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12:54 AM / Thursday December 8, 2022

5 May 2017

The dos and don’ts of contemporary etiquette will make your high school prom night one to remember

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May 5, 2017 Category: Beauty Posted by:

By Leah Fletcher

High school proms have changed just as the times have. While today’s proms vary in clothing style, dating approach and mode of transportation, it’s still important from the date to the dress. The prom has evolved from a simple affair in the high school gym to an elaborate evening at an upscale country club, and sometimes a hotel room at a local beach resort town. Wow, there is no doubt that times have changed!  To help maneuver the current prom landscape, there are guidelines for the dos and don’ts of proper prom etiquette. 

Luckily, etiquette is not stationary and it changes, overtime with our social customs, according to Lisa Phillips, Life Skills Coach. “It’s important to remember that students need direction and they need to follow some formal etiquette guidelines approved by their schools.”

Long-held Prom Traditions

Countless high schools have maintained the tradition of hosting a prom during the school year, however, these events have changed somewhat from decades ago, when girls waited with baited breath for guys to invite them to the social event of the school year. “When no one called, they usually sought stand-in dates, like cousins or special friends, to escort them to the prom,” recalled Phillips, who is a seasoned high school prom chaperone. 

Speaking about contemporary prom trends, the recently retired teacher noted, “Now, many who want to attend a high school dance can, with or without a date. The trend, beyond the traditional couple, includes singles or groups of girlfriends or guy friends attending.” 

The Contemporary Prom Date

While it’s still fine to go with a date, it isn’t completely up to the guys to do all the asking. There is nothing wrong with the girls choosing who they want to attend the prom with. Whether the girls or guys choose to go with a date, go with a group of friends, or go alone, there are certain etiquette rules that should be followed in order to have the best time and not infringe on other’s fun.

Include Parents in Prom Decision Making

At the outset of the event, Phillips believes it is wise to include parents in the decision-making process. She also stressed the importance of parents communicating with their teens. And knowing what other parents are doing is a huge advantage.

“What boundaries will you set for prom? What will be your role in the event? Will you chaperone? Will you allow this to be an all-night event for your teenager? When will curfew be?” asked Phillips, who explained there are a ton of questions parents should ask about the boundaries they will set for their teens on prom night.

“When discussing them with your teen, let him or her know that these boundaries are being set for safety, not for control,” said Phillips.     

Communicating with the school system is important. Phillip advised that parents find out the rules regarding dress, activities, chaperones, and unacceptable behavior. “Find out if there are any safeguards, such as random alcohol searches or metal detectors, and other preventive measures that will ensure a successful night. Discuss these policies with your teen,” she said.      

Ultimately, the prom isn’t something to be afraid of or intimidated by. “Together, you and your teen can make it a memorable event — if it’s done the right way,” said Phillips.

Tips for Good Prom Memories

Here are some general prom etiquette dos and don’ts that Phillips believes are certain to guarantee good memories: 

1. Be respectful of the invitation. When invited to the prom, accept or gracefully decline. If you are not interested, let the other person down easily.

2. Know who pays in advance. Each person should pay for his or her own clothing and accessories. If you’re going with a group, you may want to share expenses for a limo (including the tip). If you have a date, be clear what the expectations are from the beginning. Due to the high price of the prom, it’s not uncommon for each person to pay his or her own way. Phillips advised getting parents involved from the start to ensure they are communicating about the event and all are clear about expectations. 

3. Wear flowers. Girls should still wear corsages and boys should wear boutonnières. If you have a date, it’s nice to purchase flowers for him or her. If you go alone or with a group, treat yourself to your own flowers to match your outfit.

4. Dress appropriately. This may be a formal affair, but don’t forget that it’s still a high school dance. Girls should be spirited, but should not show too much cleavage or leg. For the guys, rent a tux, if you don’t own one, visit a reputable men’s store where they can advise you about what looks best.

5. Humor your parents. When you greet your date at the door, your parents want to capture the moment on film. Let them. Smile for their cameras. Make certain you are dressed appropriately for the occasion and meet all school guidelines. 

6. Don’t keep others waiting. This is not the occasion where you want to be fashionably late. Be on time for your date or group of friends — not to, shows a lack of respect.

7. Use proper cell phone etiquette. Enjoy the special night without constantly calling, texting, or checking messages on your cell phone.

8. Mind your manners. Being on your best behavior on prom night will help you make memories you’ll want to share for years to come. Acting disrespectful will do the opposite and give you a reputation that you’ll never be able to live down.

9. Dine with self-confidence and grace. Learn proper table manners before the special night and practice them until they come naturally.

10. Follow proper dancing etiquette. If you don’t have a date, you may dance the night away with anyone you want. However, if you do have a date, don’t forget that. You may still want to dance with other people. So it’s a good idea to discuss how to handle that before the prom. You both may agree to dance with others. That ensures that you or your date won’t be left on the sidelines watching.

11. Be respectful while taking pictures. Take all the snapshots and selfies you desire, but make certain they are tasteful. Don’t take embarrassing photos and post them on social media. Also, consider the costs of formal prom photos taken at the event. Regardless of the type of photos you choose, everyone wants to post the best prom photos.

12. The evening sadly ends. When leaving the prom, thank the organizers, hosts, and chaperones for their support and hard work. Respect the curfews of your date or the friends you came with and make sure everyone gets home safely and on time.

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