Prom - How much is reasonable?

(102 Posts)
niceguy2 Fri 08-Feb-13 12:58:05

DD has started to talk to us about her upcoming prom.

Obviously it's a big thing for her and I do really want her to enjoy it. I'm not adverse to treating her and whilst we are fairly comfortable, we don't have a magic money tree in the garden.

So far she would like a beautiful dress (obviously) but of course her hair doing, nails and she's not sure about what to do about the car or whom she will share with. Also she's asking about how much it will cost for someone to do her make up.

My fiancee and I have discussed this and think that it would be better for us to just give her a budget. Out of that she can prioritise herself and make up any shortfall out of her allowance/savings.

I've told DD that her budget is £150 and she's pulled a bit of a face because the dress she was looking at is over £100 so it doesn't leave her much for anything else.

How much do others spend on their child's prom? To me £150 + £35 for the ticket is just shy of £200. Surely that should be enough? Or am I being unrealistic and proms are just a very stupid expensive thing we've inherited from American movies?

ElectricMonk Fri 08-Feb-13 13:30:31

I think that £170 would easily be enough for everything except transport, as long as she spends it a bit more wisely. £150 is do-able, but only if she already has dress shoes or good make-up supplies.

For example - dress agencies will charge less than £100 for a lovely, practically new and high-end highstreet/low-end designer dress, and there are lots of bargains to be had on e-bay too if she's prepared to look carefully. Alternatively, there's an online company called Light In The Box which sells gorgeous dresses for fantastic prices - just need to factor in customs, shipping time and delivery costs from the US. I'd budget £80 for that.

With make-up - if she wears make-up more than a couple of times a year, it would be more cost effective to go to some counters and get the assistants to show her how to choose and apply it so she's happy to do it herself. MAC offers a special deal where you pay £20 for a "makeup lesson" in which they show you exactly how to create the look you want, and you can then put the £20 booking fee towards products. I wouldn't recommend their foundation (a NO7 counter will help her to find a good colour match for under £15), but she could get her foundation applied at a different counter and then get the MAC bods to show her how to find the right shades of blush, eyeshadow, lipstick etc and apply them well. If she's doing her own make-up, she will definitely need a foundation brush at the very least - Real Techniques (from Boots) give the best finish for "drug store" prices IME and are very easy for novices to use, she couldn't possibly go wrong with the Expert Face Brush, and any old powder and blush brushes will do. IF she will wear it again, I'd budget £50 for make-up supplies (assuming that she doesn't already have the things I've mentioned).

Shoes are the real bugger, in my experience - New Look is generally the best for cheap-ish, fairly comfortable formal shoes and usually come in at under £30. I'd budget £30 for shoes, unless she already has some that could work.

The extra tenner would be for hair supplies.

NB - My prom was about 8 years ago, and my dress was £40 from TK Maxx, my shoes were £10 from New Look, my make-up was shite because nobody taught me to do it properly, I went in the family car, and my hair looked dreadful, courtesy of my mum. My folks would happily have spent more, but I just wasn't bothered - I only went because my mum made me. In retrospect, the only thing I regret was the make-up - it would have been a good opportunity to get some nice stuff and learn to apply it properly for the future. Despite all of that, I do think that what you "should" budget for this comes down to what is reasonable for your family's finances, what your DD is prepared to contribute (either in the form of money or labour), and what it will take for her to enjoy the evening without feeling self-conscious - not what any of us tell you.

willoughboobs Fri 08-Feb-13 13:31:58

i would say around £500 is what i would spend on my dd as a way of treating her for finishing a big part of her education smile

If thats what she wanted i would do it for her as its a once in a life time thing and a pretty big deal for them at that age smile

januaryjojo Fri 08-Feb-13 13:33:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wonkylegs Fri 08-Feb-13 13:34:15

