I received a text from my mom the other day asking if I still wanted my high school prom dress. My first reply was “why?” Turned out our neighbor’s daughter was still on a prom dress hunt. I, of course, said yes and carried on with my day. However, that short conversation left me reminiscing on my 2007 high school prom:
I went all out. My parents agreed to pay for half my prom dress…but that’s it. I worked part time in high school and quite a few of those pay checks went into that one night. My dress alone cost my parents and I $500! Now that six years have gone by, I can clearly state “I wasted my money.” I could have had the same experience for a fraction of what I actually paid.
I went to your typical American high school in a Connecticut suburb, where it’s not unheard of to spend a crazy amount of mulah on prom. Here is the breakdown:
Airbrush Makeup: $100
I paid for all but $250 myself (thanks Mom and Dad!) I smartly passed on the limo, and chose to drive my reliable little Ford, but $870 for a dress and heels I never wore again, makeup that was just as stunning as what my best friend could have done and hair I could have curled myself…just ridiculous.
Now, I don’t regret it since I did have a blast. I’m just passing along the wisdom I have gained over the years. Save your money, don’t waste it on prom. You’ll thank me when you have to buy your first set of college books!
How to Save Money at your High School Prom
1. Don’t spend too much on a dress
- You’re only going to wear it for one night. Try not to spend more than $200 on your gown.
– Try thrifting for your dress instead. If you don’t like the cut, you could always get it altered.
– Ask a friend or older sister if you can borrow or have her old prom dress.
– Plan ahead. If you’re currently a high school sophomore or junior. Buy your prom dress this May. All the gowns from the 2013 prom season will be on sale. Getting a gown a year in advance at 75% off will save you tons of money!
– Get one in black. That way you’ll be able to wear it again later on. Perhaps to a college ball?
2. Get either your makeup or hair done. Never both.
I went all out, and ended up with a result that I could have achieved myself. One of the best things about prom is the pampering, so you don’t have to do it all yourself — just know what’s worth it, and what’s not.
– Try doing your manicure and pedicure at home. That’s an easy way to save $40.
– Up-do’s aren’t as common as they were when I was in high school. Now, a chic blowout is all you need. If you have to have the curls, try asking a friend or sibling to do it for you. If you don’t know anyone who could pull it off, try making an appointment at your local cosmetology school. A student up-do would be more affordable than an experienced stylist.
– Only get your makeup done if you’re doing your hair yourself. Otherwise — find the look you want in a magazine and perfect it yourself. Start practicing a week before prom. That way you’ll be a pro by the time your prom date arrives!
– Willing to splurge a bit? Instead of getting your makeup done, get a lesson at Sephora. You’ll end up spending just as much as you would getting your makeup done, plus you’ll get quality makeup that you can use again and again!
3. Save on the shoes
We all arrived with our pretty (and expensive) shoes, but once we all hit the dance floor we left them under the table. I totally wish I wore my simple black flats instead. Take advantage of what’s already in your closet.
4. Skip the limo
If you feel like you’ll be an “outcast” without one, split it with at least six other people so you can keep the cost down.
Shortly after that prom I started to regret all the money I spent. My boyfriend was one year under me, so I knew I’d have to go through the whole ordeal again, and vowed not to spend over $100 for everything when the time came. Here’s what I did the second time around:
I ended wearing a thrifted 80’s prom dress that was $30 and a $12 pair of black flats from Target. I purchased a $20 crimper from Sally Beauty Supply for my hair and did my makeup myself. The result was a much happier bank account!