How to Plan a Prom

From Fundraising to Ordering Decor

Teenagers taking selfie with cell phone before prom
Hill Street Studios / Getty Images

The key to pulling off the perfect prom? Organization! Your prom committee should be armed with a checklist that covers every detail of how to plan a prom.

This guide assumes that prom will be held in May. It can be adjusted accordingly.

What to Plan for in September and October

Prom Committee forms. A new school year means clubs will be looking for new members. Some schools rather undemocratically leave the selection of the current year's prom committee to the previous years' committee. Otherwise, join the prom committee if you're interested in planning the ultimate party: your school's prom.

Set a date for the big event. Make sure you consider other potentially conflicting events that might be going on in your school at the same time .

Plan a prom budget. It's important to know how much money you'll need to pull off the event, and what your fund-raising goal will be. Keep in mind that some of the cost will be offset by selling tickets.

Set up a bank account and credit card specifically for the prom. Some of your prom's cost will be covered by fund-raising, but a lot of it will be covered by ticket sales. However, you won't see any of the ticket sale money until just before your prom happens.

Start fund-raising! A prom can cost thousands of dollars. The sooner you start fund-raising, the better.

Form subcommittees. During the first prom committee meeting, ask students to join one or more subcommittees. Dividing up all of the prom-planning responsibilities will make tackling the event much easier.

What to Plan for in November and December

Your fund-raising committee should be busy, busy, busy! If they haven't staged at least one fund-raising event yet, they should have several planned for the coming weeks.

Book your prom venue, DJ, and caterer. Prom may be months away, but spring is high season for school dances, and you want to make sure to get your first choice. Call around to get an idea of rates and what each has to offer before making a final decision.

Start organizing post-prom. It's common for parents to organize and fundraise for a post-prom celebration. Reach out to them to let them know the prom date and where it'll be held.

January and February

Decide on a prom theme. You can't plan a prom without deciding on a theme. It's common to hold a vote, but whether that vote stays within the committee or is open to the whole class is up to you.

Choose decorations and invitations. Once the theme is set, you can start choosing color schemes, decorations and invitations that go along with it. Think about what you should spend money on, and what can be homemade.

Book a photographer for the big day! Make sure to compare rates and look at several portfolios before you choose one.

Prom Planning in March

You should have a little bit of money in your prom bank account, now that your fund-raising committee has been hard at work! So, it's time to start ordering all the things you'll need. It's best to place your orders in advance, just in case anything sells out! Remember, every school in town is ordering for its own prom.

Order invitations, tickets, and memory books. Decide on the perfect wording for your invitations, choose a matching memory book and of course, tickets. Make sure they go along with your theme.

Order prom decorations. Shop around to get the best deal on décor. If you've decided that a mural or centerpiece can be assembled by students, make sure you budget for those supplies.

Order prom favors. It's tradition to give every prom attendee a favor. Choose one that will last, and that goes with your theme.

Create a guest list. Members of the student body will, of course, be invited, but don't forget to include interested faculty members as well.

April Prom Planning Duties

Create and assemble decorations you aren't ordering. Shop for DIY supplies, then start assembling centerpieces, painting murals or creating collages.

Recruit chaperones. Spread the word to teachers and parents that prom needs adult supervisors for the big night.

Choose a Prom Song. Have students on the committee vote for the official prom song, or open up the polls to the entire senior class by creating ballots and a voting box that can be accessed during lunch hour.

Advertise and Sell Tickets! Create posters, a Facebook page and add the prom to morning announcements. Set up a booth during lunch where students can buy their prom tickets.

Send out prom invitations. Ticket purchasers will, of course, receive invites, but be sure to send invitations to faculty members on the guest list as well.​

Confirm all reservations. Check in with the venue, DJ, caterer, photographer and any other staff you've hired for prom. Reconfirm your bookings.

Three Weeks Before Prom

Continue assembling DIY decorations.

Create a prom night timeline: when the photographer will be available, dinner hour, DJ hours, and when the after-prom party begins and ends.

Create a seating chart. Have students submit the names of friends they want to sit with, then create a seating chart with table numbers.​

Recruit a clean-up crew. If you don't want the venue to dispose of your decorations, form a clean-up crew that will be responsible for picking up the leftovers the night of or the day after prom. Make sure to coordinate this with the venue so they know when you're coming.

One Week Before Prom

Finalize the guest list and seating chart. You should have RSVPs from everyone at this point. Let the venue and catering company know how many people will be attending.

Re-confirm with the DJ, photographer, caterer, venue, and clean-up crew.

Two to Three Days Before Prom

Finish assembling all decorations. Transport them to the venue as soon as you are permitted. Then...​

Decorate the venue! Recruit extra students if your prom committee is too busy getting ready for the big night.​

Purchase any extra food or beverages that are needed.

The Day of Prom

Put the finishing touches on decorations. Inflate balloons and touch up your decorations.​

Relax, enjoy the night and revel in what a marvelous event you've pulled off! It took months of planning, and now it's finally here! Enjoy every second of prom.

The Day After Prom

Take down and store your decorations. Have your clean up crew go to the venue to pick up your decorations. Store them in your school until it's time to plan next year's prom.

Take a day off. Relax! You just pulled off a major school event. Treat yourself to a mental health day by sleeping in, binge on your favorite TV shows, or take a nice, long walk in the spring weather.

Watch Now: 7 Shopping Tips for Budget Savvy Shoppers