Prom Ideas: How Not to Break the Bank on Your Big Night

prom ideas on how to save on prom

Tis the season for high school proms. It seems like as the years go by, prom has become a bigger and much more extravagant ordeal. The average cost of attending prom can add up close to $1000 – crazy, right? Whether you have a high schooler attending prom or are attending yourself – there are ways to have fun and dance the night away while saving money at the same time.

Here are prom ideas and tips on how to enjoy this special night without breaking the bank:

Transportation: How to Get to Prom

Walking or riding a bike is totally out of the question, right? Sarcasm aside, if a limo is a definite yes, the best way to go about saving money on the limo is to split the cost with a group of friends. Going to prom as a group is much more fun than riding solo, and it is more cost effective! The cost of getting a limo will rise as prom season gets closer, so shop around and book yours as soon as you can.

Driving yourself to prom is another good option for those who have their driver’s license and do not mind being the designated driver for their friends. Just be extra careful, especially since prom may take place at a venue unfamiliar to you.

Getting dropped off by mom or dad may seem childish, but let’s be real. It is the most convenient and way to get to prom without having to worry about directions or parking.

The most ideal way to get to prom though may be to get dropped off at school and take the passenger bus to prom. Many high schools require that their students go to school and take the bus to prom as an entire class – that way everyone is accounted for and guaranteed to arrive at the prom safely and promptly.

Men’s Attire

When people talk about prom outfits, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the prom dress. But what about the guy’s outfit? Not many teenagers have a fancy suit just hanging in their closet, and teenage boys are constantly growing taller so is it really worth it to splurge on an ensemble that may only be worn once?

prom ideas on mens suit prom

Don’t rent a suit. It may seem more cost friendly, but renting a suit may be more expensive than just buying one. Spend a good amount of time to really shop around. Don’t worry about buying a suit from a high-end brand – no one will really know the difference. You may find a suit on sale or clearance. Check out thrift stores for formal wear, as well as places like Facebook Marketplace.

If you know anyone who has a nice suit, ask them to borrow it. There is no shame in borrowing a friend or relatives suit, just make sure to return it in prime condition.

Finding “the dress”

For girls, prom season can be stressful for two reasons: getting a date and finding the perfect dress. To say getting a dress is more stressful than finding the perfect date is a toss-up. Wearing the prom dress of your dreams does not have to mean spending hundreds of dollars.

Here are a few tricks to save money on prom dress but still feel your most beautiful:

  • Buy a Used Dress; Prom dresses are typically worn just once, so go to consignment stores, or even thrift stores to search for one. Facebook Marketplace is a really good place to browse for prom dresses too. When prom is over, you can resell it too!
  • Borrow a Dress; If you have a friend from another school (no potential accusations of dress repeats or copiers please), why not borrow her dress? Have a cousin or sister who has a prom dress that may be your style and size, give it a try.
  • Try on Everything; One of the most difficult things when shopping for something like “the perfect prom dress” is that you do not know what it is until you find it and try it on. So be open-minded and try on lots of dresses not just in the style you see yourself wearing, but in all sorts of styles, colors, and cuts. You may be surprised to see how much you loved yourself in a halter cut dress and not in that sweetheart neckline you’ve been dreaming about. Scan the sales and clearance racks for out of season dresses. Just because it is labeled “out of season”, doesn’t mean you cannot wear it.

Prom Ideas on Shoes, Accessories, and Hair & Makeup

Honestly, splurging on prom shoes is a waste of money. Prom dresses tend to be long, so your shoes won’t really be too visible. You may already have a pair of nice shoes in your closet. You could also borrow shoes from someone. Cruise through the aisles of stores like Ross, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx for quality shoes at an affordable price.

The same goes for accessories (except they are going to be more visible compared to your shoes). Depending on what kind of dress you wear, you can probably skip a necklace. Most dresses seem to have elaborate embellishments up top, or the cut of your dress (high neck, halter) may just not go well when paired with a necklace.

In terms of earrings and bracelets though, check out consignment and thrift stores, as well as retail stores like the ones mentioned earlier.

prom ideas on make up

When it comes to hair and makeup, you can expect to spend at least $100 if you get it done professionally at a salon or makeup counter at the mall. Those require appointments booked far in advance, which is also something to keep in mind. You may want to try a cosmetology school or salon that has students that style hair and do makeup for discounted prices.

The cheapest way to go about with hair and makeup is to have a friend do it, or do it all on your own. Run a few practice trials with certain makeup looks and hairstyles, then choose the one you like the best.


Having a professional photographer for prom pictures seems a bit extreme these days. Hiring a professional won’t be cheap. Find someone with a professional camera (like a DSLR) and ask them to take pictures of you and your date or group of friends. Use a digital camera – there are tons of compact and powerful digital cameras these days.

So that’s a wrap on ways to save money when it comes to prom! Just because it is prom night, doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Use these prom ideas to cut back on expenses and still have a great time with your date and friends. Planning in advance will really save you a lot of time and potential stress, so start prepping for prom now!

I'm Stephanie. Coffee lover, desserts baker, and excessive shopper. Because I love indulging in all three I'm always on the lookout for the best deals out there- and sharing them with people.

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