Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Reader Profile Update: Mark | Main | Happy Memorial Day »

May 24, 2013


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Yikes! I can believe that number... Mine are old, though. My senior prom was 2004, and between the dress (and alterations!), limo, hair, nails, and ticket for myself and my boyfriend, I imagine I was well over $500. My parents (well, mom) paid for my ticket (I think?), dress and hair, but my group of friends paid for our limo (stretch SUV - there were 20 of us!) and got our nails done on our own dime. We actually held a yard sale to raise money for the limo :)

Note that junior and senior prom were much different than our freshman/sophomore semi-formal: tickets were cheaper, I'm pretty sure we got rides from parents, and it was in the school gym rather than a fancy venue. Still got an awesome (now realizing way overpriced!) dress and my hair/nails done - and learned a lifelong lesson about Nair with my best friend ;)

And the semi was STILL different than our 8th grade Final Fling - got my hair done and a dress, but it was in the middle school gym and not much else to say about that. :)

I'm really interested to hear what current prom parents are spending as well!

Much cheaper for the boys. We have one son and two daughters and when you start adding in a dress, hair/makeup, etc. it gets pretty pricey.

Wow, that's a crazy number. Thankfully our kids are too young still so that's not an issue. I never ended up going to prom as I had to work the evening of one and was on a family trip for the other.

I never spent that much on prom for myself but that was years ago. Heck I went to three different proms and they still didn't add up to that amount. Nowadays its overboard with the amount teens or parents are spending on proms.

I saw this article too and I thought that was crazy. I spent no where near that amount!

The typical prom is a display of rented wealth that many parents borrow the money to afford. And no one remembers all those costly primpings and preenings unless police, ambulances or paternity tests become involved.

Many of you probably saw this break yesterday:

Beware -- what you wear to prom might come back to haunt you!!! :)

That Obama prom photo is great.

My senior prom was in 2008... I borrowed a dress, had a friend do my hair, did my own makeup/nails. Tickets were something like $100-$150 per person, although my date paid for that. And I got my date a boutonniere (that's the one guys wear, right? I can't even remember any more), which was probably on the order of $40. And we had the dress dry-cleaned after the event, so that was an additional cost, although I don't remember how much it was.

I'm quite sure that most girls spent way more and that I didn't look as pretty and polished as they did, but I had a great time and in retrospect am still very happy that I did it on the cheap.

I saw my son's date to the prom jack up her costs. She was the only child to some very well to do parents.

She got a dress for something like $800-1000. She got $200-300 shoes to match, and $100-200 for the matching purse/clutch. Make-over in prep for prom, $150. Then add the ticket cost of about $50. My son covered their limo ride with friends and pre-prom dinner. So her total ran $1300-1700 with the bulk being the dress. I know this because her mother told me how much prom was costing her, but she got some deals (purse and shoes were bought on sale), while my son and her daughter were picking out the tux he was going to wear.

Compare to my son's costs who even with picking up the limo share and dinner his overall total was about $250-300. Lest you think it's because he was a guy, my daughters total was less than that for her prom.

All that said, where is the line? My son's prom date was an only child of smart, financially savy, well to do parents who earned enough to easily afford much more than they spent on her. From their perspective, it was a big deal event for their daughter, and the money spent wasn't all that much and they did get things "frugally" and didn't go as overboard as some of their friends had.

So my point is you have to be careful of "averages" because small populations of outliers can skew that data far away from what most people actually spend. I'd be more interested in the "median" value spent (i.e. the true 50% point) on prom as well as where the sampling scope. A better comparison would be percentage comparisons of family income versus money spent on prom. But that doesn't make easy news.

I think (like many things) it depends on where you live and what the societal "norms" are that area.

Some areas hold the dance at the school, but that just isn't done on Long Island. They rent a catering hall, get photographers, limos, professional DJs, and the after prom experience usually involves going to NYC, the Hamptons, or down the shore to NJ.

For my son's prom, he paid for a tux rental ($150), 2 prom tickets ($75 each), and a corsage ($30). I think that was it from his pocket. His date obviously had much higher expenses for a dress, tailoring of said dress, shoes, tanning, hair, nails, teeth whitening.

