Observing prom etiquette for guys

Paul Shin, Staff Writer

Prom etiquette can be tricky, especially for first-timers. I have met people whose date has ditched them or they committed treasonous acts of betrayal (also known as dancing with another person without permission). Don’t worry: here are basic and fundamental rules of prom for guys.

  1. If someone asks, be graceful about it.

Be courteous. The person gathered up a lot of courage to ask you out. Don’t torture them; just give a straight answer. Be truthful. If you want to go with friends only, then do so. If someone asks you, don’t say no in the hopes that a “better person” will ask. You definitely do not want them to see you at Prom with a different date.  If you don’t like them, tell them so instead of lying.

  1.  Think carefully about how and when to ask someone.

If you are asking someone to prom, do what you think the person will like. Don’t be too cheap and get her nothing, but don’t be extravagant and make it seem like you’re buying your date. Be creative — try to think more outside of the box. The latest you should ask is two weeks before the dance. That is a bit tight, but guys and girls need time to buy an outfit and arrange transportation.

  1. Get the right type of corsage.

Guys should get a corsage that is preferably the same color as their date’s dress or something that matches (white fits with all). The traditional corsage fits on the wrist and should be tight enough that it doesn’t fall off.

  1. Decide ahead of time who will pay for the ride, food, tickets and other expenses.

Make sure you know well in advance who will be paying for what. I know most high school students do not have a full-time job, so paying individually is not out of the question. Paying at a restaurant requires a little more finesse: one person should pay the bill, but everyone should give their portion to that person ahead of time. Don’t make it awkward by adding each person’s portion at the cashier. Photos are different; each person can pay their fair share.

  1. Chivalry isn’t dead, so exercise it.

Open the door for your date, observe cell phone etiquette, keep the girl on the inside sidewalk furthest away from the street, pull out the chair for your date and practice excellent table manners.

  1. Make good decisions about dancing with your partner or with someone else.

If you are going stag, feel free to dance with anyone you want. If you do have a date, make sure that both of you are fine with the other dancing with someone else ahead of time. Don’t assume that she won’t care. First and last dances are for your dates though.

  1. Do NOT ditch your date.

It’s fine if you dance with someone else if they ask, but make sure that you stay with your date for majority of the night. You asked that person (or you were asked and accepted) and it is expected that you carry out that obligation. Stay together or close by. Restrooms are an exception, but excuse yourself and return as quickly as possible.

  1. Compliment your date.

Chances are, your date put in a lot of time, money and effort to making sure that Prom night is a great night. Give compliments liberally and make sure you receive them with grace.


Let me repeat: do NOT do stupid stuff to impress your date. It may seem funny at first, but the lasting impression is that you are an idiot. This includes touching below hips, staring at her body parts, making funny faces, saying rude and inappropriate jokes, burping, grinding or making sexual innuendos. And DON’T mention swag. Ever.

As overwhelming as Prom may seem, these tips are the key to a successful, fun night. If you follow them, I guarantee that Prom won’t feel as overwhelming as you might think.