The Ultimate Prom Planning Checklist: Preparing for a Great Night

The Ultimate Prom Planning Checklist: Preparing for a Great Night

January 13, 2022
By Cathy Nguyen

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Prom night can be a lot of fun, and a lot of stress. Whether it’s prom season or you’re way ahead of the game, we’re so glad you’re here. We’ve created the ultimate prom planning checklist to get you and your big night ready for the occasion.

Planning a prom can be ultra stressful. From the DJ to the tickets, there are tons of things to remember when outlining your perfect night. Our best advice is get way ahead of things so there aren’t any last-minute surprises to deal with.

Staying organized and thoughtful will keep your prom planning efficient and successful. We encourage taking what you need from our checklist and creating your own printable version to circulate to everyone involved.

On top of all of the things that go into planning a night nobody will forget, you’ve got to attend the prom as well! From the perfect dress to a fully-stocked clutch, we’ve got you covered. See our bonus section on the ultimate personal prom checklist. Hint: Don’t forget the boutonniere!

Keep reading to get on your way to planning and preparing for a great night.

So, You’ve Got a Prom To Plan

Don’t stress. You can do this! We’re here to give you some key things to remember when planning out the big night.

Planning out the big night

Planning prom can be a daunting task, but you’re already on the right track by reading this article. Stay calm and plan on.


We know we may sound redundant, but the key here is getting an early start. For some schools, fundraising starts when you enter high school. Yes, freshman year. Whenever prom fundraising is taking place at your school, get ahead of it in any way you can.

It is important to find a project budget and figure out what still needs to be done, then go from there.

Form a Committee

Prom committees will be your new family during this planning period. It is important to delegate tasks rather than try and take it all on your own. Prom planning committees usually consist of one teacher advisor and around 10 students. This can vary based on the size of your school.

A helpful tip is to get a printed checklist agreed upon and then circulate it to all committee members so everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and when.

It's important to go through exactly what happens on prom night and make sure you’re prepared for the before, during, and after. There are also tons of ways to make prom planning fun. Order pizza for your crew and play some games before getting down to the nitty-gritty. Team bonding will go a long way when prom is fast approaching.

Choose a Date

Another very important part of this ultimate prom checklist is the date you choose to actually host your prom. You want to maximize the number of students that will be available to make it, so make sure to refer to the school calendar and avoid dates when there are other extracurricular activities going on.

Do this extra early because everything else that needs to be booked will need a definitive date. If there are no conflicts, then that’s your day. Check!

Choose a Venue

Prom is a great way to wrap up your high school career and spend the night dancing away under the disco ball (see prom theme tips in the next section).

There are lots of ways to go about locking in a venue. Search online, ask for recommendations from previous classes, or use your good old-fashioned high school gymnasium. Trust us, she cleans up nice.

Again, whether it’s your school’s cafeteria or a sparkling ballroom, make sure this is one of the first things you do.

Pick the Perfect Prom Theme

The theme of your prom sets the scene for the whole night. Even the tickets will allude to the theme, and events can be held leading up to your prom to get people hyped about the themed night.

If you choose to host a masquerade ball or a starry-night-themed prom, make sure to go all out. Themes work best when they’re loud and cohesive, so once you’ve chosen one, roll with it.

You can even decorate the hallways and create eye-catching signs in the weeks leading up to your prom to encourage people to buy tickets and get excited.

One idea to get people involved in and excited about your prom is to narrow it down to three prom theme ideas with your committee. Then, pose the question of the prom theme to the student body and allow them to vote! This will ensure that they feel included and excited about the big night.

Dancing and a DJ

Music is a key part of prom night. Make sure that there is a designated dance floor so that your guests will want to spend all night dancing. If you choose a venue outside of your school, they’ll often have rentable items in this department so you don’t have to worry about transportation.

The perfect DJ will truly make the night unforgettable. Make sure to ask for recommendations and use someone that has credibility.

A fun idea is to look into student DJs from a nearby college or university. They often charge a cheaper rate and will be up to date on the latest and greatest hits. You’ll want some current, popular songs to get your friends on their feet.

Plan the Prom Menu

A lot of people think prom food is just plain gross. You can be the one to surprise them! Coordinate with the venue if possible or bring in your own catering. If your budget allows it, try something out of the ordinary like a popular food chain that many of your peers love.

Be sure to account for individual dietary restrictions and be sure to have vegetarian and gluten-free options, along with whatever else your classmates may need.

Prom Decorations

Now for the fun part. Cute decorations at prom are essential. See what you can rent from the venue or what they’ll even provide for free, such as lighting and seating. Next, have fun with it!

Once you’ve chosen a theme, you can decorate as much as your heart desires. If you’re wanting to save some money, DIY decorations will get the job done just as well! Try bringing fairy lights, Christmas lights from home, fabric curtains, and colorful table cloths to really set the scene.

For a fun and versatile DIY centerpiece, try scrunching up a string of fairy lights in an old mason jar!

Now that you’ve gotten all of the nitty-gritty out of the way, it’s time to give yourself a little attention and get ready for your big night, you’ve earned it!

Getting Yourself Ready for Prom

It’s your turn! Here’s our quick and easy prom checklist

It’s your turn! Here’s our quick and easy prom checklist to get yourself ready.

- How are you getting there? Make sure to plan your transportation beforehand so you’re not stuck asking your grumpy older sister to drive on the day of.

- What are you doing before? Taking photos? Amazing. Now make sure you know where or when. Whether you’re doing solo shots by the mantel or heading to a park for maximum photography space, plan ahead.

- What are you wearing? Our advice? You guessed it! Early start. Find your dream dress and practice your makeup at least a week before the main event. If you’re choosing to get your hair and makeup professionally done, make sure to call to confirm your appointments and bring sample photos of how you’d like it done.

- What are you doing after? Post prom plans are often something left to the last minute. Whether you're hanging with friends after or having a cozy movie night in, it’s good to know where your night will take you before it starts.

- What else do you need? Short answer: A Boutonniere or Corsage, a bag stocked with essentials (tampons, gum, safety pin, blotting sheets, etc), prom ticket, and a family member or photographer to capture your best angles.

Wrapping It Up

Have fun! Although that seems like a given, a lot of people get caught up in the details of prom planning and forget that it is truly a night to enjoy. Prom is a great opportunity to spend time with old friends, make new ones, and maybe even ask out the guy sitting on the bleachers instead of the dance floor!

You’ll feel amazing when the night rolls around, the last box is checked, and you slip into your perfect ball gown. Dance your little heart away and take everything in, you’ve worked so hard for this!

Check out these prom-ready ball gowns:

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