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15 Money Saving Prom Ideas

prom tips

With prom season just around the corner, many high school seniors (and some juniors) are starting to prepare for their prom. When you add up the cost of formal wear, a limousine, flowers, photos, dinner, and after-prom festivities, the final price tag can total several hundred to over a thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money for one night that could be spent toward many things, including books for college, tuition, living expenses, etc. Yet for many students, prom night is a milestone they wish to participate in and attending is important. To help you enjoy your prom night without emptying your wallet, Business Consumer Alliance offers the following economical options.

Dress for Less

Yes, the statement is a tagline for a popular off-price department store, but it is also applies when looking for something to wear to prom. You don’t have to spend a fortune to find something that looks good. Some alternatives to traditional garb include:

  • Consider a former bridesmaid’s dress. Chances are the dress was only worn once at a wedding, so should still be in good shape. Perhaps a slight modification will transform the dress and allow you to get another use out of it.
  • Closet shop. Sharing is caring, so ask a family member or friend that might be the same size if you could borrow something for the evening. This goes for shoes, handbags, hats, gloves, jewelry, and other accessories.
  • Go retro. Shopping at vintage shops can allow the luxury of saving money and finding unique attire that will set you apart from the rest of the partygoers.
  • Check out your local thrift store. Depending on the shop, you can find great deals on formal wear and accessories for a fraction of the price.
  • Bargain hunt. Shopping online can land some nice items for minimal cost. Sites like Amazon, eBay, and even Craigslist are good places to start your search.
  • DIY (do-it-yourself). For those that are handy with a sewing machine or know an affordable tailor, designing a dress that fits your style at a fraction of the cost could be the way to go. The ability to choose your own fabrics and colors make the possibilities endless.
  • Look into renting formal attire from a bridal boutique or menswear store.

There are so many choices when it comes to what to wear. In this day and age, many are ditching the tuxedo and formal gown and creatively making their own fashion statement by wearing unconventional garments. You can look just as dapper in a dress shirt and slacks or a simple dress glammed up with accessories, as you can in formal attire.

Getting There in Style

Customarily, the ideal ride to arrive at the prom in is in a limousine. Unfortunately, the cost and availability of a limo ride can be less than ideal. If you are planning on taking this route, make sure to book early as possible. Get quotes from several providers before making a decision. To make the trip more affordable, consider splitting the cost with other couples who will be attending. The same can be said if considering the rental of a party bus. Other options to think about are:

  • Reserve a cab.
  • Use Uber, Lyft, or other ridesharing transportation.
  • Ask a parent, responsible friend or family member, or neighbor to chauffeur.
  • Drive your own good-looking car.

Dining Before the Prom

Another tradition is to have dinner at a fancy restaurant before the prom. Dinner reservations at this time may be hard to come by. In addition, the tab for a formal dinner can add up. Instead of a pricy restaurant dinner, think about throwing a pre-prom BBQ for friends. The relaxed ambiance can set the tone for a fun and exciting night. Or, if you want the fancy atmosphere without the hefty price tag, create a charming restaurant at home. Decorate the dining table with nice linens, dinnerware, candlelight, etc. Prepare dinner and ask someone to serve the meal. If you do choose to go out, check out the restaurant menu and prices beforehand so you can gauge what your cost will be. Use resources like Groupon and for discount dining offers.

More Ways to Save

A few other money saving ideas are:

  • Take your own photos or consider asking a local photography student to take pictures.
  • Have a few friends get together and have a mani-pedi party.
  • Visit a local cosmetology/barber school to get your hair done or a haircut. Or, ask a talented friend to style your hair for the occasion.
  • Go to a local mall or beauty retailer and get your face made up. Or, consider getting this done also at a local beauty school. Even better, experiment beforehand by watching any of the helpful tutorials on Youtube.

With prom season just around the corner, there are so many ways to make the event memorable without breaking the bank. The key is to plan ahead, do your research, be creative, and ask around. Visit the Business Consumer Alliance member directory for reports on limousine services, florist, restaurants, hair and nail salons, and more. And don’t forget to request a quote.

Do you have tips for saving money on prom?  Weigh in with your comments below.

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About the Author:

Nicole Pitts is a Senior Business Analyst and Editor for Business Consumer Alliance. She has been with the organization for 12 years and specializes in report writing, business evaluation, and investigations. Nicole corresponds with businesses regarding complaint trends and provides suggestions to help them alleviate problem areas that may cause concern. She also conducts advertisement reviews, reports on government enforcement actions, and assists government agencies and the media in obtaining information. She enjoys reading, movies, and spending time with her family. Nicole can be reached by email at