Prom On A Budget

Prom can be one of the most exciting events of your high school life, but it can also be a huge financial concern. Tickets alone can add up, not to mention the dress, hair, makeup and assorted costs that come with it. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make sure you get your Cinderella at the ball moment without breaking the bank.


Plan The Day

To start, make a game plan, which items on your list of prom essentials can you easily cross off — can you have friends or family help you with your hair and makeup for instance. A pre-prom getting ready party with friends is always a great way to make memories while looking good. If one friend always has their eyeshadow on fleek while another’s great at eyebrows, you can all work together for flawless makeup looks. If your home has a great spot for photography (a nice garden or a mural for your background), you can knock out some stunning photographs after you’ve all are ready.


If you’re doing your own makeup and hair, make sure to do a test run a few days before to work out any kinks. There’s nothing worse than having to figure out a new style moments before you head out the door. Plus, a run through can help you see if you need to make any changes to the makeup or hairstyle for the day of! While some would advise sticking to classic looks so that you don’t look back on photos with embarrassment, we say now is the perfect time to try something bold. As long as you feel comfortable with the look you choose, playing it safe is boring. Sure you may laugh at your photos 20 years from now but that’s half the fun!



We’ve covered how to get an easy up-do in our article on page 34, but let’s talk more conceptually. The best way to plan your hair for prom is to look at the rest of your outfit. Your hair is the icing on the cake of your look, and you want to make sure the two don’t clash. If the rest of your look is intricate, a simple hairstyle will be the best emphasis, try a sleek pony. If your look is simple, a bold braid look may be just what you need. You can also take the neckline of your dress into account. If you’re wearing a halter, high-necked gown or anything with straps that sit close along your collarbone, an updo might be best. For strapless and wide necklines that sit further along the shoulders, loose hair will look beautiful.   


The Dress

When it comes to finding the perfect prom dress, there are a variety of cost-saving tools to try, but the biggest tip is easy–start looking early. If you’ve narrowed down a few options in advance you give yourself the chance to pounce on a sale. Purchasing your dress months in advance on huge sale days like Black Friday might seem strange, but you can save yourself time money and it’s unlikely that anyone else will have the same dress.

Another option is to head to your local consignment and vintage stores or hit up eBay. While these options take more time to sort through if you’re looking for something completely unique without an outrageous price tag they’re great options.

Prom Dress Drives and Services

Another great option is to find a local branch of Operation Prom. Operation Prom is a non-profit organization that provides free prom dresses and tuxedos to high school students. Operation Prom does require that students meet a few requirements or have a recommendation from a guidance counselor to receive a dress or tuxedo from them.


If you’ve begun your search in advance, you may be able to find a local prom dress drive in your area. Many churches and local businesses will donate and organize prom drives in their area to help support their local youth.

Try a DIY

Another option and one that is a little more ambitious is to go the DIY route. If you have access to sewing supplies, you can create a one-of-a-kind dress with a little effort. This red dress, for example, was created in a single night by blogger ThouArtAnuli using a simple tube dress, curtains, and faux rose petals (make sure to head over to her Youtube and Instagram @thouartanuli to see more of her amazing DIY’s).  

Even if you’re not familiar with the basics of sewing, a DIY can be a great option. If you follow Anuli’s method of starting with a simple dress as the base, you’ll only be adding the finishing touches. You can add floral elements, embroidery, change the hemline, or even try dip-dying. The fun part of a DIY is that there is plenty of room for creativity. That said, if you decide to try your hand at a DIY, you’ll likely want to start way in advance, that way if it doesn’t go as planned, you’ll have time to adjust.