School formals in 2022: Where the ticket costs more than the dress
23 Nov 2022
Students let loose at the St Clares High School formal at Curzon Hall. Credit: Brook Mitchell
High school formals, complete with 360-degree cameras for Instagram and custom dessert bars, are costing up to $250 a head as students compete for venues with weddings and corporate parties.
Tickets to Sydney’s Year 12 formals have reached record prices this year, with many attendees opting to rent their dress to keep the cost of the end-of-year party down.
Elliot Kleine, director of operations at formal planning service Prom Night Events, said the average ticket at the premium end of the market – about 10 per cent of formals, generally those of private schools – was between $150 and $170.
“That’s up on what it was pre-COVID, and the venues are the culprits there,” he said, adding that hotels which had lost money over the pandemic and were now contending with packed scheduled of mid-week weddings and corporate parties had raised their prices.
At some private schools, tickets have passed the $200 mark. Kambala’s Year 12 formal, held at Doltone House Hyde Park, was $225 a head, with parents offered a $45 ticket to attend a drinks event for the first hour.
Kincoppal-Rose Bay’s graduation ball, held last Friday night at ICC Sydney, and the Cranbrook formal, at Point Piper’s Royal Motor Yacht Club, each had a ticket price of more than $180.
Students begin to arrive at Curzon Hall for the St. Clares School formal. Credit: Brook Mitchell.
The rising cost of tickets, as well as concerns about sustainability, is leading more students to rent their outfits for the night.
Brittany Wheeler, owner of Bondi’s One Wear Only Hire, said there was booming business in the school formal market, with young women conscious of their environmental footprint opting to hire Australian designers such as Aje, Bec & Bridge and Shona Joy for around $100, rather than spend $400 to buy new.
Cronulla High School student Jeorgie Brown attended her formal in a rented Bec & Bridge dress at Doltone House Jones Bay Wharf earlier this month.
The 18-year-old, who has early entry to study a combined creative arts and communications degree at the University of Wollongong next year, hired the dress for $100, while the event’s ticket cost $110. She also spent $150 on makeup and nails, and did her own hair.
“I chose to hire because I was only going to wear it once,” she said.
For 17-year-old Charlotte, whose surname has been withheld, the decision to rent her frocks was also based on keeping costs down: the Bellevue Hill school-leaver attended two eastern suburbs private school formals on back-to-back nights last week.
Charlotte gets ready for a formal in Bellevue Hill, Sydney.Credit: Janie Barrett.
“To get a really nice dress for the Year 12 formal is already like hundreds of dollars, to get more than one would be insane,” she said. She opted for a Shona Joy dress, and another from upmarket Los Angeles-based brand Aya Muse.
At St Clare’s Catholic High School at Hassall Grove, students opt for a mix of hired and purchased dresses, while there is also a growing trend of students wearing cultural dress to reflect their family’s heritage.
Teachers have a laugh checking out their photo-booth pictures at the St Clares High School formal at Curzon Hall. Credit: Brook Mitchell.
Year 12 coordinator Anthony Pope said the ticket price for the school’s event, held at Curzon Hall at Marsfield, was factored in to school fees throughout the year, so families were not faced with a large cost just before Christmas.
Year 12 students at St Clares High School gather at Curzon Hall for their Year 12 Formal on 18 November 2022. Credit: Brook Mitchell
“In my years working with year 12s, I think the formal has gone out of and come back in to fashion,” Pope said.
“There was a period maybe 15 years ago where it wasn’t expected that every student would want to come, maybe only 60 per cent did, but now virtually everyone does.”
Kazvaana Piho, a year 12 student at St Clares High School, gets ready with mum Deb at home. Credit: Brook Mitchell
Sal Navarra, CEO of Navarra venues, which operates Curzon Hall as well as other popular formal venues including Lilyfield’s Le Montage, said it had kept its school formal and university ball prices the same in 2022 as in 2021 “in good will” despite rising costs.
St Clare’s student Kazvaana Piho said she had been excited all year for the formal. She considered wearing a dress to reflect her Cook Islands heritage, but instead spent about $200 on a contemporary gown online.
Her mother and aunty did the aspiring actor’s hair, and she booked a makeup artist to come to her house ($125) before she headed off with the rest of her cohort for photos at Doonside’s Nurragingy Nature Reserve.
Sosefina Setefano, a year 12 student at St Clares High School, arrives at Nurragingy Reserve before her Year 12 Formal. Credit: Brook Mitchell.
“It’s like the hotspot for schools in the area to take photos at, that’s where we all go to,” she said.
