Prom Night

The True Secret to Making Your Prom Night a Pleasant and Successful One: Plan.

Plan everything, and do it early. (One week before the dance? That is not early. One month before the dance isn't even early. That's typical and typical is not early. You want to be a little bit earlier than that.)

Ask your date to the dance early. This serves three important purposes.

  1. It ensures that if your first choice declines, you'll still have time to ask your second choice. (Unless your second choice is a freshman, because then there's not much risk of your second choice being invited to the dance before you get to her. Still, the one thing that can destroy a sure thing is counting on it. It's Murphy's Law.)
  2. It decreases the likelihood that the girl you're asking will have been asked already. (Again, unless she's an unpopular freshman. Or your mom.)
  3. It makes your date feel like she's your deeply admired first choice whether she is or not, which is not at all a bad place to begin.

The only foreseeable downside is that being early may make you appear eager. But appearing eager doesn't always have to be a bad thing.

After your date agrees to be seen at the Prom with you, ask her what she's wearing. "But I don't care what she's wearing!" I hear you cry. No, you don't. I know you don't. Ask her anyway. Because it matters to you more than you think.

There's the matter of tuxedo rental. Yes, a tuxedo is usually black and white. But depending on the color of your date's dress, you can coordinate your tie, cummerbund, and boutonniere accordingly. And no, you don't have to know what any of that is. The guy at the tux shop will take care of it. You just have to supply the info.

Rent your tux as early as you can. Otherwise, here's what will happen. Your date will be in the middle of a giddy squealfest about how much fun the Prom is going to be. She will ask you if you've rented your tux yet. You will say you have not and she will have a small heart attack, after which every decision you're ever called upon to make will be thrown into question. Because she will know from that moment on that you, my friend, are an idiot.

You'll also need to order a corsage to coordinate with her dress. Perhaps that doesn't play into your wheelhouse. Perhaps you have no idea what flowers go with what color and material and the style of her dress. If you're smart, you'll bring help to the flower shop, or defer to the expertise of the florist. Just do it early. It limits your opportunity to screw it up.

Then there is a little matter of dinner reservations. Now, your date will probably have a lot to say about which other couples you dine with before the big event. So ask her. Run any additional invitations by her (she doesn't have veto power, but there's no reason she should be surprised), then consider the size of the group, decide amongst yourselves where to go, and then if no one else steps up, tell them you'll make the reservations. Then make the reservations. Immediately.

If the place doesn't take reservations, try to pick a place that does. The fanciest places accept reservations. It's expensive but it's an important night! You're going to be boring your college friends with stories of this dinner for years to come. Don't skimp.

If you're renting a limo, call and make the limo reservation several weeks, even a couple of months, in advance.

Did you buy your tickets to the dance yet? Because if we're sitting here talking about dinner reservations, you need to have bought the tickets already. In fact, you should've bought them before you invited your date. Probably before you sat down to read this chapter. Not to worry, Prom tickets don't exactly sell out, but don't put it off lest you find yourself on the evening of the dance without a way in. Just buy them. Immediately. Two tickets, one for you and one for your date. It's stupid that you have to pay for hers, but you do. (In the unusal event that she was the one who asked you to the dance, however, this is negotiable.)

Oh, and about the squealing, and the frequent (perhaps daily) rehashing of plans, that you'll hear from your date? Play along. Act excited.

If the girl you've asked is your girlfriend, you're going to hear a lot of this. Probably every time there's a lull in the conversation. Try not to let your eyes glaze over or it'll damage her enthusiasm and she'll resent you for it.

If, on the other hand, you've asked a girl who isn't your girlfriend—a bold first date, perhaps, or maybe you've invited a platonic friend you're interested in—then the weeks before the dance might be a little awkward. You don't know each other well, or you know each other very well, and you've got a long time to look forward to this crazy night you're going to spend together. Try not to let it be weird. Don't avoid her, don't act awkward. Just be cool.

Oh, and try to lay off flirting with other girls in the meantime. Be a prince. All of the time leading up to the Prom sort of counts as the Prom, so be on your best behavior.

On the day of the Prom, here is a checklist:

  1. Call and confirm your dinner reservation with the restaurant and your limo reservation (if applicable) with the car service.
  2. Pick up your tux.
  3. Get a haircut and a shave.
  4. Shine your shoes. (You can do this the day before. In fact, you should.)
  5. Pick up her corsage.
  6. Make sure you know where she lives, what time you're picking her up, and where everyone is meeting.

