It’s prom night: girls in fancy hairdos and beautiful dresses; guys looking their best, some in tuxedos or suits. There’s music, decorations, good food, and lots of new people to meet.
But there are a few things missing from this particular prom, like crude dance moves, offensive song lyrics, girls in immodest dresses, and guys who have been drinking.
The reason? Instead of being sponsored by a local high school, this prom is being held at the Grand Blanc Michigan Stake Center and is sponsored by five stakes in the area.
While there is a lot of good in the whole idea of going to a prom where everyone is dressed up, using their best manners, and learning how to dance properly, what isn’t so great is what many proms sponsored by the public schools have become.
The solution: put on your own prom, but with Church standards as the guide.
Five stakes in Michigan got together and went all out to plan and pull off the best prom ever, where LDS teens didn’t have to worry about anything but who they wanted to dance with next.
And how did the teens respond to the whole idea of a Mormon prom?
Abby Clough of the Rochester Ward said, “Every time our leaders talked about it, it got bigger—three stakes, then four, then five. There were going to be so many people there.”
Having more new people to meet became a huge draw. “Awesome,” said Eric Griffin of the Blue Water Ward, “three times the girls to meet.”
Kofi Opoku, an LDS exchange student from Africa who is attending the Blue Water Ward, had to look up exactly what a prom was. “It said it is an event to have social interaction, dance, make new friends, and have fun.” Kofi was ready to do just that.
To make this Mormon prom happen, a few items needed to be addressed.
First, the music. Jake Anderson of the Fenton Ward remembered a bad experience with music at his school prom. He said, “They had one line in one song with cuss words in a row. They quieted the music so everyone could scream out the line. The songs were degrading.” But he knew he didn’t have to worry about that happening here. The disk jockey was a member of the Church and was sensitive to what would be appropriate. Plus, he had help in picking out the songs.
School proms can be very expensive. As Brad Roemmich of the Clarkston Ward said, “You buy the tickets. Some people want limos. You have to pitch in for that. There’s the corsage and tux rental and dinner. It ends up in the hundreds.”
The stake prom used plenty of volunteers including adult leaders and the youth committees from all the stakes to decorate, fix food, and even act as photographers and coat-check attendants. Volunteers also manned the doors as security, patrolled parked cars in the parking lot, and created and distributed party favors. And, of course, because it was held at the stake center, there was no location rental fee.
For prom, girls want to look pretty. They want a great dress and the fun of dressing up. And the guys actually appreciate the dresses more when they are modest. When Briton Moffitt of the Rochester Ward was asked if the girls looked good, he answered firmly, “Most definitely.”
Tiffany Morris of the Bloomfield Hills Troy Ward commented, “Here the guys say, ‘You look beautiful,’ instead of ‘You look hot.’ It seems like a real compliment.”
But modest dresses are hard to find. So where did all these hundreds of girls find modest prom dresses for this dance?
They were inventive and persistent.
“I went online and found a store that sold modest dresses.”
“My mom made it for me, and it turned out really well.”
“I got mine at the Salvation Army. It’s vintage … and inexpensive.”
“Mine is actually a costume from a musical I was in.”
“I bought one and then made a cute jacket to go over it.”
“I borrowed from my friend and bought a short sweater to go with it.”
“I found a cute top, and I already had a long skirt.”
One ward even paired up each girl with a Relief Society sister who could sew, and they made dresses that were nice for a dance and could be worn as a Sunday dress as well.
Groups of girls had great fun gathering to get ready. Lacey Paulson of the Bloomfield Hills Troy Ward said, “We came about two hours early. We were all curling each other’s hair and eating pizza and listening to music.”
Doug Jackson from the same ward was listening to Lacey and shrugged, “I got ready in 15 minutes.”
Brian Henson of the Midland Second Ward was even faster. He jokingly said, “The girls get ready together. Guys, we just shower, play some video games, and five minutes before you have to leave, you brush your teeth and get dressed.”
And how did the guys dress? Some came in tuxedos, but many of them confessed that they had tuxedos because they played in orchestra or sang in school choirs. Brad Jones of the Midland Second Ward said one lady in his ward had some tuxedos she had bought at garage sales. He borrowed one of those.
Many looked great wearing their Sunday suits or nice dress slacks and a shirt and tie.
The dancing at this prom was going to be something everyone could enjoy. Jake Anderson of the Fenton Ward had just attended his school prom and was acutely aware of the difference between the Mormon prom and his school prom. “It’s nice not to worry about the dancing. You don’t have to be in the uncomfortable situation where someone wants to dance with you, and you really don’t want to because you know how they want to dance and you have to say no.”
Many wards had prepared the teens by giving dance instruction during midweek activities before the prom. Most felt prepared to have fun and dance ballroom style. Amanda Rosenhan of the Grand Blanc Ward said, “We dance kind of old-fashioned, and I like that.”
At the end of the night, the teens in Michigan went home with some nice dance photos, a few treats to eat in the car, and memories of a fun evening. This prom was a night to remember, not a night to regret.
Faran Clark of the Lansing Holt Ward said, “A lot more people came than in past multi-stake dances. I guess it’s about dressing up and having a nice night out. You get to primp and look nice.”
And, as her friend Andrea Brown of the Lansing Owosso Ward added, “It’s a good chance for us to realize that we can have fun together and still keep our standards.”