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The average amount U.S. families planned to spend to send their high school juniors and seniors to prom, in 2013, was $1,139. The memories may be priceless, but the perfect dresses, rented tuxedos, shoes, accessories, flowers, limo rides to ­dinner, beauty appointments, and tickets to the dance make paying for prom night expensive. The evolution of prom from a rather simple celebration to help young people learn social skills and etiquette into its current form provides a snapshot of American culture and values.

History

Short for “promenade,” the marching of guests at the beginning of a ball or other formal event, celebrating prom in the United States began in the late 1800s at East Coast colleges and universities. In those early days, students celebrated graduation by wearing ...

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