Prom is awesome! I’ve gone to prom
twice 3 times already, and I loved it every time. (In 2017, I’m going to 2 of them!)
It’s a day where the top priority is having fun with your friends, and really, who doesn’t like that?
While prom itself is super fun, it’s easy to forget all the things you need to do to prepare and stay stress-free the day of.
Here’s my complete list of prom essentials, and about when you should get each part ready to go.
Dress: 3+ months ahead
Dress shopping! Definitely my favorite part of prom shopping. Two years in a row, I found my dress the first day. But don’t worry, that’s super rare. If it’s your first time going to prom, please don’t think you have to find your prom dress at the first shop, or even on the first day! I know people who looked for weeks until they found the perfect dress. Enjoy the experience of picking one out!
Keep in mind the price as you try on the dresses you like. If you don’t have a budget, awesome! But if you do, make sure you remember you’ll most likely need alterations, plus the rest of the stuff there is to get for prom.
Another tip: throw your size out the window! It would seem prom dresses don’t pay attention to normal sizes. In regular clothes, I would be considered an 8-10, but I’ve put on prom dresses that were size 4! So, if you like something and it looks like it will fit you, don’t put it back because it’s “not your size.” Try it on! You really never know.
The last thing to keep in mind is comfort. You may love a dress to pieces in the dressing room, but it’s not worth it if you won’t on the dance floor. A little uncomfortable is fine, it’s a formal dress, not pajamas. But make sure you can breathe, sit, and stand without almost collapsing. That will make your night so much better.
Shoes and accessories: 2-3 months ahead
Shoes and accessories are also a ton of fun to pick out. However, everything you buy (or don’t) depends on your dress.
For jewelry, there’s a wide range of possibilities. If your dress is really sparkly, then I wouldn’t recommend outstanding bracelets or necklaces. Nice touches would be earrings, rings or headbands. This all depends on your hairstyle, too. And again, make sure it’s comfortable.
If your dress is really simple and sleek, maybe a big sparkly or contrasting accessory will be the way to go! If you like the idea of contrasting colors, you can find a necklace or bracelet that has those colors. Also, take into consideration what kind of flowers you will have. It may mess with you wearing a bracelet.
If your dress has a high neckline, I wouldn’t suggest necklaces. Most prom dresses are so beautiful they don’t even need jewelry. It’s all up to your personal preference and style.
You want to get shoes as early as possible. TIP: try to avoid wearing heels as much as possible. I wore them my first year and couldn’t even walk by the end of the night. Do not wear them unless you are a pro. Heels aren’t exactly the shoe you want to try on for the first time on prom night.
So, first priority is comfort. Second, you want them to at least somewhat match your dress, or be subtle. After all, you are the star of the show, not your shoes. It’s important to find shoes as early as possible so that you can plan your alterations.
Alterations: 2-3 months ahead
Unless you are extremely lucky like I was my junior year, your dress is going to need alterations. This can range from being hemmed a few inches to be taken in several inches. Whatever the case, alterations are an extra cost and time factor you have to consider.
Some bridal/prom shops offer alterations directly through the store. There are also most likely seamstresses in your area that may be willing to do them for you.
Choose a trusted source, and don’t be fooled into buying anything extra. Be sure to wear your prom shoes and any undergarments when you bring your dress in to get measured for alterations.
Tux: 2 months ahead
Prom for guys is definitely a lot easier: but only if you do it right. It’s important to go and get his tux fitted and reserved pretty early, just in case things go wrong. Make sure you go to a trustworthy store and talk to, preferably, the owner or manager. They are the most likely to be straightforward and willing to do what’s best for him.
Make sure your date either gets fitted/measured when you go or makes an appointment to get fitted. You want to get this done ASAP so that the retailer has enough time to get it ready and also fix any possible mistakes or mishaps.
There’s a bunch of different styles of tuxes. Each year there are always 3-4 that are “in season” (just like dress styles). Just like the dress, it’s important that your date pick one that they like, they are comfortable in, and that doesn’t break the bank. I would not recommend paying over $130 to rent a tux for one night.
