04/21/2011 12:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Prom Dress Spending Reaches New Heights (VIDEO)

Ah, prom. I still remember mine (not so) vividly: a $200, one-shouldered, green and beaded BCBG dress, no limo, dinner and dancing in the most remote reception hall and waking up on my friend's floor with mascara smeared all over my face the morning after.

My experience didn't require an extensive amount of planning or money -- but not so with girls these days! "Good Morning America" reports that the average cost of the big night is now $800, turning prom into a $4 billion a year industry. And some parents apparently spend up to $20,000 on their daughters' gowns. That's about 100 of my BCBG dresses.

The girls also start tanning and hitting the gym as early as January. One said some of the pressure stems from "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" -- they want to be like that for one day.

Take Caroline Noce, age 15, hails from suburban New York. Her prom checklist reads as extensions: $95, teeth whitened: $500, nails: $100, eyebrow threading: $30, makeup: $60, facial: $100, earrings, bag, shoes and a $1,700 dress. Total: $3,030.

Isn't that a bit over-the-top? "Yes," says mom Lisa, adding, "It's my baby. It is about me being the mom. Certainly I did not have the opportunity to wear this type of dress when I was younger."

Caroline chimes in, "I wouldn't say I'm spoiled. I think that spoiled sounds so, like, mean. I think it's more like lucky or blessed."