Hot Seat with Nauh and Ckauh: Surviving Prom


Cynthia Lutes

Survive the prom.

Imagine this. It’s the end of your senior year, you’re (finally) done with school, and now you get one awesome night of dancing, looking glam, and partying – totally stress free. Yeah, that’s not it sis.

If your prom experience has been anything like ours so far, you know that it’s the most stressful thing on the planet. AP exams and finals week has nothing on prom preparation. Applying to college looks like a walk in the park compared to planning for prom, okay? There’s just so much that has to be considered in the process. You need to find the perfect dress, get said dress tailored, find shoes and accessories to match, plan the hair and makeup situation, and that’s just the tip of the prom iceberg. We can’t forget about the whole corsage deal and figuring out perfect photo spots, and, depending on your situation, finding a date that won’t make prom awkward. And that whole “limo or party bus” deal? Harder to figure out than some of the problems in AP Calculus (granted we both didn’t score higher than a 3 on that exam, but still.)

Prom is supposed to be fun and the night should be as stress-free as possible. That’s why we’re here: to share our experiences and knowledge to help everyone survive prom season, so that PROM can stand for Perpetually Remember Our Memories and not Please Remedy Our Misery.

STEP 1: Find the perfect dress

Nina: I could talk for hours about how the beauty industry brainwashes women into thinking that they aren’t beautiful unless they look “perfect” 100 percent of the time (whatever that means, anyway), but honestly, I’m tired of being angry. So I’ll say this: even though you might feel pressure to look a certain way at prom to appeal to, I don’t know, the masses, just go with your gut and choose something that makes YOU feel good. Because truly, when it comes to the way you look, no one else’s opinion matters but yours. So when dress shopping, have an idea of what you feel comfortable in, and don’t settle for something that doesn’t feel right. Browsing dress shops online is a considerable option (since it reduces the number of times you’re asked, “Are you finding everything okay?”), but be aware that dresses often look far different in real life. Also, get a dress with pockets. Total game changer.

Becca: Ah yes, step one of prom: finding “The Dress.” Okay, real talk, this isn’t your wedding. It’s a fancy high school dance, and at the end of the day, the dress most likely isn’t going to determine how much fun you have. That being said, it is nice to feel like a confident queen, and therefore, I suggest you pick a dress that is comfortable and makes you feel the most like you. I do caution online shopping though, since I have read one too many “I- bought- my- prom- dress- online- and- it- failed” stories. Make sure the site you’re looking at is credible and read reviews to make sure you are getting the bang for your buck. Also, don’t feel pressured to get the most expensive dress in the store. There’s no need to spend half a small fortune on one night, though if that’s the dress you ultimately want, go for it.

STEP 2: Dealing with dress envy

Nina: When Becca and I were coming up with ideas for this article, I told her, “My advice for dealing with dress envy is literally just going to be ‘get over it.’” And guess what? I was right. Don’t waste what could be a fun experience by comparing yourself to other people. Because, news flash, you all look great. And as my very wise mother likes to say, someone else’s success does not diminish your own. So listen to my mom.

Becca: I have to agree with Nina on this one. Everyone is going to look fabulous in their own way, so comparing your dress to someone else’s isn’t worth the energy.

STEP 3: The makeup/hair situation

Nina: As I stated in terms of the dress situation, do whatever makes you feel great. Want a glamorous updo and full glittery smokey eye? Go for it, dude. Want to simply blow dry your hair and put on some Chapstick, then head out the door? Live your dreams, man. Make sure you feel comfortable, and that thousands of bobby pins aren’t sticking into your skull or something. Also, don’t stress for months about a hairstyle or a makeup look. Prom is in, like, two weeks and I still don’t know what I’m going to do.

