And that included some subtle cost cutting. Lepsom used press-on nail tips purchased at CVS in place of a salon manicure. An untrained eye would not know the difference.

"Proms only come once in a lifetime," Beck said. "Everyone wants their child to have a good time."

Lepsom was the fifth "prom girl" client in the shop that day, Gravoski said.

Classmate Alexandra Stephens, 17, was also having her hair done for the dance that night.

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Stylist Nickole Karfonta secured Stephans' tight curls into an intricate bun with more than 50 bobby pins.

Other prom clients earlier in the day requested "Carrie Underwood curls," inspired by the country singer.

Another popular choice was a "half messy bun with a braid," Karfonta said. "Braids are very popular this year."

On May 19, the shop has scheduled 14 girls getting ready for the Catonsville High School senior prom. In addition to hair, three are getting their makeup done for $45 a pop.

"We look forward to this all year. It's fun to make the girls happy and have them happy with all of their pictures," Karfonta said.

At Blue Iris Flowers on Frederick Road, the store was so busy on Saturday that owners Elizabeth Glascock and her mother, Catherine, stayed open an extra three hours. The Glascocks took ownership of the shop in April 2011.

"We are certainly more ready for prom season this year than we were last year, having just taken over ownership one month earlier," Allison Glascock said. "I think our prom business has doubled this year compared to last year."

The shop offers a $5 discount if a prom goer purchases both a boutonniere and a wrist corsage.

"A lot of times, it's the kids that have to pay for these things, so we try to give them a little break," she said.

They are busy preparing boutonnieres and corsages in advance for the Catonsville High School senior prom as well as orders forMother's Daythis weekend.

While roses and carnations are still the standbys when it comes to the big dance, Glascock said quite a few orders for orchids and other "mixes of flowers" are also coming in this year.

"White is still the most popular color, but a lot of people also try to spruce that up with a bit of color," she said.

And not just young women are keeping local merchants busy during prom season. At Cy's of Catonsville, a Frederick Road institution that has renting tuxedos for 72 years, owner Cy Mayer said business has been brisk.

"We've been very busy," said Mayer, who hires six extra staffers to help out during the prom season.

One of them is Andrew Janney, 20, who graduated from Catonsville High School in 2009. He's been helping out Mayer for the past three prom seasons.

"There is a lot more white this year," he said. "A lot more than I ever remember."

For $95, promgoers have their choice of renting one of 157 different tuxedos.

The price includes coat, pants, shirt, tie, vest and shoes or as Mayer puts it, "everything but a date. From head to toe, you're good to go."