With prom season in full gear, I thought I would tell you about one of our favorite adventures and a lesson in having "no regrets"! Did you know missing your prom could be a lifelong regret? See how we wiped away our regrets!
For as long as I have known JR he has said that there are only 2 things he has ever regretted in his life; not going to his high school prom and not graduating from high school (he got his GED). It really bothered me that of all the things he has done in his life, that those were the things he regretted. After hearing him advise many young people not to miss their prom, even if they went with a group of friends, I got a crazy idea to find a way to take him to prom. I first considered a "mock prom" but then decided it would not be the same as actually going to the prom and most of our adult friends would not find it as awesome an idea as I thought it was, so I did the next best thing. I called his alma mater and shared my idea with the ladies in the office. They thought it was a wonderful idea and helped me go through the proper channels to make it happen.
This was just 2 weeks before prom and I wanted it to be a surprise, so I hatched a plan to make sure he had all the experiences of prom night! (The only thing I opted not to do was the limo because we would be held to a time schedule and I knew he would not enjoy that.) You have no idea how difficult this process was! JR and I normally share so much of our life together in both work and professional worlds and for this plan to work, I couldn't let on anything about the surprise. Women and girls who have been or are going to prom know that a lot of time and energy goes into that special night. You also usually get way more than 2 weeks notice and you can talk with friends and family about the special event. For this to work, I had to only tell people who were on a need to know basis because I didn't want the word to get back to JR about what I had planned. After he headed off to his masonry work each morning, I put my plan into action. Here was my to do list:
To Do List
- Get approval from the school.
- Buy a dress, shoes, and accessories.
- Have dress altered (Every dress I have ever owned has had to be altered, so I knew this was the most time-consuming item on my list)
- Get a haircut and nails done.
- Rent a tux for JR without knowing his shirt or jacket size.
- Arrange transportation (limo, a special car, or drive ourselves?)
- Arrange dinner
- Order flowers
- Pick up flowers
- Arrange for parents to see us dressed up (just like high school prom)
- Make sure we got where we needed to be on time on a weekend we had to work 3/4 of the day.
All this in 2 weeks and without him knowing anything!!!!
1. School Approval – This was pretty easy, I had to fill out paperwork and let them do a background check on us since we were adults attending a student event. The ladies in the office were so amazing, they got it approved that we could attend as "students" and not chaperones so that we could have all the benefits and none of the responsibilities. I bought regular student tickets and we received the commemorative glasses and photo frame. After prom was over we were also included in the book of photos with all the students and they kindly sent me a copy.
2. – 3. Buy a Dress and Accessories & Have them Altered – I really thought this one was going to be the worst on the list! I normally don't have very much luck finding a dress that fits my top and bottom half without being altered, so I made the dress purchase #1 priority on my to do list. I wanted a true prom dress to give him the full experience and since all my prom dresses were full length, I wanted to go with something similar. I am also far older than 16 or 17 and so I did want the dress to be appropriate for my age and body type too. With just 2 weeks until the May prom, many dress racks had been picked pretty clean. Someone suggested to try Dillard's so off I went early Monday morning and was thrilled to find the perfect dress after only trying on 2 others. I knew it was the one when it fit without needing alterations or even hemming. It was one I could wear without feeling like my chest was going to fall out or be inappropriately exposed to the high schoolers on the dance floor. As a bonus, it was 30% off because it was so late in the season! I ran it home and hid it in my son's closet and told him not to ask any questions!
4. Haircut and Nails Done – The lady who does my hair was one of only 2 people I told before the day before the prom, she helped me make sure to have essentials done and was a woman I could talk to about the process without worrying she would tell JR our secret.
5. Rent a Tux – This one turned out to be harder than I thought it was going to be. I had no idea how to size a man's dress shirt or jacket and since we are not suited people, the only one he owned was 2-3 sizes too small. I couldn't ask him is sizes or ask him to get fitted for one and not let our secret out of the bag so I cleverly told him that I had bought a dress shirt for our son without him trying it on and our son complained it did not fit. I played stupid and asked him how to fit a man's shirt and give me an exam with his sizes. I made a quick mental note and then as soon as his back was turned, wrote down what he had told me. The next day I ordered the tux with those sizes. Come prom night, his neck was a little tight and arms a little short but it worked out anyway.
6. Transportation – I went around and around with what to do about transportation. Should I do a limo or antique car? Should I just drive or get someone to drive us? Finally, I decided that I had not had a limo at my proms and it would limit us on when we had to be home. We also both like to have control over our time out and not be on anyone else's schedule so I finally decided on having him drive. The hard part was going to be how to surprise him but yet having him still drive. (more on how I pulled it off later)
7. Dinner – Of course, every prom night needs to start with a nice dinner. I asked some of my friends who were high school teachers where the kids go for dinner on prom night and none seemed special enough for his big night. He loves Mexican but most Mexican restaurants are pretty casual. Luckily I found a really nice place we had never been in downtown Louisville called the Mayan Cafe. It was perfect for the occasion!
8-9. Flowers – Flowers were easy to order and pick up but I did have to hide them in a cooler so he would not see and suspect where we were going.
10. Parents – My goal for this whole thing was for him to have the full prom experience. Part of that experience was posing for the photos in the front yard before prom and showing off to the neighbors. The day of prom, I planned our route to have us stop by my parents for photos and did not tell them until the day of prom what we had planned. I told him they didn't know and only knew that we didn't get dressed up like this often so they should get to see us while they could. I had his parents meet us in front of the hotel prom was being held at because of the timing and did not tell them until the day of. He is super close to his mom and she would be the one to slip up and tell him.
11. Timing – During my planning process, I took one morning and drove the route of where we needed to be and timed everything out so I could make it all happen.
As I have mentioned, I was trying to keep this all a secret so that he was surprised. He was always the one planning things for us and it is really difficult to surprise him with anything. All I told him before that day was do not plan anything on that evening, I had something for us to do. He kept poking and prodding me and anyone we knew for clues about my plans but since I hadn't told anyone else what we were doing, no one could even give him a hint. The only thing I told him was it was something we had not ever done together. I made a scavenger hunt of notes with specific directions on what to do. (I was afraid if I started giving directions, I would give it away!) The first note said to go to our log cabin we owned and look in the closet. (I had hidden the tux in the closet there) The second note in the closet was attached to his tuxedo. It told him to get showered and changed and meet me back at the house a very specific time. Meanwhile, I was running around gathering all the elements for the night I had hidden around the house. The ladies at Fairdale even supplied me with the official prom glasses and photo frame to give him that night. When he arrived back at the house to pick me up, I was dressed and ready with a cooler hiding the flowers and glasses. The next note gave him directions to our first stop, my parent's house for photos because after all we never get this dressed up. My parents even invited the neighbors out to see us. At this point, he still did not know where we were going. He just knew it was formal, but prom was nowhere on his radar.
The next note leads us to the Mayan Cafe in downtown Louisville where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner. He assumed at that point we were going to the theater or some upcoming fancy Derby party. The final note gave him directions to the Holiday Inn Airport. We pulled into a parking lot full of limos and kids dressed in prom attire and he said, "we can't crash someone's prom". I told him the story and that we were official prom students that night. I had the tickets, we had passed the background check and we were there to enjoy the prom.
During the night we had official prom photos, which were later published in the official school prom book that they sent us. We got to dance and watch all the drama unfold, just like it had at my prom nights back in high school. It was a wonderful night. After several hours at prom, we visited one of our favorite hangouts and met up with friends to enjoy the rest of the night.