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The Ultimate Prom Guide: How to Get a Date, Plan the Perfect Evening & Have a Smashing-Good Time

Updated on October 4, 2014
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Toni helps autistic teens and adults reach their employment and relationship goals. She is the author of the book Autism Translated.

Diana is wearing a dress that shows off her best features and fits perfectly so she won't spend all night adjusting her clothes.
Diana is wearing a dress that shows off her best features and fits perfectly so she won't spend all night adjusting her clothes. | Source

When I was a junior, my teacher Mr. Crouch overheard a conversation I had with a friend about a very intriguing letter I had just received. The letter was an invitation to prom from one of the smartest and definitely the shyest guy in the senior class. He had handed it to me on the bus that morning and rushed off just before the bell rang for first hour.

Now here I was in second period journalism talking with Darlene about what I should do. “Toni.” Mr. Crouch interrupted. “Do you have a date to the prom yet?”

“Well, actually, no I don’t.” The guy I secretly had a crush on hadn’t asked me, and neither had anyone else for that matter.

“Then I think you should go with him. He’s a nice guy. What have you got to lose?” Mr. Crouch was right Darlene advised. James and I were friends. I had nothing to lose by accepting his offer. So at lunch I walked up to James, thanked him for his letter and let him know that I would like for him to make his invitation in person. He did. I accepted and we went to prom. But that would be getting ahead of our story. . . Let's talk first about how to get a date and how to plan the perfect evening.

There is a lot of social pressure surrounding prom: Who to go with, what to wear, how to get there, where to eat and where to go afterwards. If you are a teenage girl who has a crush on a boy this article is written just for you.See links below for same-sex prom advice.

Have a Backup Plan

Make plans to go with a friend or a group of friends if you don't get the date you'd hoped for and have a great time anyway.

Get the Date

Let's face it. When it comes to dating, guys have it hard. If they ask you out on a date, they risk rejection. So you need to help them out a little. If you want to go to prom with a certain person, give them a clear sign that you are interested.

First- let him know you like him by smiling and making eye contact when you are in class together or when you pass each other in the halls. Ten seconds should be long enough for him to know that your smile is meant for him.

Second- Let him know you would like to go out by telling him. “Do you have plans for prom? If you asked me out, I wouldn’t say no." You don't have to be the one to ask him out. Just let him know he won't fail if he does invite you to prom.

If you are shy, making eye contact for ten seconds let alone talking to a guy you like is a scary idea. Practice what you want to say ahead of time with a friend you trust or rehearse in front of the mirror.

Then prepare yourself for one of four outcomes:

  1. He says he's not available because he is already going with someone else, or has other plans and drops the subject.
  2. He tells you he is not available but that he would like to go out with you another time.
  3. He says he would like to ask you out but he isn't sure if he will be available so he will get back to you.
  4. He feels brave enough to ask you to prom.

Remember whether someone asks you out or doesn't, it isn't the end of the world and it doesn't mean anything about your worth as a person. There could be many reasons that have little or nothing to do with you so it is important not to take it personally. The more you practice these skills, the easier it gets.

The right jewelry can stand out with a simple dress and express your personality.
The right jewelry can stand out with a simple dress and express your personality. | Source

On a Tight Budget?

No worries.

  • You might find the perfect dress at Goodwill or borrow one from a friend or relative.
  • Dress up a simple gown with a spray of flowers in your hair or bold inexpensive costume jewelry.
  • An ethnic scarf, jewelry, or hair piece can create a unique look with items you already have.

Planning the Perfect Evening

What to wear? It's the first question most girls ask. Pick a dress, hairstyle, and manicure that fits your personality and accentuates your best features regardless of the current "in-look". You should be able to move comfortably without worrying about constant adjustments. When trying out gowns you should make sure you feel free to sit down, dance and bend over (in case you drop something or need to adjust your shoe).

If you are comfortable in high heels, then by all means wear them, but if you feel more like a robot under torture when you walk in three inch spikes, opt for a low sturdy wedge instead. The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be for your natural personality to shine through and the easier it will be for you to enjoy the evening.

It’s not about being a fashion model- it’s about highlighting your own original beauty. And every girl has it. Yes, even you are beautiful regardless of your size, hair color or height! Most guys are attracted to someone who is confident and happy over someone who is movie-star beautiful but lacks a vibrant personality. You may be focused on your hips or nose- but what your date wants to see is your personality because he wants to feel comfortable in your presence.

How do you plan to pick your gown and accessories for prom?

See results

Spend some time thinking about your date and what he might be feeling.Chances are, he is going to be nervous about many aspects of the date that you haven't even thought of. He probably has no idea what kind of tux to wear, what kind of corsage to get you or how to dance. He will probably be wondering if you will like the food at dinner or if the car is to your liking. Talk with him about what color and style dress you will wear. If he asks for your help in picking his outfit that is a perfect opportunity to spend more time with him before your date together.

Love yourself.  Only agree to go to places and do activities you feel comfortable with.
Love yourself. Only agree to go to places and do activities you feel comfortable with. | Source

Create a Safety Net

If this is your first date with this person, it's a good idea to have a trusted friend or family member you can call in case you get into a situation you are not comfortable with. Arrange for them to keep their phone on and be prepared to pick you up if you need their support.

Get clear about your boundaries before the date. Prom is an exciting event. It is a rite of passage into the next stage towards adulthood. Just because you are now at the place in your life where you can attend prom does not mean you have to do anything you are uncomfortable with or that could put you at risk.

Respect yourself and your body. Drinking under age isn’t cool- it’s immature. It sends the message that you are not comfortable being your age and wish you were older. Having sex just because you feel pressured isn’t worth risking getting pregnant or sexually transmitted diseases.

Talk with your date beforehand about your expectations so you don't feel pressured after the dance to go somewhere you don't want to go or do something you don't want to. You can tell your date "I am really excited to go with you to prom. I am not ready to ______ and I hope you will respect that."

Nice guys don’t say-“ if you love me you will sleep with me”. Or “I’ll get it somewhere else if you don’t give it to me”. Nice guys respect the boundaries you set for yourself and actually view you with a greater level of esteem if you stick to your boundaries.

Keeping Things in Perspective

So whatever happened to James, my junior date to the prom? It wasn't a fairy-tale ending happily ever after in love and marriage. But we had a nice time, got to know each other a little better and learned some new dating skills. James said that asking me out was a major step of courage that he was glad he took because it helped him to overcome his shyness. And I learned to have a more open mind about the kinds of people I might like to date.

Prom can be an exciting and special event, but you still have the rest of your life ahead of you so don't worry if it doesn't go exactly as planned. Think of it as a great time to practice and learn important dating skills like setting healthy boundaries and communicating clearly.


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