Across the region, high school students are gearing up for that one special, romantic, splurge-because-it's-worth-it night that will be remembered for years to come: prom night, of course.
While the idea behind prom hasn't changed in many years, each new prom season brings with it different fashions and trends. This year, high school girls could not get enough sparkle, glitz and glamour, local businesses say.
Without a doubt, the most important part of prom for girls -- besides their date -- is their dress. While girls have leaned heavily toward bold prints in the past few years, this year, it was all about the bling, said Terrin DeBoer, owner of Weddings on First in Willmar.
"We saw a lot of big, heavy jewels this year," DeBoer said. "And sequins. About as much sparkle as you can get, in other words."
Another popular style was the high-low hemline, meaning the dress is short in the front and longer in the back. Many girls also went with a one-shoulder dress this year. These styles are "a little more classy and elegant" than others, DeBoer said.
At Weddings on First, new prom dresses have been on the racks since the beginning of February. Most girls purchase their dresses in March or April, DeBoer said. Boys, on the other hand, will wait until mid-April to find their tuxedo.
This year, light and dark charcoal tuxedos were very popular, DeBoer said. Many boys are also choosing to wear dark shirts with a bright-colored vest and tie to match their date's dress.
For the most part, the boys just try to match their date and not upstage them, DeBoer said. Every once in a while, though, they will want to do something a little more special than the traditional tuxedo. For those guys, DeBoer usually recommends a white tux, or a white jacket with black pants. When you decide to go that route, you need to make sure you can pull it off, DeBoer said.
"I always tell them it's more about your attitude than what you look like," she said. "You gotta believe you look good. You have to 'own it' to look great. You have to have a little swag."
In the months and weeks leading up to prom season, DeBoer said it's fun to help prom-goers choose their outfits for the big night.
"When prom season comes around, we get so excited," DeBoer said. "We can make these kids feel beautiful and confident. For lots of them, that's a hard thing to do."
Another big part of prom night, especially during the grand march, is the flower arrangements for the couple.
Pam Randt, head floral designer for Late Bloomers Floral & Gift in Willmar, said that this year, more girls are choosing to wear wrist corsages rather than carry a bouquet.
"Lots of girls don't want to carry bouquets all night," Randt said. "With a wrist corsage, they can wear their flowers the whole night, instead of taking them home after pictures and grand march."
As in most years, roses are still a popular flower for corsages, especially pink, ivory and white roses. Lilies and Gerbera daisies are also common this year. The color of the girl's dress usually determines the flower that the couple chooses, Randt said.
"The first thing we always ask about is the color of the dress," Randt said. "Then we decide what style of bouquet they want and go from there."
Another big trend this year is flowers with sequins or rhinestones -- that extra "bling" to match the girls' dresses, Randt said.
"We've seen a lot of sequins and rhinestones, so they want to do more of that in their bouquets to match their dresses," Randt said. "We've been using rhinestone sprays and adding glittery stones to give it that diamond look."
Paying for prom
without breaking the bank
This year especially, all of the extra bling associated with prom can come with a high price tag. In fact, a new survey released by Visa shows that Midwestern families will spend an average of $696 on prom this year.
Once you factor in the price of a dress, accessories, flowers, dinner, a limo ride and tickets to the actual dance, it's easy to see how expenses can add up quickly. At Weddings on First, for example, the average amount a girl spends on a dress is around $300, DeBoer said.
However, both DeBoer and Randt agree that there are manageable ways to cut some of the costs surrounding prom.
For families looking to save money, prom dresses start at $99 at DeBoer's store, and dresses from past seasons are kept out year-round and marked down significantly. Girls can also scale back on costs for shoes and jewelry.
"Girls should buy shoes that they can wear with multiple dresses and for next year's prom as well," DeBoer said. "Honestly, flip flops can also be just as good as wearing shoes that you'll take off right away."
When it comes to the flowers, Randt said that it's not the arrangements that cost money, but all the extras added to them.
"The bling and the glitz and the sparkle, that's where the money adds up, not in the flowers," Randt said. "You really don't need that if you're trying to be more economical."
Randt said more girls have also been requesting artificial bouquets this year. This is a nice option because they can keep the flowers forever, instead of throwing them away at the end of the night, Randt said.
No matter the cost of prom, DeBoer says it's important for high school students to have this experience.
"Prom is something every high school kid should go through," DeBoer said. "It's just an exciting, fun, special night for them. They make a lot of memories at prom."
Prom at Willmar Senior High school is set for May 4. The grand march begins at 6:30 p.m. at the high school. Theme of this year's event is: Cities of Light: Paris, Venice, New York.