What it costs to send your kid to prom in New Jersey
Your little kid is all grown up and found a date to junior or senior prom. Now, they hope you can find hundreds of dollars to get them there.
Some high schools in New Jersey have already entered prom season, hosting their formal dances at area venues or the school gym. But most take place from the middle of May to early June, meaning it's crunch time to make the essential purchases — some of which are not cheap.
We spoke to a few shops and services in Central Jersey to get a better idea of the final bill.
If you have a daughter attending prom, this purchase may have been made months ago. But dress shops in the Garden State still see some prom business in late April.
A number of shops in the area between Somerset and Ocean counties pointed to $400 as the average price for a dress. But some styles could run families more than $1,000.
Dresses priced as low as $250 are available at Dream Dresses, located in Old Bridge, according to manager Angela Bonett. The shop also offers discontinued dresses at 50 percent off.
"Not anybody could afford $400 to $600," Bonett said.
Their big prom rush occurred from January to March. Some future prom-goers were in the shop as early as December. Bonett said their "prom season" has shifted earlier and earlier over the years.
"They put a dress on Facebook — 'Don't touch my dress; this is my dress,'" she said. "It's like, be the first one to post your dress."
Teenage boys aren't as anxious to snag the perfect evening wear. If your son's prom is two weekends from now, tuxedo shopping is likely still on the to-do list. You may want to check.
Luckily, tuxes run significantly cheaper than dresses — mainly because you're likely returning them a day or two after prom.
"You could go as low as $99 on a complete package, or as high as $220," said Wayne Gasser, tuxedo manager at The Clothing Center in East Brunswick.
The complete package includes a jacket, shirt, tie, vest, pants, shoes, cuff links and studs.
Gasser noted the standard black tux is "old school" for many kids these days. More are opting for gray or a shade of blue.
Your kid must arrive in style. At least that's what they say.
Ross Limo, based in Neptune, plans to handle about 50 proms through June. Six cars were used to transport Rumson-Fair Haven students on Friday.
For a six or seven-hour package, said co-owner Martin Ross, costs can range from $650 to about $1,200, based on the type of vehicle. The company recently acquired a brand new Lincoln MKT stretch limo.
But the bigger the party, the less of a hit to the wallet for each family. Six couples would put out about $200 apiece for top-of-the-line service.
Depending on the school, students may continue a tradition of trekking to Seaside Heights or Wildwood for the post-prom weekend. Limo companies would likely need to add to the bill if that's part of their schedule.
Chivalry isn't dead, according to Felicia Housenbold-Bindler, owner of Rosie Posies in Manalapan. A corsage for the female is still a must, and boys typically do the shopping — either on their own, with their date or with their parents.
For a standard package including a corsage for the wrist and a boutonniere for the tux, families can expect to spend $30, Housenbold-Bindler said. But individual corsages can cost as much as $75, depending on the flowers, wristlet and accessories.
"We have 150 different ribbons to choose from to match the dress," she said.
The most popular choice of flower is white roses, followed by red roses. But the shop has hot pink, light pink, peach, coral, green and other colors "for any shade of dress that's out there."
But there's no need to be intimidated by the search. Housenbold-Bindler said customers are typically in and out in less than five minutes. A picture of the dress is a big help.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.