Prom Costs

Updated on April 18, 2012
L.M. asks from Meriden, CT
18 answers

Listening to the radio yesterday, I was shocked to hear the the average prom cost in the Northeast is $1,200. My daughter (junior) was originally going with a small group of friends, but has now decided not to go. If she went, we would spend approx. $175, although I could easily see spending $300 to $500. So how much did you spend?

P.S. We have a dress, it only cost $18. Maybe she'll wear if next year, if not, I'll donate it. My daughter was at the mall with a friend and they tried on a few dresses, and she found one that I just had to see. So I did, it was on clearance for $25, but at the register rang up as $18. Also, we have an excellent shop in our area that sells gently used gowns for $25 to $35.

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answers from Dallas on

I teach at a school where over 50% of the students are on free/reduced lunch, and the prom tickets still cost $60 each. Even so, they are good at finding ways to cut corners. We have a program where girls can borrow dresses for free if they need to/want to, and they also know how to shop with a limited budget. Some of them will still spend a fortune on their hair/nails. None of them will spend the average of $1200 (I saw that on the news, too. I thought it was a national average, not just a northeast average). I chaperone prom every year, and the students look amazing and behave so well. They make me proud every year!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My daughter went to the prom with her bf for his school (rival school to hers) last weekend. Cost to us... Appx $1100 (below the budgeted amount) Yes, her PROM night, a big deal around here and as long as I can afford to send her first class, I will. No "requirements" for anything... just have fun, make good memories.

Dress $600 (she can wear it to other events... she sketched out her idea, looked online and found a designer with one similar... beautiful! It is by Sherri Hill) bought at Terry Costa in Dallas
Shoes $45 DSW
Boutinierre $12
Tickets $40 each (he paid this)
Wrist corsage $30 (he paid this)
Party bus... 32 kids $75 each
Dinner $840 for 32 kids. I set this up through the country club.. they paid for their dinners anywhere from $15 each to $40 each deoending on the choice they made from the pre planned menu) I paid for daughter, bf, and gratuity $300
Spray tan $20
Hair color the week before $75

Most of the dresses the girls wore were upwards of $300-$500. Most of the guys had rented tux and I don't know anything about that.

I've never heard of a dress of any kind for $18. You are making out like a bandit!!

This is for the bf prom only at his school. They will not be going to my daughter's school's prom because you have to be a Senior. Juniors only go if they are dating a Senior.

This past fall, however, we did have 2 homecomings and homecomings are huge in TX. We spent at least the same amount on daughter's school homecoming. She wore the same dress to each.

My daughter is a fashionista and she chooses dresses she can wear more than once.

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answers from Chicago on

the parents who are quoting those kinds of prices are paying for things like limo's and after parties etc. the average cost for prom is more like $300 or $400 that includes dress, flowers, tickets and tux.

I have in fact had both girls and boys go to prom in oswego. Yes tickets are a couple hundred bucks but that includes the dinner and the tickets to the venue. my sons opted to buy the tux at j.c. penneys for $129. my daughters both shop at resale shops and or regular shops but look on sale racks and or clearance racks before/during and after events. my daughter in fact got a $1500 wedding dress for $100 because it was a 2 year old model. photo's were purchased at the smallest level so I think it was $30. they took a million of their own. We have always refused to buy into the big "you have to buy it at this or that store for this or that price" its about what makes any given kid feel special or good about how they look. not about what they pay for it. my kids learned that lesson in diapers

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

My nephew (he is a junior) is taking a Senior to the neighborhood High School prom.

The tickets are each $35.00
He will rent a Tuxedo
He is purchasing her a corsage.
He is driving his pick up.
They are going to a private home for dinner. This is being hosted by some parents of Seniors.

When our daughter attended. she did not want to wear a dress, so she put together an outfit that was pants and a cute top.. She did her own hair and makeup.

A group of parents and I held a sit down dinner for the group of 15 kids that all were attending the prom together. They drove their own cars. The tickets were also $35.00 each.

