Bryan Quezada uses an airbrushed banner to ask Jaqueline Bañuelos to prom. Photo courtesy of Bryan Quezada.
Bryan Quezada uses an airbrushed banner to ask Jaqueline Bañuelos to prom. Photo courtesy of Bryan Quezada.
Bryan Quezada uses an airbrushed banner to ask Jaqueline Bañuelos to prom. Photo courtesy of Bryan Quezada.

It’s sometimes said the third time is a charm, but Juan Fuentes, a recent graduate of Felicitas and Gonzalo Méndez Learning Center, was lucky the second time around. After being turned down once, he popped the question with two bouquets in hand, and finally got the answer he had hoped for.

Fuentes wasn’t asking for a hand in marriage, but for a date to the prom. The extravagant way in which dates are asked these days suggests something grander than a high school dance. Students call it the “promposal.”

Today, inviting someone to a dance such as prom can be involved and expensive. How you ask someone to prom is often just as important as who you ask. It’s no longer just a simple question, but one that can take months to plan and perfect, often with the help of others.

Promposals depend on creativity, cuteness and originality. And the way you ask someone can make the difference between a yes or no answer. “It’s the thought and details that make girls swoon and the intention behind it that matters,” says Jaqueline Bañuelos, who just graduated from Oscar de la Hoya Animo Charter High School.

Maybe it’s paired with a romantic getaway, as in the case of Maggie Vera Sandoval, a recent graduate of Mendez. Sandoval’s boyfriend, Daniel Valenzuela, drove her up to Santa Barbara for the weekend. She says, “The first thing we did was take a boat ride, because I’d never been on one. He popped the question then and there.”

While some students opt for a private romantic gesture, others choose to make a bigger statement. Bryan Quezada, a recent graduate of Oscar De La Hoya, spent at least three weeks deciding how to ask his date, Jacqueline Bañuelos, to prom. He says he chose an airbrushed banner and matching roses because he knew he was going to do it in a crowd. He decided to ask his date this way “to show and say how I feel about her.”

On bended knee

Banuelos said, “I was very surprised,” and thought the gesture was very cute. But she added that it was “awkward” for her when he got down on his knees in front of the class.

With both the promposal and the dance now behind them, Quezada says, “I feel like I didn’t make this a special prom for her.”

Sevana Minasvand, a teacher at Oscar De La Hoya, thinks some of the invitations are clever, but a little unnecessary. Minasvand said, “In my day (back in the 90’s), guys never asked a girl with such dramatics.”

She says then it was a simple, “Hey, do you have a date for the prom? Would you like to go with me?”

Maggie Vera and Daniel Valenzuela at Mendez Learning Center’s 2013 prom. Photo courtesy of Juan Fuentes.

Over the top?

Minasvand likes the students’ creativity, but said she thinks “it’s over the top and dramatic at the same time.” It can also add to the already expensive date. This year, the national average cost of prom, including a dress, tuxedo rental, limo rental and flowers, rose 5 percent to $1,139, according to an annual survey by Visa. Tickets alone can cost hundreds of dollars. Depending on how elaborate it is, the promposal can be another cost.

While the invitation can be as simple as a serenade, it can be elaborate as a flash mob or a drum line, sometimes involving many other people. This spring, a YouTube video, “Kate Upton, Will You Go To Prom With Me?,” went viral, reaching more than 2.5 million viewers a few days after being posted by Jake Davidson, a recent Milken Community High School graduate from Sherman Oaks. Although the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue model initially said yes, Upton later cancelled because of her busy schedule. Davidson got another super model to be his date.

Examples of promposals all over the country are posted on the Internet, which adds to the pressure to come up with an original idea — and the expectation of getting one.

The asking doesn’t always just come from the boys. Yazmin Martinez, a recent graduate of Oscar De La Hoya, spent three weeks stressing over how to ask Daniel Corpus to prom. A friend gave her the idea to paint the back of the skateboard with the word “Prom” and a question mark, since Daniel enjoys skating. Martinez spent $25 on the skateboard. Although she knew he was going to accept, she said she was “nervous and shy.”

Whether asking your best friend, long time girlfriend or boyfriend or secret crush, being nervous is common. Enrique Chávez, a recent Óscar De La Hoya High School graduate, said, “ I was scared of what she was going to say.”

When Fuentes, the recent Méndez graduate, asked Maricsa Gómez to the prom during fourth period, he brought her and her mother flowers. He says he felt “as if the room had changed temperature.” His hands were sweating, his heart was pounding, and he had “butterflies in my stomach,” he said. Though the asking these days is more elaborate, the fear of rejection is still the same.

Do you have any unique promposal stories? Share them with us.

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