How to Save Money on Prom

Boy giving girl corsage, tips to save money on prom

You can have a stylish prom AND still save money! Really!

Prom is one of the most exciting nights of a student’s high school career. Growing up we’ve watched proms take place on television while our Instagram feeds have been flooded with photos of girls in floor-length gowns and boys in suits.

If you’re in grade 12, this is your year for prom, and like most teenagers, you probably can’t wait for the big night! Prom signifies your four years of high school coming to end. It is a night to celebrate you and your graduating class. However, from promposals to corsages, apparel, shoes, and just about anything else you can think of – prom can be incredibly expensive. (More on my promposal below. Keep reading!).

Having attended the senior prom when I was in grade 11, as well as another high school’s prom in grade 12, by the time my prom came along, it was important to me to do everything I could to save money. Three proms later, I think I’ve learned a few tricks on how to save money on your big night.

How to save money on your prom dress or suit

Often, the most expensive part of prom is your dress or suit. Some girls in my graduating class spent upwards of $800 on a dress, many boys spent hundreds of dollars on their suits as well. I was lucky enough to have a sister who attended university for fashion design, and who was more than happy to make my prom dress for me. In the end it only cost about $60, the cost of the fabric my sister used to make my dress. However, I understand that most people are not as fortunate as I was to have a sibling who is an expert in sewing, but there are other ways to save on your prom attire!

There are many clothing swap groups on Facebook where people post their old prom dresses and suits to sell for much cheaper than they purchased it. Since you only wear your prom dress or suit for one night, in almost all cases these dresses and suits that are being posted for sale are in perfect condition! Sometimes people also post their prom attire for sale on other social selling websites.

Cut down on the cost of a corsage

Surprisingly, a corsage or boutonniere can be quite expensive. I was shocked to find out that these items can cost over $50. Instead of buying a corsage and boutonniere from a florist for my prom, I made them myself. I used fake flowers and ribbon from the craft store to create them, and just followed a Youtube tutorial on how to make them. A bit of hot glue later and I had made my own beautiful flower pieces! It only cost me about $10 or so to make them both!

Students saving money on prom

Alexa and Jack ready for prom! They saved major cash by skipping the limo.

Save money on shoes

If you’re planning on wearing expensive heels to prom, my advice for that is: don’t. After attending multiple “pre-proms” and standing for hours of picture taking, my feet were absolutely killing me in heels. I had taken off my heels and switched into sandals before prom had even started! As well, if you’re wearing a long dress, no one is going to see your shoes anyways. Wear some comfortable sandals that are half the price – your feet and wallet will thank you!


If you haven’t asked someone to prom yet, there seems to be a lot of pressure to do an elaborate promposal. Sometimes these promposals (which usually out-do regular proposals in scale) can be filled with flowers and gifts for the person you’re asking, which can get pretty expensive.

For acts like this however, it is important to keep in mind that it is not about the gifts that accompany the question, it is the gesture itself. Get some friends together, some construction paper and markers, and get creative with your promposal! It doesn’t have to cost you anything. I promposed to my prom date (who happens to be a major history-buff) by getting a group of our friends together and recreating a moment from history. He loved the gesture and it didn’t cost me anything!

Don’t bust the prom budget on a limo

Despite what you see in TV shows, taking an expensive limo ride to prom is completely unnecessary. My date drove myself and a few of our friends to prom in his father’s 18-year-old Volvo, and it was a blast!

Plenty of people have their parents drop them off at prom in their stationwagons and no one bats an eye. Prom is about being at the location, it doesn’t matter how you get there! There’s no harm in letting your parents drive you to prom, not only will it save you major cash, but I’m sure they’ll appreciate being able to do that as well!

Prom is one night of the year, and although it is a special occasion, it shouldn’t break the bank. Look for little ways that you can save money, but most importantly have fun!

Alexa Shipman

Alexa is an outgoing 18 year old from London, Ontario. She is passionate about the arts and was a member of Original Kids Theatre Company for nine years. She spends her summers working as a camp counselor and is excited about entering the newest stage of her life, as a student studying International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa. In addition to being a Parentwise blogger, Alexa is also a CST Beneficiary.

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