The school disco is dead, all hail prom night

Balloons sent in the air, the image in refer to ISA

News & Insights

MoneyPlus Features Team

6th July 2015 at 9:40am

Prom night mania has hit the UK. No longer just a feature of American teen movies, we’re now embracing the prom with a passion. Now it’s British teens that want a share of that ‘High School Musical’ experience with all its trappings. It’s all dates, dresses, spray tans and limos for many of our image conscious youngsters, but at what cost to mum and dad?

The debate rages

It’s a subject under hot debate on sites such as with many parents shocked at the cost and alarmed at the expectation now associated. But it’s a mixed ‘campus’, not all see it as prom pressure, there’s lots who love it and think it’s a great way of showing their appreciation for all the hard work their young ones have put in over the years, and a chance to give them a great send off.
However it’s maybe not always just about the kids, in some extreme cases it’s being hijacked by more mercenary parents as a stage to flaunt their own personal wealth in front of others. One comment from a disgruntled mother even mentioned the use of helicopters to ferry in some offspring in what she described as a rather OTT display.

Counting the cost

So what does the average prom night cost?

We decided to set our new student internee Darren Main the challenge of finding out. Standard Life runs a scheme that gives pupils after their last year of school a chance to work with us, hopefully providing them a small taste of how a big company runs and some handy work experience to boot.

It was actually Darren who gave us the idea for this blog, he was off to his own high school prom and amazed us with his itinerary. And as a father of four it got me wondering what it all might cost.

Young Darren took on the task of researching some national averages on costs, he even managed to conduct a straw poll amongst his friends to see what they were paying to give us some real time stats too.

The running total

And here’s what he discovered.

It’s estimated that on average it can cost £1000 for these end-of-term extravaganzas where the entry ticket to the ball (typically £20-£35) is only a small part of a bill.

  • Limo users can expect to pay between £180 and £325 for the privilege
  • A new prom dress can start around £100 from a chain or department store with some dresses from the more exclusive boutiques averaging around £325 and upward
  • For cosmetics you can be looking at a cost ranging from £20 to £180
  • And don’t forget the boys; prom suits in most stores are in the bracket of £100 to £160 for the trousers and blazer alone. The shirt can cost you a further £30 and shoes are usually £40 upwards
  • And a gallant young beau would also be expected to buy a corsage for his date, costing in the region of £20
  • Formal photography will set you back anywhere from £20 to £120
  • And the cost of those pre- and post-prom parties can vary but we guarantee they’ll not come cheap.

And how do these costs compare to Darren’s personal prom poll? They were pretty accurate, the only one that was a little askew was the cost of the ticket as Darren and his compatriots were paying from £45 to £60 for the ticket alone. They’d also opted for party buses to ferry them to and from the venue with a cost of £25 per head.

Lessons learned

So what lesson should prospective prom parents take from all this high school hoopla? It’s a simple one – be prepared.

Here are our top tips:

  • Discuss the matter of money with your child and consider agreeing a budget from the start so that spending doesn’t get out of control
  • Speak to other parents who are in your child’s circle. Get a handle on what they’re planning and see where you can pool costs
  • Book any travel early, it’s high season for limo companies so get in quick to avoid disappointment
  • If hiring outfits then make sure you do any fitting and make a reservation well in advance to get better choice and avoid any late hiccups
  • If purchasing prom outfits then surf the sales, see what you can pick up early if you need a dress or suit – this will also give you plenty time to try before you buy
  • And finally, start putting money aside as soon as you can as it’s always going to come at some cost whatever you and your loved ones choose to do.


Prom night is here to stay and with the right preparation and an eye on the purse strings, we think it can be a great night for all involved.

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