A Budget-Friendly Guide to Ensuring Your Daughter Shines on Prom Night

Mary Girton, right, holds a dress as her daughters, 16-year-old Annie, left, and 17-year-old Gabi, look over potential prom gowns in Pittsburgh, Saturday, March 3, 2018. Eligible students from schools in Alegheny County were at the Project Prom Gown Giveaway to select free dresses and accessories to wear for their high school prom on the first day of the week long event sponsored by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and the National Council of Jewish Women at their Thriftique store. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

By Ashley Adams

May 9, 2023

You can make your daughter’s upcoming prom a night to remember without breaking the bank by following these tips on everything from the dress, the ‘do, and the ride.

Prom season is in full swing and it’s no surprise that every girl wants to look perfect on their big night, but many might struggle to find the money to do so, even with parental help. Between the dress, shoes, hairstyle, makeup, nails, and transportation, by the time prom is over, you could spend a pretty penny on the big night.

While prom is often seen as the highlight of a senior’s year, and one of the last events for a girl to spend with their high school friends, you shouldn’t have to break the bank to make lasting memories for your daughter. Even with some cost-cutting, she can still have a good time, and look like a million bucks.

Here’s how to cut costs on everything from the attire to the transportation, all while still ensuring a fabulous prom experience for your daughter:


There are numerous ways to find the perfect dress for your daughter’s special night while on a budget. Shop for formal wear at local consignment stores or online. Check the sales rack at your local department store or bridal shop.

Borrow a dress, jewelry, and shoes from a friend or family member. Chances are they have formal attire from a past prom or wedding they would probably be happy to part with.

You can also justify spending a bit more than your budget allows by purchasing a dress your daughter is certain to wear again. 

As for colors, think basic, then dress it up with jewelry. Sometimes a little black dress is all she’ll need.

A Budget-Friendly Guide to Ensuring Your Daughter Shines on Prom Night
(Photo: Shutterstock)


Lehigh County hairdresser Stacey Keeble knows how important it is to look good on prom night. She’s created numerous hairdos for the special event over the years. But she knows not everyone can afford a trip to a fancy salon.

Keeble suggests calling a local cosmetology school to see if they offer discounted hairstyling services for proms. Another option, she said, is to have your daughter get ready with a bunch of friends doing each other’s hair. 

“Girls know how to curl, braid, and style their hair,” Keeble said. “Who better to make you look good than your gal pals?”

Makeup and Nails

Just like with hairstyling, Keeble recommends letting your daughter host a beauty bash with friends so they can do each other’s makeup and nails. She suggested finding online tutorials for makeup tips and then practicing at home before the big night.

Or get your daughter’s makeup done at a department store’s cosmetics department, Keeble said.

For nails, Keeble recommends using stickers or stamps instead of getting a full manicure. If you or your daughter aren’t good at painting nails, try Jamberry or stick-on ones found in the drugstore.

A Budget-Friendly Guide to Ensuring Your Daughter Shines on Prom Night
(Photo: Shutterstock)


Make your own corsage and boutonniere. You can find inexpensive flowers at your local grocery store and create your own unique corsage and boutonnieres with a few simple tools.


If your daughter has her heart set on riding to prom in a limo, split the cost with other parents to make it more affordable and fun.

Have your daughter ride with friends in whatever car you have or borrow a nicer vehicle from a family member and they can drive themselves.


  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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