The first proms were held in the late 1800s and they’ve only become more expensive as the decades pass. According to the Guardian, the average cost of prom in 2015 was $919 — with parents bearing 73% of the expense. If you’re not willing to drop a grand on your teen’s big night, consider the following tips to help lower the prom price tag.
You might be surprised to know how easy it is to cut the cost of your teen’s prom ensemble. If you plan on buying, shop at the beginning of the school year, before prom season starts. This extra time allows you to really dig deep and explore vintage, thrift, and discount stores to find dresses and tuxedos on the cheap.
Renting is another great option. Often used for tuxedos, many students and parents aren’t aware that you can rent dresses as well. Sites such as Rent the Runway offer designer dresses that can be rented for as little as $30. For tuxedos, call multiple shops to find the best price — and forgo the pocket square and other accessories if it raises the cost too much.
Another alternative is to have your child check with their friends (and friends of friends) to see if they have a dress or tux they can borrow. It’s the perfect opportunity to take the price of prom duds down to zero.
Accessories like jewelry, corsages, shoes, boutonnieres can add up quickly. Have your kids try to choose an outfit that matches shoes and jewelry they already own. If that doesn’t work, hit up discount stores (Ross, Target, Payless, etc.) to find additions and adornments at an affordable price.
For boutonnieres and corsages, skip the florist and hit up the floral section at the grocery store for an option that’s easier on the pocketbook. Better yet, make your own — you can choose more exotic flowers without having to pay more for the assembled product.
The Makeup, Hair, & Nails
Styling for the prom can run anywhere from $100-$300. For an affordable and fun alternative to the salons, invite the your children’s friends over to do each other’s manicures, makeovers, and hairstyles. The cost is significantly lower when they’re using their own makeup and nail polish, plus it gives them a little extra bonding time.
Carpooling is the answer to lower the price of a limousine or party bus. Have your teen get a group of friends together and plan to split the costs. Cheaper yet, take the family car. In the end, how important is the limousine? Your child will be much more focused on the prom itself and spending time with their friends.
An expensive meal at a fine restaurant is a lovely way to kick off the evening, but it’s by no means necessary. Instead, have the kids get together at a local greasy spoon and push some tables together. Candlelight and filet mignon aren’t required for great memories — just a group of friends and the right frame of mind.
You can also throw a potluck. Have everyone bring a dish and enjoy a pre-prom party. The kids can have fun while the parents take pictures.
Take some time at the start of the school year to plan what your teen really wants for their perfect prom night. Set a budget and have them safe half of the amount planned. It’s also the perfect time for you to start saving. By the time prom rolls around, the money will be waiting, and all parties can turn their mind to having a wonderful time.
Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene