We ‘prom-pose’ you not spend top dollar on prom

Here at Cherokee High School, prom is right around the corner. Since prom is coming up soon, people are starting to buy their dresses, making hair/make-up appointments, and booking the florist for this one special day. However, like weddings, some have opted to try out some cost-saving secrets and invest the money, instead, on more long-lasting investments.

During these two-three months of prom planning, parents can spend almost $1,000 on just prom (source: Money). To put it in perspective, you can buy around 222, 10-piece chicken nuggets from McDonald’s for that price. That is 2,220 chicken nuggets. On a more practical note, this could also pay for approximately one-third of Kennesaw State’s annual tuition (based on 12 hours) or all of their fees.

According to a 2015 survey from Visa, American families were spending an average of about $919 on their prom-goers. That was down only slightly from $978 in 2014; it peaked in 2013 with the average cost of prom being $1,139.


No matter who is flipping the bill, parents or students (or both), there are several ways to save money spent on prom without compromising, so here are some helpful tips on how to save money during prom season!

Apparel Saving Ideas

  • Buy a tux (spend now, save later)
    • Buying a tux is cheaper than renting a tux–in the long run. Buying eliminates the need for renting a tux in the future. This is the same idea as renting a house/car. Also check for once-used tuxes on outlets like Facebook Marketplace.
    • Cost saving: Angie’s List quotes that tux rentals can cost between $196-500+. We could not get a quote from a local place because of the broad variety.
    • Savvi Formalwear states they charge $60 for their bottom-line suit (jacket, pants, and shirt to buy). They also come to Cherokee to deliver $50-off coupons!
j.crew factory: thompson peak-lapel tuxedo jacket in wool, right side, view zoomed
Tux at J Crew $190
  • Opt for a different outfit
    • Sometimes prom-goers wear alternative styles other than a tux, such as wearing nice pants along with a nice button-up, then finish up with a fancy pair of shoes.
  • Find a used dress
    • Around this time of the year, parents or people who went to prom the past few years usually post dresses on Facebook yard sale pages, thrift stores, or consignment stores like Uptown Cheapskate. Since these dresses are often a one-time use, and take up so much closet space, they are often the first thing to go.
  • Extreme Option: Make a duct tape dress/suit and try to win up to $10,000 https://www.duckbrand.com/stuck-at-prom
    • Cost of a roll of duct tape is $3.24 at the Canton WalMart (last grand prize winner used 20 rolls ($64.80–But then she recouped $9.935.2).
  • Make a dress
    • Teenagers who go to prom these days are talented enough to make prom dresses, which is reasonable since dresses tend to be really expensive. This can ultimately cost more than a dress, but the crafty may have it in them. They can at least boast they have a one-of-a-kind product.
  • Borrow a dress and shoes
    • Maybe you had a friend or family member who went to prom and they would let you borrow their dress or shoes. Remember, members of the homecoming court who wore a prom-style dress may opt to wear something different for prom.
    • Cost: $0 except dry cleaning fees for the dress/suit.

The average cost of a prom dress at David’s Bridal (Kennesaw) is between $150-400+

Hair and Makeup

  • Hair and Makeup
    • If you have someone who is good at hair or makeup ask them if they would mind doing yours. It would save a lot of money.
    • Cost of an updo at Azure (Canton): $65 average
    • Go to your local make-up store and ask them to if they may be willing to do your makeup for prom. Be prepared to buy products sampled.
    • Watch YouTube videos on how to style your own hair and make-up! It may be easier than you think.
    • Cost of getting make-up done with Christy Suna Makeup in Canton: $60-70
Save 100 dollars and do your own hair!

Other Expenses

  • Pictures/Photography
    • Teenagers always ask their friends to take pictures of them so ask your friends or family members. With today’s YouTube tutorials on photography and editing programs like Lightroom, professional-looking photography could be an easy option. Remember that CHS has a photography program, so ask around to see if you have a budding photographer in your midst!
    • Price Comparison: Heather Photographer (Canton) charges $375 for 45 minute/hr portrait session per website.
  • Transportation
    • You don’t necessarily have to rent a limo, you can opt for an Uber/Lyft, carpool with friends, or get a family member to take you.
    • Price Comparison: If you rent a Top Hat Limo (Woodstock), the price would range from $660-1100 for the whole night. Shout-out to Ashley from Top Hat Limousine! Splitting this may be more economical, but still pricey.
2014 mkt stretch limo
Limo available with Top Hat Limo–Vroom Vroom
  • Corsage
    • Make your own! making your own corsage will guarantee that you have something you are going to like.
    • Watch tutorials on how to make a corsage to ensure you will not make it wrong. Again, easier than you may think, and flowers may last in the fridge for a couple of days.
    • An average corsage costs between $20-$40 dollars while a boutonniere costs between $8-$20.
    • Price Comparison: The corsage cost is $40 & $18 for a boutonniere if you buy from Canton Flowers Florist & Gifts.

We’ve put together a Pinterest board with some how-tos on crafting your own corsage and boutonniere.

  • Dinner
    • Go to a small place such as a diner, eat at home, or do something with your friends at a local restaurant rather than eating out at a more expensive venue. Some even plan a get-together at a friend’s house and bring in pizza or cater with a lower-cost option like Chic-Fil-A.
    • Price Comparison: Likely you’ll eat in Downtown Atlanta. Here are some popular options.
    • Sun Dial: Average price range is $17 (french toast casserole)-$38 (NY Strip)
    • Hard Rock Cafe: Average price range is $4 side salad to $24.95 for the NY Strip
    • Rays in the City: Average price range is $30 for shrimp and grits to $60 for a lobster dinner.
    • JCT: Average price range is $22 for shrimp and grits to $42 for NY Strip
Image result for rays in the city atlanta
At Rays in the City in Downtown Atlanta, meals range from around $30-60. This does not consider costs for parking.
Image result for sharing catered food at house
Have a party before you go, and split the cost of catering with a local place.

Prom centers around your outfit, yes, but it’s even more about the overall experience


Prom is a night where you can dress up nicely, go out to dinner with friends, get to go to a nice venue and dance, etc. My past experience with prom was a mess, which was partially my fault since I went to a concert the night before; however, prom was an experience I will not forget and would never suggest missing it.

My favorite part about prom last year was just walking around Atlanta for pictures. It’s the memories you will treasure rather than remembering all of the expenses leading in to it.

I hope readers choose to adopt one idea or multiple ideas. There is money that could be funneled somewhere you will appreciate it more.

Cherokee’s prom is Saturday March 21st at the Georgia Aquarium from 6:30-10:30. Tickets go on sale February 26-28 starting at $80.

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