The term Prom is American but the end of school event has been around for years - 20yrs ago ours was called a Leavers Ball, and involved dresses & tuxes but not limos
(limos weren't so prolific in Somerset back then).
It's up to you what you can afford / think is reasonable. I've still got all my ball dresses from over the years (thankfully haven't changed too much in size) and sixth form, university & professional functions mean that they've got more than one wearing which means that they aren't as scarily expensive as they would have been for one off events. Bearing this in mind classic rather than ultra trendy is your friendwink

WorriedMummy73 Fri 08-Feb-13 13:35:54

Oh my Holy days! This is insanity on every level! Make-up sessions? Professional hair and nails? Are we raising well-balanced young women or future Towie stars/footballers wives? When did all this nonsense become the be-all and end-all? I'm sure the boys aren't worrying so much about whether someone has the same suit. This.is.ridiculous.

VengefulCrumpet Fri 08-Feb-13 13:37:53

My SIL has just spent £450 on a dress for my DN. I was shock. But it was ok because it was reduced from £1000 hmm.

It's bloody rediculous! I can't believe people waste so much money on a dress for a 16 yo for one evening!

gordyslovesheep Fri 08-Feb-13 13:40:06

TK MAX - for dresses - way less than £100

I think £150 is more than enough - it she chooses to spend most of it on a frock then she has less for eveything else - her choice

Scholes34 Fri 08-Feb-13 13:41:36

For £500 we could do a lot better than what effectively is a school disco.

Thankfully, my DD's school is a little more low key, but the event is still enjoyed by the children. It's organised by the Year 11s themselves, takes place in one of the school halls, which is decorated in style. This keeps the costs down and those with enough good news slips through the year (ie most of the Year 11s) get their ticket free as a reward for doing well in their final year.

DD has already said she'll be going for a nice dress that has use beyond the "ball".

Unfortunately, niceguy you're no doubt going to have to spend along the same lines as everyone around you, as the last thing you really want is your DD feeling uncomfortable at this big event in her life.

specialsubject Fri 08-Feb-13 13:49:50

we are where we are because people fall for this nonsense. And the idea that you are not acceptably dressed for a party unless it has been done professionally needs to be scotched right now (BTW professional make up always looks ridiculous)

she gets a dress from a charity shop for £50 or less. She gets a tenner for makeup etc. If she wants anything else, she buys it.

it's a party, and a kids' party at that. Time to teach her a sense of proportion.

Dahlialover Fri 08-Feb-13 13:52:25

My twins took me round loads of prom shops with their friends and mothers. I had thought £75 each would get a nice dress, but they had to have these over the top bright coloured things with huge net skirts!

Luckily, we went round at Feb half term when the sales were on. DD2 liked a bright red one which cost £180! (all the others were mostly over £200!!!!). We went to another shop and DD1 found a lovely long dress with jacket which would look good at any formal do, for £120 and we went back and got the red dress - £300 in total. We got shiney shoes at Next which have been reworn, and they had their hair cut and blow dried and straightened (a lot of the girls had OTT curls but this is not possilbe with DDs very straight hair, and they needed it cut anyway). I did their make-up (not OTT!) They shared a vintage cadillac with friends so that was £20 each.

The red dress is cluttering my wardrobe and is enormous. You need an agency to sell defunct prom dresses!

I went along with it because my parents would never have dreamed of buying me an ordinary new dress, never mind this. I enjoyed it, and they looked lovely.

They had another event when they left sixth form - it was more grown up, with cocktail dresses and suits, rather than the tux and big dress -they bought their own dresses etc as cheaply as they could (£8). Looked nice then too (if a bit on the tarty side!)

stormforce10 Fri 08-Feb-13 13:53:51

Ouch. I'd better get saving. DD is 7. I dread to think how much a prom is going to set us back in 10 years time.

I just put prom dresses into ebay search and it came back with over 164,000 results. Maybe there would be one there that she'd like?

Tasmania Fri 08-Feb-13 13:54:23

Roseformeplease - Most people I know spend more than £150 for a wedding dress. At least 5x that, and I know many - me included - who spent at the very least 10x that.