We took a ton of photos at the dinner, in the yard.. and then the kids took a ton of photos at the Prom.. SO they did not purchase the photos taken by the hired photographer.

To spend anywhere near $1200 for the prom is shameful. Especially when these kids will be in college in the fall and you think what $1200 would help them purchase for school.

One of the things we learned.. Is to not allow the prom to be held at a hotel.. The kids want to rent rooms, and then they come and go to the room to drink or hook up.. Instead they are held at other venues to avoid this. Many parents also provide the dinner or an after the Prom gathering in their homes, so that they can keep an eye on the kids. This also cuts down on the cost.

I think the press can always find the most outrageous things to print.. But in reality, I think kids have a lot more sense than is reported.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Mumble years ago... our class wasn't big on the whole fundraising thing (to offset prom costs) so tickets were 'full price'... aka about $200.

Add in

(some grouips do spa day beforehand)
dinner before
photos at
hotel after

I can see it. Hadn't thought about it, but I can see it. It would really depend on a lot of factors and the cost for each one. One of my sisters, for example, their class busted tail on fundraising and prom tickets were free.

Prom ticket cost is multifold:

- Venue
- Insurance
- Catering
- DJ
- Decorations
- Off duty police security
- Breathalyzer for Keys program (you had to prove your transportation when entering... either limo recipet, taxi recipet, note from parent, etc. if you didn't have keys to turn over. Not perfect, but it cut down on prom fatalities)

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answers from Dallas on

Sometimes you spend way more than you expected! I thought I'd find a $25 clearance dress too.

My daughter fell in love with a $450 dress. I am not the type of mom to spend that kind of money. However, my girl is so low maintenance. She never asks for a dime. She won't even let me put gas in her car. She didn't ask for a senior ring or senior pictures. Not because she is shy. She is a tall, gorgeous glamazon! She just doesn't like to spend my money.

So, when we went to try on dresses, after trying every dress in the shop on unsuccessfully, she saw this dress hanging in the corner and I saw her eyes light up. She put it on and her whole posture changed. You could tell she felt beautiful. I didn't ask any questions. I just took it to the front and said ring it up we'll take it!! She used her own shoes and jewlery and paid for someone to do her hair. So, my total cost was $450. She sold the dress on ebay afterward, so I feel like the $450 was very well spent.

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answers from Washington DC on

Prom, like a wedding, costs only as much as you want it to. The ONLY reason my SD *might* have a $450 dress is because someone else is paying for it. OUR budget does not include a Prom dress that cost more (before alterations) than my wedding dress. After Prom is free, at the school. I forget where Prom is being held (not all schools outsource - our Prom was at the school).

My Prom dress was $18 from Fashion Bug on sale in December - I'm sure if the other posters shopped right they could find a nice dress for less. My shoes were from Payless. Nobody wore them long anyway. We didn't take a limo. He drove his own car and we met up with friends at a favorite Chinese place for dinner. We got a small package of photos at the event. I made my choker and don't even remember anymore what earrings I wore. Certainly not more than $15 total. Partially I didn't see the sense in spending oodles, and partially I didn't have oodles to spend. I still had a good time with my friends.

It's PROM. It's a special night, but there's no requirement to spend more on your dress than a wedding gown, get your nails done, spend a lot on your hair or professional make up, rent a limo. If your budget is less, you do more yourself. As far as I know, my SD might only get her nails done beforehand and is planning on wearing sparkly Chucks she owns under her dress. When SS went to Prom, DH drove them in his Mustang. I think people who spend $1K on Prom either live somewhere else or have a lot more disposable money than we do.

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answers from Chicago on

I went to my prom, spent 80 on the dress, 40 to have my hair done but did my own make up/nails, I bought the tickets 120 I think, he bought the flowers and paid for the pictures and rented his tux. We were about even on costs from what I remember, that was how we wanted to keep it. We could not transport ourselves to the venue we had to take the charter (hence expensive tickets) to Universal Studios Hollywood where the event was.
BTW my mom bought the dress post season the year before hence the cheap price. We made sure it could be easily altered had I lost weight but in high school weigh typically stays the same.

