Prom may be an American rite of passage, but it sure isn’t cheap. The average family spends a little more than $900 to send a kid to prom. Where does that money go? Between event tickets, a formal dress or tux, a corsage or boutonniere, the cost of a limo rental, and dinner out before the dance, it all adds up.
But there’s good news. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to make lasting prom memories. Some corners can be cut without sacrificing the good fun and great memories that make prom so important to young people. Other essentials can be had on the cheap, as long as you leave yourself enough time to shop around. Here are five ways you can cut prom costs, to have the time of your life on a budget:
1) Shop Around
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to slash the costs associated with going to prom is to shop around for the best deals on pricey essentials like the dress or tux, corsage or boutonniere, shoes and accessories. You’ll need to leave yourself plenty of time in advance so that you can truly investigate the best deals, without feeling panicked at the last minute.
Boys have it easy; they can rent a tux for a fraction of the cost of buying one. Prom dresses can easily cost hundreds of dollars, but there are plenty of stylish, unique, and affordable prom dresses to be had. Pickings can get slim as the big night approaches, and that’s why it’s best to start shopping in advance, so you don’t end up blowing your budget in a moment of desperation. Search the sale racks at your favorite department stores and boutiques, and don’t forget to use the Internet. Starting early means you’ll have plenty of time to wait for that perfect dress from JJ’s House or Etsy to ship.
2) Do Your Own Hair and Makeup
Here’s another way boys have it easy – they don’t have to worry about doing hair and makeup on the big day. Having your hair and makeup professionally done can really blow a budget, but these days there’s really no need. If you or someone you know is handy with an eyeliner brush, you can hit up YouTube for ideas and makeup tutorials. Take advantage of your sister’s, aunt’s, or best friend’s flair for cosmetics. Get together with friends beforehand to do your hair and makeup at home. If makeup isn’t a problem but you’re genuinely concerned about your hair, go to a hairdresser and leave yourself time to apply makeup yourself before the dance, or vice versa.
3) Host the Pre-Prom Meal at Home
The cost of dinner out at a nice restaurant for a group of prom-going teenagers can quickly soar into the triple digits. Don’t want to eat in front of your date? Worried that a big meal will make you feel bloated in your dress? Host a fun meal at home with your group of friends. Choose a theme for the meal to ramp up the fun factor. Everyone’s parents will be happy to miss the restaurant bill.
4) Skip the Photo Package
Most of today’s smartphones have high-quality cameras built in, and it’s not like you won’t be snapping plenty of candid shots during the dance. So, do you really need to spend money on the professional prom picture packages being sold during the dance?
Sure, you (or your parents) probably want some hard-copy photos to frame, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend money on an awkwardly-posed photo shoot with your date. Have friends or classmates take photos of you with your or their phone. Afterward, you can use photo paper to print out hard copies at home, or visit any drugstore to have pictures printed and keepsakes made of your favorites.
5) Consign or Repurpose Formal Clothes After the Dance
One of your best opportunities to cut prom costs won’t come until after the dance. You’re not going to wear your prom dress again, so why hang on to it? Consign it at a local shop or sell it on eBay to recoup some of the cost.
Selling your dress isn’t the only option. You could repurpose it by altering it for more casual wear, so that you can get more use out of it. Or, consider swapping with a friend or relative to get a beautiful dress for your next formal wear occasion.
Just because the average family spends $900 to send a kid to prom doesn’t mean yours needs to. Whether money is tight or you’re just being frugal, saving on prom means you’ll have more cash for other things – and who doesn’t want that?