Promposals: How 4 teens were asked to the big dance

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The theater promposal

Shannon Moran and her friend, Sam Hoffman, both share a love of theater.

Moran, a Halethorpe resident and Mount de Sales Academy student, met the Mount Saint Joseph High School student in 2012 during her school's production of "Bye Bye Birdie." After that, they acted in several productions together.

So when it came time to find a junior prom date, Moran says she knew just the person to ask — and just the way to ask him.

In February 2014, after students finished a rehearsal in the Mount Saint Joseph auditorium, Moran began singing a parody of "One Day More" from "Les Miserables," a musical they both enjoy.

"On May 3, another night, another destiny," she recalls singing. "Will you go to prom with me?"

Surrounded by 50 other students, Hoffman put his hands up, signaling he wanted her to stop so he could answer, Moran says. But Moran was nervous so she just kept singing.

At the end of the song, Hoffman said, "Yes."

The promposal, recorded by one of Moran's friends, quickly spread through social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.

"People I didn't even know were sharing it," she says.

Nerves and public sharing aside, the prom and the proposal were worth it, Moran says.

"This was my first time doing anything like that," Moran says. "But I'm glad I did it."

The poem puzzle promposal

While planning his promposal, Andy Kuriatnikov drew upon his potential prom date's love of world travel.

The 2014 South River High School graduate wrote four poems describing places Sheridan Gardner, a fellow South River High School student, had either lived or visited: Paris, Rome, New Orleans and Munich. On the poems, he highlighted the "P" in Paris, the "R" in Rome, the "O" in New Orleans and the "M" in Munich to spell "prom."

On the big day, Kuriatnikov asked friends to deliver the poems during each of Gardner's four classes. He then waited for her in the school parking lot, armed with flowers and the fifth and final poem, asking her to prom.

Gardiner accepted.

"I wanted to do something nice and personal but that wasn't too flamboyant," Kuriatnikov says. "It was very individualized and personal and catered to her."

PromPosalIllusWThe pros and cons of the promposal trend

Psychology and psychiatry experts say promposals, likely born out of social media and reality television shows, can have both pros and cons.

"For the most part, it's a fun and creative way to memorialize the ritual of prom and overcome the anxieties over whether your intended date will say, 'Yes,'" says Carole Lieberman, a California psychiatrist and relationship expert.

Posting promposals on social media sites "satisfies today's teens' increased thirst for their 15 minutes of fame," she says.

But there are downsides to the trend, especially if social media is involved, say both Lieberman and Rachelle Tannenbaum, professor and head of the psychology department at Anne Arundel Community College.

"It creates pressure to do something that's more creative, more over the top, more special," Tannenbaum says.

It also creates financial and social pressure, she says, and Lieberman agrees.

"If you are afraid that your intended date might say, 'no,' a promposal makes it less likely that they will reject you in front of the whole school," she says. "It's a way of using peer pressure to get someone to agree to be your date, who you fear wouldn't say, 'yes' if it were just the two of you."

In addition, promposals may affect teens' perceptions — and expectations — for future proposals, Tannenbaum says.

"You don't want someone to have this idea that it's not a real proposal if it's not over the top," she says.


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