I heard on the news last week that a Visa survey showed that the average cost of prom this year is $1139! My daughter Eleanor is attending her prom, and there is no way we are willing to spend anything like that for a one night dance! Eleanor is actually very frugal, and since she was paying for prom herself she was motivated to keep costs down. Her goal was to keep costs to around $200, and here is how it went!
Dress – This is one of the biggest expenses for girls. Luckily we learned on Facebook that a local church was having a prom dress giveaway, with hundreds of dresses donated by the local community. This is such a great idea, after all what are you going to do with the dress after prom? So we attended and had racks and racks of dresses to choose from. Eleanor wanted a blue dress, and we had more than 10 to choose from in her size.
She had fun trying on as many as she could, and found an elegant dark blue beaded dress that she loves. I had to hem it and take up the straps a little, but that is all. Total Cost – $0
Shoes – Eleanor has hip and feet problems that have had her in physical therapy all year. So as much as she would love to wear 3 inch stiletto heels to prom she knew that would not be practical. So she hit the Salvation Army store and bought a pair of silver heels for $5 to use for before prom pictures. Then she bought a nice pair of flats to wear at the actual prom, so she is not in agony all night. These cost $25, but she will get a lot of wear out of them even after the dance. Total Cost – $30
Hair and Makeup – Eleanor decided I could do her hair. Lucky me! So we spent a few hours yesterday watching you-tube hair videos and trying out hairstyles. I did talk her out of her plan to trim her bangs herself, which was her original idea, but seemed like an accident waiting to happen to me! So she spent about $6 on the trim. For makeup she had a friend teach her how to do smoky eyes, and she has been practicing for two weeks. So the only cost was about $10 for some shadow and eyeliner. She also did a home facial, and she really wanted me to include a picture of that! Total Cost – $16
Nails – For nails she decided to splurge and get a set of acrylic nails, since she ended up not paying anything for the dress. She has been wanting a manicure for a while, and this seemed like the perfect excuse. She also had a spa gift certificate she received for her birthday, which made it seem less like spending her own money! Total Cost – $30
Jewelry & Flowers– Eleanor raided my jewelry collection, and after trying on every necklace I own decided to go with a jet and rhinestone necklace and bracelet. These were actually my grandmother’s, so it is kind of special that she is wearing her great-grandmother’s jewelry for prom! Then she found a pair of inexpensive black earrings with the same tear drop shape to buy, and she is all set. She also bought a boutonniere for her boyfriend, since that is traditional. Total Cost – $16
Tickets – There isn’t much you can do about the price of the tickets! Tickets are $40 a person, which seems about standard for proms around here. Total Cost – $40
Dinner and Limo – The group of friends she is going with picked the restaurant, so she just kind of had to go along with their choice, which ended up being $25 a person. The restaurant they picked is the same place that my husband and I had our wedding reception 23 years ago, which we think is hilarious and Eleanor thinks is awkward. The limo was also something the group voted on, and Eleanor was on the losing side. This is the one prom expense that is really annoying her, because she just doesn’t see the point. But it is important to her boyfriend to go with this group of kids, so she grudgingly paid the $55. Total Cost – $80
Grand Total of Prom Expenses – $212
Eleanor overshot her budget a little, but she was thrilled with how she looked. She looked very elegant, which is exactly what she was going for. Plus her boyfriend insisted on paying for dinner and the prom ticket, she talked me into covering the shoes, and she used a gift certificate for the nails, so her out of pocket costs were actually closer to $100.
What do you think is reasonable for prom expenses?