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Is the thought of prom planning stressing you out? We've got you covered. Here's a five-step guide to keep you looking fantastic and ensuring everything runs smoothly on your special night.

1. The Dress

For girls, this is the most important part of the night. There are several different ways to shop for dresses. Some people prefer to shop online while others want to try the dress on in the store.

If you choose to order online, be careful -- take it from Erin McConnaghy, a junior at Holy Angels Academy. She ordered a dress online, and when she received it, it was the wrong color and wrong size. Here's some advice from Erin: "Make sure that it is easy to contact the company and that they have information and many ways to contact them. Maybe even contact them before you purchase the dress to make sure they will answer if you have problems."

If you want to guarantee an individualized look, TTNY (www.tt-newyork.com) offers Event Tracking which verifies that you alone will be rocking that style.

Guys, are you looking for a great tux at a great price? If you want to go the renting route, consider Tuxedo Junction. Tuxedo Junction is currently running a coupon for $40 off a tuxedo or you can bring in a nonperishable food item that will go to a local food bank. This coupon can be found on their Web page (tuxedojunction.com) under the prom section and must be presented at a participating store.

2. The Limo

Do you want to arrive in style but still have some cash left? There are many limousine services throughout Western New York. Zoladz Limousine Service (www.zoladzlimo.com) provides limos for proms at $59 a passenger. It is OK if you do not want to take a limo. Consider taking an SUV or a bigger vehicle to take everyone in.

3. Hair and nails

There are many great hair and nail salons in the area, but it is always fun to do hair and nails with your friends. If you want to cut the expenses of prom, this is one small way to keep the overall cost of prom low. Just make enough time for everyone to get ready if you are getting dressed together.

4. Before the prom

Some people opt to gather at a home for hors d'oeuvres and taking pictures. If you're getting a limo, you should consider reserving extra time before the dance to transport your group to the location that you have chosen for picture-taking. Posing for prom pictures amidst the beauty of the Botanical Gardens is often an option for many promgoers. Other scenic backdrops include Glen Falls in Williamsville, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Erie Basin Marina. If you are going to a private place, be sure to check first that it's OK to have your photos taken there.

5. After the prom

If private post-prom parties aren't your style, inquire as to whether or not your school offers an on-site post-prom party. These events generally provide entertainment and food for you and your friends. If your school doesn't offer a post-prom party, midnight bowling is a cheap way to have a great time. Lasertron provides a great gaming experience until 2 a.m. It is pricier, but comes highly recommended by teens.

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Some more prom tips:

*For the girls, here are some important items to keep in your purse: gum, mints, camera, deodorant, lip gloss and a stain fighter to go. Bring along either flats or flip-flops because those 4-inch heels -- which looked amazing during pictures -- are going to be hurting your feet.

*For the guys, order your tux at least two weeks in advance to ensure that everything is OK and ask your date the color of her dress to match. At the prom, you might want to keep gum or mints in your pocket. Don't lose the coat check tag and remember where you put your tuxedo coat! If you want to impress your date, make sure you are clean-shaven, tip the limo driver and open the door for your date.

*Don't forget the corsage and boutonniere! They can be ordered at your local florist or at a simple grocer/florist. You can choose to match the color with the dress/tux vest or keep it classy with a simple white flower.

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The Don'ts

*Don't be afraid to go stag or with a group of friends. Sometimes, this turns out to be more fun than taking a date.

*Don't play with your cellphone on the dance floor. It is a huge deterrent for your dance partner.

Rachel Ziarnowski is a junior at Holy Angels Academy.