However, it is also more often than not the first formal event teenagers attend, a fact which brings a lot of questions and insecurities about what to wear, how to act and what to do to the forefront of their minds, as they want to remember it for good reasons. To take some of those worries away, we’ve created this guide to prom etiquette, which will hopefully answer most of the more common questions teens have about prom.
What should I wear?
Prom is a formal event, so those attending should dress accordingly. For girls, this will generally mean wearing a cocktail dress or a gown. Traditionally, girls usually opt for formal gowns, but fashions tend to change, so currently short, trendy cocktail dresses are more common. Whether the dress is long or short, though, modesty is recommended, as this is still a high school event.
As for boys, renting a tux is always the best option, but wearing a suit and tie will usually be formal enough for the occasion, so there is no need to worry about getting a full three-piece, unless there’s a dress code or theme that asks for it specifically.
Formal shoes are mandatory. If you are wearing heels, be sure they are comfortable. Do not wait until the night of the Prom to try out your heels. Sneakers and informal shoes are unacceptable, unless you have some kind of injured.
Who asks whom?
Traditionally, boys ask girls to be their prom dates, but while girls still appreciate the gesture, it is okay for a girl to ask a boy to be their date.
Do you need a date to go to prom?
No. There is no rule against going alone or with a group of friends.
What about a corsage?
A corsage is a floral arrangement that girls wear to prom, usually on their left wrist. The girl's date usually brings a corsage. It should match their dress, if possible, or at least be in a complementary color that won’t clash with it. Boys can also wear a matching arrangement on their lapels, which traditionally is bought by their date, as well.
Who pays for what?
Since prom is essentially a date, and boys are supposed to be asking girls, it is expected that they buy the tickets as well as pay for dinner at a nice restaurant. If the couple goes with a bigger group, expenses are to be divided among the various couples.
How do I avoid mistakes at the table?
Table manners can be tricky and hard to master, but there are some easy rules. The first thing to do is to lay your napkin across your lap as soon as you are seated. Boys should help girls sit, and everyone should be seated before you start eating. As far as table settings and utensils go, remember that bread is most likely on your left and drinks on your right. Drinks will probably be served to you in the correct glass, if more than one is available. To make sure you use the right utensils, try to go from the outer to the inner utensil with each course. If all fails, don’t be afraid to ask for directions or take someone else’s lead.
Should I dance?
It is not mandatory to dance at your prom, but most young girls would prefer to dance. If your date doesn’t like to dance,however, it may be wise and graceful to avoid slow dances out of respect, unless both agree to do otherwise.
Should you kiss goodnight?
Prom dates are usually couples, but if that is not the case, it is acceptable to decline a goodnight kiss politely, after thanking your date for the night and vice-versa.
These are the basics of prom etiquette. Truthfully, however, the rules aren’t as strict as they once were, so teens should enjoy their prom night, above all, even if they make any kind of faux pas at the event.
The Protocol and Etiquette School