The tux, the dress, the corsage. What parents wouldn't be thrilled to see their teen decked out and ready to hit the dance floor on prom night?
It's all smiles for mom and dad -- until the bill arrives.
With proms often like mini-weddings, the average budget for your party boy or girl will hit $500 this year.
Although it's a fine choice for some, borrowed dresses, do-it-yourself manicures and pre-prom parties in the backyard are sufficiently glamorous. Influenced by reality shows like MTV's "My Super Sweet Sixteen" -- where pampered rich kids are treated to over-the-top $200,000 parties -- teens are ratcheting up their prom demands.
"It's getting crazy," said Susan Schulz, editor in chief of CosmoGIRL! magazine. "It used to be girls did their own hair. Now, they have to get it done. It's a spa day."
Girls will be spending more than their dates. Their dresses alone will cost an average of $231, according to a CosmoGIRL! survey -- not to mention the added primping costs of nails, $12, and hair, which could run to $50, or much more.
Guys have it easier. Tux rentals in the city range from $70 to $165.
Other possible items to add to your prom budget include a limo, flowers and the cost of a prom ticket, which varies widely depending on whether students have raised money to subsidize the cost.
Here's what experts said about keeping prom costs down:
- Don't rush into buying an outfit: "If you wait long enough, you'll hit a sale," said Susan Schulz of CosmoGIRL!
- Hunt Web sites for bargains. Schulz recommends edressme.com. For accessories, go to gojane.com and girlprops.com.
- When it comes to buying the corsage and boutonniere, skip the pricey florist and head to Manhattan's fast-disappearing flower district or a bodega.
- Have your daughter and her friends do each other's nails.
- Go to a department store and have a sales associate at the makeup counter do your makeup, said Bronx financial planner Valerie Adelman. Leave a tip.
- Skip the limo and take a taxi. "It's not stylish; so what?" Schulz said.