Prom becoming out of control: Report says parents plan to spend, on average, $1,078 each on the event

Ah, prom season. The high school dance used to be such an innocent ritual, or at least my parents’ old yearbooks make it seem like it was.

The annual dance is now equated less with wholesomeness and more with the obscene.


Rockford High School students dance at their prom in Hudsonville, Mich. (Emily Zoladz/Associated Press)

Washingtonian magazine recently published news of a pre-prom prank at Sidwell Friends that had parents of students who attend the exclusive school being informed that:

“…as students board the chartered buses that will transport them from Sidwell Friends to the Four Seasons Hotel, they will each receive a voucher that may be redeemed for their choice of contraception at the conclusion of the Prom and After-Party event. This option will be provided free of charge.”

School officials quickly sent out an e-mail assuring parents the note was a prank, according to Washingtonian.

This comes just as a school in Miami Beach made news for scheduling its dance at the same venue where a porn convention was to be held.

The most obscene story, though, might be an economic one. At a time when our country continues to reel from sluggish job growth, Visa is reporting that parents plan to spend, on average, $1,078 each on the prom.That’s more than a third than what was spent last year.

Worse, the company’s survey found that those families with lower incomes are likely to spend more than others on shoes, dresses, limos and other unnecessary flourishes for the dance.

“Prom season spending is spiraling out of control as teens continuously try to one-up each other,” said Jason Alderman, senior director of Global Financial Education, Visa Inc. in a commentary accompanying the survey results.

Yet, it’s parents who are financing the increasingly lavish affairs, the survey found.

Maybe it’s not the teens who are fueling this craze.

What do you think of proms? Are they out of control? How much do you plan to spend?

Recent Content:


View Photo Gallery: Award-winning photographer Mary Ellen Mark traveled the country to find an eclectic mix of subjects for her latest work, “Prom.” The book features photographs of students at more than a dozen proms that occurred over a four-year period at high schools in places such as Charlottesville, Va., Pacific Palisades, Calif. and Austin, Texas. Mark captured the hope, fear, sadness, joy (and yes, awkwardness) that prom brings in black-and-white photos, using the same mammoth 20x24 Polaroid camera she used for her 2003 book, “Twins.”

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