BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As spring approaches, many girls are getting ready for the prom–but the cost of attending is soaring.

As Gigi Barnett explains, prom is the new wedding, at least when it comes to the price tag.

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A designer red carpet look. That’s exactly what high school girls are looking for on the racks. But when it’s time to check out at this boutique at the downtown Marriott, a prom gown will cost nothing.

“We hear very often, `I wasn’t going to go to prom. I didn’t have anything to wear’ or they feel a little ashamed about what they can afford,” said Leslie Collier, Priceless Gown Project.

Thanks to the Priceless Gown Project, a low or no budget won’t be a reason to skip the prom for these teens. Every dress is donated and free of charge.

“It’s not about the cost of the dress. It’s how you accessorize the dress and create a dress that’s all your own,” Collier said.

Project president Leslie Collier says the skyrocketing price of prom is causing many parents to rethink the rite of passage. Most parents pay on average 60 percent of the cost.

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“Prom dresses are now ranging about $500 and most families can’t afford that,” Collier said.

Between the gown, the prom ticket and dinner, the event can cost more than $1,000.

“Her getting a dress here, we’ll have more money–not more money but other funds to put on the accessories that we probably would have had to compromise on,” said parent Shekenah Wilson.

And each girl gets a personal shopper, which helps prevent dreaded fashion disasters.

“There’s no reason why your daughter should miss her prom. It’s a special time,” said personal shopper Tiffany Robertson-Dunn.

In addition to a free dress, the program also teaches girls how to do their own makeup and find cheaper accessories. That keeps the price of prom even lower.

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Some of the teens recycle their prom dresses back into the program for other girls to select next year.