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Fun times and dollar signs

Fun times and dollar signs

A look at what goes into paying for a night at the prom
Fun times and dollar signs
Schenectady students arrive for the 2017 Junior and Senior Prom Walk In in this file photo.

Prom season is upon us, along with all the joy and expense that goes with it.

As one high school class after another has its big night, here’s a look at some of the costs involved:


Prices for the senior prom (or junior/senior prom, or senior ball, or senior banquet depending on the district) vary widely; Johnstown’s junior/senior prom at St. Patrick’s Masonic Hall is $30 per person, for example, and North Colonie’s senior prom at the City Center in Saratoga Springs is $85.


The soiree can be held anywhere that will fit all the expected attendees, from The Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs to The Olde Tater Barn in Central Bridge to a Captain JP Cruise on the Hudson River. Saratoga Springs City Center is a popular and flexible prom venue that can be configured to accommodate 300 to 800 partygoers; the space runs $1,400 to $3,000 for the evening, depending on how much of it is used.


A tuxedo rental starts around $100 and ratchets up from there, depending mainly on the labels sewn into it. Adding accessories or shoes bumps the cost further. Justin Wilock, owner of Mr. Formal Wear in Halfmoon and Saratoga Springs, said his rentals start at $119. The form-fitting slim tux is big right now, he said, and makes a striking difference in the appearance of the young man wearing it. Colors other than black are popular, as are pant cuffs that show a little bit of the socks, sometimes in a hue that matches the date’s dress. It’s a fun time for customer and staff alike, Willock said, a “great feeling seeing guys’ faces light up because this is usually the first time wearing a formal tuxedo with all the accessories.”


Girls’ gowns are bought rather than rented and so are more expensive than boys’ tuxedos. Ferri Formals and Bridals on Upper Union Street in Schenectady sells gowns ranging from $150 to $500. “Prom customers have been drawn to two-piece styles with intricate details,” owner Marylu Aragosa said. Popular details range from floral patterns to lace accents to plunging side cutouts that reveal a lot of skin but not cleavage. “So we try to have a range of styles,” she said. Ferri also rents tuxedos for boys ($99 to $200 if they don’t need extras like shoes and pocket squares).


Most boys clean up nicely for the prom, but girls will often go all out -- getting a full makeover the afternoon before the big night. “We’re doing a ton of them,” said Jim Piraino, owner of Hair and Body Essentials. “The moms come in and watch, make sure everything is done right.” He expected 20 to 25 girls at the Clifton Park salon this past Saturday, before Shenendehowa’s senior prom. The package will run $65 for hair and $45 for makeup, plus $26 for a manicure if the girl wants one, which she usually does, Piraino said. Add a tip and you’re over $160. “It’s an expensive proposition,” he said, adding that Hair and Body Essentials is far from the most expensive salon. 


The traditional limo ride costs hundreds of dollars, but it’s usually split among several couples, so it’s not so bad. Saratoga Luxury Limos offers six- and eight-hour prom packages for $99 per hour plus tax and tip. Charlton Limousine of Saratoga Springs doesn’t offer a flat rate because it has a range of vehicles wide enough to seat two to nine couples, and some are more expensive than others. But all have a lighting and sound system young adults will like. Thinking of ride-sharing in this first prom season where it’s legal in upstate New York? Check your birth certificates … Uber and Lyft both require passengers younger than 18 to be accompanied by an adult, and neither allows minors to open accounts. Both services say their drivers are a good choice for promgoers who’ve turned 18, however.


Some parents or prom organizers hold an official after-prom party to provide chaperoned fun, rather than going off on their own and pursuing less-wholesome activities. The Fun Spot in Queensbury is a regular after-prom venue for proms in the northern part of the Capital Region. Because post-prom parties are designed to pull students away from options that might seem more enticing, there’s usually no charge to attend.

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