Money Saving Mondays: Prom Season

Deals available on renting gowns and tuxedoes can help reduce $1,000 bill for many

Delaney McDaniel, a senior at Woburn High School in Massachusetts and a dance instructor at the local Boys & Girls Club, is looking forward to her senior prom next month, but listen to her tick off everything she and her boyfriend have to think about paying for:

“The dress, the tux, the shoes, the makeup, the nails, tanning, the limo, the actual prom ticket itself,’’ McDaniel said. “I’d say at least $1,000 on the prom.’’

That, in fact, is right about what charge-card processor Visa estimates the average Northeastern U.S. family will spend on prom.

Can anyone promise a less pricey prom?

Kate Williams at Amari Prom in Burlington, Mass., is trying. Amari bills itself as the only store in the state with both new and used prom dresses in stock. “Consignment dresses can start from $99 to $299, on average,’’ Williams said, and what she sees is incredible demand for those stylish -- but secondhand – gowns. “They sometimes sell the same day they arrive,’’ Williams said.

For boys renting tuxes, why just rent when you can buy – and for less? That's what Keezer’s promises in Cambridge, Mass., near Central Square. They sell tux suits for as little as $209 – less than you pay to rent at some higher-end stores – and rent for $50 for four days, which includes the suit, shirt, tie, studs, and cufflinks. Dress shoes are available for another $10.

“We buy a lot of things on clearance from the manufacturers,’’ owner Len Goldstein said, and have a strong trade-in and tuxedo exchange business. Part of why it’s such a bargain: When you look around the River Street building, you can see you are not paying for a lot of fancy mall real estate overhead.

“I bought this building way back, when this area was a dump,’’ joked Goldstein.

Delaney McDaniel is opting this year to rent, not buy, but managed to find a dress she loves for $270 this year, down from $400. “This year I paid for it all by myself, and my mom was very proud of me.’’

McDaniel is wise beyond her years on what may be the single best way to hold down the cost of prom: “When it's your parents paying for it, you don't really care how much money you're spending,’’ McDaniel said. “When you put the burden on the kids, the kids they kind of think, ‘Oh, I don't want to spend $500 on a dress -- because it's my money.’’

NECN special projects producer Pamela Bechtold assisted in the preparation of this report. 

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