Prom Backdrop Ideas

Jennifer L. Betts
Night Sky Prom Decorations

Prom backdrops provide the perfect finishing touch to the year's biggest high school dance. No matter how great the centerpieces look or how many cardboard cutouts you've placed around the dance floor, if guests can see the gymnasium bleachers or a beige banquet hall wall, the mood is broken. Backdrops are essential for creating an immersive prom theme.

Ideas for Prom Backdrops

There are a variety of background choices for any decorating style and budget.

General Backdrops That Pop

Consider the following materials for all-purpose backdrops:

  • Metallic fabrics and papers - Add instant glamor and glitz with a metallic finish.
  • Star-studded paper and fabric - Create an open-air feel by placing students next to a night sky, or just add a subtle touch of shine.
  • Velvet - This fabric is a sumptuous choice, perfect for medieval themes or any decorating scheme aiming for a touch of class.
Velvet curtain backdrop
  • Solid-colored paper - Prom backdrops can also be purely utilitarian. A roll of black paper doesn't have quite the same style as a shimmering night sky, but it does the job in terms of covering up unsightly walls.
  • Sequined material - Reversible sequined material is a hot item. Not only can you change it up, but you can write in it too.
Black sequin background
  • Balloons and Streamers - Balloons and metallic streamers are a photographer's dream. You can make an assortment of traditional and wild prom backdrops with these materials.
Couple posing in front of streamers
  • Christmas lights - You can't go wrong with a little twinkle. Add white or colored Christmas lights in front or behind papers to add a little pop.
Lights used for prom backdrop
  • Spot lights - Just like Christmas lights, spot lights can be white or colored and add a fabulous appeal.
Girls posing under spot lights
  • Flowers - Silk flowers along the top of your backdrop can add a fresh feel, especially for a spring prom theme.
  • Wood planks - Country prom themes can't go wrong with wood blank backdrops.
  • Signage - Adding words to a blank backdrop can make it more fabulous. Add the theme or just prom and the year.
  • Pillars - Pillars can be decorated with lights and streamers to really bring them alive.

Theme-Specific

Although rich fabrics and glimmering accents create a classy touch, sometimes you need a backdrop that really brings home your prom theme. Ideas include:

  • Cityscapes - Whether you're celebrating "An Evening in Paris" or "New York, New York," the iconic outlines of the theme city are essential to any decorating plan.
  • Decorative papers - Patterned papers can easily set the scene. For instance, rock wall paper instantly turns any wall into the outside of a castle and an ivy background transports dancers to a scenic garden.
Decorative patterned paper backdrop
  • Beach scenes - A simulated walk on the beach is perfect for a luau or tropical destination theme.
Beach scene backdrop
  • Night of Mystery - A black background and some twinkle lights are perfect for a night of mystery.
  • Red Carpet - Rather than ad banners on your background, you might add your school logo or different prom sponsors. Whatever the case, a patterned background with logos and a red floor covering will definitely add that red carpet appeal.
  • Under the Sea - A sea turtle, coral and underwater bubbles image makes a perfect under the sea background. Add pillars with blue balloons and lights and hanging lights all around to add to the underwater effect.
  • Under the Stars - Use a black backdrop with printed images of stars or hang stars in front of your backdrop. Choose to add twinkle lights for the star effect as well.
couple posing with star decorations
  • Out of This World - A universe scene with stars and planets and asteroid belts make for an out of this world prom adventure.
  • Hollywood - A backdrop of the Hollywood sign with a few spot lights are fabulous. You might also add disco balls, sparkles and champagne glasses.
Party decorations with disco balls
  • Comic book - Super prom themes call for a super backdrop. Add comic book scenes to your backdrop to really get the superhero feel.
  • Masquerade ball - A masquerade ball is about the masks and being fabulous. Add to that appeal by using a cityscape background with hanging masks, feathers and twinkle lights. Remember for this background black and gold are your friends.
Decorative gold mask
  • Country scene - Use a wood plank backdrop and add some flowers and lights.

Renting and Purchasing Backgrounds

Backdrops might never be used again if the prom theme is unique. Therefore, you might decide to rent rather than purchase your backdrop. However, if you think you might use it again, purchasing might be more worth your while.

