Rejecting Outrageous Costs of School Proms: Parents & Students Seeking Bargains, Second-hand & DIY Evening Wear, & Cutting Out Frills to Save Money (video) « Frugal Café Blog Zone

Rejecting Outrageous Costs of School Proms: Parents & Students Seeking Bargains, Second-hand & DIY Evening Wear, & Cutting Out Frills to Save Money (video)

Posted By on November 13, 2010

High school prom costs are escalating, parents and students are concerned... renting the Wrigley Mansion, seen here, in Phoenix for one prom night can cost $22,000. Many families are looking for ways to save money and cut the fluff.


For parents and students in this struggling economy, the escalating costs to attend a high school prom have become a financial nightmare.

From expensive venues to stretch limousines to lavish evening gowns, plus prom tickets, flowers, and an upscale dinner, many are opting out of the spending madness and are looking for more frugal, unique alternatives.

Still others are choosing to eliminate many of the unnecessary, pricey frills that Hollywood, fashion magazines, and society have made popular. A special prom night doesn’t need to ravage a budget.


From, Peoria prom costs concern school board members:

The price of proms at swanky venues like the Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix raised concerns for some school-board members in the Peoria Unified School District.

Board member Joe McCord at Tuesday’s meeting wondered whatever happened to holding the traditional spring dances in high-school gyms. He said that could address cost and distance, which is a concern for some parents.

Current district rules require prom venues to be no more than 30 miles away, Steve Savoy, a K-12 administrator, said.

The venue-rental costs can range from $3,000 to $22,000, he said. Prom tickets range from $35 to $50. Pricier venues mean far more fundraising is necessary.

Board member Diane Douglas said school advisers and student leaders should rethink pricier venues in the current economy.

“To see $22,000 for a venue is unbelievable to me,” Douglas said.

The board requested that a district survey go out to parents to gauge opinions about developing new prom rules. Any new guidelines would not impact this year’s proms as venues are booked well in advance.

Kathy Knecht, board president, said that every year she receives calls from parents concerned about the distance their children must drive for their proms.

The economy also factored into her concerns.

“It can be a financial burden on families that want their child to share in the experience with their classmates but can’t keep up with the costs,” she said.

Knecht said the cost can add up quickly when parents have to foot the bill for dinner, a tuxedo or dress, and flowers.

Savoy said venues in the low-end price range include Arizona State University’s West campus.

Proms at the Wrigley Mansion, where rental tops $20,000, occur only every four to five years.

A Not So Pretty Prom


Tuxedo Rental Tips and Advice : Hidden Costs of Tuxedo Rental


From New York Daily News, New York students figure out ways to cut prom costs:

Bronx couple Tackie Huff and Christine Mariani plan to avoid pricey limousine costs by taking the train to their proms.

Since Huff, 17, and Mariani, 18, attend separate schools, they have to cover the expenses of both their proms. That means two sets of tickets, tuxes and dresses.

“I have to buy two prom dresses because I’m going to two different proms and I haven’t picked out either yet,” Mariani says. “I don’t want to wear the same dress to both, but if it’s necessary, then I guess I will.”

The Christopher Columbus High School student has been setting aside money for the gowns from her cashier job at Pathmark.

But Huff has even more costs to cover. He’s not only buying his $200 ticket to Mariani’s May 27 prom in New Rochelle, but he’s paying both his and her way to his own prom, at $100 a ticket. Huff’s school, the Global Enterprise Academy, celebrates just two days later at Chelsea Piers.

“I’m still working on it,” Huff says of the price tag. “I have $50 left to pay for my prom.”

He works as a lifeguard at pools in residential buildings, but took on a second job in November as a paid intern in his school’s main office. He plans to wear a tux he already has for his girlfriend’s prom but wants to buy a new one for his own. “A lot of tuxes cost close to $200 and I don’t have the money for that,” he says. “So I’m still looking for a sale.” And Mariani’s sister will do her hair.

But transportation is where the teens really hope to save. “Limos cost a lot,” Huff explains. “And we all can’t bust out what they’re asking for at this time.”

So they’re riding the subway to both events. “It’s going to be a long ride,” Huff admits.

But it’ll all be worth it in the end. “I’m excited,” Huff says. “It’s my last year. Everyone can’t really afford our senior trip, so prom is our last night just to be together.”

Seniors at the Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem are teaming up to buy makeup at a discount.

The girls at the school are doing everything from organizing dress drives to taking cabs to their prom in lieu of limos.

But they’re really cutting costs in the cosmetics department.The savvy shoppers know they can score makeup for just a buck from e.l.f. (

KS107.5 Prom Special – Save Money on Prom Night


From San Antonio News, Saving Cents: How to cut prom costs:

Typically, a dress will cost a few hundred dollars, and a rental tux will set you back a hundred or so. Prom tickets run about $80 at most schools. Dinner costs about $80 more, and a stretch Hummer limo costs at least $1,500. A deposit is required, and the limo must be rented for a minimum of about eight hours, said Tony Alyassin, owner of Royal Carriages Limousine, Inc. His stretch Hummers rent for $1,800, and he has decked-out luxury party buses that rent for $3,500.

