A Practical Prom

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As much as junior Aleck Belcher tried to be frugal with prom preparations, he found it was difficult to find practical ways to save money while still ensuring an enjoyable prom night. He said he understands why many teens choose to invest a lot of money to make prom special.

“I bet they have a lot of fun and I have nothing against that, but I just like to save my money,” Belcher said.

Prom is Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 11.45.29 AMmeant to be a night to remember, but there are limitations many teens like Belcher often experience: costly preparations. According to a nationwide survey conducted by Visa, prom expenditures reached a high of $1,139 in 2013. The same survey was done in 2014 and showed that spending decreased to $978, a 14 percent decrease. Although a significant drop, teens look for ways to limit spending yet not detract from a special and memorable experience.

From his experience last year at prom, Belcher said the main issue was buying clothes. However, he said there are more reasonable ways to manage clothing costs since it is not necessary to spend a lot on something to use just for one event.

“I actually went out and bought a suit, which at first sounded like a bad idea,” Belcher said. “My mom was okay with it because it’s a suit so I can wear it anytime that I have to dress up instead of renting a tux, which I think if you rent a tux or suit every time you have something fancy, then eventually (the costs) are going to catch up to you.”

Assistant Principal Amy Skeens-Benton helps with this prom attire issue by providing donated dresses and tuxedos. These are purchased by her with the help of the PTO and CHS students. Many dresses are also donated by local consignment shops at the end of prom season.

“(The purpose) is so that everyone can go to prom, that money is not an issue,” Skeens-Benton said. “If they don’t want to go to prom that’s fine but if the reason that they can’t go to prom is because they can’t afford a dress or can’t afford to go, I take away that reason.”

More and more CHS students have been utilizing this resource. According to Skeens-Benton, 15 to 20 students used  donated dresses last year to attend prom.

“I think the number of students using this is (increasing each year) because more people are finding more about it,” Skeens-Benton said.

Senior Haleigh Overshiner attended prom her sophomore and junior year and said she did not make prom spending a significant issue. She bought second-hand dresses each year. Her hair was professionally done the first time but she decided to do it herself the second time.

Overshiner said, “(To limit spending), you can buy a second-hand dress or reuse shoes because no one really sees them. You can do your own hair and your own makeup and your nails rather than paying someone else to do it.”

She said the reason she decided to make preparations this way was that investing a large amount of money intScreen Shot 2016-04-19 at 11.47.26 AMo prom was not worth it.

“I used to (feel pressured to spend a lot on prom), but when I got older I realized that no one really cares how much you spend; it’s just the end product that matters,” Overshiner said. “There are so many other important things that you can spend money on, like your wedding, and prom just pales in comparison.”

Skeens-Benton said there are also other ways to limit spending. “Many teens choose to spend a lot. There are ways just like not going out to dinner,” she said. “I love that kids are going to people’s houses and having dinner at their house instead of spending a lot on going to dinner.”

Belcher said he tries to take similar approaches. “You can make dinner yourself; you don’t necessarily need the limo that you paid a thousand bucks for two hours; you can drive yourself,” he said.

Skeens-Benton said that no matter the approach, she believes prom is an important rite of passage every student should experience and that money should not get in the way.

“You’ll think back in 20 years and say ‘This was my prom,’ and there are some young ladies that will never ever again get to wear a big dress or go all out and I want to make sure they have that opportunity,” she said.

Belcher said he recognizes the different approaches to prom preparations. “Limos are fun; nice dresses are fun; people do it because it’s fun, but they really don’t have to,” he said. “(So it’s)definitely not necessary to spend a lot of money to make prom special.”

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