This past weekend, my husband and I went to P.F. Chang for dinner since we had a gift card. Prom-goers swarmed the restaurant, which made me think about an article I read recently about soaring prom costs. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it said that the average person spent $1000 on prom in 2011. I knew that prom is a special night for high schoolers, but $1000 seems over the top for a dance. Then I started thinking about how much I spent on my own prom.
I spent about $110 at JC Penney and $25 on alterations. I made sure to get a shorter dress since they are usually cheaper than traditional prom gown. Besides, I knew that I would more likely re-wear a shorter cocktail dress than a floor length gown. I also chose a simpler one since it’s harder and more expensive to alter a dress with extensive beading. For shoes, I went to a discount store and bought a pair of heels for $20.
Hair, Makeup, Accessories
I didn’t spend too much money on hair, just $20, but I spent more money than I had planned on for make-up. I never wore make-up while I was in high school, so one of my friends set up an appointment the Estee Lauder makeup counter at the mall. Getting make-up done was free if I purchased two items from the counter. Unfortunately, going into this I had no idea how much nice make-up costed, so I experienced some sticker shock. All together, I spent $55 on make-up. While at the mall, I went ahead and bought a pair of nice earrings which were $23.
The parents of one of my good friends had a membership at a swanky country club, so we were able to get a discount for a really nice meal. I ended up spending $30 for dinner, since I didn’t want my date to pick up the tab. I still think $30 is a lot of money for one meal, but it was definitely one of the best meals I ever had.
At my high school, the senior class didn’t have to buy a ticket for prom. All we had to do was bring an ID, or make sure one of the teachers chaperoning recognized us. I skipped out on most of the prom bells and whistles. I didn’t go to the tanning bed like the rest of the girls in my class. My friends and I didn’t get a fancy limo nor did we book a block of hotel rooms for the after party. We went over to a friend’s house afterwards, and the next morning another friend’s mom hosted a delicious brunch. I have no idea how much these things would have costed, but I’m sure I saved a lot of money.
So, my total prom tab: $283 which according to an online inflation calculator, is equivalent to $314 today.
I managed to keep my prom costs low, but I guess the $1000 average shouldn’t have surprised me too much. I knew a girl who had traveled to Italy to buy her prom dress, and I one of my friends rented a Rolls Royce for the fifteen minute drive from her house to the country club that hosted our prom.
Ironically my sister, who has a tendency to blow lots of money shopping, spent way less than I did on her prom three years ago. She borrowed one of my cocktail dresses that I had bought for a wedding, so she didn’t spend a dime on her dress. Instead of picking a fancy up-do, she picked a hairstyle that she could easily recreate on her own: a side pony-tail with large curls. An artsy friend did her makeup, and she made sure her date paid for her dinner. The only money she spent was on a $50 pair of shoes.
Did you go “all out”for your prom, or did you try to reign in the costs?