Trimming Prom Night Costs Without Trimming Quality

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Spring is just around the corner and with Spring comes Prom.  And with Prom comes a hefty price tag.  For a 17 year old high school junior making $50 a week at Burger King, that price tag can be something they have been saving for since July.  But there are ways to create a magical evening without a magical disappearance of your hard earned funds.  Here are a few places to trim your budget without trimming quality.

The Look

For a girl, the lynchpin of the whole night is her look.  Dress, hair, makeup, all of that must be perfect and top of the line.  And one of a kind.  So how do you accomplish this without spending your first semester’s college tuition?  The first step is to shop around.  “Discount” stores such as Ross or T. J. Maxx boast deep savings on their merchandise (a dress that may cost $150 in a department store may be as cheap as $30 or $40 at one of these stores) but they don’t offer any guarantee that you will be the only one at the party with that dress.

Instead, take a trip off the beaten path to a locally owned bridal wear shop.  Many of these carry one-of-a-kind merchandise, offering you the guarantee that you will not only be the only girl at your Prom with that dress but the only girl in town as well.  Also, because of lower “overhead” costs in running their shops, these store owners are able to offer these one-of-a-kind items at lower prices than you would pay at the mall.  Maybe not T. J. Maxx prices but 20 or 30% less than the mall.

For guys, think long term.  Sure, renting a tuxedo may be the “cheaper” route but dropping the bucks for a quality black suit may offer a higher return when it comes time to start on your career later in life.  

Hair and makeup are also high on the girls’ priorities list.  Check into the prices of styling at the mall chain salons (Cost Cutters, Fantastic Sam’s, etc.) and compare those to the higher end salons.  Or, trade up-dos and make up with a friend.  Free is 100% cheaper than paying anyone, no matter how low their prices.


Fresh flowers are expensive.  Fellas, have a chat with your date.  Find out if her dress has a neckline conducive to a pin-on corsage.  If not, where does she stand on the wrist corsage?  Some girls find them bulky and cumbersome and will ditch them fifteen minutes after pictures are taken so is it really a worthy expense or should you skip the flowers altogether?  Or instead of a corsage she’s going to leave sitting on the table, bring her a small bouquet she doesn’t have to worry about losing or damaging all night and can enjoy for a few days after the event.

If she’s set on a corsage, find out how she feels about silk flowers.  The staff at your local hobby store can help you put together a very nice corsage of silk flowers for half the cost (or less) than a fresh arrangement.


How are your skills in the kitchen?  What about Mom?  How much would it cost you to pay Mom to prepare a nice meal for you and your date?  An extra day’s worth of yard work, maybe.  You buy the ingredients, perhaps.  Definitely cheaper than any restaurant in town.  

But if a home cooked meal isn’t an option, think outside the box.  Check into the “mom and pop” places in town.  A hole in the wall could offer more than just a lower cost meal, privacy and personal attention at the top of the list.


If a limousine is something you are really set on, find friends to split the cost with  you.  Logic states that six people splitting the cost will pay less per person than two.  

If you are not set on limo service, find out the difference in cost between renting a luxury car for two days verses the limo fees.  Chances are you can “hire” a family member or friend to rent a luxury car for two days and drive you back and forth for less than renting a limo for six hours but this is where shopping around is important.  



If your Prom committee has paid for a photographer, chances are they have gotten a great bulk rate on packages you aren’t going to find anywhere else.  But if this is not the case, perhaps you can commission a student from the yearbook staff to take your prom pictures.  Or a family member.  As with anything else on this list, use the resources you have at arm’s length before seeking the services of a professional because the professional is always going to be more expensive than you are going to pay Mom, Dad or Uncle Joe.


To recap: Shop around and look for the best value for your money (which is not always the cheapest price).  Think ahead and find things that you can use again later.  Communicate with your date on different aspects of the night; surprises aren’t always the best way to go.   And share costs with friends wherever possible.

If you look in these places for discounts, you can have a magical Prom night without breaking the bank.


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