Becca: Last year for Junior Banquet I went to the salon with a couple of ideas in mind, ready to have a fabulous braid crown… which the stylist said my hair was “too short for.” My hair was just below my waist, to put things in perspective (and considering I did the exact style on my friend with shoulder length hair a week later, I figured out this was a load of bull). I wasted $60 on a low bun style that I didn’t want AND fell out twenty minutes after I went home, even though I warned the stylist it wouldn’t work. Moral of the story? Plan this stuff. I’m serious. There is nothing more stressful than having to redo all of your makeup or have to redo your hair yourself two hours before you are supposed to meet for pictures. If you want to minimize the stress of the event on the day of, make consultation appointments and have your Pinterest board of inspiration ready.

STEP 4: Finding a date

Nina: Let’s be clear, getting a date for prom is under no circumstances a necessity. It’s simple: if you don’t want a prom date, don’t get a prom date. In my honest opinion, prom should be about making a fool of yourself with the people that you care about, so if that includes a significant other, then go have a blast. But please, don’t kill yourself over finding a date just for the sake of having one. Men really aren’t worth it anyway. If you do happen to be looking for a date, ask a close friend or someone else you’re friendly with. I don’t know, Becca is much better at things like this, so take her advice.

Becca: This situation can get tricky and it can suck, especially if you don’t have a lot of guy friends, or available guy friends, and it can suck if you’re the only one in your group without a date. My advice? Take the pressure off  the situation. No one said a date had to be someone you have romantic interest in (though if you do, that is obviously fine). Go with someone as friends if you choose, or use prom as a way to get to know someone better. Or, just go with a giant group of people. We all know we’re going to end up just dancing with our friends and dates as one giant mosh pit anyways.

STEP 5: Flowers

Nina: I boycotted the whole flower thing because I’m a cheapskate, so I’ll defer to Becca again. My only advice is just to go simple on your flowers. Don’t carry a bouquet to prom. No one wants that.

Becca: Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me that spends too much time watching rom-coms, but I love the idea of corsages and boutonnieres. My advice here would be to research florists to see who has the best work and the best price. Make sure you have a picture or sample of your dress for reference, and know what kind of style you like. If you don’t know anything about flowers, never fear! Talk to your florist and they’ll help you decide on what looks best.  

STEP 6: Planning transportation

Nina: Okay, finding transportation to prom has honestly been the most stressful experience of senior year. We’re going in the limo – wait no, we’re not, it’s too expensive – – let’s try a bus! – wait, the school is getting us transportation – never mind, the school isn’t getting us transportation… It’s like a positive feedback loop. The longer you wait to address it, the more persistent it gets. In order to make this process less painful, try to agree on a group and a means of transportation ahead of time, rather than following the “eh, I’ll find something” attitude that I lived by.

Becca: The amount of subtle drama that I have heard about and been a part of regarding transportation is honestly enough to give me an ulcer. It’s absurd. First you’re going in this limo, but oh wait half the people don’t want to be in the limo so there goes that, and is the school doing transportation? Who knows. And, we don’t want to drive which means we need to find another way to get there but who has an open limo or bus? Okay, but also we don’t want an awkward car ride and okay sweet we scored a bus and its costing us HOW MUCH? Yeah. My group and I did some next level procrastination on this and even though it all worked out in the end, I’m still not here for how unnecessarily stressed out I was about this whole thing. The earlier the better, folks.  

STEP 7: Photo spots

Nina: Piece of advice numero uno – get yourself a father who is an aspiring botanist and who will re-seed half the backyard so that your prom pictures come out nice. (Thanks, Mike.) Don’t worry about finding some bougie location; a yard with even an ounce of greenery will do fine. Just make sure whatever spot you choose is close enough to wherever you will be departing from. Nobody wants to rush through photos – or worse, run in heels.

Becca: As someone who will be sporting four inch heels, I agree with Nina about choosing location based on departure. Timing is also a good thing to plan out if you are going to multiple photo spots. As far as the location, look at the weather, and go from there. Yards work. The beach works (though take caution with the stand and moisture in the air). A cute little random pavillion works. A cool wall works. It really is all about personal preference.

