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The Art of the High School Prom Since 2010- A Guide To How It's Done

Updated on May 9, 2015

What's Changed Over The Years

I went to my Senior Prom in 1989 (dating myself I know!). I went with my boyfriend, he wore a tux, we went to a pre-prom party and had a bunch of pictures taken. We went to the prom, drank a bit in the parking lot, danced a few songs and got out. I did go on another prom where my date rented a limo which was kind of neat, but it wasn't really as fancy as things are now.

Now kids have so much pressure. Whether it be Homecoming, WPA, or Prom, the kids have to do several things to make sure that their 'proposal' for prom is socially acceptable.

1) They have to find a very unique and special way to ask their date with the element of surprise. It must be videotaped or documented so it can be posted on twitter or facebook.

2) Homecoming calls for short, risky dresses. Guys can wear ties, vests and dress pants. My kids always wore three piece suits but they don't have to.

3) WPA is the same as Homecoming- short dresses and either vests/ties or suits are fine.

4) Prom calls for long elaborate gowns, high heels, and boys traditionally rent tuxes.

5) Plans for dinner must be made in advance with reservations. Your 'group' has to co-ordinate this- and trust me when I say the place chosen for dinner will change more than three times.

6) Plans for the perfect venue to take pictures must be chosen as well. Hope it doesn't rain. Group pictures as well as individual pictures must be taken, and there must be hundreds to choose from

7) Flowers (corsages) must be three sweetheart roses worn on the wrist and the band and bow should match the girl's colour scheme. The tie must match the girl's dress as well.

8) Tickets for these events are usually around $50/couple.

These are pictures of my son and his girlfriend from Senior Prom (about two weeks ago)

Popping the Big Question

Kids are under tremendous pressure to ask their dates to go to prom in a distinct and original manner. It must be done with a surprise.

My son once asked a girl by baking a cake in the shape of a bomb, and surprising her at her home with a big poster that said 'It would be the bomb if you would go to prom.'

My son's girlfriend recently asked him to her prom by making a giant star wars themed poster and putting it on the front of our house. It must have taken her hours to make it!

My son once asked a girl by getting a glass heart engraved with 'Will you go to prom with me?' I thought that was a great way.

A girl once asked my son by giving him a giant cookie with the big question on it.

My younger son knew that the girl he likes loved cheezits and scrabble- so he got a box of cheezits with the letters, and wrote 'will you go to prom with me' on a scrabble board and gave it to her at the end of a cross country race.

The kids have to find more and more original ways to ask- because of course 'the best way' becomes a popularity contest.

Gaby getting Build A Bear in the form of Yoda for the big event
Gaby getting Build A Bear in the form of Yoda for the big event
Gaby asking Carter to Homecoming
Gaby asking Carter to Homecoming

Who Pays for What?

If the boy asks, he pays for the tickets, the dinner and all other expenses and drives. If the girl asks, she is supposed to do the same. I've always had my boys pay for the girls' dinner at least, regardless of who asked whom.

Dresses are very elaborate and expensive. The boy pays for the corsage and the girl is supposed to pay for the boy's flower, but a lot of times the boy doesn't get one- which is really no longer important. The corsages cost around $25.00.

It's common for kids to go in big groups and when they go to dinner, they all just pay for their own, The problem we've noticed over the years is that when they do go to dinner, the service is bad because the waitress/waiters think that they'll not receive a tip- so be forewarned that it could happen.

My younger son and his most recent date
My younger son and his most recent date
A typical group shot
A typical group shot

After Prom Parties

We used to have after party drunk fests- I never really partook. For me, it was more about making out or parking! Now, there are normally several after-prom parties. Parents in our school district are normally home and there definitely still is drinking, but a lot of times parents chaperone the event and make sure things don't get out of hand. My older son went to a couple of after prom parties where there was no drinking, just some fun and some food. It just depends on what type of kid you have and what his/her curfew is, and if you know the parents of the kid who's having the party.

Homecoming, WPA, and Prom

Homecoming comes at the beginning of the year in the fall. A boy or girl can ask the other, or kids go in groups.

WPA or 'Women Pay All' normally happens in February and the girl asks the boy, but groups still go.

Prom is towards the end of the year, normally in April or May, and either the boy or girl can ask, and groups often go together.

The costs for girls is so much higher with hair, makeup, dresses, shoes, jewelry, etc. I am glad I have two boys. A couple of suits and ties and they are set!

Hope this article gives you a little information about what to expect if your child goes to a formal dance. Good luck with the teen years! They are full of events and they go by fast!

A Few More Ideas and Pictures

girls showing off their corsages at one of the kid's WPA dances
girls showing off their corsages at one of the kid's WPA dances
Staged pictures at a Homecoming Dance
Staged pictures at a Homecoming Dance
Silly Group Shot at a WPA dance
Silly Group Shot at a WPA dance


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