An amazing prom is possible on a budget


Charles Wilkins

It may be an American phenomenon but prom is a growing trend in UK schools. As any US teen will tell you, prom is one of the most exciting times of the school year! Whether you have attended prom before or this year will be your first time, the experience is always magical. For most, prom is the only event that has allowed them to dress up with their friends for a fancy night out. In fact, the first formal dress that you ever buy might be for a prom dance.

However, it's no secret that prom can be expensive and a quick loan from a payday lender might not be the answer. You can end up spending a few hundred pounds between your dress, hair, makeup, transport and dinner. To parents, spending this much money on one night can seem ridiculous, while in your mind, it is absolutely necessary. Even if you work a part-time job throughout the year or pick up odd jobs closer to the time of prom, you still might not make enough to pay for all of these extravagant costs. As a full-time student, the pressure to earn enough money to pay for prom can be overwhelming. However, we have good news! You can have the most memorable night of your life while sticking to a budget. Budgeting is the new black and may help you avoid online loans.

Buy dresses on sale

Most girls run to the shops the month before prom to find the perfect dress. Unfortunately, shops expect this influx of dress shoppers, so they may actually raise their prices to increase their profits. While this is a great marketing strategy, it's detrimental for your prom budget. However, if you change the time that you shop for a dress, you can find great deals! If you shop for your prom dress during the off-season, you will be surprised by how many great deals you find! Many stores mark down their dresses that are left over from the previous season, but they could be just the dress you were dreaming of.

three different prom dresses and flowers

If you aren't able to shop during off-season, you have another option! Although you may be attracted to the "new arrivals" racks, try taking a look at the sales racks instead. Sometimes a shop is running out of stock of a certain dress and has given it a heavy discount. Or maybe a dress has a small tear or missing button that could easily be fixed by a seamstress (or your mum), but has been marked down. Either way, you could be missing out on some killer deals if you don't check the sales racks!

Top formal dress styles

Styles change all the time however for prom some styles never go out of fashion. Here is our top formal dress styles:

  • Ball gowns
  • A-line
  • Celebrity inspired
  • Cocktail
  • Empire waist
  • High low
  • Halter

Go vintage

Vintage and consignment shops can be a great alternative to department stores. If you want to find a unique dress for cheap, they should really be the first place you look. Vintage shops could have some real hidden gems, especially if you're into older / classic dress styles. On the other hand, consignment shops usually have more modern styles that were only made in limited quantity, which means you won't have to worry about showing up to prom in the same dress as someone else! Both vintage and consignment shops typically keep their prices much lower than department or bridal stores.

"Classic dresses never go out of style #promtips"
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Skip the limo

We all have that one friend or family member with a car that makes everyone jealous. Maybe you have a friend who convinced their wealthy parents to buy them the car of their dreams or even a cousin who spent their savings on a sweet ride. Something that many people spend excessive amounts of money on for prom is transport. Most groups want to rent a limousine, but struggle to come up with enough money to cover the high rates. What if, instead of renting a limo, you took a friend's car to prom? Someone in your prom group might have a nice car that you could all arrive in. Or maybe you have a family member with a cool car who wouldn't mind chauffeuring you and your friends for the night! You might need to get creative (and tip your friend or family member!) but it would be significantly cheaper to choose this option rather than pay for a limousine.

Buy a dress that you can sell or use again

Prom can seem a lot like a wedding. It only lasts one day and you pay an-arm-and-a-leg for a dress that you'll never have another use for! You may find the dress of your dreams for a hefty price, but if you're able to either sell or use it for another function, you could be getting your money's worth. If you break away from the stereotypical princess prom dress, you might be able to find a dress that you will both love and be able to wear again. Look in the dress aisle for something that could be dressed up or down, or even for a formal dress that you could wear to a wedding in the future. However, if you do fall in love with an expensive dress, your bank account might not suffer for long! If you take care of your dress during prom and keep it in good condition, you might be able to sell it. You could try selling it on an online auction site or waiting until next prom season to sell it to younger students at your school.

prom hall decked out with flowers

Don't splurge on a fancy meal

It seems to be customary for prom groups to have a big, fancy dinner before the dance. But why? You'll all be dancing an hour later with tummy aches if you eat beforehand, no matter where the food was from. So why don't you opt for a cheaper restaurant? We aren't saying that you need to get fast food, although you could, but you certainly don't need to go to a 5-star restaurant, either. There are plenty of nice restaurants that don't cost a fortune. The food may not be gourmet, but it will be delicious. If you don't have the budget to go to any restaurant at all, why not host a dinner party at your home? This could be a cheap, intimate alternative to going out to eat. Your friends can all pitch in for food costs and you can ask parents if they'd be willing to cook for you all. This way, you'll also have more control over the menu.

Fun is free

Yes, that's right you can't put a price on fun nor for that matter do great memoires carry a price tag. If you think back to some fun and memorable times in your life, there is a good chance that money didn't directly contribute. We live in a consumption lead society and one that is increasingly placing value on material things. Looking past this and concentrating on your attitude towards life and indeed your prom will pay dividends. Revel in the fact that you have done things differently and don't give two hoots what other people think. This is a great life lesson and if you can nail this during your school days, you are going to be well on your way to a great life!

DIY hair and makeup

You may think that you need to hire a professional hair and makeup artist to get the look you want for prom, but that isn't always the case! Sure, you could hire someone to do your hair and makeup, but is it worth the cost? If you're trying to attend prom on a budget, then the answer is probably no. Instead of hiring a professional, why don't you turn getting ready for prom into an impromptu party with your friends instead? Most of us have a friend who is talented at hair and makeup or maybe that friend is you! You could invite all of your friends over a few hours before the big night and do each other's looks or ask the friend with the most experience to give you your dream look! Here are some more possible alternatives to hiring a professional:

Get your hair and makeup done at a local beauty school as a student model.

Make an agreement with a friend to do each other's hair and makeup.

Ask an older family member, like a cousin or sister, to do your hair and makeup.

Watch online hair and makeup tutorials so you can do it yourself.

Visit a makeup store to see if they do free makeovers if you buy a product.

Take after some celebrities who rock red carpets without any makeup and still look stunning!


Hopefully, this guide has made you feel more confident about attending prom on a budget whilst planning for an amazing time. No matter what your price range is, we guarantee that you can find a dress, get the perfect hair and makeup looks and go to a nice dinner with your friends. You might need to get creative and thrifty, but that's part of the fun! At the end of the day, what really matters is the memories that you make with your friends, not how much money you spend. In a way this is being a responsible friend much like the way we are a responsible lender with our own code that we adhere to.

If you have some great tips for saving the cash when it comes to prom then let us know on our social media pages. If you want some more tips and tricks to help budget for those big formal occasions then check out this blog.

Keeping to the budget doesn't just mean counting the pennies it also means smart about the way you borrow and save. For information about our payday loans check out our questions page.