And £35 for a prom ticket is the norm (or even the lower scale of things - going to a theatre in London can often cost more than that). My prom was over a decade ago, and as I recall, it actually cost a bit more than that - so if adjusted for inflation, it would be much more expensive than the ticket price the OP has to pay. Granted, I made the dress myself (sewing, appliqué, etc.) but the materials alone cost something in the region of £130 in today's money. Why I didn't just buy a dress? I couldn't find the style I wanted (early century / dinner in the Titanic style), and it would have cost much more than £130 if I had.

Pootles2010 spent £70 on her prom dress and limo alone. Not sure how much the ticket was, but let's say her total expenditure was roughly £90... back in 2002. Adjusted to inflation, that would have been about £125 in 2012. Calandarbear already admitted she spent £160 on the dress alone back in 1999.

If I shop for "special occasion" dress these days which - as it happens - I am, I can't find a lot of dresses I like below a certain amount of money. No price snobbery there - if I challenge myself shop price-blind I often choose the most expensive dress, and end up not buying anything at all because nothing can compare to that dress.

As a parent, it's easy to say "it didn't cost that much in my days", but really... take into account inflation, and how things have changed. Back in the olden days, you may have had a prom in the school gym. These days, it's hotels, etc. - venues where you often pay £50+ per head for a rather simple wedding (and much more if you want a more glamorous one).

Anyway, if you want to have fab dresses that look like they should cost more, I would second tkmaxx and eBay. There are loads of Chinese dresses on eBay that look like they should cost £££'s, but because it's made in china and all that, it actually isn't that expensive. In the Far East, having your special occassion dress custom-made by a seamstress is normal. Only wealthier types can buy Western Designer goods, and they often are made there anyway. Some eBay sllers often make the dresses made-to-measure, too.

StepAwayFromTheEcclesCakes Fri 08-Feb-13 13:58:08

I'm sure the boys aren't worrying so much about whether someone has the same suit. don't you believe it worried DS2 had his last year and the boys were just as bad planning and talking about their suits. he tried on hundreds some designer some high street and agreed in the end that the one that fitted him best and looked good turned out to be a £30 Primark special grin his matching grey shoes cost more plus the corsage and tie to match his dates dress still cost us around £100 total.

She should be able to do it for less than £150. Dress from TK Maxx or Ebay - she should be able to find something for around £50 - £70 and it means that she knows that no one else will be turning up in the same dress. Make up - get it done by MAC, it's gone up to £30 but you do get to spend that on stuff. Hair will cost about £20 - £25 if she has a blow dry at your nearest salon - she will need to time this though, and get her make up done first.

I'm so grateful that DD's school doesn't do proms.

FergusSingsTheBlues Fri 08-Feb-13 13:59:30

Im agog. Its a fecking PARTY...not a wedding.

150-200 is fine.
Professional makeup, NO, but you could take her for a free makeover at debenhams if she needs guidance.
Updo, a frock and shoes
(Everybody looks the same at these things anyway.)

niceguy2 Fri 08-Feb-13 14:00:45

DD has so far done incredibly well at school and from the parents evening I had last week, she's on course to get pretty much A's across the board. If she puts the effort in then she can probably up some of those to A*'s.

So from that point of view she's worked hard and I am happy to reward her. The shoes thing I'd completely forgotten about since as a bloke I have a black pair, a brown pair and a pair of trainers. Actually I'm lying. I don't own a brown pair!

So on balance perhaps £150 is too low. £200 may be more reasonable. I'll have to agree a way for her to earn that additional £50. I may as well get something out of it! grin

Is she likely to be off to Uni next year? It might be worth buying a dress which would do a uni black tie function or two - not a massive prom meringue, but a nice cocktail style or similar as she'll probably get wear out of it there (if she doesn't go off things qucikly).

