I was one of those kids who did my high school prom on a budget. I got a cheap dress, ate at a cheap restaurant and drove all of my friends to the actual dance in my folks' Nissan Quest. I didn't take a date because no one asked me and I was too shy to ask anyone, so all of the photos taken by my parents are of me standing alone in a neighbor's garden and — because my mom kept asking me to pose this way — pressing my face against random flowers. That night was also the first time I ever got drunk and I spent half of it barfing off the side of someone's porch.
It was a shitty night, but you know what? I'm glad it was shitty because shitty can be fun. Shitty means that you can laugh and not freak out about prom court or someone spilling a rum and coke down your dress because who cares? It hardly cost you anything and the night is stupid anyway. Let that updo down, girl! Relax and have a good shitty time!
Maybe I'm lucky — my school wasn't crazy about prom so most of my fellow classmates were as low-key about it as I was. Unfortunately, other places are much more intense and kids drop major money on the dress, the limo, the works — all to end up dancing to shitty music in an overly crowded room, getting spilled on and — like me — throwing up at a friend's house. If you're a teen who's goes to prom expecting anything more than that, you should probably reevaluate things.
I'll talk directly to you kids now because I know you're not stupid. You are being tricked into thinking you need all of these expensive things so that you can have the best night ever, but you really should not be sweating it. First, as Tracy Moore already wrote, you are fucked if prom is the greatest night of your life. Secondly, you're being duped into thinking that spending a lot of money will make the night better.