Frugal and Fashionable: Penny-Pinching Prom Ideas
If the magazines and television shows are any indication, parents are required to dress and transport their teens to prom in a manner worthy of a Hollywood awards ceremony. The event itself, of course, needs to be on par with the latest celebrity dinner parties. Seriously? I find the level of opulence at these events overdone to say the least. This will probably make me sound like the token old fart, but back in my day, we really didn’t get this worked up about prom season.
Sure, it was a big deal. Sure, we all wanted to look nice, have great photos, and experience a great evening. We just never would have dreamed of asking our parents to dish out the equivalent of a used vehicle for a single night of memory-making entertainment. Here are some cost-saving tips for guiding your teens towards a great evening they’ll always remember. (See also: Classy Weddings on the Cheap)
As with weddings, proms are mainly about the clothes. And let’s face it, if you’re blessed with a daughter, you already realize that finding the perfect dress is FAR more stressful than locating a great tuxedo. Hopefully, you’ve already scored a great dress in advance by shopping the post holiday sales this past winter. If not, here are a few additional ideas to help keep you on budget.
Cocktail dresses can be cost effective for a couple of key reasons. First, there’s far less fabric required than there is when creating a floor-length gown with a full skirt. Second, if you opt for a cocktail dress, your shopping selections are far more diverse. Rather than being restricted to formal wear retailers, you are free to explore other options such as shopping at Marshalls, hitting the clearance racks at Macy’s, or perusing the latest offerings at Nordstrom’s.
Opting for gently-used formal wear is a strategy many people prefer when trying shave some money off their bottom line. One way to avoid looking a few years behind the fashion curve when you go this route is to skip a few decades and go straight for that vintage look. It will appear at a glance that you are purposely choosing your retro look by choice, rather than by financial necessity. Besides, vintage formal wear looks amazing if you accessorize it properly. So why not save some scones and be the belle of the ball at the same time?
If you or your teen is the DIY type, consider saving money by making your own prom dress with fabric from an older dress or gown. You can pick up them up affordably at thrift stores, and by using the fabric only, you avoid the issue of dealing with worn trim and the fraying of satin-covered buttons if the gown has been worn a few times. Just choose a pattern that’s in fashion, and you’re in business.
Event and Venue
As I discussed in 25 Fun and Cheap Entertainment Ideas Rrom "The Vampire Diaries", there’s no reason your chosen event venue needs to run your prom budget off the rails. Ditto with decorations and entertainment.
Proms and after-prom parties can easily be held in formal tents, especially if your graduating class is a small one in a rural community. Consider some of the same money-saving venues you might try for a wedding where an event tent would be appropriate, and think about having your prom at that location. Romantic farm settings and formal parks could both work well.
The venue needs to fit the size of your class, of course, but having your prom in a period home can be an affordable way to go. Many of these places are already accustomed to wedding rentals, so proms are an easy extension. They are also quite decorative to begin with, and require minimal stress when it comes to decorating for the big day. Bonus? You can make do with elegant local flowers and skip the tacky streamers.
Since the teens typically enjoy a nice meal on the big night, perhaps planning a sit-down dinner at the prom itself or at home beforehand is something to try. It keeps the per-person meal cost to a minimum and makes targeted fund raising much easier. Your options are wide open with this meal plan. Ethnic entrees, baked fish, and even stuffed chicken breast are all up for consideration. You just need to have the meals ordered and paid for ahead of time.
Getting dolled up sort of comes with the prom territory. We all want to look great for less, but the pressure to look posh for this teen event makes many parents feel like they have to overspend when supporting their children on the big day.
You don’t need to spend big bucks in order to make your manicure rock. Purchasing a few key tools at the beauty supply store and selecting a neutral color will go a long way towards giving you the look you want.
One of the many things you can do with bobby pins is create elaborate hairstyles. This is particularly important during prom season, when many young women are searching for ways to wear their hair with their gown of choice. Elaborately twisted braids, loose up-dos, and more are all in high demand at salons during this time of year, but you can skip the beauty shop bill and have great hair for less.
After finding the perfect dress, the pressure is on to accessorize in a memorable way. There’s no reason to dish out for diamonds when there are plenty of inexpensive jewelry options for you to choose from. Crystals are suitably sparkly. So is marquisette. Young gents may want to borrow Dad’s cuff links to honor the occasion.
Prom season doesn’t have to break the bank. Making careful choices during the planning process can go a long way towards remaining on budget while still having a stylish event.
How have you saved money on the prom?