His date's family graciously covered their after-prom expenses, so we paid for the stretch limo for them and 3 other couples for about $800 - so yeah, I think $1,100 is about right. The kids kicked in for the tip to the driver too - so that was about $20 each for the 8 kids in the car.

Well worth it - they are great kids and they had a safe, wonderful, memorable evening.

What I find interesting is that in the WSJ article they have an info graphic that seems to show the average cost was only around $700-800 just a couple years ago. They have a chart showing the average spending for 2011, 2012 and 2013. It looks like the spending went from around $800 in 2011 to over $1000 in 2012 then $1100 in 2013. Thats a pretty high increase for just 2 years.

I could easily see the basic spending on a prom hitting $500 level even if you're keeping it reasonable. So I'm not at all surprised the average would hit $1000 range.

At my prom in 2002 I spent about $300 total between tickets, a tux, and dinner (all my money...and my parents loaned me their car). I have no idea what my date spent but i suspect it was within that range as well. I can't even fathom spending $1k or more as a high school student.

Wow, memories! My senior prom was in 1979. I almost didnt go, but my girlfriend said I would regret it all my life if I didnt. Even though I thought I was too cool for prom, but she talked me into it. She set me up with a friend of her boyfriend who was a terminally shy skinny nerd guy who had never dated anyone before, and we all went together in her date's parents' station wagon. We wore home sewed floor length granny style dresses with cork platform sandals (very fashionable!) and the guys wore rented baby blue tuxes. We went to dinner beforehand at Benihana's, and prom was held at a downtown hotel ballroom. I remember the band was so loud that you couldnt have a conversation...we just shouted at each other "what?!" all evening. My date wanted to only talk about his computer, causing me to roll my eyes and sigh dramatically and shout "what?!" again. Our main amusement was scoping out all the progressively more drunk and wasted kids, as they slumped down one by one in various corners (is that janie smith? Omg, she is going to be in so much trouble, what an idiot! etc.) At midnight they closed the ballroom, and we drove to a local lake overlook and friend and her boyfriend in the front seat making out while me and my date sat awkwardly in the back seat discussing his computer again. I wished I had brought a book! Later we went to an all night diner for breakfast and watched the sun come up, so we could go home really late and not be embarassed about what a lame time we had.

I think The Prom ticket was $50 per couple and dinner was probably close to $100 for 2 people. I already had the I said it was homemade, and it actually belonged to my cool older sister who was a hippie.

Funny thing....several years later my girlfriend ended up marrying my nerdy prom date, who went on to start a computer software company and made literally tens of millions! He still cant talk about anything but computers, though.

MC --

His name wasn't Bill Gates, was it?

My kids are approaching prom age, but I cant see spending much on this even though we are pretty well off. No way would I buy my daughter an $800 dress! Maybe $100-$200, if she really wants one and if she even wants to go to prom.

I personally think all the spendy hype around prom and weddings, where people focus on acting like they are rich and famous for a day, is just marketing aimed to cynically exploit the people who think that otherwise they have missed out or been passed over somehow in other areas of their lives. It sadly seems that the people most focused on making these events an "amazing princess for a day event to remember all their life" dont have much else luxurious in their life to look forward to...these 2 events are pretty much it. Whereas I feel that My life and my kids lives have been blessed...I am so fortunate that High School was Not the best years of my life! And my wedding day was Not the only day where I felt like a princess! And feeling like a princess for me does not require me spending like I was Beyonce for a day! I wish the same for my kids....

No, but you are close! :)

MC --

Paul Allen!!!!????

Steve Jobs???!!!

Steve Wozniak??!!

Michael Dell??!!


Yes it was in Seattle.....

That is ridiculous! Though I did spend about $600 10 years ago, so I guess it makes sense.

When I went to prom, I spent very little:
2004(Jr Prom)$150
Dress: ~$80-100, bought after 2003 prom season
Hair, makeup, etc: $50
Ticket: Free- The Junior class always sold magazine subscriptions to pay for the seniors, and if you sold more than 3 subscriptions I believe your ticket was also free.
Food: Included in ticket
Post-prom (Entertainment midnight-5am): Free, provided by parents of the Junior class

2005 (Sr Prom) $130
Dress; ~80, bought after 2004 prom season
Hair, makeup, etc: $50
Ticket: Free, the Junior class paid
Food: Included
Post-prom: free

I don't think anyone rented limos, since I think the closest limo company was 45 miles away from us. Everyone just borrowed the fanciest car they could from a relative, or shined up their parents nice car. Or tractor...

