Save a Kidney (and some Money) for Prom


This could be you May 3rd.

Isabel Dufford

Prom is set for the night of Saturday, May 3 at the Mining Exchange in downtown Colorado Springs. A lot can be said for the sentimental value of prom, but we’re not here to talk about the fleeting quality of youth or the importance of making life-long memories. We’re here to talk about money, and saving it, because no, you don’t have to sell one of your kidneys on the black market in order to pay for prom.

Tickets are $55, but that’s just the start. There’s dinner, dresses and suits, corsages, transportation and after party plans. All of this can be a bit overwhelming, but in this quick guide we’re going to help you get through this with some money still left in your bank account. It’s going to require some creativity and some flexibility, but we’ve done most of the research for you.


The Outfit

Not Your Average Prom Dress

Try looking at dresses that aren’t marketed specifically for prom. They’re a lot cheaper than “prom” dresses, open up the possibilities for style and fit, and can often look more sophisticated or subdued than most popular prom styles. Simple dresses can also be dressed up with statement jewelry and striking shoes. This is an especially good option if all those sparkly, colorful, poofy dresses most often associajust aren’t your style. For formal, non-prom dresses, some good places to look are H&M (look at the website and visit their new location at the Chapel Hills Mall), stores like Charlotte Russe, Wet Seal, Hot Topic, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21, or look online at ModCloth or Nasty Gal. If you want to do your part to support local business, check out Labels Clothier or La Henna Boheme in Manitou.

No Tux?

As a matter of fact, a full tuxedo is not actually a requirement for guys attending prom. It’s entirely possible to look sharp without renting a tux; with a nice dress shirt and jacket, slacks, and tie or bow-tie (you can buy bow-ties on a budget at Wal-Mart or Target), it’s doubtful anyone will even notice that you’re not in a tuxedo. It also leaves a lot more room for creating a look that’s individual to you, if that’s your thing.

Something Borrowed

This applies to both dresses and tuxedos. Shopping for a brand-new dress can be so much fun, but if you’re on an extra-tight budget or it doesn’t matter that much to you, then raid the closets of your sister, friends, cousins, friends’ sisters, mom, aunts… You’d be surprised at what you might find, and people often wear formal dresses just once or twice. The same goes for tuxedos. In either case, no one will notice the difference – and girls, it all but ensures that no one will be wearing the same thing as you.

Poppin’ Tags

Thrift stores are magical places of mystery and opportunity. This route is definitely risky, though – for anyone who plans to thrift their way to prom, we recommend that you start early and be prepared for a long day. There are certainly some hidden gems in any thrift store’s inventory, but it requires a lot of patience and diligence. You’ll strike out often, but if you look hard enough, you might just find the dress of your dreams.

The Arc Locations
Uintah Gardens Shopping Centre, 19th & Uintah (1830 West Uintah, Unit A)
Hancock Plaza Shopping Centre, Hancock & Academy (2780 South Academy Blvd)
Austin Bluffs and Barnes Road (4402 Austin Bluffs Parkway)

Goodwill Locations
West Store (2304 W. Colorado Ave)
Outlet Store (3506 N. El Paso St.)

The Leechpit
3020 W. Colorado Ave (next to the Wendy’s)



Tried and True

Everyone loves Chipotle, Noodles, Panda Express, Red Robin… And there’s no good reason why you couldn’t have dinner at one of these places on prom night. You know beforehand exactly what you like and exactly how much you’ll end up spending. This is an especially good option if you’re not a senior – this isn’t your last prom, and there’s no reason to break your bank on dinner. Also, if we’re being honest, it can be incredibly fun to show up at Chipotle decked out in full prom regalia. It’s stress-free and you know that you’ll enjoy your meal.

Stick to the Basics

Maybe it’s a biased statement, but appetizers are awesome. Less expensive than entrees, they’re often in comparable portions and are a lot easier to share with others. Besides, stuffing yourself on a four-course meal before three hours of dancing is a recipe for disaster, and as most appetizers are easy-to-eat finger food, you can avoid a messy meal that might get on your fancy prom clothes. It’s a win-win situation.

Stay Local

Most of the restaurants in Manitou are very reasonably priced – although, even if you do end up spending a fair sum, you know that your money has stayed in Manitou and is benefitting the struggling town.

Restaurants in Manitou

The Loop (965 Manitou Ave.)
The Cliff House (306 Canon Ave.)
The Mona Lisa (733 Manitou Ave.)
The Stagecoach Inn (702 Manitou Ave.)
Hell’s Kitchen Pizzeria (9 Ruxton Ave.)
Marilyn’s Pizza (964 Manitou Ave.)
Adam’s Mountain Café (934 Manitou Ave.)
PJ’s Bistro (819 Manitou Ave.)
Heart of Jerusalem (718 Manitou Ave.)
Hopefully all of this has helped you to figure out how to achieve the night you want on your budget. When it comes to prom, though, the most important thing to remember is that this night exists only so that you can enjoy yourself. There are a lot of expectations for prom, and a lot of “rules” that we may think we’ll break. However, you need to evaluate what kind of a night you would like to have and what you can do to maximize your enjoyment of the entire experience. If you want to go all-out with a limo and dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town, go for it. If you’d rather wear the dress you wore to homecoming your sophomore year and eat at Subway for dinner, don’t let anyone convince you that that’s not an equally valid way to do prom. Sometimes you’ll find you can have a lot more fun (and save a lot more money!) by keeping things simple.

By Isabel Dufford