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OPINION: Money Well Spent?

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

by SAMANTHA ENGLAND - A closer look into the terrifying jungle that is prom shopping: from dresses to cars to the tickets themselves.

WESTFIELD, Ind. - (March 26, 2019). We all know that some nights of our lives are simply overpriced--but well worth it. Certain rites of passage and special occasions are universally accepted as excuses to turn a blind eye to the often large amount of money spent. Weddings, sweet sixteens and of course high school dances come to mind, especially prom. Prom usually happens only once or twice in a lifetime, so why not drop a little extra change for experience’s sake? That’s all well and good, but it’s beginning to come at too much a cost.

The least expensive dress I tried on at Macy’s, generally accepted as one of the more reasonable department stores, was $189. The cheaper suits at the same store were also well over $100. Renting can be just as expensive, with maybe a slight discount. Dinner at a fairly nice restaurant downtown averages about $30 per person. Tickets alone are at least $30, $45 if you procrastinate. Corsages and boutonnieres are usually over $20. Dress shoes for either gender range from $50 to the hundreds. Those who want to splurge and rent a limo for the night are looking at a cost upwards of $100 an hour. Professional hair and makeup services are also in the hundreds. The list could go on and on, and furthermore; these are quite conservative estimates. Realistically, one person could end up spending $1,000 on one night of priceless memories. But do we really need to be spending all that money to have a good night? And if we do, is that really fair to those who can’t afford a “priceless” night?

Neither question is easy to answer; in fact, they might be impossible to answer. It is, however, easy to see that prom isn’t a walk in the park for your wallet. No one wants to skimp out on the night of their dreams, but no one wants to go broke for one night either. It’s an endless conundrum that is not easy to fix. Maybe the best way to cope is simply accepting the fact that you don’t need to spend like crazy to have fun, but you can if you want. It’s a personal choice, and no one should be shamed for the choice they make. We might find ourselves side-eyeing the girl who spent $900 on a dress she’ll never wear again, or the one who wore tennis shoes to the most magical night of her life--but who are we to judge? Prom might be a big deal to some people and a non-issue to others. It might be memorable or forgettable. The only sure fact is that it is different for everyone, and because of that--it’s no one’s place to judge someone else’s experience.

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