurer to make sure everyone pays. 7. Sound Your evening’s entertainment The invitation may also include predetermines your sound needs. formal drinks that include family Professional DJs will provide their members. Keep track of these own sound systems, as will bands. numbers too. But there are inevitably official moments – like speeches – and you will need a good PA system for that. Are you showing a Powerpoint – like a retrospective of your years at the school? Have you organised the equipment for that? 8. Favours A favour is a little gift given to each guest. It may be as simple as a heart or star shaped chocolate or as beautiful as a hand-crafted glass ornament with the school name and year painted on it.

Join Us On

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Sponsorship Local business sponsorships can offset the cost of holding your formal. They can provide: • financial assistance • in-kind help. But remember: if there are other schools in your area, you won’t be the only one seeking their support. That means you need to know how to ask and what to offer in return.

Start by looking within your school community. Whose parents run or manage businesses that may be helpful? Think office supplies, caterers, party You want to ask them in the nicest hire, even venues. way to help subsidise your event Could they supply goods or with a small cash donation. In return, products at competitive rates or their business can be mentioned. better still donate in return for free You may want to have a tiered level advertising? of sponsorship: printed mention Looking further afield, think of in the night’s program; mention in businesses that your student group speeches; and signage. – and families -- uses a lot locally: Remember: sponsorships also hairdressers, nail salons, gyms, ice reflect on your school. Work closely creameries, pizza parlours, fashion with the school representative to boutiques, bike shops, fast food make sure sponsors fit with the outlets, petrol stations; the list goes school’s image and beliefs. on.

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o t g in k o lo e r Whether you a l ir g e h t t e g , steal the show t x e n r u o y t a n u f e v a h t s u j or e k a m l il w R A E G F , t n e v e l a m r fo n io h s a f t s e t la e h t h it w n e p p a h it . s ie r o s s e c c a in suits and 22 how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012

Fundraising Fundraising is another way to offset your costs. Consider a product drive. Visit au for a huge range of ideas.

Check out on

Some hot tips for teens • chocolates • cookie dough • glow products

Post-formal activities This is a contentious issue. Students want to party on – but many schools have laid down the law and said ‘no’.



STUDENT BLOGGERS & BUDDING JOURNOS! We are looking for guest contributors to our site to create short articles that would be of interest to those preparing for and planning school formals. There will be a prize of a $50 iTunes voucher for each article of approx. 200 words that is published.

The committee’s school representative will be able to tell you what the school policy is. The committee is obliged to work closely with the school to ensure all guests know what that stand is.

Have a great time! The most important thing to remember is to have a wonderful time! Feel fabulous and enjoy your event!

If you are interested and want to find out more, send an email to:

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Search for Brisbane Formal Suppliers: Clicking on a category will perform a search for Brisbane Suppliers • Beauty Salons / Tanning / Make-up • Catering and Venues • Dance Studios • DJ’s & Entertainment • Event Decorators and Organisers • Fabrics & Dressmakers • Florists • Formal Dresses • Formal Suits and Hire • Fundraising • Hairstyling & Accessories • Jewellery & Accessories • Limousines / Transport • Lingerie • Photography • Security • Shoes • Staging & AV 24 how to organise a formal BRISBANE 2012

How To Organise a Formal 2012 Brisbane  
How To Organise a Formal 2012 Brisbane  

The best guide for committee members and students organising the school formal. From choosing the right Venue to great Theming Ideas the 'Ho...