Surviving Prom in a Prom-Posal World


prom group shotThings have gotten a little crazy up in here. Just in case you missed the bigger-and-better memo when it comes to all things homecoming or prom, I once blogged my outrage at the “mumstrosities” that are some modern-day homecoming mums. More than 10,000 page views tell me I hit a nerve.

Given all this, I entered my son’s senior year with sweaty palms and a tight grip on my wallet. We would be navigating both homecoming AND senior prom. One night, during dinner with friends, the prom veterans began to explain how it works.

Somewhere between the explanation of prom groups and weekend lake house rentals, I sort of felt faint. Yet, I know these friends to be level-headed people who couldn’t care less about keeping up with the crowd. So, I put my blind trust in them as they offered to be our guides while we pinkie-promised that our sons would be in the same prom group.

So, just how did we survive prom in a crazy prom-posal world — where asking someone to prom resembles a wedding proposal? And the costs can run as high as the expectations?

Our approach fell somewhere between shunning the entire trend and just going with it completely. If you are a prom rookie, let me explain the current prom climate.


A boys asks a girl to prom in some creative and often elaborate and expensive way. Because our son has a girlfriend, we helped with a creative and inexpensive plan. He took her out for her favorite casual dinner and dessert. Afterwards, he handed her a brown paper package wrapped up with string. It contained a framed note saying that prom together would be one of his favorite things.

Prom Groups

Once the asking is done, the couples buddy up to form a prom group. I’m here to testify that this is as complicated as it might sound, considering the agendas and feelings of 14 teenagers. Having navigated that unpleasant territory, there’s now a group of parents and teens for hire to negotiate world peace. I have no advice here besides “go with God.”


Prom Shirts

It’s a thing. Considering the number of t-shirts I have from every event at college, I can’t complain. So, our group designed our own, and my friend made them for a total of $12 per shirt, complete with their names on the backs.

Lake House Rental

If you thought prom was a one-evening occasion, you were wrong. It can be an all-weekend affair, so seniors have “one last hurrah” with the group of friends formed through many tears, heated group texts, and the hopes and dreams of parents interceding. I initially thought HECK NO. But with our friends’ guidance, we agreed to a modified approach to this intense memory-making before graduation.

This was not a weekend of wild partying. The parents and all 14 kids attended a parent meeting, where everyone signed a code of conduct. Two fathers were nominated to chaperone, sleeping in a room between the boys’ room and the girls’ room. The dads also cooked and cleaned. We chose a more secluded lake, and these great kids were rewarded with a supervised 48 hours of after-prom festivities.

prom picture

Limo and Photos

Our experienced parents booked their previous limo company AND driver. He met the group at the photo location. Determining ONE desired location and time was as easy and drama-free as determining the final make-up of the prom group. Oh vey.

All manner of family members acting as paparazzi gathered at a park to take 9,956 photos of the group in every combination of poses known to man. This actually was fun, and we parents gave each other high fives and big smiles that said, “We are surviving this! WOO HOO! Look at us!”

The kids eventually loaded into the limo, which took them to prom and then to the lake house. The two dads headed straight to the lake house with all the food, games, and movies — ready to welcome the kids with a late-night snack.

The Cost

Cha-ching. I’ve heard rumors of outlandish expenses. Again, our experienced prom parents led the way, knowing which lake had affordable two-night rentals, which limo company to use, and where to get discounted tuxedo rentals. The school’s prom tickets were the only line item we couldn’t slash. Our son’s girlfriend found her dress online for $60 — a far cry from the prices other girls might pay. The prom group divided the costs of the limo and lake house, including food, evenly between all guests. The dads set a menu and grocery shopped, meeting the needs of even the vegan in the group. All in all, the total cost was about $500, including the tux rental, the prom-posal, the prom tickets, the lake house, the limo, the corsage, and the prom t-shirt.

With careful consideration, my husband and I worked with the other parents to craft a prom weekend on a budget we set that afforded our kids a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We caved in some areas and drew firm lines in others. But the in the end, we did it our way and have no regrets. We are living testimonies that you can survive prom in a prom-posal world. And make lifelong memories that are captured in more photos and selfies than any previous generation.

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Heather has called the Fort Worth area home since 1995, after growing up as an Army brat and preacher's kid. She's married to her college sweetheart, Chris (Sic' Em Bears!). They're parents to three - Collin (1999), Cooper (2001), and Caris (2004), and they're gaining daughter, Elizabeth, after Collin's August 2022 wedding. Heather is the Co-founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, The Adoptee Collective, which offers lifetime adoptee support and post adoption resources, as well as pre-adoption education. Heather has authored and published multiple books, finding joy in using her gifts, time, and energy toward her life goal to finish empty.


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