Attendees prepare to enter the formal at Curzon Hall. Credit: Brook Mitchell
As for what is on offer once students arrive at their formal festivities, Kleine said he was increasingly being asked to book red carpet-style 360-degree cameras, which film a slow-motion video of attendees sent straight to their phone for an easy Instagram upload. Neon or box light signage and custom dessert bars are also trending.
Students prepare for a big night ahead at Curzon Hall. Credit: Brook Mitchell
But, after watching the end-of-school celebrations of grades above them be disrupted by pandemic concerns, just being able to celebrate together seems to be enough for the class of 2022.
Kazvaana Piho with St Clares High School school friends during their formal at Curzon Hall. Credit: Brook Mitchell
Brown said funny class awards voted on by her peers were the highlight of her night. While Piho said it was simply a relief to reach the end of a much more normal year than she anticipated.
Students let loose at the St Clares High School formal. Credit: Brook Mitchell.
“I was in Year 10 when COVID hit. And ever since then I have sort of been wondering: will I be able to experience my senior year like I imagined? It’s great that the answer is yes.”
Students wind down following the St Clares High School formal. Credit: Brook Mitchell
View and download photos from this event:
Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald
10 Oct 2022Choosing a school and don’t know where to start? Download School Selection Made Simple to help you choose a great local learning community to support your child's learning journey.
30 Nov 2022
Take a 'walk'🏃♀️ through this awesome Pop Artworks virtual gallery🎨 from the Year 6 students at Holy Family Primary School, East Granville.🤩💙💖 With the help of CAPTIVATE (our creative and performing arts program)🎭, students loved working on their eye-popping artworks and seeing them on display in the virtual gallery.🙌👏👀 You can walk through the gallery and see the names of all the artists via the following link: https://www.artsteps.com/view/636c8f4d6495c1ecaa4ff2e1
01 Dec 2022
Teach Meet is a fantastic series of events that brings teachers and educators together to collaborate and share successes, practical tips and learning. 👩🏫🧑🏫👨🏫 In Term 3, teachers and staff from many of our schools came together to discuss how they've implemented or are planning to implement a PBS4L (Positive Behaviour Support for Learning) framework and initiatives to support student wellbeing. It included sessions where attendees could venture into the classrooms at the host school, Holy Family Primary East Granville, to see the great work being done there. 🥰🤩👍 You can read more about it at the link in our bio 👉 CathWest Innovation College recently hosted the latest Teach Meet which focussed on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).👏 #cedp2022 #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #granville #eastgranville #teachmeet
30 Nov 2022
As November📅 draws to a close🔚🔜, we wanted to give a big shoutout to all the students and staff from Penola Catholic College Emu Plains who took part in Movember🧔🥸 to raise awareness and funds for men's health.👊 Welll done to everyone involved!👍👍👍
29 Nov 2022
What a brilliant night🤩🥳😁 and what awesome artwork, music and other creative pieces produced by students at Delany College, Granville for their annual Creative Emergence and Design evening.🎭🎨👀👩🎤 It was a truly joyous occasion as the entire school community came together to celebrate the amazing work and talents of students at this great school.👏👏👏 You can find out more about Delany College and check out their brilliant new website here: https://www.delanygranville.catholic.edu.au
30 Nov 2022
It's not just Kindy who have been going to orientations but our 2023 Year 7 students as well! 🎉😀 What a special time for these future St Agnes Catholic High School Rooty Hill students, we spot lots of familiar uniforms in the crowd including Sacred Heart Primary Mount Druitt, Holy Family Primary Emerton, Good Shepherd Primary Plumpton and St Aidan's Primary Rooty Hill. 😇😄 #cedp2022 #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #mountdruitt #emerton #plumpton #rootyhill @stagnesrootyhill
29 Nov 2022
Our school communities are so passionate💪 about supporting🤲 those in need and Vinnies NSW is one of many organisations our schools love to support.🥰 Students from Marian Catholic College Kenthurst, Bede Polding College and Caroline Chisholm College continue to volunteer their time for Vinnies Van while also preparing for their Christmas Hamper appeals.😇💞 They're making a really important difference to the lives of those less fortunate, especially at this important time of year. Well done all!
28 Nov 2022
"It was so exciting.🤩 It extended my knowledge on science.🤯 It extended my passion for science."💪 Isn't it awesome seeing students so pasisonate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths).👩🔬👷♂️🧮 These bright students came together recently for the Science Extension Expo where they got to showcase they're research as part of the Science Extension program which has helped them to excel in their schooling.👏👏👏 Well done to everyone involved.
