Prom costs rise, ways to save

Walk in a department store these days and you're confronted with prom gowns. Pick up the price tag and catch your breath. But that's just the beginning of paying for this one night.

Research shows parents spend $1,000 or more on this evening but there are ways to avoid breaking the bank.

High school senior Darrielle Robinson says she found her dress. Her mother Artrina Robinson likes the purple gown too. But it's all the green that comes along with prom that she doesn't like one bit. Robinson expects to spend more than a total of $500. She is saving on the dress by shopping at the Renaissance Consignment Boutique in Birmingham.

Most of the dresses have been worn--only once--and can be bought half of retail price. The store's manager Jane Ann Mueller says some dresses are brand new.

"They get 40 percent of selling price for the dress they wore last year..consignment shops are in right now in 2013. It's a savvy way to use your money," Mueller says.

The dress is normally the biggest prom expense. Local fashion blogger Alexis Barton lists others.

"The dress, the accessories, the tuxedo, the flowers, the prom tickets, the dinner, even the souvenir! It can add up quickly!" Barton says.

Barton says you can also cut down on costs by buying dresses and tuxedos on websites like eBay and etsy. You can also rent in-store or online, using sites like Rent the Runway and Lending Luxury. Barton says try making your own corsages and do your own hair and make-up.

"If you can text, you are nimble enough to put on your own false eyelash," Barton says.

Cosmetology schools like the Aveda Institute are also popular stops during prom season. Kristin Walters, a recruiter for the school, says you can get that up-do and make-up at a third of the price you would spend in a professional salon.

"All of our students are really talented and they are supervised by licensed educators so they will get a great price," Walters.