Teach your teens proper prom etiquette

By Kim Wilson

Wilson Limousine Service, Vancouver, B.C.

Something special begins with the annual blooming of the teens into the "adolescentus promgoerus," when teenagers dress up, poof up and slick down their hair, smell pretty, ride in limousines and eat in fancy restaurants.

Keen-eyed prom observers will see a young gentleman opening a door for a lady or offering his arm as they walk down the sidewalk. The young lady will speak in demur tones and utter "thank you" to the young man paying the bill at the restaurant.

Although he considers himself always mannerly, peppering his speech with "yes ma'am" when asked a question from an adult, Brandon Hadwin says special events, such as proms, call for even more attention to etiquette and manners.

"I always have manners and stuff," says Hadwin, a high school senior in Burnaby B.C. "But on prom night, it's special. It's her prom, and I want it to be really special."

Gentlemen should remember to open doors for their dates, to seat their date first at restaurants and at tables at the dance, to get up when she gets up, to pull out the chair, and, just as important: "tell her she's beautiful," he says.

Hadwin's date, Jenny Goodson, a senior also, advises young ladies to resist vulgar language and, unless both agree, skip dancing with others.

The couple, who has been dating for two years, will dine before the prom and was asked if they were going Dutch.

"I'm picking up the check. Definitely. She's not paying for anything," Hadwin said vehemently.

Of course, these two have a good grasp on the types of behavior that turn a special evening into one filled with class and sophistication and one that will turn into golden memories lasting a lifetime.

For those who want some hints at what to do, we consulted some experts.


Flowers always are a hit and a great way to start a special evening. Gentlemen will offer ladies corsages for their wrist or pinned to the bodice or shoulder strap of their dress. Ladies will offer gentleman a boutonniere to be worn on the left lapel of their jacket.

Young men should open the box before handing it to his date.

To put on a wrist corsage, turn the inside of the arm up and slip on the corsage. That way, gravity keeps the flowers hanging down and keeps the flowers from being damaged.

If you are giving your date a pin-on corsage, hand it to her and let her pin it on herself. If you see she is having problems, you may offer to help if you are comfortable doing so.

Ladies should pin the boutonniere to their date's jacket, making sure the pin is under the lapel.

If a young man wants to make a hit with the parents, bring the mother a small bouquet of flowers, advises Vancouver, B.C., florist, Lori Larsen.


Although much will be taken care of by the driver, there are a few things you should remember when it comes to impeccable limousine manners:

No smoking and no drinking are allowed in most limousines.

You can expect the professional driver to open the limo door for you and your date. The driver will take you to the restaurant, to the prom and, if ok with the parents, to an after prom party, and then back home.

Movies and videos are always showing people standing in the moon roof as the limousine cruises down the street.

This is very dangerous and illegal. Check with your driver and he will gladly allow you to stand in the moon roof to take pictures when the limousine is legally parked.

A gentleman always allows the lady to enter the limousine first and gets out first, then helps the lady out of the car.

Although tips are usually included in the cost of the limousine rental, it is common practice to tip the driver at the end of the evening.

"They'll give between $50 to $100, sometimes as much as $200," says limousine service owner Tom Beasley of Melbourne, Fla. "One Hundred dollars is the going rate. That's a nice tip for a driver."


Following are some restaurant decorum tips from John Bridges' "How to Be a Gentleman" and Candace Simpson-Giles' "How to Be a Lady" (both from Rutledge Hill Press).

  • If you have an unpleasant time in a restaurant do not badger the wait staff.
  • Do not carry a cell phone into a restaurant.
  • Do not talk with your mouth full.
  • Wait until everyone is served before eating.
  • If your dinner knife becomes dirty, do not put it on the tablecloth. Place it on the edge of your plate.
  • Do not crunch on ice cubes
  • At the dinner table, a gentleman helps the woman to the right of him as she sits or rises from her chair.
  • At the table, place the napkin immediately in your lap. If you have to get up, place it in your chair, not on the table.
  • At the table, start with the fork on the outside and work your way inside.
  • Tipping would be 10 percent for moderate service, 15 percent for good service and 20 percent for excellent service.

At the prom

  • Turn your cell phone off. You should devote your attention to your date.

And above all remember to HAVE FUN !!

Kim Wilson, WilsonLimo.Com

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