My mom asked me to run an errand with my dad. Little did I know it was a prom ploy.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, a friend of mine was at my house, working with my mom to set up a ‘promposal.’
Unless you’re in high school or have teenagers in your life, you’re likely wondering what a promposal is.
It’s a public proposal, almost always shared on social media, to ask someone to prom.
Over the past 10 years or so, elaborate promposals have been popping up all across the country.
Until the concept of promposals hit social media, a phone call would have been all that was expected.
“Thirty years ago, I got asked to prom with a phone call, and that was good enough for me,” my mom reminds me as I try to plan my own promposal.
Deciding who to ask to prom is no longer where your prom planning ends. Next up is planning the perfect promposal.
Twitter accounts are devoted to posting the coolest and craziest promposals. Search “promposal” on YouTube and you’ll receive thousands of results: A boy puts a sign on a Thruway overpass for his girlfriend to see when she drives under it. A girl covers her friend’s car in Post-It notes that spell out “P-R-O-M” for him to see when he comes out of work. There are themed promposals from “The Office,” “Gossip Girl,” “One Tree Hill,” “Parks and Rec” – you name it.
“I mean, we’re obviously going together, but he still has to prompose to me,” says one high school junior overheard talking with her friends about her prom plans with her boyfriend.
Of course this new tradition is fun to watch, but it certainly adds a lot of pressure to students.
“I feel too much pressure is put on having a clever idea for a promposal rather than actually picking the right person to go to prom,” said Canisius High School senior Joe Foster, who promposed to his girlfriend with a sign that read, “I wanted to ask in a Cheesy way … PROM?” with the words prom spelled out in cheese balls.
Promposals aren’t always between people who know each other well.
“I knew I was meeting a guy for the first time and promposed to him the same day!” laughed Mount St. Mary Academy senior Becca Wojcinski. “It was awkward, but we had a good time.”
Canisius senior Luke Strott asked Katie Lou Samuelson, a women’s basketball player for the University of Connecticut, to prom through a YouTube video in which he described different reasons why she should say yes to attending prom with him.
After tweeting the video at Katie Lou, she responded, saying, “This is amazing.”
“I really wanted her to see this, and I wanted her to remember it, so I decided to make a video,” said Luke. “I think most promposals are very clever and funny. They only bring a smile to people’s faces even if they aren’t the one asking or being asked.”
So far Luke’s video has had more than 2,000 views. Katie Lou did respond to Luke, saying that although she would have loved to, she broke her foot and would not be able to attend.
“It’s a personalized way to ask someone that you want to bring to a special event – and if you ask them in a big way, they can’t really say no!” says Mount St. Mary Academy senior Erica Harms, who asked her friend to prom by covering his car in Post-It notes that spelled out “P-R-O-M.”
On the other hand, not everyone is a fan of promposals because of how often they are done for attention on social media and how much focus goes into them versus the official event.
“I think promposals take away from prom because people focus so much on that and the buildup before prom, that they may be disappointed by the actual night,” said Mount St. Mary Academy senior Hannah Ososki. “It should be about the person who you’re going with more so than the ‘before.’ ”
One tweet that went viral featured a picture of a high school student talking to his girlfriend with the caption, “Asked my girlfriend to prom with my words.”
Many would agree this is the best way to do it.
“Promposals are often done purely to be posted on social media and not for the memory and joy of asking someone you care about to an exciting high school event,” said Mount St. Mary Academy senior Taylor Shotwell.
As for the promposal that was being set up for me, I came home and was shocked to see my friend in my dining room with a giant sign that read, “Rebecca, PROM?” over a plate of pancakes on which he had written with whipped cream “PROM?”
I said yes.
Rebecca Brandel is a senior at Mount St. Mary Academy.