Toomuchtea Fri 08-Feb-13 14:02:42

I did push the boat out for DD as for nearly all her life, her clothes have been second hand or cheap as chips, so I spent £200 on her dress, but absolutely everything else she paid for from her wages, or did herself. It was a big thing for us as most of her friends are Jack Wills/Abercrombie clones, and for once, DD could feel she was on the same playing field. Most of the time she's quite happy to be different, but this once she wanted to do the thing, so we did. She did love it, I have to say. And we both loved going to get the dress. DS, whom we picked up from university on the way to choose the dress, gave his gracious opinion from the depths of the sofa provided for spare males, and it was a rather lovely family time.

niceguy2 Fri 08-Feb-13 14:03:57

Nah, she needs to go to college before Uni....do they have proms at college too!?!?!?!

I'm glad I have boys. And mine won't be able to leave school until 18 even if they want to, so I suspect practices will have changed a bit by then. Mind you, our sixth form leavers ball had unlimited alcohol iirc, and dodgems. It was ace.

I think giving her a budget, and assistance to spend it carefully, is generous. She has three months to earn or save more if necessary, I assume?

The after party sounds terrifying. Am I getting old?

Fifteen-year-olds shouldn't he wearing foundation unless performing under stage lights. It ruins their skin and makes them look daft.

chirpchirp Fri 08-Feb-13 14:06:20

I think £150 is a lot but if that the budget you are comfortable with then that's your prerogative, I would definitely agree that anything over that she should pay for herself.

Point her in the direction of the hair, makeup and nail tutorials on YouTube. There isn't a 40's hairstyle I now can't recreate with a teasing comb, tin of hairspray and the tutorilige of Cherry Dollface. Surely part of the fun of getting ready for prom (not that we really had them back in my day) is getting ready with your friends, doing each others nails etc.

riverboat Fri 08-Feb-13 14:15:09

£150 sounds lovely. She can get a nice dress for between £70 and £100, and then choose between either a share in a limo, or getting her hair done or whatever. It would seem very extragent to me yo pay for an expensive dress PLUS professional hair and makeup PLUS limo PLUS ticket...

Does she have a weekend job at all? Could she get one or do babysitting to earn extra money if the prom means that much to her?

atthewelles Fri 08-Feb-13 14:38:15

They're called debs dances here in Ireland. They used to be mild enough affairs - dress probably made by a mum or an aunt, hair washed and blow dried, quick bit of make up applied at home, and someone's Dad drove everyone to the hotel.
Now they've gone waaay OTT. Designer dresses, fake tans, professional make-up, manicures, drinks party in someone's house with all the neighbours and relatives invited and bringing presents, hired limousine to go to the hotel, and on and on and on. They must cost an absolute fortune. They used to be organised by the school but a lot of schools want nothing to do with them anymore and the kids organise it themselves.

DizzyZebra Fri 08-Feb-13 14:51:13

I think your budget is VERY reasonable.
I was talking to OH about this after i saw a discussion online once where Mums were talking about getting credit cards and loans to pay for it. Ridiculous IMO.

My daughter is a long long LONG way off that but if her 'prom' were tomorrow this is what i'd set;

Dress - Up to £60
Make up - Plenty of aspiring make up artists around who will do it at half the price of the salons - And they do make up for photoshoots etc, they are brilliant. You can get a full face done for around £20. Some will even do it for free as long as they can get some high quality photos of their work for their portfolio.
Nails - Again £20 is enough.
Hair - TBH I don't think they need fancy hair styles and i would be reluctant to pay a stylist.

If she wanted to chip in with mates £20 each for a limo i wouldn't mind but she wouldn't be getting one for just herself.

sue52 Fri 08-Feb-13 14:52:07

DD had a few freinds over for the pre prom make up, hair and nails session. I think they enjoyed that part as much as the prom. I bought her dress from an internet company called Light in the Box which was much cheaper (and custom made) than anything we could find locally. Limos were not such a Big thing here and only a couple of girls had them, I just put the car through the car wash to spruce it up a bit. I do agree that it's getting out of hand when I read about the huge sums of money that some people fork out.

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