History of Promposals: Where did they come from?


Photo by 10/11 News

To follow up the perfect promposal, the search for the perfect prom dress begins. Dillards is a popular location in Lincoln, but there are many small boutiques carrying prom dresses, as well.

It’s prom season in Lincoln, Nebraska, and while not everyone is able to attend, the pictures and dinners are still inclusive to anyone. But what is it that makes prom so exciting? Is it the dance itself? The pictures and dressing up to look pretty? According to many, the so-called “promposal” is all about the chase, and maybe about who has the most creative idea, but the question stands: where did it originate from?
While it is unknown of where the real first-ever promposal took place, the first newspaper to cover it was in Dallas, Texas in 2001. Some lines from the article by The Dallas Morning News are covered below:
“Prom proposals these days are as fancy as the marriage kind. Guys go to great lengths to get the girls to say yes. Or, maybe they just get caught up in their creativity…”
Here the article began to explain a contest the school had of who had the “Most Creative Prom Proposal.”
“‘Our generation loves doing it bigger and better, and prom is one event where you can get to really show off – your date, your clothes,’ [Kim Gardner] says. This is important, especially in a big school… ‘It’s hard to get noticed.’”
The next promposal story didn’t appear until a year later, where boys in Arizona would leave trails of rose petals from their dates’ houses to the school. A boy in Idaho snuck an alarm clock into his girlfriend’s room that went off at 3 a.m., displaying, “Hope it’s not too late – will you go with me to the prom?” Billboards get put up, announcements happen on planes, and there are lots and lots of balloons.
In 2006, the promposal was finally criticized by a columnist at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Has the annual spring ritual of a formal school dance gotten out of hand?” he asked.
In the late 2000s through the early 2010s, social media exploded. The social media agency Sq1 reported in 2011 that 20,000 prom videos were uploaded in one month. 2011 was also when the name “promposal” finally officially originated by Zosia Bielski in Canada.
After all this, it’s more than just a cute romance. It’s a case study in how “teen trends” play out, and, according to The Washington Post, a manifestation of teens’ “unabashed exhibitionism” and “need to be noticed.”
Brad Bain, a participant in that 2001 promposal challenge in Dallas, says on promposals, “I think it’s neat. It adds a little extra flare! And it forces kids to not just work up the courage to ask, but to be creative, as well.”
Whether you agree with the creativity of promposals or gag at the thought of them, the brief history of such a cultural phenomenon tells a lot about teenage fads, and how they might not actually go away. Happy prom season everyone. Go big or go home.