Study: Northeast families spend most on prom

By Erika Mahoney

May 3, 2013 Updated May 4, 2013 at 2:04 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Prom night is one of those nights where everyone wants everything to be perfect, right down to the last detail.

For young women, one of the biggest details is the dress.

Finding it is a challenge. And with the rising cost of prom, it can narrow the selection even more.

"We've had our share of fights, it's almost like a wedding dress, like she's a bride," Mom Sharyl Spicer said. "She's gotten kind of cranky, but overall we've had a good time."

Sharyl and her daughter Conner went to six stores Friday night in search of a dress.

"I was thinking I wasn't going to find a dress tonight, and I don't have much time," Conner said.

Conner goes to Owego Free Academy. Her prom is two weeks away.

By 5 p.m. Friday, the duo were about ready to call it a night.

"Well basically, not a lot of stores carry prom dresses anymore," Sharyl said. "But we had actually seen a commercial on TV for Tom's, and we just happened to be driving down Main Street and we stopped."

And that's where they realized hope was on the horizon.

It only took Conner a couple of minutes to find one she loved hanging on the rack.

A sophomore from Seton Catholic Central found her dress at Tom's, too.

"I always want the really big, gorgeous dresses, and those are going to be more expensive, but Tom's has really good prices," Samantha Koulikas said.

According to Visa Inc.'s annual prom survey, the average family is paying $1,139 this year, up from $1,078 last year.

The study also reports families in the northeast spend the most on the big night compared to other geographic regions.

"The cost is high, but I think we really help with the layaway program," said Melissa Cartagena, of Tom's. "Girls can pay their dresses off from the day that they come in and try it on to the day of their prom. I think we also help with giving 20 percent off jewelry and accessories."

The dress is just one of the many things on the prom checklist.

But Conner and her mom say finding the dress is most important.

With a prospect in hand, Sharyl said it "feels like a huge sense of relief."

That goes for the dress, and their relationship.