A Brief History of Prom and Promposals

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We were contemplating promposal stories recently, and it occurred to us that the term has only recently become popular (recently as in “not a thing if you are over 30 years old”). This made us think about more about the elaborate ritual now known as a “promposal” – When did it begin? Is it an internet phenomenon? It became clear that we needed to know the history of promposals (or our useless knowledge database would be incomplete)!

According to Wikipedia, proms may date back to the 19th Century! For the historically challenged, the 19th Century refers to the years between January 1, 1801 and December 31, 1900. Proms are seriously old affairs. They have always marked a coming of age period in the lives of young adults, and are reasonably popular subjects of movies, literature and art. They are generally semi-formal events where men where tuxes and ladies wear dresses, although those rules can be, and are often broken.

When Did Promposals Start?

The Washington Post was once curious about this same topic (ah, such company), concluding that the term promposal may have risen to popularity with social media, but the actual act of humiliating oneself publicly, complete with attention-getting props (signs, rose petals, confetti canons, billboards, costumes, live performers – even live animals) dates way farther back.

Long before there was social media, YouTube and the internet itself, romantic young men made grand gestures to woo the hearts of their chosen prom dates, though. There used to be candy, flowers, music, and the simple request, “would you?” There just weren’t several hundred SmartPhones around to capture the moment for perpetuity. Still, happy couples agonized over which gorgeous prom dresses and tuxedos they would wear, asked their friends for hair advice and makeup tips, and pulled out all the stops for before parties, after prom parties, exciting transportation and more.

Some Prom Rituals Never Change.

The first mention of a “prom proposal” in searchable media, according to the Post, dates back to the Dallas Morning News in 2001. Students used a loudspeaker and rewritten lyrics to Adam Sandler’s song in The Wedding Singer to ask each other to prom. How charmingly simple and unique, compared to the over-the-top events of today.

Over the next several years, many variations on a theme took place, each seemingly more out of control than the last. In May, 2011, the term “promposal” first hit the media, and both the spread of the elaborate style of getting a prom date and the backlash towards the craziness of youth became prominent stories as well.

Will She? Won’t He?

Whether you choose an elaborate approach or a simple, old-fashioned and heartfelt, “will you be my prom date,” just participating in the ritual will earn you your place in the halls of prom stories. And whether or not he or she says “yes,” you should still plan to go to your prom. Add in to a group going as “just friends” or keep asking until you find your perfect date. Just don’t let the prom experience pass you by. The memories you make will last you a lifetime and you don’t want to miss out on that, do you?

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