Prom is a fun time for high school students to get dressed up, have dinner and dance the night away with friends. It can also be a time of confusion when it comes to the proper way to handle certain situations.
Here are some polite ways to handle tricky scenarios that may come up, along with general etiquette tips for the night.
What if someone asks you to prom and you don’t want to go with them?
You don’t have to go to prom or any dance with someone just because they have asked you. The important part is to let them know politely. You don’t want to embarrass them or announce to the whole school that someone asked you to the prom and you said "No". Be discreet and consider their feelings when you give them your answer.
If you had plans to go with a group or were not planning on going at all, let them know. If you were hoping someone else was going to ask you, be honest. You can say something like: “Thank you for asking, but there is someone I really like and was hoping to go with them. I hope you understand why I can’t go with you.”
What about a “Promposal” that you don’t want to accept?
Promposals are an elaborately staged request to be someone's date to a prom. Promposals are usually done in public so this can be tricky if you are declining the request. You don’t need to say “yes” just because they have asked you in front of others but you also don’t want to embarrass them. One way you can handle it, is when they do the big “Ask”, you can smile and say “Thank you for asking” and then whisper in their ear “We need to talk”. That should end the production and you can let them know your answer in private.
Note to those of you planning a Promposal: Before going to all the effort, you may want to put out some “feelers” with one or two of their close friends to see if they are even interested in going with you. This will help avoid any embarassment.
What if you agree to go to prom with someone and then a 2nd person asks and you want to go with them instead?
You’ve already said “yes” to the first person which means you originally wanted to go with them. That is, until the 2nd person also asked. The polite thing to do would be to honor your original commitment. You’ll probably end up having a good time without feeling guilty about ditching them. Tell the 2nd person that you’ve already accepted a prom date but would love to go out with them another time. That way you’ll still have an opportunity to go out with them.
Who pays for the prom?
Traditionally, the person who did the asking did the paying. Today this is a bit more flexible. The cost of prom tickets, dinner, outfits, limo, etc. can get very expensive so, it’s completely acceptable and a nice gesture if the person being asked offers to pay for part of the night. They can offer to either buy the tickets or the dinner or even offer to chip in for the meal or limo. Don’t be offended if they don’t offer. Just know that they are more traditional when it comes to these types of dates.
The key is to have this conversation right away. If you’re asked to go to prom and want to help with the cost, you can say something like: “That would be great! I look forward to a fun night. I’d like to pay for the ….. or chip in for the …..”
Tips for the night:
Suzy Lins is a certified etiquette trainer located in Southern California. Educating on manners and etiquette to help people gain confidence to master business and social situations is the core of her teaching.