Here are some tips to cut down on those prom costs:

Stretch Hummers can hold 18 people, so split the costs with 18 parents and each will pay $84.

Alyassin’s party buses hold 35 people, so splitting the costs results in $100 per family.

Girls, get a talented friend or relative to do your hair and make-up.

Don’t go out to dinner, host a lovely sit-down dinner at home instead.

And in this digital camera age, you can take your own pictures.

Girls, look for free dress giveaways — these have become more and more popular.

Guys, you might be better off buying a tux at a discount store that carries evening wear, like Syms, or shop for one on eBay. This is an especially good idea if you may attend more than one formal dance in the weeks and months to come, because those rental fees add up.


At Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport, Fla., advisers hope to cut prom costs by as much as 44 percent after last year’s lavish “Phantom of the Opera”-themed bash – complete with dozens of red roses, professional decorations and shrimp cocktail – rang up a $27,000 tab paid for by the senior class.

But in a state with the fourth-highest rate of home foreclosures, administrators thought it was time to scale back, particularly at the school where half of students qualify for free or reduced lunches.

“While I was thrilled for students to have such a beautiful prom, I don’t think it was necessary,” said Paula Nelson, principal at the 2,000-student school. “We just have to look at things differently.”

This May’s “Winter Wonderland” dance is expected to cost between $15,000 and $17,000, thanks to do-it-yourself decorations, a scaled-back menu of appetizers and smart shopping at after-Christmas sales where strings of white lights were 75 percent off.

Organizers even managed to haggle with a DJ, who lowered his $1,500 fee to $950.

“Prom used to be a free ticket to spend however you want, but now they’re just being more conscientious about where that money is going,” said Joanna Saltz, executive editor at Seventeen magazine, which ran a lengthy article on budgeting tips in its prom issue.

To cut costs, schools elsewhere are buying cheaper party favors like choosing picture frames that sell for $4.99 instead of the $6.99 versions, said Shep Moyle, chief executive of Stumps Prom & Party, the nation’s largest supplier of prom decorations. They’re also looking for decorations that can be reused in a school play – like the 13-foot-tall illuminated Eiffel Tower that sells for $199 – instead of items that get tossed after the last dance.


Prom dress sales began earlier than ever this year at Christina Gowns in Magnolia, Del., and the average dress is selling for between $200 and $300. Shoppers are embracing the store’s layaway and price-matching guarantee, canvassing Internet sites for deals and choosing jewelry and shoes more wisely. As the season winds down, more shoppers are looking for deals, said owner Christine Dean.

“Parents are really starting to put their foot down for girls who are getting their dresses now,” she said.

That’s why magazine editors are filling their pages with tips on how save money, showing prom-goers how to make their own boutonnieres while highlighting more affordable dresses and accessories.

“Maybe we would shoot an amazing dress that was under $100 and we’d shoot a necklace that is $400 or $500 with it,” said Teen Vogue Fashion Director Gloria Baume. “We don’t do that anymore.”

The magazine also is encouraging students to get creative, by scouring a relative’s closet for vintage garb or hunting consignment shop racks for deals.

At Seeds of Hope thrift store in Bismarck, where business is up, secondhand formal dresses are selling for between $8 and $38.

Manager Sarah Harper said many customers are excited by the prices.

“I think most of them like telling how they got a good deal,” Harper said. “I think it makes them feel smarter.”

Nelson, the principal in Florida’s Boca Ciega, just hopes students take away memories from the prom, along with lessons that a once-in-a-lifetime event doesn’t have to break the bank.

“I hope they realize that they can have just as nice things without spending the money and that will transfer to other things in their lives,” she said.

How to Make a Corsage, Prom Dress Swap, Making Prom Dresses: Threadbanger Prom Special


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I'm a conservative frugalist. My priorities: Watchdogging the government, making sure our tax dollars are spent wisely, living within our budgets (at home and in Washington, DC), and adhering to our Constitution and the conservative principles upon which it was developed by our founding fathers. Also, loving God, my family, and my country. Be wise, be frugal. God bless America!      


4 Responses to “Rejecting Outrageous Costs of School Proms: Parents & Students Seeking Bargains, Second-hand & DIY Evening Wear, & Cutting Out Frills to Save Money (video)”

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  3. Clay Boggess says:

    This has definitely gotten out of hand over the years to become beyond lavish to something that is now excessive. It’s about time that parents start to put their foot down. I hope this trend continues so that by the time my 8th grader is ready it will at least be a little more accepted to not have to do everything ‘above and beyond’. It is especially good to see the students start stepping up as well. I know that it’s a special occasion but when I was in school everyone thought it was special to have it in the gym. Boy how things change!

  4. […] Rejecting Outrageous Costs of School Proms: Parents & Students Seeking Bargains, Second-hand &am… This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged board member, evening gowns, hollywood fashion, joe mccord. Bookmark the permalink. ← Celebritystruck: 18.11.2010 – Night of the Proms […]