It’s prom season. High school girls have been packing the malls the last few months in search of the perfect dress. It seems like light years ago since I went to my own prom, but I’m reminded of how much money is spent each year on this occasion.

Prom is a big deal alright, a rite of passage for American teens. For many, it has become the grand finale of the golden years of high school. While it may be an important night, it seems as though more and more money is spent each year on prom, to the point where it is getting a bit out of control. Prom is no longer just a high school dance, but a major production.

While I’m sure it isn’t cheap for guys to prepare for prom, it’s obvious that girls tend to spend way more. It’s kind of like their red carpet moment…their time to shine. There’s a lot that goes into being the “belle of the ball”, so of course, preparation is key.

First and foremost, you have to find the perfect dress. And of course, the perfect dress wouldn’t be complete without the perfect pair of shoes, accessories, and flower corsage. Oh and don’t forget the hair, makeup, nails, and all the pre-pampering activities that you “have to” do before the big day. There are also prom tickets, transportation, formal pictures… The list goes on and on and on.

According to a Visa survey, prom costs an average of $1,200 in the U.S.! In some regions, that number is much, much higher. While I understand that it is a special night, I also know that you can spend less money and have a fantastic prom.

There are many people (parents AND teens) who have more financially conservative views about prom, and I find that admirable. Even if you have a big prom budget, you can still save money (And who doesn’t like that?) with a few of these tips.

Prom Outfit: There are plenty of beautiful dresses out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg. If your teen is dead set on an expensive gown, perhaps look into renting instead of buying. She can complete the outfit with things she already owns or borrow accessories from friends.

Hair/Make-up/Nails: All the pre-prom pampering costs add up. One way your teen can save money and make great memories is to have friends over so that they can do each other’s hair, makeup, and nails. The getting ready part is usually half the fun!

Corsages/Boutonnieres: Floral accessories can set you back anywhere from $10 to $50+. Now’s the time to bust out the DIY skills and try making them yourself. Another option is to forgo them altogether. By the end of the night, the flowers will probably be wilted anyway.

Transportation: Renting a limo or party bus can be a cool experience, but it can also be very pricey – even when the cost is split between several people. Why not just drive? Your teen can go with his/her date or a group of friends. They’ll have plenty of fun together, and it will save major bucks too!

Formal Pictures: They tend to be a bit cheesy and a lot expensive. In this digital age, you, your teen, and their friends can all pitch in to take awesome prom photos. The pictures will probably be more candid anyway and will capture the true atmosphere of the night.

There are plenty of ways to keep costs down and still have the time of your life. With a little help from technology and sensible budgeting, your teen can enjoy a memorable prom without breaking the bank. Make sure to work out a prom budget in advance and set a limit for how much you will spend. Remember, how much fun you have at prom does not equate to how much you spend on it.