As a three-time prom veteran, with three very distinct prom experiences, I feel as though it is important to share tips for prospective prom-goers next year.
The number one tip I can share from my first prom as a sophomore is to not lead your date on. If, during or before the course of preparation for prom you pick up signals that your date has unrealistic or romantic expectations that is not mutual, tell them. It will hurt their feelings more to tell them after prom and can create a rift or general awkwardness in a friendship.
My second prom experience was exponentially different than the first in cost and preparation as it was in another state with someone I was in a relationship with. A safe and successful prom in an unfamiliar setting requires complete trust and thorough planning for both involved, especially the hosting party. As it was something my date and I planned months in advance, I feel as though it is not something I would recommend as a last second decision.
On the subject of couples, from my most recent prom experience on April 26, being respectful to singles as much as couples is key for a cohesive prom group dynamic.
On that note, while there is nothing wrong with the decision to kiss, hug or be proud of your date, use of excessive PDA can make group situations awkward. Single or dateless friends may cheer or sneer, but as someone guilty of this crime, be aware that people will stare, even if you do not notice.
It is also important to plan, but not obsess, over the one night event. Prom is fun, but it is not the most important night of one’s life.
Lastly, keep your priorities in check. While it was fun to only be in a friend group this prom, I would not recommend attending if it interferes with a family event or if you’re fighting a cold. In my case, missing my dad’s 60th birthday is something I regret more than the idea of my senior prom. After returning from prom, seeing the look on his face as he viewed the old, blown up picture of our family at his mother’s funeral meant more to me than any of my prom experiences combined.
Prom may be fun, but if you suspect that the day after will leave you feeling physically drained or guilty, it may be best to forego the event completely.