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5 Tips to Plan the Perfect Prom for Less

From over-the-top, social media-friendly ‘promposals,’ to limousine rentals and of course, the once-in-a-lifetime dress and everything that goes with it, there is a long list of costs associated with the perfect prom. Visa recently conducted a study and found that, depending on the region of the country you’re from, total prom costs can exceed $1,000. And interestingly, they found that lower income families end up spending more on prom than those in higher income brackets. But regardless of where you live or what the family income is, it just makes good sense to rein in some the costs of prom. Here are several ways you can spend less on prom, without sacrificing a night to remember.

Set a Budget and Priorities — Prom spending can spiral out of control fast, so starting with a budget is essential. Once you determine the total amount you’re willing to spend, you can start dividing it up by what’s most important to you. For some, that might mean the largest chunk goes for a dream dress, while for others it might mean renting that amazing classic car. Also, be sure to establish how much of that money comes out of the overall family budget and how much the teen is responsible for contributing.

Borrow or Rent a Dress — It used to be the guys had it easy by renting the tux they would only wear for one night. Well, now girls have the option of renting a prom dress, too. From sites like Rent the Runway to local bridal and specialty boutiques, renting a dress will cost you a fraction of what you’d pay to buy it outright. You might even have the chance to wear a real designer gown, instead of an ‘inspired-by’ knock-off. Want an even cheaper (like, free) dress option? Ask friends and relatives whose taste you admire if they have any recent (or even vintage) formal wear they wouldn’t mind lending you for a night.

Be Your Own Glam Squad — Hair, nails, makeup, spray tan. Getting gorgeous for prom can end up costing hundreds of dollars if you go the professional route. Instead of hitting up the salon, get together with a group of friends to check prom boards on Pinterest and watch YouTube beauty gurus to get ideas and tips, then practice doing each other’s hair, makeup and nails so you can perfect your technique before the big night. You won’t only save a ton of money, you’ll get quality time with your besties that will make prom night that much more memorable.

Do Dinner at Home — We’re not talking Hot Pockets, here. If you’re going with a group, ask the parents if they’d be willing to host an upscale potluck dinner before you head to the prom. It will be way cheaper, more fun, and give everyone plenty of time to take pictures without feeling rushed.

Don’t Forget the Details — When you’re planning your budget, remember to include things like accessories, flowers and photos. If you’re starting to run short on funds, look for places to cut costs. For example, do you really need to shell out for the professional photos when you can take them yourself? And since your dress is the star of the show, you can save by keeping shoes and accessories simple and classic (and wearable for other occasions).