Rentals

Renting allows prom planners to use higher-quality prom backdrops without taking over the entire budget.

  • Although it focuses on the theatrical market, Grosh Backdrops and Drapery offers rentals of everything from beach scenes to the circus.
  • Theatre World Backdrops offers from fairy to princess themes. This can be great for any prom adventure.
  • If there is a theater group in your community, ask if they have any stage backdrops available for rental.
  • Party rental stores may also stock a few backgrounds, especially those that would be suitable for weddings and other occasions.

Online Stores

If you would like to purchase your prom backdrops, available online retailers include:

Making Your Own

Although pre-fabricated backgrounds are easy to use, in many cases a creative prom committee can make its own, saving money for other areas. Check out some ideas for making your own.

Red background with silver stars

Cityscape

Cityscapes can work for a variety of different themes like night on the town, masquerade ball and night of mystery. To create:

  • Cut rectangular building shapes out of cardboard and spray paint the pieces black to create the silhouette of a city skyline.
  • Add foil stars to black paper for a starry night.
  • You might also add white Christmas lights for a twinkle.

Garden Scene

Proms with a spring theme or fantasy might work with a garden scene. Create this feel with a few simple flourishes.

  • Paint a cloud-filled sky.
  • Add silk flowers in vases around the bottom.
  • You might also choose to add a few flowers around the top.
  • Use a green floor covering.

Starry Night

You can't go wrong with a simple starry night backdrop. Create this backdrop with a few simple items.

  • Start with a black backdrop.
  • Drape white twinkle lights along the top. You might also hang them in strips.
  • Add fabric around the top to add a more fabulous appeal.

Prom Photo Ideas to Use With Your Backdrop

Many of the backdrops that you use for prom can be re-purposed as photo backdrops for your graduates. Try out these different ideas:

  • Black and white - Using your starry night backdrop, you can create a dramatic black and white photograph of your senior.
  • Wood - Wood plank backdrops work great to give diversity to your senior photos. Add a wicker chair and a pillar to really add to the senior fun.
Wood plank floor
  • Rock - Patterned rock paper with a bit of ivy can be re-purposed for an up-close image of your senior. This might even be the yearbook shot.
  • Cityscape - Seniors with big dreams might give you a haughty smile while standing in front of your cityscape backdrop.
  • Flowers - Re-purpose your spring backdrop with several up-close and full-body shots.
  • Fantasy - Fantasy pictures are all the rage for some open-minded seniors. Try using a universe background with them playing their guitar or fairy woods with them in their favorite sundress. Getting creative can really make or break your portfolio.
Girl posting in fantasy prom theme

Tips for Using Backdrops

Keep the following tips in mind while planning and setting up your prom decorations:

  • Store your supplies in a safe place. A leaky storage room or a crowded supply closet can ruin hours of effort or get you in trouble with the rental company.
  • Know the rules of your venue. If your school rents a room at a local community center or hotel, you may not be allowed to attach materials to the walls, and you will have to think of more creative ways to use a backdrop. However, even if you're hosting the event on school grounds, the athletic director may have rules about what you can attach to the basketball hoops or the fire marshal may not allow paper backgrounds.
  • Don't sacrifice safety for style. Make sure backdrops aren't covering fire alarms or blocking exits. In addition, flammable materials should be kept far from heat sources, such as the lights on the DJ booth.
  • Backdrops create fun photo-ops, so make sure you leave room for posing in front of your decorative scenes.
  • Backdrops don't just work alone. Add other elements around the backdrop like arches with lights, decorated pillars, chairs or other elements to get a 3D image.
  • Don't discredit what you can do in Photoshop after the fact. Leave room to add a red carpet or add signage to a white background to make that red carpet appeal.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
  • Incorporate the prom decorations into your backdrop. While it might not always be possible, it helps to add the prom decorations into your theme. For example, your photo area might be the entrance to the prom or in a corner of the venue. This can help to save money and give you more diverse elements for your photo.

Making the Perfect Scene

Whether prom guests are walking the streets of Rome or embarking on an undersea adventure, you can take pride in knowing that your choice in prom backdrops made it all possible. Give some of these backdrop ideas a try to make your prom pictures go from okay to extraordinary.

Prom Backdrop Ideas