Regardless of the state of our economy, the ultimate high school dance can often be a very expensive affair.
With buying a dress, tickets, renting a tux, paying for a hair stylist, paying a photographer, and hiring a limo, the prom can rack up a bill in excess of $1,000.
Students can save money by making some very minor sacrifices! Here are 7 ways to save money this prom season.
For the Guys
Guys definitely don’t need to pay much for their attire. You can rent a simple tux, shop at a consignment or secondhand store, or check out a garage or a yard sale. Or…
1. Wear a suit instead
Tuxes aren’t mandatory. A lot of guys got for suits instead. They’re cheaper and can be worn more than once.
Even a pair of khakis with a sports jacket is an option.
2. Utilize discount stores
It can cost more to rent a tux than buy one, especially if you plan on going to more than one prom. Check Craigslist and eBay for used suits and tuxedos. You can resell the piece after prom.
For the Girls
1. How to Save Money on the Dress
- Shop online
- Shop out of season
- Be creative
The dress is the centrepiece of girls’ prom attire, but designer dresses can be costly.
We recommend shopping online – a lot of sites, like TheDressWarehouse, offer gorgeous designer prom dresses from previous seasons that are still totally relevant and on trend.
Their dresses and gowns are 100% authentic, unused, and delivered by the brands they work with directly.
TheDressWarehouse buys dresses in bulk and gets discounts from brands, which are passed on to consumers.
A lot of girls buy and resell used dresses through apps like Poshmark, which is why these online marketplaces are always fully stocked.
Check social media and other local Facebook groups, where people are reselling dresses worn only once for very low prices.
Don’t order from sites that ship from very distant destinations like China, because what you order might not look quite as expected.
Shop for Dresses in the Off-Season
You can grab a quality gown at a bargain out of season, just like with wedding gowns. Consider shopping right after prom this year when dresses will be at a discount.
In any case, it pays off to start shopping around at least six months in advance.
Look for unconventional styles at a discount.
To get some tips, check out Dezire Fashion’s piece on Indo-Western bridal dresses.
2. Hair and Makeup
Here are some ways to save on hairdos and makeup:
- Get free tips from pros
- Ask a friend or relative
- Watch YouTube videos and practice
- Get a student at beauty school to do your hair or makeup
- Take a course in cosmetology
Many stores offer tips or makeovers if you buy something.
If you have a friend or relative who is good with makeup or hair, this can bring your costs down by up to $100.
Then, there are always the (free) YouTube tutorials.
Get your hair or makeup was done at a local beauty school.
You can get your makeup and hair done by a student at a local beauty school.
They’re the next best thing to a pro and will charge a lot less.
Yet, you do run the risk of not being happy with the outcome, so if you choose this option, go at least a day before the prom so you have time to fix it.
If you buy some foundation or mascara at the local mall makeup counter, they might offer to do your makeup for free. Ask about promotions like this and other promotions.
Keep in mind a lot of other girls use this approach, so book an appointment in advance.
3. Beautiful Flowers for Less
Flowers are always expensive, particularly around occasions like prom. How to cut costs?
- Local florists
- Get a friend to help
Ask greenhouses or local florists what their best prices on corsages and boutonnieres are.
If there are no good deals around, have a creative friend make you a neat floral arrangement or try doing it yourself.
Roses are a classic, but investing in them can be costly. You could opt for another flower, like carnations. They can be dyed, making them cheaper for corsages and boutonnieres.
4. Save on Prom Pictures
A professional photographer could set you back hundreds, and everybody knows someone who’s handy with a camera. Maybe your mom or dad has a nice camera or a phone with a good one?
You’re not keen on your parents taking pictures at your prom, but ask yourself this: Is it worth paying a pro for just one night? We’d answer with a resounding “no.”
Say “No” to Official Prom Pictures
At some proms, there are professional photo stations where friends or couples have their photo taken to buy picture packages.
Usually, you can’t see the shot before paying and having it delivered to you, and yes, they take one single shot.
This is why we recommend avoiding official prom pics. Bring your own disposable or digital camera instead.
This has the added benefit of letting you take as many photos as you want and in different situations and settings. Disposable cameras are cheap, they work, and you won’t care if you lose one.
During prom season, the weather is perfect for a picnic, which is one reason prom picnics are a trend that’s gaining traction at the speed of light.
It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, and it’s a fun way to get together with friends to create some nice memories before going inside to dance.
- Set a Budget
- Set a budget and make efforts to stick to it. Here are some ways:
- Local business discounts
- Daily deals sites
- Restaurant coupons
Around prom time, many local businesses offer special discounts to attract customers. Check out daily deals sites for bulk orders like Groupon and Living Social. Use restaurant coupons for some extra bargains.
Eat at Home or at a Fast Food Place
If there aren’t many nice places to eat around your school or prom location anyway, eat at home or a fast food joint before driving to the prom (more tips on cutting transport costs in the next section).
And why not a drive-through with friends? It’s a nice casual touch when you’re all dressed up.
If you’re worried about not being able to fit into your dress after a hearty meal, eat a little bit of salad with some grilled meat before going out to the dance.
You can buy filling, nutritious, and reasonably priced products from your local store if you know how to shop right. Dezire has loads of tips on how to be a smart shopper.
Options to reduce transport expenses:
- Carpool in a van
- Split limo costs
- Drive yourself
A 15-passenger van will seat more kids than a limo. Those who are not so inclined could end up paying as little as $10 an hour to ride in a limo if a larger group of people splits the costs.
A very cost-effective approach is dividing the bill with other couples who are going to the prom. What’s more, arriving together as a group can be fun.
If your heart is set on a limo, start looking around in advance. The cost of hiring one will only get higher as prom night approaches.
Enjoy Promo on a Budget
Prom is a very important night to most teens, but it’s only the first in a series of great ones. It shouldn’t break the bank, particularly with tuition looming ahead.
We always recommend that parents talk to their children about how much they can afford to pay for the ultimate high school dance and work together on ways to cut costs.
Of course, cutting corners shouldn’t be at the expense (pun intended) of having a good time.You’re smart, financially shrewd offspring will understand and take your sentiments to heart – after all, you know them well, and you raised them right.
One last word to prom-goers: Prom marks the transition from adolescence to adulthood in a way, and it remains a beautiful memory.
You don’t have to deplete your and your parents’ savings to live your dream prom and look breathtaking. Nobody will know you paid less than $200 for that astounding red-carpet gown or fashionable suit but you.
One day, you’ll be able to tell all your friends – and maybe your own children – the fascinating and edifying story of how you two became Prom King and Queen on a shoestring budget.
Teens Got Cents