How to Save Money on Prom Expenses

From the dress to the pictures, the cost of a high school prom can set students and parents back a small fortune. Even though a senior prom is an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime event where students get to dress up and hang out together, it can be stressful if you are on a tight budget. If you are wondering how to save money on prom expenses, stress no more and take a few tips from money-savvy experts.


The worst time to shop for a prom dress is in season. Instead, shop for your prom dress well in advance, right after the holiday season. After Christmas and New Year's, many clothing stores will place their formal wear on clearance, which can save you hundreds of dollars. Holiday cocktail dresses and gowns come in a variety of colors, not just red and green.

If your budget is really tight, check your local consignment shops for huge savings on beautiful prom dresses. Because you will probably wear your prom dress only once, spending hundreds of dollars is not only impractical, it is a waste money. Another way to save money on prom dresses suggested by journalist Katie McCall is renting them online. Several websites, such as Wear Today Gone Tomorrow, offer designer dresses for a fraction of what you would pay in boutiques.


To enhance your prom dress, you likely will want a few accessories like as jewelry and shoes. The best way to save money here is by using items you already own or borrowing from a friend or relative. If your mom or best friend doesn't have the perfect shoes to go with your dress, shop for shoes at a bargain online site or at an inexpensive local shoe store. For the finishing touches, highlight your prom attire with costume jewelry, such as faux pearls and a unique, vintage bag from a local thrift store.

Hair and makeup

The cost of having your hair and makeup done professionally can take a large portion of your budget. The simple alternative is to do them yourself or have someone you know help you with styling and makeup application. Before sitting down to do your hair and makeup, search online for prom hairstyles and makeup ideas, and allow for plenty of time before your date picks you up to apply your favorite techniques.

Prom extras

Various other prom expenses include flowers, transportation and photos (many often covered by your date); none has to cost a lot of money. Corsages can be homemade, and pictures can be taken by parents prior to heading out for the prom. Public School Review contributor Grace Chen recommends purchasing flowers at a wholesale store and having your pictures taken by a fellow student at the prom.

USA Today reports that renting a 20-seat Hummer limo for seven hours can easily cost more than $1,000. Limo expenses can be cut to a minimum if you split the cost with friends or limit your limo usage to just drop-off at the prom. Although showing up at prom in an expensive limo would be the icing on the cake, you can save a good chunk of change by simply using your own transportation. With a prom, the destination rather than the journey will be most memorable.

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