29 Nov 2022
After an outstanding career in Catholic education, which included almost 34 years in leadership roles, Mary Creenaune, CEDP's Head of Student Services, has announced her retirement at the end of 2022. Mary held a number of senior roles in our schools including Assistant Principal and Acting Principal of Corpus Christi Primary Cranebrook, Relieving Assistant Principal at St Matthew’s Primary Windsor, Principal of Holy Family Primary Luddenham and Principal of Good Shepherd Primary Plumpton. Mary joined the Catholic Education Office as a Project and Team Leader in 2012 and was appointed Head of Student Services in 2017. Mary’s leadership was recently demonstrated by the success of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Education NSW State Conference. We thank Mary for her significant contribution to our shared mission of Catholic education over many years and wish her joy in her retirement. #cedp2022 #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #luddenham #plumpton #windsor #cranebrook
28 Nov 2022
It's with a twinge of sadness but immense pride and gratitude that we farewell our beloved colleague and friend Sr Patty Andrew OSU who will retire at the end of 2022 after 35 years of service to Catholic education in the Diocese of Parramatta.😥😇😀👏 Sr Patty has dedicated her life to the mission of Catholic education and has worked in the Diocese since 1987. Sr Patty was the Foundation Principal of Holy Family Primary Luddenham and was also Principal of Mary Immaculate Primary School Quakers Hill as well as Area Administrator, Education Officer and World Youth Day Project Manager.🙏🤲 Sr Patty will be greatly missed by all who have known and worked with her here at Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.🥰💞
27 Nov 2022
Teach Meet👩🏫🧑🏫👨🏫 - what fantastic events bringing so many teachers and educators together to collaborate🤝 on important aspects of schooling and wellbeing for students as well as sharing successes, practical tips and learning.🥰🤩👍 You should read this great article about the Term 3 Teach Meet hosted by Holy Family Primary School, East Granville which focussed on student wellbeing.😇🤲 https://www.parra.catholic.edu.au/2022-PBS4L-TM Teachers and staff from so many of our schools came to discuss how they've implemented or were planning to implement a PBS4L framework. Attendees enjoyed venturing into the classrooms to see the great work being done at Holy Family. CathWest Innovation College recently hosted the latest Teach Meet which focussed on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).👏
28 Nov 2022
Our two Marist schools celebrated significant anniversaries this year: Parramatta Marist High is 200 and St Patrick's Marist College Dundas is 150 years old! 😲🤩 CEDP Executive Director Greg Whitby, Marist Schools Australia Regional Director Dr John Kyle-Robinson, Parramatta Marist Principal Mark Paushmann and St Patrick's Marist College Dundas Principal Paul Ryan recently gathered at the Marist Centre in Mascot to sign an agreement to ensure that the Marist charism and tradition is maintained at these historic schools. 🙏😇 #cedp2022 #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #dundas @parramattamarist @stpatsdundas #maristschoolsaustralia
27 Nov 2022
🙏Today marks the start of Advent, a time of preparation and reflection in the four weeks leading up to Christmas. We look forward to seeing our schools continue in their outreach to those in need during this time of year ❤😇 St Patrick's Guildford Chisholm Catholic Primary St Paul the Apostle Primary Winston Hills
27 Nov 2022
Today marks the start of Advent, a time of preparation and reflection in the four weeks leading up to Christmas.🙏 We look forward to seeing our schools continue their outreach to those in need during this time of year. 💜😇 #cedp2022 #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #penrith #guildford #blighpark #windsor #winstonhills #advent #firstdayofadvent @stpatricksprimaryguildford @chisholmcp @stpaultheapostles
26 Nov 2022
It's not just Kindy who have been going to orientations but our 2023 Year 7 students as well! 🎉😀 What a special time for these future St Agnes CHS Rooty Hill students, we spot lots of familiar uniforms in the crowd! 😇 Sacred Heart Primary School Mount Druitt Holy Family Primary Emerton Good Shepherd Plumpton St. Aidan's Primary School, Rooty Hill
27 Nov 2022
We're so excited that the Class of 2022 can celebrate their Year 12 formals in style!💃🕺🎊🎉 The Sydney Morning Herald popped along to St Clare's Catholic High School Hassall Grove recently for some beautiful photos and a story looking at how increasing formal costs are impacting students. 📸📰🥳🤩😎 You can read the story and see all the great pics at the link in our bio 👉 #cedp2022 #parracatholic #westernsydney #bluemountainsnsw #parramatta #hawkesbury #hassallgrove @stclareshassallgrove #schoolformal #schoolformals