planning a school formal

10 Tips for Planning a School Formal Event

Planning a school formal event can be time consuming and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. If you stay organised and follow these guidelines, you’ll be organising the school formal of the decade.

Formals can be hit or miss. But when they’re done right, they’re smart, fun and sophisticated. When they’re done wrong, well, it’s just a bunch of people muddling around in high heels and penguin suits. If you’re in the midst of planning a formal event, you definitely don’t want it to fall in the latter category, but putting together a successful soiree is hard work and takes a lot of time and effort.

However, it doesn’t have to be as stressful as you might think. If you stay organised and follow a few simple rules, you’ll throw the party everyone will be reminiscing about the next time you’re all dressed up and shuffling around in some boring conference hall.

Continue reading to find out what goals have to do with planning a successful senior formal.

1. Set a Goal

Whether it’s to be on budget, safe or entertaining, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish with your event. Setting objectives will be helpful when determining where to spend your money as well as planning the schedule. If at all possible, try to set targets that are easily measurable, such as how many guests you expect to attend, so you can see where you stand after the event is over.

2. Set a Budget

You need to know how much money you have before you start any actual planning. Be realistic with your costs. Sit down and make an outline of every aspect of the event and how much you’re willing to shell out for each. As you plan, visit your budget frequently to be sure you aren’t going overboard. Make tiers of options that you can live with if your first choice doesn’t work out. For example, if a decoration you really want has sold out, look online for similar ones that will present the same effect.

If there are things you want that you just can’t afford, look for discounts and don’t be afraid to negotiate with vendors. They need your business just as much as you need theirs!

3. Create a Timeline

Depending on how far in advance you’re planning your event, you may need to set up a timeline that will help you to meet your deadlines. For example, you should book the caterer well in advance — even before you send out invitations — and then contact them again right before the event with your final number of RSVPs. Make an outline of every decision and activity in sequential order from beginning to end. As you go, frequently check the plan to ensure you’re staying on track.

4. Contracts

Contracts are the backbone of any event because without them, you won’t have any speakers, entertainment, informational materials, equipment or anything that you can’t provide yourself. Until all your vendors and entertainment have signed on the dotted line, everything about your event is uncertain. So prepare your contracts as early as possible to prevent being left in the lurch, should your DJ receive a more lucrative offer two weeks before the big day.

5. Suppliers

Work out who you’ll need to hire. Get several local quotes and decide which one best suits your needs and budget. You may be able to get multiple uses out of a supplier. For instance, a DJ may also be able to MC.

Most importantly, make sure everyone is covered by insurance in case of any mishaps.

6. Find a Venue and Pick a Date

Most of the time, securing a location and choosing the date of an event go hand in hand. If you have a specific day and time in mind, you’ll need to find a location that can fit your needs. However, if you’ve already determined the setting for your soiree, you may have to be flexible with the timing.

Also, keep in mind the atmosphere you’re trying to create when selecting the locale. Depending on exactly how formal your event will be, you may want to have it in a hotel ballroom instead of a stuffy conference hall. You also need to keep in mind what essentials the location will provide, such as tables, chairs and linens. Remember that whatever doesn’t come with the space will have to be rented, which will subtract more money from your budget.

Make sure you check there are no hidden charges.

Due to the size of most formals you should be able to negotiate any room hire charges to be waived.

7. Create a Guest List and Send Invitations

Send out invitations well in advance of the event. Your guest list will include an array of people from students to their families and partners. Formal etiquette says that you should send your invitations at least six to eight weeks before the occasion and have your RSVPs recorded two weeks before. If you feel it’s necessary, include the dress code on the invitations.

8. Food and Beverages

Decide what kind of food you’d like (and have the budget) to serve: a buffet, tapas or a seated dinner. Consider food options that will work with the theme of your event. But you don’t have to provide an expensive four-course meal, either. Make it clear in the invitations what will be served — even if you aren’t asking people to make their selections beforehand — to ensure that your formal event won’t be full of hungry, angry guests.

9. Decorations

Decorations are critical for establishing the atmosphere of any event. Depending on the location, you may be able to use the space’s natural beauty to save money on the décor. However, if you do need to amp up a dull area, consider adding some furnishings to the dessert or buffet tables. Just make sure the decorations you choose don’t conflict with the overall style of the event. For example, if you’re having a black-tie get-together in a fancy hotel ballroom, strobe lights probably aren’t the best option. Floral arrangements often are the easiest and most adaptable choice for making a plain space look great. However, flowers can get expensive and there are other options that require less money. A single votive or tea light candle at the centre of each table, for example, can go a long way.

A popular trend is balloon drops or confetti cannons, but be careful a lot of venues will charge you an additional cleaning surcharge.

10. Review

Revisit your goals at the end of your event and see how it measured up. How successful were you? Did you hit some goals and not others? Why or why not? Dig deep into the execution of the gathering to get a good idea of your successes and failures. Have a post-event meeting with your key players to celebrate and review ways to improve your next affair.

If you feel that all this planning is too much, don’t hesitate to contact Saber Events. Our professional team will ensure that your school formal goes to plan.