Have A Stress-free Prom

Prom season is here in Portland. If you’re feeling stress about what to wear, organizing your friends, dinner reservations and managing a tight budget you are not alone.

You are navigating school, sports, friends, dates, work, and throw in extra pressure to “have the perfect night” and ya, people are gonna be stressed. You might even find yourself fighting with friends or family more than normal because of the amount of stress you are under.

I’m just a local Portland photographer but I wanted to ask teens in high school and those that had graduated what was the most stressful about prom. Guess what, pretty much all of it was the top answer.

If you’ve gone to prom or planning to go this year….what caused the most stress for you?
Organizing my group of friends

Let’s talk organizing friends. This is so complicated for the one or two friends that tend to make the plans for everyone in their group. Especially when it comes to prom night, there are budgets at play and not everyone can afford to go in on a limo or afford dinner out. TIP: Have one friend host everyone for dinner at their house. Make it potluck, everyone bring 1 component for dinner and don’t stress about the dinner budget!

If you’ve gone to prom or planning to go this year….what caused the most stress for you?

Finding my outfit, Accessories (shoes, hair, makeup, jewelry, tie)

Finding the “perfect” prom dress is overrated. There, I said it. I’m watching boutiques on instagram post $500 dress that look lovely but also, you’re going to wear this dress for approximately 4-6 hours tops. Yes, you want to look and feel beautiful but you could do that in any dress.

When I was a junior at Tigard High School going to prom for the first time I got caught up in wanting the perfect dress. I loved my junior prom dress, actually, it’s probably back in style now. Dark purple velvet top and dark purple satin skirt. But that dress was more than my parents wanted to spend and I felt bad about that but I wanted that dress darn it! My senior year, I was going again but it didn’t feel as imperative that I get a perfect dress. I wanted something pretty but we were saving money because I was going to college in the fall. My senior prom dress was from Ross for under $50. I still have that dress too, dark forest green with an open back that my mom called “racy”. I liked that she called it racy but it really wasn’t, it was simple and flattering. BTW this is the ONLY picture I can find from my proms. Look at that open back, scandalous 90’s fashion!

THS Prom 1996 – Tiffany Center

TIP: Shop resale stores, discount stores or even trade dresses with friends. There’s also a local charity called Abby’s Closet that you can get a dress for an amazing price! No one will know or care that your dress isn’t hundreds of dollars.

If you’ve been to prom, was all of the stress worth it?

Not really. It’s really fun to go, but some things are not worth all the hassle and stress! I loved going, but sometimes it gets over-hyped. Like, you really don’t need to rent a limo and spend hundreds of dollars on a dress…


Last year at prom I had the most fun. I went with a huge group of people and it was just such a blast. I think that if you’re not afraid to just get into it and put yourself out there, it’ll be a good time.

So prom is stressful. But it can also be super fun. Enjoy spending time primping and prepping but keep your feet on the ground. You don’t need new nails, a pedicure, hair extensions, lash extensions, professional makeup, or fancy shoes. TIP: Wear heels for pictures and slip into flats for the dance, your feet will thank you and you can actually dance.

Here’s what two decades away from your teenage years gives you, perspective. I remember wanting it to be perfect, I wanted prom to be this epic night that has been talked about for forever but here’s the truth, it’s not. I only think back on my prom now because I’m trying to put myself in your teenage shoes and remember those feelings. If not for that I’m not sure I’d ever think about it. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun and I wouldn’t change it but it’s not worth stress or debt.

When you feel yourself getting wrapped up in the drama, feeling the anxiety to make it a perfect night…take a deep breath. Only one thing can make it a perfect night, and that is a good attitude. You have so much else ahead of you, so if you go, don’t hype it up for yourself and help keep your friends in check. You’ll have way more fun if you don’t stress yourself out or hold it to an impossible standard.

No matter if you go all out or take my less is more approach to prom, I would love for you to have a beautiful picture to remember this night. Maybe in a few decades you’ll pull out the picture I take of you to talk about your perspective on prom to the next generation. I’d love that.

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