It’s that time of year again when tuxes are rented, limousines are booked, and girls everywhere are busy looking for the perfect shoes to go with their equally perfect dress. No, it’s not wedding season — which is only a few weeks away from hitting its summer peak — but it’s certainly prom season.
Over the next few weeks, lakes area high school students will be preparing to attend what many consider to be a rite of passage which dates back to the early 1900s.
Granted, today’s proms no longer resemble the simple tea dances held for graduates in the early 1900s nor the slightly fancier gymnasium dances of the 1950s.
Instead, proms now are held in ballrooms of hotels or at country clubs, with many students arriving in stretch limos while dressed to the nines in their rented tuxedos and designer dresses.
Between the price of prom tickets, special transportation, formal wear, and corsages, the cost of prom can rise quickly. And that’s not even including the additional costs of tanning, manicures and pedicures, and hair appointments that have become part of the overall prom phenomenon for area young people.
Obviously, one of the biggest expenditures for girls is the dress.
According to Sue Riggleman, the owner of Uptown Threads in Milford, the dresses in her store range from $150 to $400, with the average customer spending about $300 for a prom dress.
As for trends in dresses, patterns and bright colors are in this season. However, Riggleman said that girls tend to buy what they want, not necessarily what’s trendy for a given year. There is no set popular color or pattern.
However, there is one thing that remains constant for prom dresses.
“Everything is always long. There’s not a lot of short dresses, at least not for prom in this area,” Riggleman said.
Rose Cotaling has been the owner of Rosebud’s Bridal and Tuxedo in Waterford Township for the past 32 years and, as such, is no stranger to the ritual of prom dress shopping.
Because Rosebud’s is a consignment store, Cotaling said girls can get dresses for the big event at $99 or even less.
“The average cost of a prom dress is probably around $100 to $200. Here they can get a dress for about half the price of what they would pay for a new one,” she said.
As for what’s trendy, it depends entirely on what the girl wants, according to Cotaling.
“We still sell everything from sexy, form-fitting (dresses) down to full ballroom skirts,” she explained. “It’s amazing what girls like. There really is something for everybody.”
To get that GQ look, young men are still likely to rent a tuxedo for the spring formal affair. While tuxedo rental costs are typically less than new prom dresses, guys can still expect to pay almost $200 to look like Prince Charming for the evening.
Tux rental costs range from $120 to $180 per night, according to Bruce Henderson, manager of President Tuxedo in West Bloomfield, who recommends that fellas reserve a tuxedo no later than a week ahead of the big event.
“It’s our busiest time of year — it’s like our Christmas,” Henderson said of prom season.
The classic black-and-white tux is out this year; young men are instead more often opting for gray tuxedos, according to Henderson.
“We’re renting a lot of grays — charcoal, light, all shades, but plums are also popular,” he said. “For proms, white is also very popular with bright colors for the vest and tie to complement his date’s dress.”
Henderson also noted that the most popular tuxedo style right now is the two-button jacket with notch lapels.
Rosebud’s also rents out tuxedos, which Cotaling said starts at $91 and goes up to $137.
Limousines are still all the rage for students who want to travel first-class to and from the prom, but they should make their reservations early.
“It’s one of our busiest times of the year and we get booked up quickly,” said Rob Jaber, owner of Blue Diamond Limousines in the city of Wixom. “If they don’t reserve ahead, they won’t be able to get a reservation because the prom season conflicts with the beginning of the wedding season.”
Limousine owners take precautions to ensure there is no alcohol being smuggled into the vehicle. They check each student for alcohol prior to entering the limo. If found, they follow a strict protocol so they aren’t liable.
“We would call the person named on the reservation,” Jaber said. “We stop the run and let them know what happened and would either take the group home or find out what the parents want us to do. We don’t allow any alcohol.”
Blue Diamond Limousines offer competitive packages that vary according on the vehicle and size of the party. For example, for a five-hour reservation for 10 passengers, the cost ranges between $400 and $450, plus gratuity.
Blue Diamond also offers buses that cost more since they can hold more passengers.
“We have different sizes that transport 24 or 30 passengers,” Jaber said. “For a 30-passenger bus for six hours, the cost is $1,000, plus gratuity.”
Wilson’s Luxury Limousines in Waterford Township has prom packages starting at $375 for five hours in their 10-passenger Lincoln Town Car, which includes complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. Other vehicles are available for a higher rental price.
As a part of the “I Promise Program,” Wilson’s requires all parents and passengers to sign the company’s prom contract.
“It states we have a zero-tolerance policy — it’s an agreement between the passengers, parents, and us. It offers extra reassurance to parents,” said Kaylan Matsumoto of Wilson’s.
According to the contract, no alcohol, other intoxicants, or cigarettes are allowed in the limo. Also stated in the agreement is that the privacy screen remains open at all times to allow supervision by the chauffeur, who will phone parents if alcohol or drugs are detected. Each parent of a teen passenger also has to provide a contact number in case of a violation or emergency.
Hair salon services are also in high demand during prom season. Many girls will spare no expense to have their hair styled just right and look stunning on prom night.
Salon Tease in Walled Lake is one salon that counts on prom events to draw in business. It’s a highlight of the year and a precursor to the busy summer wedding season that follows closely behind.
“People need to book ahead now through summer with the wedding season coming,” said co-owner Ashley Mullins.
While hairstyle preference varies from person to person, Mullins said some of the more popular hairstyles trend toward a classic look.
“Many girls come in wanting half of their hair up with volume on top or low side pony tails,” Mullins said. “However, many still ask for classic up do’s. Last year, accessories in the hair were popular, but it’s too early to see if that’s still a trend this year.”
The typical cost of an up-do ranges between $55 and $60, according to Lori Macie of Sirpilla Salon and Day Spa in Commerce Township.
Since the prom season hasn’t yet kicked into high gear, Macie said she wasn’t sure what hair style would be the trendiest this year. However, she said that last year many girls opted to leave their hair down.
“Most of them always get big curls and leave it down,” she explained.
A corsage and boutonniere exchange is a long-time prom tradition that students still embrace today. This year students are putting their own twist on the custom.
“The trend is bling,” said Kathryn Brock, owner of Village Florist in Milford. “Instead of plain wrist bracelets, kids are buying rhinestone bracelets to keep afterwards.”
Sweetheart roses make up 80 percent of the boutonnieres and corsages sold at Brock’s store.
“About 75 percent are white roses with the rest in pinks, yellows or other hues,” she said. “They dress them up with accent ribbons and build in rhinestones tucked into the corsage.”
Boutonnieres typically have a ribbon loop to the right side of the flower.
Corsages cost between $15 and $39 for a rhinestone wristlet; otherwise they range from $20 to $25. Boutonnieres typically cost between $10 and $12.
While the price of the corsage depends on what type of flowers are in it, the average cost of one is $22 at All Occasion Flowers & Plants in Commerce Commerce. And corsages are almost always of the wrist variety. Meanwhile, boutonnieres cost an average of $9.50 for a single rose.
What follows is a run-down of lakes area school districts’ prom policies, dates, ticket costs, and other issues related to proms.
WALLED LAKE SCHOOLS
In an effort to keep their proms alcohol- and drug-free, all three Walled Lake high schools require any students attending the prom to sign a contract prohibiting the use of drugs and alcohol. Students can’t buy prom tickets unless the contract is signed.
According to the contracts, any student suspected of being under the influence of an illegal substance may be asked to submit to a Breathalyzer test conducted by an Oakland County Sheriff’s Department deputy who will be stationed on the premises of each prom event.
Those found in violation of the drug and alcohol use prohibition will also be immediately dismissed from the prom. All contracts state a parent must come to pick up such a student. If a parent can’t be reached, the policy of Western and Central high schools is to sequester the student until the end of the dance, while Northern’s contract states school officials will either contain the student on the premises or release the student to an Oakland County Sheriff’s Department deputy.
No ticket fee refunds will be made to students who violate the drug and alcohol prohibitions.
Furthermore, although graduation is close at hand, all students attending the Walled Lake proms must still abide by the rules and regulations outlined in the Student Code of Conduct and may still face disciplinary consequences, including suspension, expulsion, and exclusion from commencement exercises for certain offenses.
In addition, no one is able to re-enter the prom once they leave.
Students are allowed to bring guests from outside their respective schools, provided that the guest is under 21-years-old and the guest has also signed a contract agreeing to follow the student code of conduct.
Walled Lake Western will have its prom on Saturday, April 30 at the Roostertail restaurant in Detroit beginning at 6 p.m. and lasting until midnight.
Western’s prom theme this year is “A Night on the Red Carpet.”
“Students will feel like celebrities as they walk the red carpet into the venue and then dance the night away with a talented DJ,” said class sponsor Christina Tate.
Western’s prom tickets were $45 each up until the week of spring break at the end of March; the cost was bumped up to $50 after spring break.
The evening includes dinner, as well as a special party favor — a mug filled with chocolates.
All ticket proceeds go toward defraying the cost of the prom, as well as special graduation events such as the senior breakfast.
Tate said that ticket prices were kept low this year because the senior class has done a lot of fund raising throughout their time at Western.
While this year’s prom tickets may be cheaper than usual, the prom still can be costly. As such, Western has taken to collecting dresses and giving them to students who can’t afford to buy one, as well as collecting coupons from vendors for discounts on different prom services such as nails, hair, and limousines.
Walled Lake Central will be holding its “Casino Royal” themed prom at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on June 2 from 7 p.m. until midnight.
While students will be admitted until 9 p.m., dinner will be served promptly at 8 p.m. and those students arriving late forfeit any courses already served without receiving a refund.
All students are required to produce photo identification and sign in when they arrive.
Central prom tickets are $45 until Friday, April 29. After April 29, the price of tickets rises to $60. No tickets are available for purchase after May 20.
The event concludes with a night of dancing to music provided by a DJ.
Walled Lake Northern’s prom will be held from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on June 2 at Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield Township.
Students will be admitted until 7 p.m. and once they are admitted they can’t leave the prom site before 10 p.m.
Ticket prices remain undetermined, and the theme of the prom will either be “Masquerade” or “Knights of the Round Table,” depending on the results of a student vote.
As prom can get expensive, Northern has compiled a list of senior parents’ tips, including advising parents to set and stick to a reasonable budget for prom expenses and not to be afraid to say “no” to any portion of their child’s prom plans. Parents are also reminded that all student rules remain in effect during prom night, which includes abiding by the school dress code when choosing prom attire.
HURON VALLEY SCHOOLS
Apart from graduation, the prom is considered a senior’s capstone in his or her educational journey. It’s the district administration’s view that as long as behavior is appropriate and within protocol during the event, it’s the student’s personal choice on how extravagant or low-key they experience the evening.
“The economy aside, prom is still considered a capping-off of senior year so it’s a student’s decision on how to spend it as long as it’s appropriate on our end,” said Huron Valley Schools Director of Community Relations and Fund Development Janet Roberts.
The school district relies on the efforts of a police liaison officer and chaperones to check for and prevent drug or alcohol consumption or possession at the event.
“Our police liaison officer is in attendance with the administration and chaperones,” Roberts said. “We check in students as they arrive and monitor throughout the night and as they leave. We can do a breath test if there is cause.”
Students are informed of the prom rules at a senior class meeting coordinated by each respective high school. Each student is made aware of the possibility of being ejected for not adhering to the rules and that they could be subjected to a Breathalyzer test if there is suspicion of illegal behavior.
“The rules are also reinforced with the mock car crash and/or anti-drinking and driving activity,” Roberts said.
Specifically at Milford High School, students including their guests sign an agreement when they purchase prom tickets. The agreement drives home anti-drinking and driving messages.
Consequences are stringent. At both the Lakeland and Milford high school proms, students are disciplined in accordance with the student code of conduct. In the past, some offending students have been prohibited from participating in graduation as a result of those types of behaviors.
Aside from the prohibition against drugs and alcohol use and/or possession, the school district doesn’t allow middle school dates, or dates 21-years-old or older. No re-entry is permitted after a student or couple leaves the prom venue.
“Students are escorted to their car if they need anything,” Roberts said. “We use the same dress code for every dance and also remind students about appropriate dancing.”
This year Milford High School’s prom will be held May 27 at the Suburban Showcase Collection, formerly Rock Financial, located at 46100 Grand River Avenue in Novi. The event will begin at 7 p.m. and end at 11 p.m.
Costs are $65 per person. Those on the reduced lunch price program can appeal for a lower-price prom ticket.
“There is a mechanism in place for both buildings called a scholarship program where they can receive a subsidy through the parent council or via the building directly,” Roberts said. “If students can’t afford to help with costs we don’t want to deny them the opportunity.”
All prom ticket proceeds go toward paying off the event costs, according to Francesa Audia, vice president of the Milford High School Senior Student Council.
No after-glow party will follow the proms.
“Historically it’s been a dinner and dance; we let it go at that,” Roberts said.
Audia noted that prom tickets will be on sale this week running until the end of the month during school lunch hours. Only seniors can purchase tickets.
Lakeland’s prom will be held a week later than Milford’s, on June 2 at the Crystal Gardens Banquet Center, located at 5768 East Grand River Avenue in Howell. The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and run until midnight.
“It’s a formal event where guys wear a nice suit or tuxedo and girls wear a dress — no jeans, but students must still follow all code of conduct policies,” said Scott Rolando, Lakeland High School’s student activities director.
Lakeland’s prom tickets are $65 per person; however, akin to Milford High School, Lakeland students on the reduced-price lunch program can pay a discounted ticket price.
All ticket revenues will be used to fund the prom, according to Rolando.
No after-glow party will follow the Lakeland prom.
“We’ve never had one, but hold the senior all-night party the night of graduation which is June 5 this year,” Rolando said.
WEST BLOOMFIELD SCHOOLS
The West Bloomfield High School prom is scheduled for June 2 at the Detroit Yacht Club. It begins at 7 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m.
“We generally hold them on a weekday night,” said West Bloomfield High School Co-principal Blake Prewitt. “We get a better price point and our seniors are already done with finals then.”
Ticket prices are estimated at $45 for each individual student.
Prewitt said that any profit made from prom ticket sales goes toward the senior class fund, from which any leftover money is donated to local charities such as West Bloomfield Youth Assistance and the West Bloomfield Children’s Fund.
He added that the school district’s police liaison officer will be on-hand for assistance, and that there is only one way in and out of the Detroit Yacht Club.
“If we see a student involved in questionable behavior, we do a pat down and also do a search of cars and limos if needed,” Prewitt said. “Our students know they will generally get caught. Since the prom is at the Detroit Yacht Club, students would be arraigned at the Detroit Police Department.”
Students will not be granted re-entry into the prom once they leave and students bringing a date from another school district must present a contract for the student from their district so that West Bloomfield can check with that student’s record with the other district’s administration.
No middle school students are allowed at the West Bloomfield prom as dates.
According to Prewitt, students were advised of prom rules at the senior class meeting and the district hasn’t had to eject anyone from the prom in the last five years.
West Bloomfield’s student dress code is enforced at the prom. The code states that a student’s attire must not materially jeopardize, interfere with, disturb or negatively affect the health, safety or welfare of other students.
Prewitt added that he hasn’t noticed any recent prom trends, other than prom dresses are moving towards a more traditional style and students tend not to stay for the entire prom.
The day after prom, there is also a mandatory graduation rehearsal for all students to attend in order to walk at the ceremony.
Waterford Mott’s prom will be held on May 13 at Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield.
Waterford Kettering’s prom will be held on May 20 at Petruzzello’s in Rochester.
A ticket for either prom is priced at $55 for individuals, and each prom starts at 7 p.m.
Students from both schools are subject to the district’s dance guidelines, which prohibits alcohol and controlled substance use and/or possession.
Administrators and the district’s police liaison officers will monitor students at the entrance of each prom. Students believed to be under the influence will be removed, have one of their parents contacted and have a law enforcement agent conduct an investigation.
Students must also conform to the district’s dress code, which mandates that all dresses and skirts must not be higher than a student’s arms going down their sides, and that shoes are being worn at all times.
The guidelines also prohibit “freaking,” or lewd, vulgar and/or sexually suggestive dance steps. After one warning is given, a student faces eviction from the dance for a repeated offense.
The maximum age of any non-student guest is 20-years-old and no students in middle school or younger may attend the proms.
Students must arrive at the prom by the designated start time and there is no re-entry after exiting.
The student and his/her non-student guest must abide by the district’s student code of conduct.
Each Kettering student, along with a parent and, if necessary, guests who are not a current Kettering student must sign a permission slip before attending the prom.
Proceeds from Mott’s prom will go toward paying for the prom itself, as well as food costs for the senior luncheon scheduled for June 1.
Current Mott students are informed of all rules and must initial that they are going to abide by the guidelines when they purchase their prom ticket. Dates who are not Mott students are notified when they sign their guest pass to attend the dance.