One of the challenges of organizing a successful prom is making the site look the way you want it to. From an Oscar After Party to a Galactic Empire theme, the only way to really bring your prom to life is to use tried and true tips to get your vision off the drawing board and into real life. Here’s a short walkthrough of what you need to know to transform your prom venue into the wonderland of your dreams!
Choose the Best Possible Venue
Everything hinges on the venue. For many schools, the venue is the gym. This is the most logical choice when budget is a concern because it eliminates rental costs. If the budget is there, though, other options can include hotels, country clubs, a local events center, or even a restaurant with an event space.
If you’re renting, a huge chunk of the budget will have to go to the venue rental, so you’ll need to give serious consideration whether it’s worth it. After all, you’ll still need to budget for decorations, entertainment, food, invitations—all the little details.
One trick is to ask around if there’s a parent or an alumnus who has connections to a great venue and can get you a good discount.
In addition to design possibilities, there are other considerations when it comes to choosing your prom venue.
- Capacity: What’s the maximum safe occupancy for the venue? Will it host everyone with at least a little room to spare? You’ll need enough room for people to mingle and not feel like sardines! On the other hand, you also don’t want a venue so large that you lose the intimacy factor.
- Safety: Ask to see the list of state and/or county mandated regulations for each venue. Check out the fire escape and/or emergency exits, alarms, proper ventilation, etc. Of course, you don’t expect a catastrophe, but planning ahead is mandatory. Also—make sure there are enough restrooms for your crowd!
- Accessibility: Your perfect venue won’t be so perfect if it’s too far away from the school. No one wants to drive 45 minutes one way, and even 30 may be pushing it. It’s best to choose a venue that’s as close to the same traveling distance for everyone as possible, else your attendance will drop just because prom is too far away. Also, make sure there’s enough parking for everyone.
- Neighborhood: Choose a venue in a well-lit place with a good amount of traffic. Additionally, be sure that your prom venue is in a decent neighborhood. You want the school administration and the parents to rest assured that their teens are in a safe place. This is where parking comes in again: Be sure to choose a venue with parking on the venue grounds or near a secure parking garage. Don’t choose anything where promgoers will have to park on the street and for sure not several blocks away.
Adapt Your Vision to the Venue
Once you’ve finalized a safe, affordable venue, it’s time to look at it with a more critical eye and see where the individual elements of your theme will work best. For example, if your theme is Caribbean Cruise and the venue has a balcony overlooking the dance floor, you can create props to make it look like the deck of a ship. To create a Mystical Woodland, string up hanging leaves and clusters of mini lights to give a magical forest effect. Identify focal points in your venue and decide which particularly strong element of your theme will work best. Then keep the rest of the decorating to a minimum with a few thoughtful details here and there.
Draw Up Your Layout
You’ll have several things to arrange at the venue like tables and chairs, lights and sound, entryway, buffet, photo booth, and other small pockets of interest. Take dimensions (don’t just rely on the venue’s pre-set square footage) and mark where entrances and barriers are (like support columns). Then measure each element—the exact size of the guest tables & buffet tables, the dance floor, the stage for the entertainment, etc. Finally, use graph paper to play around with those parts and pieces to make the best use of the space. This way, you won’t be surprised when you get to the venue and find that the grand red carpet entryway for your Hollywood prom is cramped because the life-sized Golden Globe statues you had the Art Club construct were way too massive!
Tip: Depending on your budget, you might want to rent a pre-made theme. Here’s a great resource for complete prom decoration setups—all you need to do is decorate the tables!
List the DIYs and the Must-Buys
The fun—and the bulk of the work—comes with deciding which elements of your theme you want to DIY and which you prefer to buy. There are two deciding factors that will determine what goes on each list:
- Budget: You want to make sure that the budget will allow you to purchase either ready-made props or the materials to make them.
- Time: It’s essential to have enough time to procure supplies and produce the decorations. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself spending the last three hours before prom frantically spray painting instead of getting dolled up.
One word of advice:
Start the construction aspect of the decorations at least one full month before prom. This will give you enough time to not only do a good job, but it also allows time for alternatives and adjustments should your initial design fail in some areas.
When listing items to purchase, spend the majority of the budget on eye-catching elements that your planning team can’t construct. For example, if you’re going for a circus or amusement park theme, you might rent an actual, modestly sized carousel instead of constructing one yourself. If your idea has a definite “Wow!” factor, it’s probably worth the investment.
For elements you’ll DIY, go for things you can recycle or reuse. For instance, set up a collection drive for mason jars to spray paint for centerpieces or gather used mini lights from holiday celebrations to string up or put under table skirtings.
Planning for prom really does start several months before the actual event—sometimes even a year before. There’s so much to do, especially in choosing and setting up the venue. The earlier you tackle this task, the better the outcome will be so get started—STAT!
To check out our fabulous new collection of dresses and gowns for Prom 2017, click here: