As prom is approaching, you might have a lot of questions about how you’re supposed to behave before, during and after the event. While the times have changed since the days of simple school gym proms, a lot of the etiquette surrounding this momentous occasion has not.
I’m JJ’s House designer, Jessica, and I’m a special occasion expert. I’m here to outline the most important do’s and don’t of contemporary prom etiquette so you can avoid some potentially awkward and embarrassing situations and enjoy the night in a classy way.
Ask someone to prom clearly once tickets go on sale. It’s best to ask in person, but asking over the phone is also acceptable. Never ask through text or email. If someone asks and you accept, you can’t decline for a better offer later. If you want to decline, do so clearly and with grace.
Whoever does the inviting pays for the tickets. These days, that could be the young man or woman. The couple should then discuss the transportation payment and additional expenses. Do so early to avoid an awkward or embarrassing situation during the evening.
Going to the Dance
Make sure you’re on time. Go to the door when you arrive to pick up your date. Never honk the horn or text when you’re in the driveway. If you’re the one being picked up, introduce your date to your parents. If you’re being introduced, smile, make eye contact and shake hands. Start a conversation by discussing topics like your plans for the summer, current movies you’ve seen or your favorite sports teams.
What to Wear
For a formal event, men should wear a tuxedo and women should wear a long dress. For a semi-formal event, men can wear a blazer or sports jacket and women can wear a short dress. Discuss the option of coordinating styles or colors ahead of time. Prom dresses come in all shapes, sizes and colors, so wear one that looks great but will be comfortable to dance in. Remember, cheap prom dresses don’t have to look cheap. You can find the best deals online.
Young men should still give their date a corsage, which is worn on the left of the chest or on the wrist. Fathers usually prefer a wrist corsage. Cell phones are not accessories and should not be seen.
Be mindful when taking photos and selfies. Make sure you’re not blocking anyone’s view if they’re taking photos and ask permission before you click someone else’s. Don’t post embarrassing photos on social media.
Ending the Evening
Respect the curfew of your date or friends. Make sure everyone gets home safely and on time. A simple “thank you, I had a great time” is enough to end the evening. If you want to decline a kiss, offer a cheek instead and then take a small step back.
Keep it Classy
Use manners with chaperones, classmates, friends, school and service personnel throughout the evening. After the night is over, write a thank-you note to the organizing committee. An email is also acceptable, but a handwritten card or letter is the classiest.
There you have it – contemporary etiquette probably isn’t as complicated as you may have thought. Being classy at prom is actually pretty simple. It all basically boils down to this: behave like a gentleman or a lady, respect others and keep your cell phone away. Keep in mind that how you behave during this event is a reflection of your family, your community and your school, so make them proud.
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