Did you hear about that guy in Connecticut who asked his date to the prom by skydiving from 10,000 feet in the air? True story. How about the one on America’s Got Talent? A basic search on YouTube will easily reveal 150,000 plus videos of “Promposals.” The fixation on social media and Youtube has opened the door to showcasing proposals to prom and the idea that we all must outdo each other along the way. I must tell you that I overheard a parent talking to her teenage son a few weeks ago at dinner, and more than these stunts working overtime to attract attention, her words were truly spectacular.
According to VISA Inc., the average family spends nearly one thousand dollars on prom. One thousand dollars worth of updos, spray tans, formal attire, car services, dinner, and shiny nails. And let’s not forget the “ask.” According to the same survey, the proposal consumes about a third of the total prom budget. This very expensive evening happens to fall in a transformational period for the attendees, and you know us, we can’t help but wonder if we’re missing an opportunity to talk about responsible spending habits, (and alcohol consumption and sexual boundaries…) instead of promoting prom drama and extravagance.
While it’s great to encourage our kids to live life to its fullest, and to support high school activities, prom can still be a special night without breaking the bank. We’re not bad parents for taking the opportunity to point out the obvious or to limit the budget: it’s one night; it’s NOT a wedding; and maybe that one night could use a spreadsheet. Granted, the creativity surrounding prom season is admirable, but maybe Molly Ringwald got it right in Pretty in Pink when she makes her own dress from a hand-me-down.
Back to the mom I overheard: she told her son at dinner, “if you can’t just ask her by looking her the eye, then picking her up in your car or mine, and driving her to the dance and home without overreaching, you are asking the wrong girl.”
That is good advice at age 16 or 56. Think back to your own prom - was it great? or meh? If you don’t have fond memories, hopefully there wasn’t a big expense for a disappointing night. If you had a magical evening, what made it that way? Doubtful it was the money spent, but the “feels” created by being in the moment with a fun date. If you’re feeling brave this prom season, give yourself and your child permission to rein it financially, but still go all out with creativity and enjoying the moments.