Prom. When asking students to describe their experience, it has been called “the best night of high school”, “overrated”, or my personal favorite, “don’t bother going to prom, post-prom is better”. Either way, there seems to be a major consistency for most high school students in attendance: it is one of the most costly experiences in one’s high school career.


So much money is invested in just one night. Between dresses, tuxes, shoes, accessories, dinner, tickets, hair, and makeup, the costs start to add up pretty quickly.


And while it is normal to want your prom night to be magical in every detail, there are ways you can make this happen without breaking the bank. So, to this year’s juniors and sophomores, here is your comprehensive guide to reducing unnecessary expenses while still making your night special:


Those who have experienced prom night before know which aspects you should not try to take the cheap option, and which you should.



Formal Wear:


Student responses to questions about this year’s prom showed that a majority of expenses added up in this area especially. Over half of prom attendees spent more than $150 just on dresses and tuxes alone.


As many students from the survey expressed, cheap dresses are hard to find. Many are hesitant to spend an extravagant amount on an article of clothing that will typically only be worn for several hours.


There are, however, some obscure ways to find a less expensive dress. Thrift and antique stores with formal wear can result in some great finds – and the plus side is, it is very unlikely you will end up accidentally twinning with four others at the dance! The downside to this is that it does take time, and there may be limited sizes and selection if you do find some.


Another idea suggested was to attend z102.9’s annual prom dress event. Above all, finding a dress that you feel comfortable and confident in should be a major factor. Even if you do end up spending more than you had hoped – no worries! There are plenty of ways to resell your dress after prom is over.


For guys, some recommended asking around to find a tux to wear. If that is not an option, be sure to calculate the cost of renting against purchasing. If you plan to attend prom both (or all three) years, is it more effective to buy rather than rent?




In my opinion, this is a category is one that lends itself well to saving money. If your dress covers your feet, no one will be able to see your shoes too well. Many people opt to take them off the moment they walk into the dance anyways. A great way to save is to borrow shoes from a family member or friend.


Hair and Makeup:


Many high school students also claimed to regret spending large amounts of money on professionally done hair and makeup, especially if it did not turn out as good as they would have liked. If you can, try and find a friend or family member who may be able to do it for free. This way, you may even be able to have them practice before the big day!


If you do feel like you would like to have your hair and makeup professionally done, it’s a good idea to bring a picture of what you would like it to look like. This gives professionals a better idea of how you would like it to turn out.




Depending on who you go with to prom, an easy way to save some money is to skip a fancy dining experience. If you’re anything like me (or many of the high school students I know), simply making food to eat in the comfort of your own home sounds much better than going out to an elegant restaurant.


Matteson Quint, a high school senior, says, “Getting ready with friends can be really fun and if you spend the morning doing each other’s hair, you save money and get to have a mini pre-party! My friends and I ordered a pizza to the house to save on dinner and avoid the crowds.”




Unfortunately, there’s not really a way to save in this area (unless you manage to get a hot date who’s willing to pay). Tickets are expensive because they cover some of the amount it takes to make both prom and post-prom unforgettable. The best thing to do here is to plan for these expenses in your budget early on.




At the end of the day, it comes down to your priorities. If you have spent months planning the perfect prom look, and going all in is important to you, spending a little extra money may be worth it in the long run. But if you are just going to have a good time, if expenses worry you, or if you just want to save some extra spending money during prom season, don’t feel pressured to pay for things that may not be absolutely necessary.


In truth, no one will remember if your nails are flawless or handpainted. Whether you spend hundreds or attend prom on a budget, what you will remember most is the fun you had and the great people you had it with!


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