How I saved a bundle on my night to remember

Homecoming is an annual tradition across the U.S.A. It’s a huge ordeal in the early fall, and a time when people, towns, high schools, and colleges welcome back alumni and former residents—hence the name “homecoming”.

Most homecoming celebrations end with a big event—such as a banquet or a dance—as well as events leading up to it such as a parade or a football game. The homecoming dance typically features the coronation of a Homecoming Queen and King.

Homecoming began with inviting alumni to return for the annual Harvard-Yale game sometime in the 1870s (the exact date of the first official homecoming is often disputed). Celebrations in Baylor, Illinois and Missouri were established as traditions around 1910 with similar events included—such as pep rallies, parades, sports games, and dances. The theme of homecoming always centers on school pride.

The expense of homecoming

It’s rather outrageous to expect high school and university kids to be able to afford the expenses of homecoming. The tradition has become rather marred by the expectation of a lavish event, a thousand dollar homecoming dress, and expensive limo transportation to and from the event. If you’re in the same boat as I was—a student recently graduated from college, paying my own bills for the first time, and unable to afford an expensive dress due to a low paying job—you are looking for sensible ways to cut down on the cost of lavish homecoming celebrations.

The good news is that it’s not impossible to find a reasonably-priced dress and do homecoming on a budget. This is how I saved on my homecoming dress and still attended homecoming looking fabulous…

1. Buy a homecoming dress at a thrift store

Some of the more vintage thrift shops in my hometown always carry classic vintage dresses that can be altered into something lovely. I found a designer label (Channel) at a much cheaper price because the dress was used. I pulled a Molly Ringwald a la Pretty in Pink and snipped and clipped a few areas of the dress (particularly the neckline, straps, and skirt) and added a few embellishments of my own to the dress (I constructed a sash from organza ribbon and flowers)—and voila—I had a classic, timely dress design that no one else showed up in. And, I saved a ton of money.

2. Borrow a homecoming dress from a friend

Do you have an older sister or friend with really good taste? Chances are they’ve been there, done that when it comes to homecoming, but still have a beautiful dress tucked away in the back of their closet that you can borrow.

3. Rent a homecoming dress

If your mind is set on one of the brand new dresses for prom in 2013, look to a dress rental agency. You’re only going to wear the dress for one evening anyway so renting is a great option. There are companies available that rent new dress styles for homecoming, prom, wedding, and formal events (guys can also rent tuxedos). This way, you can select a modern dress style to rock for the evening—and at a fraction of the retail cost!