STEP 8: Time management

Nina: I’m not sure why I agreed to write this article, considering I have exactly zero knowledge of half the things on this list. As expected, I’m not the best at time management, but I do like making lists. Start by making a comprehensive list of everything that needs to be done leading up to prom, paying the most attention to things that need to happen at specific times (think hair appointments or limo pickup). Try to give yourself enough time where, while you might not be relaxed, you’re at least not flitting around like a bee that’s had too much caffeine. (See the aforementioned running-in-heels caveat.)

Becca: Plan, plan, plan, and I can not say this enough, plan. Time is not your friend on the day of prom, so use it wisely. Figure out a time frame of when appointments are and how long they may take (another perk of having a consultation beforehand), when pictures are, when you have to meet the limo/ bus/ ride, and how long pictures could take and what time. It might seem excessive, but having general time frames will make you feel less like a chaotic mess and more like a person who is on their game and ready to take on the evening.

STEP 9: How to actually have fun

Nina: As someone who’s been to a few not-so-fun school dances, I’ve learned to keep my expectations fairly low. Don’t expect prom to be a magical evening where you fall in love and, I don’t know, ride off on a white horse. It’s probably going to be obscenely hot and sweaty, and someone will probably step on your feet (and/or the hem of your dress). Prepare to be exhausted by the end of the night, not enchanted. That said, sing offkey with your friends, poorly attempt all the dance moves the kids are doing these days, and try not to be as nihilistic as I’ve been throughout this list. Make memories, even if you look back on them in five years and cringe.

Becca: Relax. You’ve planned, you’ve prepared, you’ve gotten the perfect photos, just sit back, eat, and dance and sing your heart out with the people you care about, even if you look like a dad at a barbeque. I agree with Nina, though, prom probably isn’t going to look like it’s straight out of some rom-com where everything is perfect and it’s the best night of everyone’s lives. Keep your expectation sort of low, or better, just keep an open mind and make the most of the situation, no matter what it may be. Keep mind, nothing can truly be lamer than awkwardly dancing to some song you’ve heard twice in your life in the school gym.

STEP 10: Dealing with Instagram aftermath

Nina: The one thing I’m dreading about waking up the day after prom (after the inevitable migraine and sore feet) is the typhoon of Instagram posts flooding my feed. There’ll be pictures of people dancing, people laughing, people fake-laughing to get a good candid photo that everyone knows is fake, people doing the weird you-hold-my-waist-and-I’ll-hold-your-hands pose. Will you want to vomit? Potentially. Will you post your own nauseatingly sentimental prom photos? Oh, definitely. Basically, let yourself be happy about prom, and let everyone else be happy too. (This applies to all other areas of life as well.)

Becca: Prom season has started, and I’m positive that you have seen some sort of prom photos already on your feed. It’s inevitable. So, just go with it, and let’s be honest, we are all going to post our own photos anyways. As Nina said, just be happy, and post away (and then thank your friends and family for taking the 600 photos that you went through to pick the perfect 10 for the ‘gram).

What to Bring to Prom: A Comprehensive List

  • Chapstick/lipstick, depending on what you’re wearing
    • Sidenote from Becca: Honestly, bring both so you’re matte lip can look fresh but your lips also won’t be cracking like you spent the past week in a desert.
  • Something to mop up the inevitable sweat
    • Suggestion: oil blotting sheets, tissues, or setting powder
  • Bandaids, because heels are truly the worst invention
    • Suggestion: prevent blisters before they start with squishy or soft heel inserts for your shoes!
  • Tampons, because you can never be too prepared
  • Advil, if you think you might need it after hearing 300 people yell the lyrics to “Sicko Mode” at the top of their lungs (you’ll need it)
  • Listerine strips, just in case you do happen to fall in love and ride off on a white horse
  • Bobby pins, because dancing is sure to shake some loose
  • Portable charger, it’s 2019, does this really need an explanation?
  • Wallet or clutch or some type of something to hold money, the invite, your ID, and other small items
  • Fabric tape, just in case (though hope that you won’t need to repair your dress)
  • Not an item, but just a reminder to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. It will keep your energy up and reduce your headaches from that previously mentioned yelling of the lyrics to “Sicko Mode”