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Prom – The Big Dance or the Big Splurge?

It’s finally prom season – the rite of passage for upperclassmen in high schools all across the country. With respect to costs for the big night, though, there is some good news as well as bad news.

We’ll start with the good news first…in 2015, Americans actually spent 6% less on prom than they did in 2014. According to a nationwide survey done by Visa, this still means that the average American family spent $919 on prom.

That said, here’s the bad news; the price of promposals is going up. Hold on, a prom…what? A promposal, derived from the words “prom” and “proposal,” is an elaborate way to ask someone to prom. Prom attendees spend about $324 just to ask their date to the big dance, which is more than one-third of the grand total that they spend on the big night.

The northeast part of the country takes the cake here when it comes to promposal costs, with the average family living in this region having spent about $431 on promposals last year. When combined with the average of $738 spent on other prom expenses, such as attire, shoes, accessories, transportation, etc., promposals increased the total price of prom to $1,169 for northeastern families in 2015.

The promposal trend is expected to increase in cost even more in upcoming years. In fact, some prom-goers are actually seeking help from professional planners to pop the (prom) question perfectly. In New York, at Brilliant Event Planning, Sarah Glick charges $495 for a concept design in addition to the $2,500 minimum for putting together the promposal. Out in Los Angeles, meanwhile, The Heart Bandits charge $1,000 for promposal planning and execution.

With prom costs remaining high, due in large part to promposals, we wanted to share some ways that students and parents can save this year:

  1. Make it a family affair beyond Mom & Dad’s checkbook Have a friend or family member do your hair, makeup, and nails for a fraction of the cost or no cost at all. Students can also let family members take pictures at a pre-prom gathering, and can then use their cell phones to take pictures and selfies at the actual prom. Finally, a family member or friend who owns a luxury car can drive you to prom; if that is not an option, splitting the cost of a limousine or party bus with a bunch of friends could be.

  2. Spend in a wallet friendly way. Set a budget for how much you want to spend on prom, and start saving money early. One trick you can use to help you stick to your budget, ladies, is to buy a self-tanning lotion, which is cheaper than the costs of tanning or getting a spray tan. Another cost-saving trick is to shop for dresses, tuxedos, shoes, and accessories at consignment stores, or at retailers’ overstock stores; Neiman Marcus Last Call and Nordstrom Rack are good places to start.

  3. Forgo the expensive promposal, but do not compromise creativity. Try to spend little to no money on your promposal. Remember, it is the thought that counts and your date will probably appreciate a genuine and creative promposal just as much. Some creative ideas for your promposal include: organizing your friends to choreograph a flash mob, crafting something homemade, or making your date’s favorite food and spelling out an invitation to prom!

The figures for the total cost of prom and promposals for 2016 are just coming out. That said, last year it was promposals that drove up the cost of high schoolers’ most anticipated night, leaving us to wonder what will be the driver this year. Promposals again, or will it be something else?

Photo Credit: By MustbeAmoocow [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons