Spring is here, marking that magical time full of anticipation for one of the biggest milestones in a high school student’s life: Prom. Between now and late May, west Oakland high school seniors will be preparing for prom with high hopes and expectations based on years of hype that prom is meant to be one of the best times of your life. While some see that characterization as exaggerated, what is not overblown is the increasing importance placed on this traditional rite of passage.
For most students, prom remains a “big thing.” Many see it as a chance to close out the four years of high school with their friends in a fun night full of dancing.
“I’m looking forward to spending one last fun evening with my friends as a class,” said Huron Valley Milford High School senior Josh Beazley.
Charlotte Thomas, also a Milford senior, agrees.
“I’m excited to spend one last night with all my friends,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to having an amazing time with my best friend, Natalie,” added Milford senior Tyler Brock.
Other students are looking forward to cutting loose and kicking off their shoes, like Milford senior Brianna Tori.
“I’m most looking forward to the dancing,” she said. “I love dancing and the music.”
Others, such as Walled Lake Northern High School senior Jackson Harris, who characterized himself as “not much of a dancer,” are not as excited.
“But I’m looking forward to hanging out with my friends during and after prom,” he said.
Prom is an important bookend to a high school career, a chance to celebrate with classmates before graduation and moving forward with whatever it is a senior has in store for him/herself after high school, whether that’s college, joining the workforce, or any number of other post-secondary plans.
Some have even likened the preparations that go into attending prom — getting the limousine, the perfect dress or tuxedo, flowers, the venue — as similar to those for planning a wedding, albeit on a smaller scale.
However, in this day and age, while you may have multiple weddings, you only get to attend your senior prom once. Therefore, there is pressure to make sure it’s memorable — a mental and financial burden which seems to increase every year.
A recent national survey conducted by Visa found the average couple will spend $1,087 on the 2012 prom, $200 more than the national average last year.
Men are still expected to pay for the majority of prom, according to local high school students.
“If you invite a girl, you should definitely pay for the girl’s ticket and transportation,” said Ryan Soulet, a senior at Walled Lake Northern.
Ticket costs for prom vary by school and may even depend on when the tickets are purchased. In some cases, purchasing tickets earlier will result in a discount.
For example, tickets for this year’s Walled Lake Western High School prom were $45 per person before Friday, April 13, but increased to $55 after. Western’s prom is Saturday, April 28, from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Tickets for Walled Lake Central High School’s prom were $55 each if purchased before March 26, and $60 after for seniors’ May 31 prom, which runs from 7 p.m. to midnight.
Tickets for Walled Lake Northern’s prom are $50 per person for the May 31 event being held from 6 to 11 p.m.
Huron Valley Lakeland’s prom is from 6 to 11:30 p.m. on May 31, with tickets costing $65 a piece.
Milford prom tickets are $75 a person to attend the event slated for 6 to 11 p.m. on May 25.
Students at Waterford Kettering High School will pay $65 per person for their prom, which will be held from 6:30 to 11 p.m. on May 18.
For Waterford Mott High School students, prom tickets are $60 per person, with prom lasting from 7 to 10 p.m. on May 11.
West Bloomfield High School students will pay $45 per person for prom tickets. The big dance is 7-11 p.m. on May 30.
Included in the price of tickets is dinner, which does cut down on the hit to a student’s pocketbook inflicted by going to a fancy dinner before the dance.
In addition, the men are expected to provide transportation for their date.
While some will use their own car or borrow a fancy one from a family member or friend, a lot of students plan to go as a group in a limousine or party bus.
Depending on the amount of time and the type of vehicle rented, prices can range anywhere from $400 to $450 for a 10-passenger limousine for five hours, to over $1,000 for six hours in a 30-passenger party bus.
Tuxedo rental is another expenditure to add to the prom tally. Depending on where you rent from, the average cost to rent a tuxedo can be between $100 to $200 per night.
And finally, corsages can range anywhere from $15 to $30 depending on the type and number of flowers.
When everything is considered, the guy can easily spend anywhere from $300 to $400 — which is close to the budget that Beazley, the Milford senior, is expecting to stay under.
“I plan to stick to a budget of $400,” he said at a recent Milford Prom Fashion Show held in conjunction with The Clothing Cove, a downtown Milford merchant that provided dresses for the show.
As for his prom plans, Milford’s Brock is “not keeping it cheap, but not spending a ton of money, either.”
Both Beazley and Brock are taking dates in groups that plan to meet before the prom for pictures and then take a party bus to the prom venue.
In addition to the paying for prom, men face the added pressure of requesting their dates’ company for the evening.
And if that wasn’t difficult enough, there is a growing trend of making sure the “proposal” to go to prom is cute, thoughtful and memorable.
While asking a girl to prom may not have to be as outlandish as, for example, singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” with an accompanying marching band in front of the girl’s soccer team, there is a need for a certain amount of creativity.
“It’s got to be cute and creative. It definitely has to have flowers in it. It needs to make a girl feel special,” said Walled Lake Northern senior Soulet.
Fellow Walled Lake Northern senior Bryan Lubin agrees.
“You have to figure out something that interests the girl,” he said. “That is memorable. It’s a big deal. Girls like to brag.”
And while other girls already know who they are going with — whether it’s their boyfriend or just a friend — they still expect to be asked in a unique way.
“I’m going with my friend, Kyle,” Milford senior Jessica Samaha said. “We’re just going as friends, but he is still going to ask me in a cute way.”
Charlotte Thomas, also a senior at Milford, said her boyfriend also has an idea of how he will ask her formally to prom.
Others think that if you are just going casually as friends, there’s no need to make a big deal about how you ask — or how you are asked.
“It depends,” said Walled Lake Northern Senior Amanda Pace. “If you’re going as just friends, I don’t think it has to be really cute.”
Northern senior Harris agrees.
“I don’t think I would (make a big deal of asking my date) unless we were dating,” he said.
It seems Brock, however, disagrees. He concocted an elaborate scheme to invite his best friend, Natalie, to the prom. He had one of his date’s friends give her a note telling her to go to Starbucks, where the barista had her favorite drink and a note waiting for her.
“It told her to go to her house,” Brock explained. “And when she walked into her room, I had put together a bunch of poster boards hung up saying, ‘Prom?’ Then, because she likes ‘The Bachelor,’ I had a rose for her and asked if she would accept my rose.”
And as proms become bigger and more expensive, it’s not surprising that today’s prom venues are a far cry from the simple graduation teas and gymnasium dances of the past, with their crepe paper and cut-out tin foil star decorations.
Proms now are held in ballrooms of hotels or at country clubs. For high school seniors today, there’s no need to worry about the gym floor opening up and falling into the pool underneath as they dance with their partners.
West Bloomfield High School students will hold theirs at the Detroit Yacht Club, while Walled Lake Western students will dance the night away at the Roostertail in Detroit. Northern’s Knights will hold prom at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, and Walled Lake Central will own the dance floor at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield Township. Lakeland and Milford high school seniors will hold their proms at Crystal Gardens in Howell, while Mott students will boogie woogie at San Marino in Troy and Kettering’s students will get dudded up for their special night at Penna’s in Sterling Heights.
While some proms have themes, such as Walled Lake Central’s “Midnight in Paris,” the themes have no bearing on the attire required at prom, which is formal and elegant — which means nobody will have to worry about ripping off someone’s Malibu Barbie idea.
Instead everybody will be dressing in their finest Evening Gown Barbie outfits.
While guys may think they are the only ones shelling out big bucks for prom, the costs girls incur can be even greater when you take in to account hair, makeup, jewelry, shoes, pedicures and manicures, and of course, the dress.
Unless you decide to make your own unique prom dress a la Molly Ringwald, girls can expect to spend an average of $100 to $400 on a prom dress this year.
Some may even spend more, like Milford senior Samaha, whose prom dress is part of her graduation present from her parents.
“What I’m most looking forward to about prom is getting to wear my dress and feeling like a princess,” she said.
Of course, some may have found a bargain deal and got their dress on sale or found a vintage dress at a consignment shop for less.
But in today’s tough economy, it may be hard to find your dream dress at an affordable price.
However, Hope Closet is just one organization offering a great way to find a beautiful dress for prom.
Hope Closet is a non-profit organization that works “to provide young women with the opportunity to attend special high school events with a dress of their choice regardless of financial constraints or limitations.”
Each year, Hope Closet hosts a prom boutique during which a girl can pick out a prom dress and one accessory, free of charge.
Over the years, Hope Closet has sent 4,000 young women from the metro Detroit area to proms.
This year’s boutique will be held from Saturday, April 21 to Saturday, April 28 at Royal Oak First United Methodist Church.
The boutique features gently used dresses, shoes, jewelry and other accessories.
One of the most important requirements is that an appointment to get a dress must be made in advance. Appointments can be made by phone at 248-347-1309 daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The phone line opened for appointments on April 2.
In order to qualify for a dress, you must be currently enrolled in high school. Students will be asked to present a valid school ID card.
The girl wearing the dress must be present at the boutique to pick out a dress. Another person such as a parent cannot pick out a dress instead.
Meanwhile, donations are accepted throughout the year.
The past two years, the Walled Lake Western Student Council under the guidance of accountant secretary Nancy McFarland has collected “gently worn dresses” for Hope Closet.
Last year, they collected over 100 dresses, and this year they collected about 75.
“It’s a way to give back to the community. It’s a wonderful event to let the girls shop,” McFarland said. “It’s a chance to clear out your closet. I realized I still had my daughter’s prom dresses and didn’t know why, So I donated them.”
For more information on how Hope Closet operates, visit www.hopecloset.com. If you have questions or would like to volunteer, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
While the dress is the big expenditure for girls on prom night, many girls will spend quite a bit more to make sure they look perfect.
Hair salon services are in high demand during prom season. Many girls will spare no expense to have their hair styled just right for prom night.
The average cost of an up-do starts at $55 to $60, while a blow out or down hairdo can start at $25. However, that price may increase depending on the texture and length of the hair.
Added to that could be an additional $20 to $35 for pedicures and manicures, as well as additional money spent for a tan.
There is also the matter of getting a boutonniere for your date, which can cost anywhere from $9 to $12.
But then again, prom can be as expensive or inexpensive as you personally wish to make it.
To that end, Walled Lake 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.
Nevertheless, quite a bit of money typically is spent on prom and, as such, it pays to make sure that you follow the bevy of rules set forth by each school. If you get kicked out of prom, there is often no refund.
Of course, all schools stipulate that students’ formal attire must be in compliance with the school’s dress code as outlined in their various student codes of conduct.
Schools also typically have students sign a contract when they buy their prom tickets. The contracts generally stipulate that the students agree to adhere to the various rules and understand the consequences if they don’t comply.
This normally includes a no-tolerance policy with regards to drugs and alcohol. Some schools will even have a police liaison or Oakland County Sheriff’s Department deputy on hand to administer Breathalyzer tests to students suspected of being under the influence of alcohol.
If the student’s date does not attend the same high school, they too are required to submit a signed guest contract.
No middle student guests are allowed at the senior prom. Likewise, accompanying dates must be in high school or have valid identification stating that they are 20-years-old or younger.
Most schools also have a strict policy with regards to arriving by a certain time and being permitted to leave after a specific time. Many also have a no re-entry policy. Once you leave, you cannot come back.