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Senior Prom Reflections + Prom Tips

In my eyes, prom is the ultimate high school tradition. It's ingrained in popular culture (did anyone else love the prom night scene in High School Musical III as a kid?), and almost everyone has a story they can tell you about their prom night. However, a lot of pressure sometimes comes with this - you have to get the right dress, you have to pick the best dinner venue, you have to look good in photos, you have to make perfect memories, etc. etc.  All of that pressure can sometimes build up until a night that's supposed to be fun becomes more stressful. As I've just had my senior prom last Friday night, I thought that today I would reflect on my experience going to both junior and senior prom in High School, and my tips for how to have an amazing night without the stress!

Above: Mary and I decided to explore Washington Golf after dinner 

My junior and senior prom were both so much fun. Both years, I spent the day getting ready with my best friend Mary. Last year, we split up for dinner, but this year we ate together at Washington Golf Country Club (which was absolutely delicious!). The dance itself was in the ballroom at the gorgeous Army Navy Country Club here in Northern VA, and after several hours there we ended the night at an after-party hosted by our friend Berkeley. The night was bittersweet, as it was my last high school dance -- but I couldn't have asked for a better night to end on!

1. Start looking for your prom dress early.

I cannot stress how important this is! Honestly, half the stress of prom is finding a dress. It's a lot harder than it seems to find one you love, especially if you're on a budget (I know I am!). My recommendation is to start early -- and by early, I mean months in advance. I found my dress back in late February for my May prom. While that may seem a little premature, I can assure you that finding the right dress for you well ahead of time is such a relief. It frees up your time and energy to focus on planning out other aspects of the night, not to mention that prom generally falls during or around exam season, which means that your life is liable to get increasingly stressful as it gets closer and closer to prom. In short, just get it out of the way early so you can look forward to wearing your dream dress!

1 1/2. Consider buying your dress second-hand. 

I made this point 1 1/2 because it's more of a sidenote, but one I wanted to mention nonetheless. I found my dress this year at Nordstrom, but at almost $400, it was way outside my budget. Instead of buying it off the rack, I checked online (Poshmark and eBay are great places) to see if someone who had worn the dress the year before had listed it. I lucked out and was able to get it for $200, in perfect condition! In my opinion, prom dresses are one of the best things to buy second-hand, as so many girls will wear it once and then want to get it out of their closet, and are willing to part with it for an amazing price. If you're concerned about fit, I would recommend going in person to a store to try on the dress before you buy online!

2. Keep groups to a minimum. 

I've gone in groups to prom both junior and senior year (most people at our school do, even if they have dates) and I had a ton of fun! However, one word of warning -- if you can, try and keep your groups to a minimum. Groups of more than 10 can entail drama, difficulty getting a reservation at a restaurant, and a lot of headaches over transport. I would recommend sticking to as many people as can fit into one vehicle; any more and things start to get unnecessarily complicated.

3. Plan transportation ahead of time.

This is so important. Keep in mind that it's really difficult to drive in a ball gown -- whether you'll have a guy in your group drive, a parent, an Uber, or a limo (if you're fancy!), make sure you establish how you'll get to and from photos, the dance, and any after parties you may be attending well in advance of the actual night. The last thing you want is to be stranded somewhere!

4. Select a photo location and bring along a photographer. 

Pictures are something that is so essential on prom night -- you want to capture the moment and the memories. I would recommend deciding on a place to take pictures and bringing along someone (preferably someone who isn't going to prom; a parent or a younger sibling is a great idea) to shoot photos. You can, of course, just take pictures of each other. However, I find that having a designated photographer is a lot easier, and that way you can get proper photos of the entire group!

5. Don't go overboard with your dinner plans. 

So many of my friends went to an extremely fancy dinner junior year, then ended up realizing it wasn't worth it and opting for something more casual senior year. While it may seem tempting to go for a really upscale restaurant, I've found that looking for a happy medium - something nice, but not black tie - is a much better option. For one, it's less expensive, and you're also more likely to find a place that's conveniently located either near your photo location or near your prom's venue. Dinner is definitely a great part of the night, but (in my opinion) it's not the thing that you'll remember the most, so don't feel like you have to go all-out.

6. Get ready with your bff!

Soooo many of my favorite prom memories come from the day-of, getting ready with my best friend Mary. We gave ourselves all day; you'll definitely want to allow yourself far more time than you think you need to get ready; in my experience, it takes longer than you'd expect and you want this to be a leisurely and fun experience! We blast music, do each other's makeup, and laugh all day. It's so much fun and something I would be so sad to miss!

7. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. 

Above all, prom should be fun. Don't put pressure on yourself to make everything perfect; even if some things don't go exactly as planned, you will make fantastic memories as long as you relax and just allow yourself to have an amazing time.



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