Your Survival Guide to Prom

When you were a little younger, prom seemed like it would be so cool.

Magical, even.

Admit it. After you watched High School Musical 3, you pictured yourself dancing and singing in perfect unison with your whole senior class.

Prom is a beautiful thing—in theory. But now the movies are on the shelf, your own prom is reality, and it’s looking you square in the dateless face. Suddenly prom seems less magical, and more like just another way for high school to torture you. The closer it gets, the more overwhelming the prospect becomes—and expensive, too.

If you’ve decided to go to prom, one of two factors is likely the reason—either you’re holding out for that magical night (or at the very least, a fun memory), or you’re going because someone else really wants you to—probably your mom. Your whole “Prom-is-stupid-and-a-waste-of-money-and-I-won’t-have-fun” speech didn’t get you very far. Plus, you’re tired of hearing her say that one day when you’re older, you’re really going to regret not going.

In either case, you’re going to the prom, and you need help. So, how does a Christian teen not just survive prom, but also make good memories without spending his or her entire college savings? Maybe these tips will help!

Tip #1: The invite

You’re almost afraid to get on Instagram. If you do, you know you’re going to see pictures of girls getting asked to prom in way-over-the-top fashion. Like guys who have the school mascot hold up a sign that reads, Emily, will you go to prom with me? during the seventh inning stretch at the varsity baseball game. Five cupcakes of different flavors delivered on one knee in the school lunchroom, each with a letter on top spelling out the big question: PROM? Seriously, what are these people going to do when it’s time to propose marriage one day?

And what are you going to do now? How do you even compete with that?

You don’t. There’s no need to hire a pilot to write your prom invitation in the sky or surprise your intended date with a picnic in the woods with a prom ticket hidden in his or her chicken sandwich. Guys, let the competitors go on competing without you, and save your best stuff for the girl you’ll ask a far more important question of one day. As long as you ask well in advance and speak with confident sincerity, you should be good to go.

P.S. Don’t ask her via text!

04-15-07 © Mary Morgan

04-15-07 © Mary Morgan

Tip #2: The outfit

After you move past the urge to wear a bright orange tuxedo like the one Lloyd wore in Dumb and Dumber, the choices are pretty easy if you’re a guy.

But, ladies, dress shopping is different. Way different. The thought of showing up in the same dress as someone else is horrifying, and you don’t want to spend a fortune. That basically leaves you with a few options: buy the expensive dress, look for a good deal, let your mom make your dress, or borrow one from someone your size who graduated recently.  Now, let’s be honest, the likelihood of your mom having the skill set to pull off dressmaking to the extent that you don’t have a massive fight ending in tears is slim. Good deals on dresses can be hard to find, especially if you didn’t start looking early enough.

So, that leaves you with one inexpensive option if you’re in a time crunch: borrow. It’s not that hard. Put Facebook to good use. Look up some girls you know who graduated in the past few years and creep on their prom pictures. Then, ask them if you can borrow a dress, and voilá, problem solved!

And there’s a bonus, too: you’ll help your friend feel better about the money she spent on that dress that she’ll never wear again.

Tip #3: The ride

This part is tricky. If it’s just you and your date riding together in your car, you risk awkwardness and boredom. If you go with a big group in a party bus, you risk paying for the consequences of someone else’s bad choices.
On prom night, you need to be able to trust your whole group. Your best option, then, is to go with one or two other couples. If you feel the need to travel like J. Biebs in a limo, then go with no more than 8-10 people you know well and split the cost.

Tip #4: The before plan

You’ll probably be expected to go eat somewhere before you hit the dance floor. Still, there are some great options that lie somewhere between Long John Silver’s and the fanciest, most expensive restaurant in town. You don’t need a menu that you’d need a degree in culinary arts to understand. You do need good ambience and food—and prices that fall in the range of normalcy that you’re used to.

Make reservations. No one wants to be sitting around waiting an hour for a table when their friends are already dancing the night away.

Tip #5: The after plan

This may be unpopular, but here’s a thought—you could go home after prom, and get a good night’s rest before church the next morning. There, I said it.

But since I know you think that plan stinks, here’s some alternate advice on the after-prom plan: have one. Know where you’re going and who you’ll be with. Do NOT go to a hotel or someone’s boat on the lake; those are bad ideas no matter how logical they seem when your friends describe them to you. If you just have to go to someone’s house after prom, make sure it’s someone you trust, that your parents know about the plan, and that some adults will be there, too.

If that’s not an option, see if your parents will let you have a small after-prom get-together at your house. Think one-last-youth-group-lock-in. Drink sodas, play games, watch movies. Most of all, honor Jesus.
Your mom may have been wrong about other stuff, but she’s right about this; you don’t want to regret prom night when you’re older.

This article was written for the April 2013 issue of ec by Cynthia Hopkins. Get your subscription here:

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