The national average cost of attending prom actually dropped this year after several years of steep increases, according to a national survey.
But don't try to tell that to local parents or prom enthusiasts.
Nancy Baird Brown helps to run Elizabeth and Eileen's Closet, an annual community service project of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association. Elizabeth and Eileen's Closet offers low-cost prom dress rentals to help families avoid some of the heavy costs of prom season.
"I had a woman who came with her daughter to get a morp dress, which is the Gloversville senior prom, and they had already purchased her prom dress, and when she saw what we had, she said, 'Oh, we should have done this.' They had paid $800 for a dress, which is higher than when my children were going. It seems like a couple of years ago they were $500, so I have not seen that the prom bubble has burst," Brown said.
According to survey data compiled by Visa Inc., the national average household price from prom has dropped 14 percent from a high of $1,139 in 2013 to $978 for this year. The average price in the Northeast is a bit higher at $1,104.
A sampling of local prom item prices reveals that, although a range of price options are possible, costs are still high. Girls prom gown prices typically range from $300 on the low end, to $600 in the mid-range, and up to $800 to $1,000 on high-end designer gowns.
It all adds up
Here are some mid-range prices from local stores for prom items:
Girl's hairstyle: $45
Girl's shoes: $69
Girl's makeup: $35
Girl's nails: $35
Tuxedo rental: $130
Limo: $334 for dropoff without pickup.
Local total cost: $1,280
Northeast average: $1,104
U.S. average: $978
Source: Visa Inc. survey
Ways to save
Here are some ways to save on prom items
Gown: Girls can rent gowns for a $30 refundable deposit from Elizabeth & Eileen's Closet, a clothing lending library program sponsored by the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association.
Hair, nails and makeup: Do your own nails and makeup and find an experienced friend to help with your hairdo.
Flowers: Choose a less expensive flower than a rose for your corsage or boutonniere. Carnations usually sell for less.
Limo: A six-hour limo rental with dropoff and pickup at the prom could cost $1,500 or more. Split up the cost with multiple couples or only pay for dropoff at the prom and find another, hopefully less expensive, ride home.
Brown said that's why her organization, along with help from the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority sisters at Union College in Schenectady, have helped to establish the annual Elizabeth and Eileen's Closet program. She said so far her organization has given out only about eight dresses, out of a potential selection of 200 donated dresses. She said on April 26 from noon to 2 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, 1 N. Market St. in Johnstown, they will be holding their Say Yes to the Dress event.
To rent one of the Elizabeth and Eileen's Closet dresses, girls pay $30, which is then returned to them if they return the dress after prom. For $50 they can purchase the dress.
"At this point we have even more donations than we do girls," Brown said. "We have absolutely gorgeous dresses, some of them with tags still on them," she said.
More information about Elizabeth and Eileen's Closet can be found at www.elizabethcadystantonhometown.org or by calling Eileen Kremler at 725-7328.