The Declining “Promposal” Phenomenon



Molly Martin showcases her promposal to Kaitlyn Dolphin

Long throughout high school traditions, prom has always been a significant part of any student’s year. It’s a night of dancing, lights, formal wear, and romance. For such an important night, every student has the question of who they want to accompany them. So, the tradition of promposals was born. 

Events such as prom have become a staple and long-lasting tradition in American high schools. A promposal is the act of a student using some creative method to ask someone to attend prom with them. Students can look forward to an extravagant party with their other classmates. Many students hold it as the ultimate high school experience.

Venturesome students create some sort of sign or poster with a fun pun written on it. The puns will generally have a sort of item associated with it such as candy, drinks, flowers, and more. Though a sign is the most common type of promposal, some students will take things further. Asking the question via billboard, scavenger hunt, and much more.

“I wanted to do a big promposal because it’s the last year for these things and this has always been my dream since elementary school,” senior Kaylin Hamilton-Bailey said. “I know it’s cheesy but I went out and bought all her favorite things, drinks, candies, colors, etc.” 

Intricacy and creativity are part of the fun in promposals. The thrill comes in creating something fun for that important someone and seeing the response. In most cases, students will ask someone they admire and like, or their significant other. It is not limited to romance. Some will create a silly promposal for a friend.

“She really likes plants and outdoors and stuff, so I went to Moss in Czech village and got her a little plant,” Hamilton-Bailey said. “I put everything in a little basket with the plant in front and center and made a sign. Again, it’s cheesy but that’s what prom and high school is all about.” 

Promposals take a lot of thought and effort. Resources for creating them include sites such as Pinterest, TikTok, or other social media. They often help students start their creative endeavors. 

“On the poster, I wrote ‘Don’t LEAF me hanging let’s GROW to prom’ and headed over to her house. I got the idea from Pinterest and kind of based it on one of the poster boards I saw there. It helped me come up with the idea, and I added my own ideas and stuff to the board to make it my own thing,” Hamilton-Bailey says.

Recently, promposals have become a declining tradition, becoming less popular among students. Covid 19 heavily affected school traditions, leading to a stark decrease in students partaking in “promposals.” They became less known to students and simply less important.

“Nowadays it’s kind of fallen out of fashion and most people just don’t do them anymore. When my brother was in high school he asked a lot of his friends to go to prom. He had gotten a bucket and filled it with balls and made a sign saying ‘Will you go to prom with me? No balls,’” junior Levi Hodge says. “It was pretty funny and she thought it was cute. You just don’t see that anymore. Maybe the occasional flowers and sign but that’s about it.”

Over time students have simpler ways of asking one another out, skipping the fancy boards and elaborate plans. Some people consider creating a promposal embarrassing or awkward. Promposals hold some negative aspects and flaws that can be hard to ignore.

“It’s often the guy who does the promposal. In nearly all the cases of my older brother’s senior year, people depended on the guy to make the move of creating the promposal. Nowadays, it’s still the case,” Hodge says. “Not to mention it can be very stressful and a bit much. A lot of people were trying to one-up each other during my brother’s senior year. Plus, it sometimes can be a bit annoying for people when they do it in public.”

Most students would attempt to one-up one another in grander schemes, trying to go to great lengths to do some grand act. Teenagers also feel as though promposals were a necessary part of prom, and students felt pressured into doing so. The act of a promposal would often take place in public, putting great pressure and stress upon the one being asked the big question. 

“I was scared of what her parents might think, but she assured me they would be happy and they were. I did it at her house because I didn’t want to pressure her into saying yes because we were in public. Kind of like a real proposal, it can put that other person in a tough situation so I didn’t want her to think she had to say yes,” Hamilton-Bailey says

Promposals were never made to be some grand scheme to impress the public. At the end of the day, it’s a tradition meant to be fun and bring a smile to someone you care for. It’s a tradition that doesn’t hold great significance. Though, it was still an event that students should possibly try out just for the fun of it. Not because you want to one-up someone, create this grand event or because you feel pressured to.

“It was so cute seeing her reaction and of course, she said yes. It just felt nice making something special for someone I really like and seeing those adorable reactions to it. I’m super excited to ‘grow’ to prom with her, and I was really happy I could make something special just for her,” Hamilton-Bailey says.