Mater Dei High School

Last-minute prom shopping on a budget

If you’re the kind of person who likes to scramble everything together at the very last minute, you might be stressing on pulling together an outfit and plan for prom with a tight wallet. A 2012 survey from Visa Inc. shows the average family will spend $1,078 per prom, and that number has likely only increased over the last few years. Luckily, I’ve tackled this situation just four days before my prom and have five tips to help you make the most of your prom night.

1. The outfit

Prom dress and tux shopping is crazy expensive. Instead of dropping $200 on a dress you’ll wear for one night, look around in your local thrift stores. For some evil reason, bigger thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army sell second-hand formal dresses for relatively expensive prices. This is where it gets easier for boys looking for pants and a jacket. My date found his shirt and tie at a thrift shop in Costa Mesa for $9 total and pants at Sears for $20. I found my prom dress at Assistance League in Huntington Beach. It had never been worn before, still had the $300 retail tag on it, and I scored it for $35. On top of that, I found another dress for $8 and plan on saving for a formal dance next year. Another plus of thrifting your dress is that nobody will have the same one as you! If you’re not fond of secondhand clothing, you can always look on and rent a dress or to rent a tux. If you choose to rent something off a website, keep in mind how much time it will take to ship. Don’t forget to ask your friends and family members if they have anything you can borrow!


2. The shoes

If you already have formal shoes, it’s best to stick with those. If you’re wearing a floor-length dress, you might not even be able to see your shoes and you’ll most likely take them off as soon as you get to the dance floor anyways. Don’t forget to ask your parents, friends, or anyone you know with the same shoe size if they have anything you can borrow. If you absolutely have to buy a new pair and have a horrible aversion to second-hand shoes, look for high heels in stores like Ross or Marshals. Ross is less expensive, but Marshals has a bigger selection. I got my shoes at Ross for $20.

3. The transportation

Most kids go to prom on a party bus or limo that a friend or acquaintance organized, but if it’s too late to hop on one of those lists or you don’t want to spend the money to chip in, your best bet will be driving yourself or taking an Uber with a couple friends which can be even more fun, especially if you’d rather spend time with your few close friends rather than a big group of people you don’t know all that well.

4. The pictures

If you don’t take prom pictures, did it really even happen? Instead of paying for prom pictures at the dance, pick a spot for you and your friends to meet before the dance and take nice photos together to solidify your memories of prom night. Have your parents take pictures with cameras if they have one or just with your phone, that works perfectly fine too. Try places like the beach, a park, or a garden.

5. The dinner

If it’s your senior prom, you will probably want to make the most of it and go out to dinner with your date and/or friends before. Do not forget to make reservations! If it’s your junior prom or you don’t care for a nice dinner, I’d suggest eating a little something at home and making an In-N-Out trip after prom. Nothing beats post-party In-N-Out.

Have a happy and safe prom!