Prom night can be an expensive night

April 26, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

The sparkly dress is bought. It matches the glimmering earrings. Hair hangs in ringlets, creating a soft, feminine look. With a tuxedo giving him an elegant look, her date arrives and they are whisked away to prom in a fancy car, maybe even a limo.

It's the event of a lifetime, a night in which the high school seniors or their parents have invested a small fortune.

Brittany Marsden, who already has found the perfect dress - a stunning blue with sequins - says guys have it made when it comes to prom expenses.

"They don't have to pay for anything but a tuxedo and dinner and a corsage," she says.

Brittany, on the other hand, spent $310 on her dress, $25 on her shoes and another $80 on jewelry. Her hairdo will set her back $45. A manicure and pedicure adds another $35. Her best deal will be the $5 boutonniere.


Her date, Levi Smallwood, can expect to pay for his outfit, dinner, her corsage and tickets to the dance.

His expenses last year were $145 for a tux, $5 for socks, $25 for a corsage, $50 to eat out, $10 for a haircut and $45 for a white shirt to wear under his tux.

Despite the high cost of attending prom, Brittany says her parents are not lecturing her about the money.

"They did last year, but this year they haven't. They're happy for us because it's a night you won't forget. It's something you'll always remember about high school."

Brittany says it didn't hurt that she paid for her dress with her own money that she received for her birthday. In addition to the money invested, girls devote quite a bit of time to finding the right dress and accessories.

Although she knows her dress is expensive, it could have been worse.

"I tried on a $500 dress. My mom just looked at it and said, 'That's pretty,' and I put it back."

The dress she kept has openings in the front with the bottom opening revealing Brittany's belly ring. For shoes, she wanted something comfortable.

"It took me three days to find the right pair of shoes," she says of the silver-colored sandals she will wear.

Holly Belcher, a senior at Danville High School, isn't that concerned with shoes.

"We don't really wear shoes anyway," she says. "Actually, last year I brought flip-flops in case I got uncomfortable."

Finding the dress is a top priority

Finding the dress is a top priority, but she has not succeeded yet. Last year, she found one for $84, but after alterations, it cost $140. This year, she is willing to spend $200.

"My dad has put the limit on what's too expensive," she says.

She plans to contrast with a white tuxedo worn by her date, Kylor Wilson.

"I'm getting black or a deep purple because purple's my favorite color," she says.

Her selection will influence what Kylor wears.

"Guys have to wait because they have to get a vest to match the girl's dress."

Kylor's black tuxedo last year cost about $115, which included shoes.

"This year, I'm getting a white tux from Carol's (Bridal), so I'm dressing up a little more," he says.

They may be conservative, but as seniors, Holly and Kylor plan to make the evening festive.

"We're going to go all out," Holly says.

Holly plays softball and that interfered with last year's plans.

"We didn't go out to eat and my cousin did my hair. And I wore my sister's jewelry. I got my shoes at Wal-Mart."

They also escaped the flower cost, as Kylor's mom bought Holly's and her grandmother paid for his.

She expects jewelry to cost about $20 to $30 and a hairdo to cost $45. She again will be involved in a softball game, but has scheduled the latest hair appointment possible.

Because of last year's scheduling conflict with softball, Holly wasn't that enthusiastic about going, but she says she is looking forward to this year's theme of "Oscars night."

"Parents can come and sit on the bleachers and see us come in," she says.

Both couples mulled over the idea of riding to dinner in a limo, but they decided it was too costly.

"It was going to be $90 a couple to get it," Holly says, noting that the total price was $900. Last year, Holly drove her mom's Jeep because it was new. This year, Kylor plans to drive.

"Everybody was talking about an SUV limo, but it was $3,000 for six hours. We said, 'No,' pretty quick," Kylor says.

A pickup truck instead of a limo

Brittany and Levi also discussed going in a limo, but they decided against paying the money. They may take Levi's grandfather's new, red Ford truck. It will seat eight and they plan to fill it up.

Brittany and Levi haven't chosen a restaurant yet, but they're thinking about a steakhouse in Lexington. Last year, they went to Outback Steakhouse.

When Holly and Kylor go to dinner, they won't have to worry about a long wait. Kitty Hawkins, a friend's mother, is making a steak dinner for some of the couples.

Although both couples will feel like prom has dipped into their wallets by the time they've removed the price tags from their clothing and filled their stomachs, it's not over yet. In addition to snapshots taken by parents, a professional photographer will offer them a package. Levi and Brittany spent $45 and Holly and Kylor got a small package for around $20.

The dances end after midnight and the teenagers will be in search of more entertainment for the big night. Levi and Brittany wound up at the bowling alley last year.

"We went bowling in our tuxes and prom dresses," she says.

Kylor and Holly won't even have to splurge for bowling shoes. Holly's youth leader from church is having people over and serving food.

Even though Holly has decided to make the most of her last time to go to prom, Holly says there are plenty of ways to cut back on the expenses. "You can go and have fun without going all out," she says.

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