Of course, this was in a tiny town in Iowa. :)

My friend had the most expensive prom night that I know of... as he got his girlfriend pregnant the night of the prom and ended up getting married and not going to college... the opportunity cost was tremendous. By comparison spending 1K doesn't seem so bad.


Prom is super-affordable...if you just don't go. I spend absolutely zero on my prom. I didn't get asked to go, so I simply did not attend.....SAVINGS!

I am highly suspicious of those numbers--not just that they're averages rather than medians, but that they seem to come from the industry, which presumably wants to make parents feel they have to spend a certain amount.

I will say that there is something to be said for renting a limo/Escalade/whatever, if you think there is ANY chance your kid might possibly end up in a car with someone who's been drinking. Knowing that kids are kids and prom is basically Poor Impulse Control Night, you might feel much safer even if your kid is ordinarily very buttoned-down. Assuming that the cost is within reach for you (obviously, not for everyone), I'd consider it a worthwhile investment.

My prom wasn't in this country so in absolute numbers it's uncomparable (we spent less than $700 on our wedding:-), but even where I grew up prom spending seems to have escalated wildly.

At the time of my prom, 20 years ago, the tradition was to have a few friends and relatives at home to "see you off", get a nice car for the ride to the event, and buy a [quite cheap] ticket for the evening entertainment and drinks (no 21-year age limit there, it is 18 and for prom nights quite loosely observed if at all).

A friend's daughter has her prom this year and to my dismay I understood now the tradition is to invite relatives and friends to a restaurant for late lunch (Mom and Day pay for the food), rent a limo, and then the events are usually 2 nights, and sometimes the second night held abroad. Well, 20 years may have passed, but frankly people there are not richer (we are still one of the "frontier" markets), so it really doesn't make sense.

My sister attended her senior prom this year. Her dress was around 80 with 25 in alterations. Shoes were another 20-25. Maybe another 20 in jewelry and accessories. Hair 25. Didn't get her nails done and did her own makeup. Tickets were 50 x2 (for her and her date.) Dinner was 20 as they had an arrangement at a local restaurant with a large group of friends. Corsage/boutonniere 10-20. She drove her own vehicle. A group of friends got together beforehand at a single house to take pictures. That adds up to around 300 for the night. She didn't attend junior prom and her senior prom happened to fall on her 18th birthday so I guess you could say it was a combo event.


MC said that he " went on to start a computer software company and made literally tens of millions!"

Any founder of Microsoft or similar tech company made a LOT more than *tens* of millions.

My daughter's senior prom last year cost me - $100 on the dress, $55 on the limo, $50 for hair, $25 for a corsage (she had no date so I bought her one), and $50 for the ticket (these are all rough estimates but probably about right) - so that totals $280. Junior prom was cheaper - no limo, no corsage, dress was less, and I think the ticket was also less(not as nice a place) - probably less than $200 total.

Probably about $350 for my daughter this year. Her dress needed to be hemmed so it was ~$200 when you include that expense. Hair was $75 (including $10 tip) - it seems like a lot but was worth it to avoid the bad hair style of the previous year. Her ticket was $55 and her shoes were about $20. I guess that is $350.

The main cost is the girls dress which makes a big difference in your overall total. I've had 2 daughters go to 3 proms and one more daughter still to go. Dresses run from $100 on up. Our limit is $500 which twice we paid once it was $200. Add in shoes, hair and make-up. Prom tickets which doesn't include dinner which did in my days. Dinner , limo and flowers. After party cost it could easily get up there especially if you dont set a limit onthe dress. All the kids and parents get together at someone's house and we take pictures so no photographer expenses. We are in Southern California.

Wow! I had no idea proms were so expensive these days! I think when I went to prom 25 years ago, I spent about $50 on a dress that was on sale, did my own hair and makeup and that was that.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.