Getting Ready for the Big Night

If, as a parent, you haven't been down this road before, this is what you can expect to pay when your high schooler wants to attend the prom.

Being the parent of a high school student nowadays is much more expensive than I had ever imagined it would be — there always seems to be something that involves spending extra cash! Whether it be a fundraiser, a field trip, a uniform, or various banquets, the list goes on and on. Now, at the end of the school year, comes the cost of prom. 

This year's senior prom is being held on Friday at the Providence Hilton. Tickets were $55 each. Traditionally, if a young man asks a girl to go with him, the boy (in most cases, with money from his parents) is expected to pick up the tab. For this year's prom, that means forking over a whopping $110 for their son and his date's tickets — a load of money!

And if, as a parent, you haven't been down this road before, this is what you can expect...

Formal Attire

Boys must wear a tuxedo. Most young men at JHS go to Our Place Tuxedos in North Providence to rent their tux. On the average, it costs about $120 or more for a tux, coordinating vest, shirt, bow tie, and shoes.

Girls, of course, will need a gown to wear. Since this is my second year of searching for the "perfect" dress with my daughter, this is what I have found: Dresses in the major department stores tend to be more affordable. You might even be lucky enough to find one on a sale rack for a bargain — but in my experience, unfortunately, the odds of that happening are quite slim.

The next option is to begin the circuit of bridal and special ocassion dress shops. There is  right here in Johnston on Atwood Avenue, but they tend to carry dresses for more mature women — not much that most teenagers would want to wear.

We have had the most success at several shops that are clustered together along Oaklawn Ave. in Cranston (Sonja's, Ray Gardner Designs, and Stefania's Boutique). Some girls also venture to Party Dress Express in Fall River, MA.

Any teenage girl will have a "field day" in these places, but you can expect to pay at least $225 and up to $600 for a dress in these shops. My best advice is to begin shopping early for a dress so you can take your time looking for the right one. Lots of consignment shops (like Fabulocity in Smithfield) carry gently used gowns, so it is definitely worth checking them out, too. Now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Deb Store (nearest locations are Lincoln Mall or Emerald Square Mall). This retail store carries tons of really pretty gowns and cocktail dresses at very affordable prices. The quality of the beading and detail work isn't quite as intricate as the more high end dresses, but, hey, it is only for one night!


Naturally, everyone who goes to prom will want their hair to look great. Guys can probably get away with spending as little as 15 bucks for a simple barber-type haircut.  

Girls, on the other hand, can expect to pay much more. Most salons charge $50 and up for an "up-do," and that is if you already shampoo your hair before going to the appointment. 


Guys have the obvious advantage here, but many girls want to get a mani-pedi.  We are lucky here in Johnston, because there are an abundance of affordable   walk-in style nail salons to choose from. The prices tend to be more budget-friendly than a full service salon — the experience is less pampering, but most teens don't care either way, as long as their nails look pretty. 

A regular mani-pedi can start at $30 and up, with gel nails being more pricey.  Here's a tip to save a little cash: Ask for gel on fingers and regular polish on toes. Polish on toes tends to last longer, anyway, and if you do gel on them, chances are you'll take it off yourself before it chips, just because you get tired of the color. 


Some upperclassmen who have their driver's license opt to drive to prom on their own, but lots of other kids choose to pool their money and rent a limo for the night. As a parent, I like the idea of a limo. It doesn't cost much if you have at least 8 to 10 kids chipping in, and you know that they are in safe hands while on the road. The best thing to do is to call around, or ask other parents who they have hired in the past, because you would surprised at the difference in cost from one limo company to another.

So, that just about sums it up! Parents, make sure you buy batteries or charge your camera/phone so you will be ready to take lots of photos before you send your teen on their way the night of the prom. 

Best wishes to the JHS Class of 2012! I hope you have a safe and very memorable Senior Prom!  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mary Quirk-Sasa May 18, 2012 at 07:07 PM
P.S. I forgot to mention flowers: bouquet or boutonniere, and the $12 for parking in the Providence Hilton's garage! ~ Mary


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