When you get to her house, polished to a brilliant shine and ready for a night on the town, expect photos. Her parents, and any other parents that might be present, are going to want to take a thousand photos. You and your date. Your date and her mother. Your date and her father. You and your date and her mother and father. You, your date, and the other couples you're going with. Just the girls. Just the guys.

Your instinct will be to roll your eyes, drag your feet, and maybe crack a joke or two about the lame poses you're being asked to do. You will want to whisper to the other gentlemen and make meaningful eye contact with them that conveys how stupid you think all of this is.


Be perfectly respectful toward everyone, especially your date and her parents. Play along with all the enthusiasm you can muster. This will help her parents to love you. The more at ease your date's parents are when you leave, the happier she'll be. Unless she's a rebel and she prefers to be at odds with her parents, in which case, there's frankly not a lot for you to learn from any of this guide. Rebellious girls are exactly the same as regular girls underneath, but the steps you have to take to get to the underneath tend to be unique and unpredictable. You're on your own, brother.

Once you get out of there, the fun begins!

You'll be able to wing it for most of the actual Prom. That's the good news. You've probably eaten dinner at a restaurant before. If you aren't accustomed to fancy dining, Google "dining etiquette" and brush up on your fork configurations. You'll be fine.

At the dance, there will be refreshments, music, a dance floor and your peers. If you've been to other dances, this will all seem familiar as well. Have a good time. Make sure you dance your first dance with your date, and your last dance with your date. That's just good manners. If you want to dance with other girls in between, in a friendly kind of way, and your date doesn't mind, then go for it. If your date seems jealous, skip it and dance with her. Hey, you invited this girl here. You must have known what you were signing up for. There's no point in ruffling her feathers now, with only a few hours left in your dream date.

And remember, you are at a dance. Your date expects to dance. Dance with her. You should dance to more songs than you sit out, so if you don't particularly like dancing, steel yourself ahead of time. And don't make her insist every time. Just ask her to dance and dance with her.

Regarding alcohol: It will be forbidden, obviously. If you decide to sneak it in, focus carefully on the sneaking. Be discreet. Be as discreet as you can possibly imagine being and then multiply that by 20 and be that discreet. Oh, and make sure your date knows what you're up to, and that she's one hundred percent cool with it. If she's not, don't do it. You'll have just as much fun and possibly more if you don't drink.

(Especially if you're headed to a party after the Prom. Whether there's going to be alcohol at that party or not, you don't want to be drinking ahead of time, or you'll be exhausted by the time you get there! And if you're driving, then drinking is of course not even a distant option.)

Please note: Neither the author of this article nor this website condone underage drinking. How the Internet on which the site resides might feel about it is none of our business.

So. You've danced the night away, cheered for the Prom Queen and Prom King, and—oh! Some mention should be given to this.

If you and your date are crowned together: Congratulations! How did you get to be so popular and still need to read a silly guide like this? Smile, be awesome, and let the whole school watch you slow dance. Well done indeed.

If you and a girl other than your date are crowned: Appear apologetic when walking away from your date, but turn it on as soon as you head toward the stage. It should come as no surprise to your date that you're a popular guy, so don't feel weird about accepting the honor. But your dance with the Prom Queen should be the most chaste dance you've ever danced. You remember how they made you dance in junior high? With several inches of daylight visible between your bodies? That's what your date needs to see here. Loads of sunshine. A polite dance between you and a girl you couldn't be less interested in. Because when your date is watching you in the arms of arguably the most popular girl in school, she's going to need all the signals she can get to fight off her insecurity, no matter how happy she pretends to be for you.

If your date is crowned Prom Queen and some other shmuck is King: Be excited. Act excited. Cheer her on. Don't be insecure when she's dancing with some super popular guy. Make sure you act like you're not intimidated in the least. As long as you know you're better than that guy, your date will sense it and she'll know you are, too. Seriously. (If she's that popular, she probably could've come to the dance with that guy, if she'd really wanted to, but she didn't. She came with you. So be cool.)

Right. So now the dance is ending and you, and probably a group of friends, are leaving. Good work! You made it through the whole night and had a wonderful time! Now undo your tie, loosen your cumberbund, and undo a button or two on that fetching tuxedo shirt. It's time for the real fun to begin, the relaxed, no-tense-expectations portion of the evening. Chances are you're probably headed to a late-night diner, a house party, or a hotel. Of course, depending on which your group chooses, the outcome of your evening may prove very, very different.

The End

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