8 Ways to Save Big on Prom Night
Prom season is just around the corner which means pricey dresses, expensive limos, and extravagant meals. It also means blown budgets and bank account drains.
Families spend an average of $919 on the prom, according to a recent report by Visa. The costs vary depending on the region but there are some common expenses — formal attire, prom tickets, and after-party events. Then there’s preparations, flowers, and photos, which can get pricey, as well. Senior prom is a once in a lifetime experience for most and it should be treated that way. However, it also doesn’t have to max out your credit card. The good news is that there’s a slew of ways to save big on prom night and still have an awesome time. Here are eight helpful tips.
1. Buy Formal Attire at a Discount or Rent It
Dresses are a big portion of your prom budget and a huge opportunity to cut out some costs. Prom dresses can range from $100 to more than $600, with alterations checking in at an average of $5 to $100. Throw shoes into the mix and you’re out another $30 to $100. For most teenage girls, the dress is the most important part of the prom. They dream of wearing a show-stopping dress. But if you are willing to scale it back a bit, you can still dazzle on a budget.
There’s a host of websites that sell discounted prom dresses, even designer ones. It may not be the latest fashion but the head-turning dresses are typically the timeless ones. High-end consignment shops can also save you money. If you get a head start on the hunt, you’re likely to find a perfect dress at a fraction of the cost.
Renting is another smart option, particularly if you want to stay on the cutting edge of style. After all, how many times will you wear the dress after prom? Skip buying shoes and borrow from friends or wear a pair you already have. You’re likely to kick them off at some point in the night anyway.
For the countless boys who don’t have a tuxedo hanging in the closet, the best way to save on formal attire is to rent one or shop the discount racks. For instance, a rental that comes with everything will cost you about $100, which can save you $100 to $200 or more off the price of buying a new tux. If you must buy, there are online retailers that sell tuxedos for as cheap as $40. However, if you’re shopping online, keep an eye open for merchants shipping from China. The images can be deceiving as can be the sizes.
2. Preparations Drain the Wallet
Long gone are the days when girls prepared for the prom with their moms. These days, they are spending top dollar to get their hair styled, their makeup applied and even their teeth whitened. That’s money that can easily be saved, thanks to the Web. The Internet is full of makeup and hair tutorials you can watch for free. Social media has a slew of ideas to get you inspired, as well. The best part is that you can practice as much as you want at home to prepare for the big night. There are also over-the-counter teeth whitening products that are just as effective as some professional treatments.
If you don’t yet have the confidence to do it yourself, check with local beauty schools. They may offer discounted hair styling and makeup application services. You can even hit the makeup counter at your department store. Many offer makeovers if you purchase products. And if you do it the day of the prom, you’ll be all ready to go. You can also save on your manicure costs by purchasing nail stickers and stamps or painting them yourself.
3. Tap the Sharing Economy to Save on Transportation
Another big outlay associated with prom is transportation. The cost will vary depending on the region. If you live in an area where limos are the preferred method of travel, it can set you back a pretty penny. The same goes for a party bus. However, if everyone chips in it can defray the cost.
If you don’t really care how you get to the prom — as long as it’s not mom or dad — take a ride-sharing service instead. Most let you choose higher-end vehicles so you can still show up in style. And if possible, drive yourself — it’s always the cheapest option.
4. Forgo High-End Flowers to Save
You may not realize it, but the cost of flowers for your prom can get pricey. Rightly or wrongly, the price for flowers tends to increase during prom season. That makes a corsage more expensive than it otherwise would be. It also means that you might have to rein in your tastes to save money.
Don’t make a beeline to roses and other expensive flowers to adorn your corsage. Cheaper carnations are often just as beautiful and they won’t break the bank. You can also DIY the corsage or boutonniére. It’s cheaper to purchase individual flowers and the necessary supplies at a craft store than purchasing a premade one.
5. Get Your Photograph Chops On
Snapchat, Instagram and selfies may dominate teenagers’ lives, but when it comes to prom, they want that framed picture — and so do the parents. But obtaining that can get expensive if you have to hire a professional photographer. The good news is that you can skip that without sacrificing quality. Most smartphones take high-quality photos that can easily be turned into wall art. Have someone snap several pictures on their smartphone, choose the pictures you like and send them to a drugstore or online photo service like Shutterfly to have them printed out. You can also choose different sizes and borders. It will save you hundreds of dollars that you would otherwise spend paying a photographer.
6. Dine-In Before Heading to the Prom
Many prom goers eat ahead of the event, opting for fancy restaurants to celebrate their accomplishments. That outing alone can eat into a budget and that’s before the night even gets started. A better option is to avoid the fancy dinner out and host a little pre-dance party at home. You can also serve finger foods and snacks to get warmed up for the night’s festivities.
If you’re driving yourself to the prom, a quick stop at the drive-thru can fill you up on the cheap. Or, eat at home and skip the pre-meal tradition. You’ll have more energy for the prom and more to spend on other costs like attire or the after-party.
7. Go Budget on the After-Party
In some parts of the country, the after-party is just as or even more extravagant than the prom. However, that doesn’t happen for free; it usually requires students to contribute a lot of cash. It’s also not uncommon for the after-party to last the entire weekend, which means money going toward lodging and food, in addition to all the other expenses.
If you’re looking for areas to cut costs and can live without a weekend after-party, you can scale back and still have a great time. Throw an after-party at your home, team up with others to rent out a cheap event space, or host an all-male or all-female slumber party.
8. Keep It in Perspective
At the end of the day, the best way to save money on your prom is to keep it in perspective. Yes, this is a big event. No, it’s not as big as your wedding. You have to find the balance between your desires and what you can afford. The family’s savings account shouldn’t be wiped out on your prom. Nor should every penny you save go right back into funding the event.
By keeping it in perspective and spending responsibly, you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience and can greatly reduce the stress levels leading up to the event.
In order to save big on prom night, you have to plan it far in advance. That means you should start saving money for it as early as possible — shopping the discount stores whenever you get a chance and practicing your hair and makeup ideas well in advance. If you know you’re going to DIY aspects of the prom, the more time you have to practice, the better. The best cost savings measures in the world will be meaningless if they can’t be implemented because you waited too long to prepare.
What hacks do you rely on during prom season to save money?