Your date will get a colored vest and tie. Most times, those are the same color as your dress. If your dress is hard to match, you can do a contrasting color or colors like grey and silver. If you like, you can also get a matching pocket square. Sometime’s its even included in the price!
I’ve gone with my date 3 times now to help pick out his tux. I would definitely recommend this, just to make sure they have the right colors.
Limo: 2 months ahead
For me, going to prom in a limo is half the fun! If you go to a school where they don’t let you take them to prom, I’m really sorry. But hey, less money and stress for you!
You should wait until after you get a dress to arrange a limo, but you want to do it early. Chances are, there are going to be a lot of other students from other schools in the area that are looking for a limo, too. Limo companies are only so populous in a given area. You and your friends really don’t want to be stuck without a ride.
Limos can and will be expensive. There are also several different types available. The size can range from 10 person seating to 20 person seating. Don’t overpay for a limo that is way too big for your group. The way to get the best price for your limo is to get as many people as possible in it. Your price is going to be way higher for 7 people in a 10 person limo than 10 people.
Before calling a company, organize a group of friends to be in your limo. Make sure they’re committed, otherwise it can become a big ordeal.
Each limo company prices differently. Make sure you call several different places so you know you’re getting the best ride to prom. Most places will have websites, but it’s a good idea to call in order to get a legitimate price quote. Some places may seem more expensive, but they include everything in their pricing, including gas, tip, hours, and type of limo. Others may seem lower, but may not include gas or tip, which ends up being a hassle at the end of the night. Pick the company that already has everything included, for the best price.
Prom Dress Facebook Page (optional)
For my junior prom, I set up a page on Facebook where people from my school could post pictures of their dress. That way, people could avoid buying the same one.
Usually, a prom dress shop will take down what school you are from and what dress you bought so they can tell others that someone from the same school has already purchased it. However, that doesn’t extend to every dress shop.
Create a page on Facebook through your personal account, share with all the people in your grade, and you’ll be set!
Hair appointment: 1-2 months ahead
Schedule your hair appointment with a trusted stylist at least a month in advance to make sure they have an appointment available on the day of your prom. It’s best to get your hair done at 10-11am so you have time to do other things.
Flowers: 1 month ahead
Another prom tradition is having a corsage or bouquet and boutonnière. (If you’re like me and don’t recognize the word “boutonnière,” it means the flowers that you pin to a guy’s tux.)
At the local flower shop in my town, a simple corsage with ribbon and a matching boutonnière costs $32. I picked out the ribbon that is on them. Usually this consists of 2 ribbons: a sleek plain ribbon in the color of my dress, and another silver glittery/fancy ribbon. The personalization of you flowers is entirely up to you.
One month in advance is the perfect time to buy them. It’s best to pick up your flowers on either the day before or the day of prom.
Nails: 3-5 days ahead
I love getting my nails done. The best part about prom nails is that there are so many different options. You can get the color of your dress. You can get the color of your dress with an accent nail. You can get a contrasting color with/without an accent nail. A lot of people get french tips, too!
It’s important to not get your nails done too early, or they won’t look their best at prom. However, you can always go a couple of weeks in advance and test out a style beforehand.
Hair & Make up: day of
Woohoo! Now that you’re all ready to go it’s time to get all dolled up! Again, the way you do your hair and makeup is entirely dependent on your dress and preference. You want to get your hair done by a stylist that you trust. It might be a good idea to do a practice run a couple of weeks early.
All 3 years, I got my makeup done professionally. You don’t have to go anywhere crazy to do this, a lot of department stores have makeup artists in their makeup section that you can schedule appointments with. Or, some hair salons also offer makeup services.
Do you feel better yet? If you were wondering where to start or just wanted to make sure you were on the right track, you should now be all set!
This information is based on my and friends of mine’s experience from 3 proms. If it’s your first time, how exciting! This list should point you in the right direction.
I hope you have a wonderful prom!