When Did Promposals Begin? A Brief History of the High School Tradition

Once upon a time, people usually agonized over just being asked to prom, not how they were asked.

With all the promposals you see now, it's probably hard to imagine that time. And yet, those days did exist. There was no need to come up with wild stunts or clever puns—you simply just asked.

Let's dive into the history and see how promposals went mainstream.

Laguna Beach prom episode

(Laguna Beach via MTV)

The Early Era

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when the trend began. A 2014 The Washington Post article tried to answer that question, and the author found that "prom proposals" started gaining buzz in the early 2000s. The Post credits the Dallas Morning News with writing the first article on the topic in 2001. At that point, the word "promposal" was not yet in play on a wide scale and it didn't appear in any news stories until 2006, the article noted.

These first "official" prom proposals by the Texas teens mentioned in the article were pretty much like the ones we see now—grand, creative gestures, all in hopes of a date. One guy asked his friend by changing the words to a song from the 1998 rom-com The Wedding Singer and singing it to her. Another asked his eventual classmate over the loudspeaker at the store where they both worked.


The Reality TV Influence

As the early 2000s went on, more promposal stories appeared, per The Post, but they really took off thanks to the MTV teen reality show Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. The Post gave credit to a specific episode in Season 2 that aired in 2005. However, as someone who was in high school at the time, I saw the Laguna Beach effect firsthand and would argue that it came from an episode that aired a year earlier.

Laguna Beach prom episode

(Laguna Beach via MTV)

The Season 1 episode, "The Last Dance" aired in Oct. 2004, and it showed the gang stressing over prom dates and how they'd ask them. Promposals were normal for them, even if they hadn't reached my school yet. Viewers got to see three different ones, including arguably the best one: Gary putting a kiddie pool with fish in Morgan's room and rhyming with "of all the fish in the sea" and "prom with me?" Her dad saw the whole thing and admitted to her mom, "This is more impressive than when I asked you to marry me."

Laguna Beach was a super popular show among teens at the time, so the trend picked up steam after this episode aired. Students at my high school—and presumably at schools across the country—were inspired. By the time prom rolled around that year and the next one, we saw more and more people get creative with their prom proposals.

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The Social Media Effect

When social media came to the masses, promposals only got more attention. We've all seen how random videos can go viral, and footage of promposals have been among them. People have thought of seemingly everything, from flash mobs to funny gimmicks.

Whether you love them or hate them, you've probably seen tons of them by now. The Instagram hashtag "#promposal" brings up more than 130,000 photos and videos at the time of writing this, so it doesn't look like they're going anywhere any time soon.


Prom can be fun whether you go with a date or solo. HERE are seven reasons why it's okay to go alone.