Having attended many, many proms over the years we feel that we have a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t work at school proms.

This guide has created to help you organise your prom to ensure it is a great success.

  1. Budget

Listed first as it is one of the most important aspects of the prom.

Too expensive and you may put people off, too cheap and there won’t be much budget for decor, entertainment etc.

If you are on the prom committee then the chances are that you are really interested in prom but remember many people can take it or leave it and of course not everyone has the budget to afford high ticket prices.

Typical ticket price is in the range between £25 and £50.

We have came across a ‘parents revolt’ before so be careful.

A prom committee organised the prom at a very modern, stylish and new venue in Central London. It was expensive, difficult to get to easily for many of the students and there wouldn’t have been any money left in the kitty for decent entertainment or decoration. The suggested ticket price was putting a lot of students off and if it had gone ahead the chances are it would have made a loss! After a parents revolt the event was scaled back and ran at a local venue with great success.

2. Venue

It may be that the venue for your school is used every year and it is a great venue. In which case we suggest you just book it, although it never hurts to have a look around as there may be newer venues available.

Common venue types include;

  • hotels
  • golf clubs
  • cricket and rugby clubs
  • CIU clubs
  • the school itself

The list is roughly in order of cost and you may find better value down the list.

Typically it is best to choose a venue close to the school or where most students live. You will find that the further away the venue is the less people will attend which slightly defeats the object.

Make sure you visit the venue as it often difficult from viewing floor plans to visualise how everything will be arranged and located.

Have a checklist with you and work out where everything will be located, such as;

  • DJ/band
  • dancefloor
  • chocolate fountain/sweet cart
  • buffet
  • drinks
  • decorations
  • photobooth
  • photographer

As most proms are in the Spring/Summer there is often good weather and light nights. Consider a venue with an outside area – golf clubs are great for this as they often have great terraces with good views.

Along the same lines check to see if the venue has a separate smaller room such as a bar which can be used by students. Whether it’s an outside area or a bar area it’s always good to have a more chilled out area for people to go to.

Other aspects to consider;

Preferred Suppliers – check to see if they have a list of preferred suppliers and whether or not you have to use these. Using them can have advantages as they will know the venue and may offer discounts.

What is included – food, decor, DJ, security etc. You may find that some venues have an all inclusive package which may be good value.

Financial – cancellation terms, deposit required, full payment needed, breakage deposit.

Access times – when will you have access to decorate the venue.

Transport – if you are arranging the prom some distance away you may want to consider laying on coaches to the venue (potentially with an extra cost).

 

3. Food

In our experience the most fun proms are where a buffet is laid on as opposed to a formal 3 course meal. Students want to socialise, dance and party as opposed to being waited on for a meal.

Typically we find buffets aren’t fully eaten so to save some money we would suggest that not all guests are catered for.

Some venues insist on using their catering service, others allow the use of outside caterers – you will need to check this out.

Remember you should consider dietary requirements such as;

  • vegetarian
  • gluten free
  • halal
  • kosher
  • nuts
  • etc

It is good practice to canvas guests before the event to determine what food is ordered. Remember meat eaters eat vegetarian food also so it’s often good practice to increase this!

Consideration should be given to drinks and what, if anything, is included.

It is usual to offer some form of mocktail as an arrival drink.

4. Music

The main decision you have is between;

  • live band
  • DJ

Be aware that a live band will be more expensive than a DJ and if you book one then in-between sets you may want a DJ as well or you will simply have piped music from an iPad playlist.

Live band – Most bands that are likely to be booked for a prom will be on the party circuit and will be covers bands.

If you are interested in a certain band they should typically be able to provide a showreel and also the opportunity to watch them play in another venue. Take up this offer and you will see how they can work a crowd.

Be aware that their sets may be geared towards the wedding crowd, one that is older than your typical prom crowd!

DJ – a good DJ can make your prom, a bad one can ruin it!

We have seen some dreadful DJs in our time attending proms so be very careful in who you choose.

The main issue you will encounter is that a hell of lot of DJs play to a completely different crowd to teenagers. You aren’t likely to get a big club DJ to your school prom unless you pay the money.

Things to consider;

  • check out set lists
  • check out YouTube videos
  • ask where they tend to work
  • can they take requests on the night?
  • can they take suggestions prior to the evening?
  • what equipment do they have?
  • what lighting do they have?
  • do they have smoke machines?

Be wary of booking the venue’s typical DJ. For 10 months of the year they will be playing to weddings and charity balls. Ideal if you want to listen to YMCA all night but not so appropriate if you are after contemporary underground music!

5. The Date

The date and day of the week will have an effect on guest take up and also the cost of the venue.

Days of the week to avoid to save money are Fridays and Saturdays as these are prime dates for weddings and other events.

The most popular date for proms is the last Friday in June (followed by the last Thursday in June) so if you book this date there may be an issue with booking some suppliers unless you do so well in advance.

6. Promotion

Don’t expect everyone in the year to want to go to prom. Some people, for a whole variety of reasons, either don’t want to go or need a little nudge to buy tickets.

Ideas for promotion include;

Facebook Group – whilst Facebook isn’t the most popular social media for teens a Facebook Group is a great method to keep all information together and easily accessible for students.

Make sure you have all the information posted and keep it regularly updated. You can use it to canvas music suggestions, dietary requirement etc.

Posters – these can be produced cheaply by using online printers such as Instantprint.

At the time of writing you can get 50 A3 full colour posters for £16 (plus p & p).

Great graphic design isn’t easy and if you want a professionally designed poster you can use services like Graphicriver where you can buy templates for $7 – $8! Instead of searching for ‘prom poster’ instead search for ‘club night’.

Email and text – all schools have the ability to send texts and emails to both pupil and parents. Ask to use this facility and make sure you include the parents!

Whatsapp Group – more a chatty than a Facebook Group and can be great for getting messages across – expect people to leave though!!

7. Security

Many venues and schools now require official security to be present at the prom and you need to check this well in advance.

If they are required ask the venue if they have a regular supplier (you may have to use them), if not then look to local reputable agencies who provide security staff.

Remember that you will need a female security person as well as male staff.

8. Extras

If you have budget then use it up!

Popular extras include;

Photobooth – one of the most popular extras to book. Always fun and will keep many students entertained throughout the evening.

Typically when we run booths we find that a very high percentage of people will have at least one visit with some guests having multiple visits.

Watch out for cheap and inexperienced operators (by checking out their portfolios) – there is a world of difference between experienced booth operators and cheap companies.

Chocolate Fountain – also incredibly popular. You can guarantee that a fountain will be well used and worth the money.

Close up magician  – not necessarily cheap but very good fun and able to entertain groups of people at the same time.