Gone are the days of awkwardly blurting, “Will you go to the prom with me?”
Invitations to the iconic spring dance have turned into all-out productions.
Think banners, balloons and custom-crafted foods. Think glitter glue.
Now there’s even a term for the big ask: “promposal.” Search that hashtag on social media and you’ll find post after post by teens who have put their creative prom invitations out there for all to see.
These stories also circulate at local dress shops, which are swarming with young shoppers this time of year.
Teens do a lot of dishing at Apropos Prom and Bridal in Guilderland.
“They talk about everything. We spend quality time together picking out the dress and then doing the fittings, so they definitely share it all,” said owner Sindi Saita.
She said girls have been telling increasingly elaborate prom invitation stories over the past two years.
Christine Goutos, owner of Rockabella Boutique in Saratoga Springs, has also noticed that trend. She’s heard about cars transformed into six-cylinder invitations and promposals written in the snow beneath ski lifts.
“One of my employees is in high school and she came in so excited to tell me her boyfriend got her a heart-shaped necklace engraved with her name and the word ‘Prom’ with a question mark,” she recounted.
Promposal tales are best told by their main characters: the askers and those being asked.
“I went with the cliché of writing it on cookies or something, but I decided to put my own little spin on it,” said Justin Andolina, a junior at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.
“I went down to Saratoga and bought macaroons from Putnam Market and then I wrote ‘Prom?’ on them with frosting,” he recounted. “They weren’t perfect, ’cause I’m not really an artist.”
Andolina specifically sought out French macaroons — a cookie he and his girlfriend, Emily Needham, first enjoyed together during a school trip to France.
“Since then, that was like her favorite dessert food ever,” he said.
Justin arranged the cookies in a box and went to Emily’s house dressed in a suit and tie.
“The box was open and I had the top underneath, so I held them out like you would hold out an engagement ring box,” he recounted.
When she came to the door, he got down on one knee and asked her to the prom.
She said yes.
Mike Faroli, a junior at Scotia-Glenville High School, also went with a cookie theme. He used his computer to create a “fortune” that he slipped into a fortune cookie. The small, rectangular slip of paper read: “Will you go to prom with me?”
He carefully resealed the cookie’s plastic wrapper and brought it along when he took Cara Zanta, his potential prom date, out for dinner at the Golden Phoenix Buffet in Niskayuna — her favorite Chinese restaurant.
Once they ordered their food, Mike made his move.
“I just said, ‘Cara, I have something for you, if you would open this,’ ” he recounted. “I gave it to her before we ate and she opened it and she was ecstatic.”
Mike isn’t the only S-G student with a flare for clever promposals.
Senior Dylan Orlando’s invitation got the attention of hundreds.
He enlisted his mom’s help to make a poster.
“My handwriting isn’t too good,” he explained.
The finished product read: “Ginny, You + Me = Prom?????”
Dylan brought his sign to the March 21 Federation Cup Semi-Final Division A basketball game between S-G and Albany Academy for Boys. He found out Ginny Zielaskowski, his potential date, wasn’t at the game, but wasn’t discouraged. He was pretty sure she’d watch it on TV.
Dylan waited until the fourth quarter to hold up the sign.
“It wound up on the Jumbotron and everyone was just pointing and going nuts,” he recalled.
Come to find out, the game was never broadcast, but friends had taken pictures of the invitation splashed on the Jumbotron, so Dylan sent Ginny one of them.
“It wasn’t the same, but it was still good,” he said.
Mike Fiore, a junior at Niskayuna High School, invited his girlfriend, Abbey Buttacavoli, to his house on Valentine’s Day to admire the way he had rearranged the living room furniture.
“She actually believed me that I was going to move the furniture around,” he said with amusement.
When she walked into the room, the lights were off. The only illumination came from over 150 candles, laid out to spell “Prom?”
“She was speechless when she actually saw it,” he said.
Kerry Van Sickle didn’t know what to think when a classmate came up to her in U.S. history and handed her a white T-shirt, an envelope and bunch of lollipops.
The large men’s undershirt was covered with hand-drawn hearts and a bunch of boys’ names, written in black marker.
“I opened the card and it said, “Wash to see who wants to take you to prom,” the BH-BL junior recounted.
When Kerry put the shirt in the wash, all of the names disappeared except for one: Luke Cameron.
“I thought it was so creative,” Kerry said. “I texted him and I was like, ‘So I got this present in class ...’ ”
Ian Kirkpatrick, a junior at Queensbury High School, used a combination of social media and ski equipment to invite Mikayla Cote of Charlton to his prom.
The two met at West Mountain, where Mikayla is a ski instructor and Ian teaches snowboarding. Ian capitalized on that connection by writing “Prom?” in the snow using ski equipment. He sent pictures of his creation to Mikayla through Instagram.
“He Skyped me and told me to go look and he started laughing as soon as I saw them because I just went, ‘Oh my gosh!’ ” Mikayla recounted.
A dress shop was the setting for S-G junior Nate Correll’s promposal.
He and Frencesca Costanini, a sophomore at Cohoes High School, had been dating for about nine months, so Frencesca was quite sure she’d get a prom invitation from Nate. In fact, she was so confident, she decided to shop for dresses. Francesca’s mom alerted Nate about the shopping trip and he decided to get to the store in advance. First, he got out pink and purple glitter glue and made a large sign that said, “Will you go to prom with me?”
He got to The Bridal Gallery by Yvonne in Latham before Frencesca did, and with the staff’s approval, hid in a dressing room.
“I ended up sitting in the dressing room in the corner for like a half-hour with my sign,” he recalled. “The people there were really nice. At first, they thought it was an engagement. I was like, ‘Nope, just prom.’ ”
Nate worked out a code with a saleswoman. The plan was, when he heard her say, “Oh you look great in that,” he’d pop out of his hiding place.
Finally, the moment came.
“She didn’t hear the door open and so I walked up behind her. Her friend that was with her, she was like, ‘Now if only Nate would ask you,’ right as I happened to walk up in front of her with the sign,” he recounted. “She said an immediate yes. She was definitely surprised, too.”
Elizabeth Bennett, a senior at Academy of the Holy Names in Albany, asked her boyfriend, Max Flatow, to go to her prom.
“I got his favorite sub from Subway and then, in my living room, I made a fire and I set up a campsite and I put out blankets and pillows and we roasted marshmallows, and in candles I spelled out “Prom?” right in front of the fireplace,” she said.
Max, who goes to Albany Academy, presented Elizabeth with a special promposal as well. He ordered a cheese pizza with black olives — her favorite — and had the olives arranged to spell “Prom?” He delivered the edible invitation to her at school.
“I loved it,” she said.