By JASON CAMPBELL
209 staff reporter
Celine Finney needed a dress that was form-fitting but not tight, sultry yet sophisticated.
She needed a dress that looked like something a star would wear on the red carpet, but not cost more than her car was worth.
In short, she needed a prom dress.
So with a group of friends the former St. Mary’s student traveled to the Bay Area to find the dress of her dreams for one of the youthful nights that she said she’ll never forget.
“When you go looking for a dress you want to come up with something special, but not something that you’re never going to be able to afford,” Finney said. “My dress ended up costing me $150 which was cheap compared to what some of them cost.
“And even though I told myself that I would find another event to wear it at, it has been hanging in my closet for almost two years and I haven’t even so much as looked at it. That’s what ends up happening.”
While one’s senior prom is a staple of youth and a rite of passage as students prepare to embark on their future away from the familiar footholds of home, it’s also not a cheap endeavor for those wishing to partake.
Here’s the rundown of what one can expect for a relatively modest evening:
*A formal dress – This is arguable the most important piece of the entire puzzle, and it will regarded as such. Despite the fact that sometimes there will be nearly 200 girls all in evening gowns of some type, it’s highly unacceptable for anybody to wearing anything that too closely resembles the one that your date has. These can either run as much as several hundred dollars each to absolutely nothing if you’re taking advantage of programs like Ripon’s Marissa’s Closet – which aims to provide formal dresses to those who can’t necessarily afford to shell out the bucks for them.
*A tuxedo – While your date will end up with the opportunity to keep their dress, the guys will end up all wearing nearly the same thing, save for a variation in color, that they’ll have to return at the end of the weekend. Some guys tend to go for the more exotic look when they’re renting their monkey suit, but by and large they’ll be black with either a bowtie or a tie and come with either a vest of a cumberbund. Get used to this, because if all goes well and you end up marrying your date, you’ll rent your clothes for that rite of passage as well.
*Bids – These are usually paid for by the male (although that’s more fluid) who typically asks the girl to go to prom, and they run in the $50 neighborhood which includes admission to the dance, the snacks and drinks that are available, and all of the goodies that the junior leadership class plans out for an evening you’ll hopefully never forget – things like the DJ and the favor and the decorations and the ice sculpture and the location.
*Dinner – Depending on where you go, this can run anywhere from $50 on up if you’re dining out with a group of people. It’s always good to keep in mind that when you have a group of six or more people, the automatic 18 percent gratuity already kicks in so make sure if you’re dining on a budget that you have that already factored in. Nobody wants to be the guy who comes up short when the bill is due. Separate checks are also a possibility and helps thwart and unforeseen problems, but not every restaurant lets you do that.
*Limousine – The pricing for this one is a bit trickier because it depends on a variety of factors including which company you go with, how nice of a limousine you get, and how long you’re reserving it for. A good rule of thumb is that a limousine typically costs about $150 per person if you’re going with three couples. This does not include tip or any extra time and the end of the evening, which can sneak up on you if you’re not expecting it.
*Flowers – Next to the dress, a corsage is something that you’re date will likely keep forever. Make sure you get a color that will accent her dress and the assessor color of your tuxedo. It’s best to order these in advance from flower shops and they range in price from $10 up to about $30 depending on how ornate you’re willing to go. She’ll get you a boutonniere, which will be just a single accented rose bud that you’ll wear on your jacket. Try not to smash it or lose it – it actually is something that your mother is going to want you to save.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.