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Penny-pinching for prom

Is the cost of these prom essentials hurting your wallet?

May 04, 2010|By ASHLEY VIAR / Pulse correspondent
  • Casslyn Miller, left, and her sister, Briana Miller, look over formal dresses at Cinderella's Closet, a fundraiser by the students of Washington County Technical High School, during a March event. The school is holding another event Wednesday, May 5, at the school.
File photo,

Prom can be one costly night.

And now as the countdown begins to the big event, you're left with few options.

Let's just add up the necessities:

o Dress - $100 to $200, depending on alternations

o Hair - about $50, especially if a girl wants a fancy do

o A simple manicure averages $25

o Accessories from jewelry to clutches, $30 to $50

o Shoes to match the dress, $30

o Boutonniere for the guy, $20

o Corsage for the girl, $25

o Tuxedo, to rent one costs about $125

o Dinner for two at a fine dining restaurant, $60 to $70, plus tip.

o Limo ride, most average at a flat fee of $300.


The grand total? For our lucky couple, between $765 and $895. That's if they don't split the limo ride with friends.

The cost of all this can be overwhelming for some teens, but there are some ways to get what you want without paying full price.


On a tighter budget? If you're good with a needle and thread, alter a dress you already own or make your own dress. That way you won't be worried about someone showing up in your same gown.

Or you can host a swap party. Ask friends from different schools to bring their old prom gowns and swap old gowns.


Tuxes are pretty standard, but shop around. Waiting too long means you probably won't be able to find any great deals, but it doesn't hurt to ask the business if there are any sales you might have missed.

Maybe the tux look isn't for you. Think outside the box. Just don't show up wearing jeans to the prom.


If you really want your hair and nails professionally done, see if your friends will join you. Call up the salon and see if they will give you a discount if you book a group at the same time. Some companies might be willing to work with a group of five or more.

Still can't afford it? Gather your friends around and do each other's nails and hair. It will make for a fun afternoon leading up to prom.


If you can't afford to buy new shoes, dye a pair you already have to match your dress or borrow someone else's shoes.


Instead of the traditional corsage or boutonniere, make your own. Use flowers from your mother's garden (ask first), or use artificial flowers. Or better yet, be creative - replace the flower with something else that's fun. Maybe a flower made out of colored duct tape?


Who says dinner always has to be out? Ask your parents to prepare a special meal for you and your date.

If you still don't want to skimp on a good dinner, look for specials.

For instance, Nick's Airport Inn, north of Hagerstown, is offering a three-course menu that costs $25 per person, which includes taxes and tip. Go to for the prom menu. For reservations, call 301-733-8560.


The best way to beat the limo price is to split the bill with several friends.

Instead of a limo, see if you know of someone who has a vintage car that you could borrow for the night. You can arrive in style in an old Corvette. Or just forget the grand entrance and car pool.

Whatever way you celebrate, just make this a night to remember without putting a hole in your wallet.

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