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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer


SMC hosts sold-out annual formal with masquerade theme

Saint Mary’s College's Residence Hall Association (RHA) hosted the annual formal at the Gillespie Center in the Hilton Garden Inn from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday evening. The event was sold out, with 800 tickets bought by students. It included a 360° photo booth, finger-food catering, a student photographer and a DJ. 

This year’s event featured a black-and-gold masquerade theme, which was revealed Thursday, Feb. 22, by hanging a “giant” hand-painted banner and hosting a mask-painting party in the Student Center.

Sophomore Nicole de Guzman and junior Kaitlyn (Kate) King, the formal co-chairs in RHA, chose the theme of the masquerade in June 2023.

“We called one another before the school year started, and she suggested the theme and I just ran with it. I liked it a lot because it reminded me of Gossip Girl,” de Guzman said. 

Senior and president of RHA Kathleen Hunter said the masquerade theme for the formal had been “floated around” for a couple of years, but it was only this year that the theme was approved by the administration. Hunter was excited for the theme to be approved and believed the formal would be fun for everyone that went.

“I think it'll be fun. I think it's a good theme, especially for an all-girls school,” Hunter said. “I feel like everybody, at one point, wanted to go to a masquerade. So I think it's really exciting and a fun twist for formal.”

Though the theme was chosen over the summer, the actual planning for the co-chairs didn’t officially start until December, devoting a total of four months for the whole planning process.

“[Planning] actually started in December when Kate and I created a Pinterest board to find photos that match the “vibe” of what we want the formal to look like,” de Guzman said. “It then quickly picked up right when we came back for the second semester, whether that ranged from meetings about linens to ordering supplies, it got hectic at times. But, it was so nice to be able to work with Kate. While it would get stressful, Kate was the best person I could have been with. We got really close because of it.”

The total budget for this year’s formal was estimated at around $13,000, according to Hunter. The venue itself, which included the cost of catering, was $8,000. 

Hunter stated that RHA has thought of moving venues before in order to accommodate more students. However, the issue with having a different venue stems from the problem of transportation, which would become an added cost to the budget. If the formal were hosted outside of campus or within walking distance, RHA would have to provide transportation for all students. However, Hunter and the rest of RHA are open to suggestions for future formal events. 

Hunter feels it’s important for Saint Mary’s to host at least one annual formal for students as a way to find community on campus and something to look forward to throughout the year.

“I think it's just such a big aspect of bringing joy to students, having morale and having something to look forward to,” Hunter said. “I think it's just important to everybody to have a moment where you can get dressed up and feel good about yourself.”

In previous years, the annual formal was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and incidents of poor student behavior, which made the administration apprehensive about allowing the formal tradition to continue at Saint Mary’s. It wasn’t until Hunter’s sophomore year that formals were brought back, and since then, it has become easier for the formal committee and RHA to continue this aspect of SMC culture each year. 

“I honestly just feel proud that we have a formal,” Hunter said. “Getting formal to happen every year is an ordeal, and making sure ticket sales happen and everything is a lot of hard work.“

“I'm really proud of everybody who worked on the formal because it's so much work and stressful for one night, but so many people come away with it with so much joy and excitement.”