No matter the year or circumstances, prom brings night to remember (Sun-Times Media)

by Emily McFarlan Miller

Since we’re smack dab in the middle of the Fox Valley’s 2012 Prom season, our Storytellers thought it would be fun to talk to three ladies from three different generations about their experiences on the night of the Big Dance.

Not surprising, their stories are vastly different — except for one thing. No matter what the year, Prom has a way of etching memories in our minds that stick around forever.

Here’s the vignette I shared as part of this Storyteller in The (Elgin) Courier-News, Naperville Sun and The (Aurora) Beacon News. It’s the story of Brittany Blue, a South Elgin High School senior who attended her prom this past weekend.

It’s hard to find a prom dress that fits without alterations when you’re six feet tall. But Brittany Blue did it this year. It’s a teal one-shouldered, sequined, floor-length. And it only cost $240.

That’s about on par with the national average, according to prom magazines and USA TODAY.

It’s also about what the South Elgin senior paid last year for her dress to the junior prom, an old Hollywood-themed dinner and dance held at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield in Schaumburg.

More than 850 students attended that event, said South Elgin Principal Melanie Meidel. South Elgin expected to sell about 700 tickets to this year’s prom that was held on Saturday. Because of last year’s unexpectedly high turnout, the hotel had to add 15 dinner tables to an outside patio, nicknamed “the circus tent” by prom-goers.

Meidel estimates the average couple will spend close to $500 for the night. That’s still conservative compared to the average price nationwide: $1,078, according to a survey of Seventeen Prom and TeenPROM magazines. Most of that will go toward the prom dress ($231) and rented tux ($127, plus another $100 for a tie, cummerbund and shoes).

“When you look back at your high school photos,” said Blue, “you want to look good.”

Blue did without a limousine last year, but planned on sharing one Saturday with her date, a sophomore who is one of her best friends, and 10 to 12 other friends. They’d started a Facebook group to organize their plans, and may go to Six Flags in Gurnee the day after this year’s carnival-themed event.

She’s also getting her nails and hair done — maybe something like Marilyn Monroe’s platinum waves. That probably will cost another $100.

All in, Brittany estimated, her parents will spend about $700 to $800 to send her and her twin brother to the dance.

And that’s worth it, she said.

“I’m in a lot of activities, and everything all blurs together, but there’s only one senior prom. We’ll all be in different places next year. It’s kind of crazy and scary and weird. This is one of the last things we’ll do together.”

For the rest of the story, read Storyteller: No matter the year or circumstances, prom brings night to remember (Sun-Times Media).

For my blog post featuring more feedback about prom from current high school seniors, read Behind the scenes of South Elgin’s ‘Last Prom’ (Between the Bylines).

For my accompanying column about my own senior prom experience, read From the Storyteller (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Jeff Cagle for Sun-Times Media.

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