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answers from St. Louis on

I heard that statistic yesterday as well. My daughter is a Senior this year and just had prom a few weeks ago. I spent $195 on her dress, $35 on her nails, $40 on her hair, $35 on her shoes. The prom tickets were $20 each. Based on their average, I guess I did pretty well! LOL Not sure who they polled for that figure! Guess the same family's that are on that "My Sweet 16" show. :)

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answers from Chicago on

My cost was about $40 20 years ago. The ticket cost $30, I already had my dress from a different event and just made a few changes to it, like shortening it and adding some ribbons, etc. I did my own hair and we drove ourselves. I had to pay for it on my own so I was very frugal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My daughter is a junior & going to prom. So far I've paid $45 for the tickets & $120 for her dress. We haven't gotten shoes or anything else yet. I can't imagine paying $1000 or more. Yikes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

When I went to prom it was $65 for the ticket, and my shoes and dress cost about $165 total. The accessories ran about $50 and hair ran about the same. I only went to one prom and if my daughter chooses to go she'll get what we can afford or pay for it herself. I see no point in spending unspeakable amounts of money on a one time occasion that really does not have great meaning once you're an adult and out on your own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

When my daughters went to prom, we usually found dresses (very nice looking ones!) on clearance for less than $30.... I think the least we spent was about $16... we shopped at Macy's, Dillards, places like that.... shoes were usually very inexpensive.... we probably spent less than $100 on shoes and gown combined.. we didn't buy special jewelry, if we did buy something, it was very inexpensive (walmart, frequently...)

Yes, we did the hair the day of prom, but nothing else really fancy. One daughter's date paid for a chauffeur... not a limo, though. I think it was a Lincoln Town Car....

We still have several dresses in the closet.... I really ought to see if they want them anymore, or maybe we should donate them. We also have several bridesmaid dresses we should see about donating..... too much stuff around here!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

My daughter will be going to her senior prom on Saturday. Her dress is being made because it would cost a lot more to buy. It is a camo and blaze orange dress. So far, without the dressmakers cost, it is at $130. Her nails will be approx. $35. Her cousin is doing her hair for free, if she wasn't it would have been $45. No special shoes are wanted because they usually just take them off, so no cost there. Ticket cost is $20, and dinner is served at the prom location before the dance part starts. We will be driving her this year, but if we had gotten the limo that we got for her last year it would have been $20 per couple with 4 couples. She chose not to go in a limo this year. After adding up the total, as of now it is just $185, without the dressmakers cost.

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answers from New York on

i couldnt give u exact prices but here are the things that i had to spend money on for prom - dress, hair, nails, shoes, limo, hotelroom down the shore for the weekend, spending money for the weekend
(we went with a pretty big group of friends so we got a party bus in stead of a limo and we divided up the cost, and we had 4 people to a hotel room)
-for junior prom it was waaay less, no one really made a big deal out of that one.. and i have to agree with what riley said, our class never did much as far as fund rasing for tickets, ours were pretty expensive



answers from Chicago on

@Sherry, have you been to 'The Prom Shop' in Oswego, were tons of girls get there dresses. Girls come from all over Chicagoland to buy their dresses there. Oswego prom tickets are a couple hundred.

My daughter graduated 4 yrs ago. Her dress was $330. Prom tickets were $200. She did her own hair & makeup & nails. Shoes were $50. Don't forget about fittings. Jewelry was $75. There was plenty more to the cost I can't remember. Average tux is $120.


answers from San Francisco on

Where did you get an $18 dress, Goodwill? Seriously, even at Walmart or Kmart or F21 it would be at least $40.
I spent about $300 total for my daughter, which was dress, jewelry, ticket, photos and shoes, but a lot of families around here spend even more on hair, makeup and nails :(



answers from Santa Barbara on

My daughter graduated last was more than $1,000 for her, not including her boyfriend's expenses. They did go in a huge party bus....better than having 20 cars on the road.

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