April 7, 2013

Confessions of a Prom Queen: 10 Years Later

Our senior prom was ten years ago this week.


In honor of the 10 year anniversary, I'd like to share some of my clearest thoughts and memories about the big day and the stuff leading up to it.

Spoiler alert: None of these confessions are scandalous. I was (and always have been) a pretty boring goody-goody. Thanks for being my friend anyway.

Since the whole prom experience was a pretty fun and innocent part of our story, I figure it's worth remembering.

At the very least, this will be entertaining for our grandbrownies to read one day :)

Confession #1: I almost didn't have a date. 

Sure, I had been with my boyfriend (now husband) for almost four-and-a-half years by the time this dance rolled around. We had been to every single dance since eighth grade together. But still. I was a lady.

And he needed to ask.

We didn't have many classes together during our time in school, but this particular semester we shared third period - economics. Our teacher (Mrs. K) had a great sense of humor. She also a dry erase board on one wall of the classroom where she listed anyone who was freely available on the prom date market.

With Jerm sitting right next to me, I raised my hand.

The class laughed, knowing we'd been a couple for a million years in high school time. Still.

"He hasn't asked yet!" I said.

And I was added to the list.

Confession #2: I orchestrated my own prom proposal.

I've always been a pretty direct communicator.

When I knew I was going with a white dress, I casually (or probably not-so-casually) mentioned that it'd be cute if he proposed that I go to prom with him.

(Seriously - Lord help me if Bryson's high school girlfriend is as "subtle.")

On the way to prom, we stopped to take pictures at the Hines Waterwall Park in Houston. Clever boy he was, he busted out a (fake) ring and proposed.

Yes - literally en route to the big event.

Confident little fella.

Confession #3: I picked our first dance song.

Our class vice principal (Mrs. Z) asked me after school one day, "What song should we play for the couple who wins prom king and queen?" I replied, "Well I don't know about anybody else, but if it's me and Jerm, you could play 'My Best Friend' by Tim McGraw. That's our song!"

Crazy of all crazies, a few weeks later on prom night, we found out it WAS me and Jerm!

But we didn't have that moment you see in the movies, when there's an official "first dance." The next slow song, our song, wasn't played until a few songs later. In a way, it was even more special. Surrounded by a sea of our classmates and friends, we knew it was playing just for us.

AND, to add another layer to that special musical onion, about five-and-a-half years later, we danced to the same song, surrounded by many of those same friends.

I was wearing a white dress, and he was wearing a tuxedo.

But this time my diamonds were real.

Confession #4: The dance was WAY more fun than the before and after parties.

I know a lot of my friends had the most fun at the pre-party or the after-party, but for me, the dance was the best part of the night.

Corsaged hands down.

I've mentioned before that I love to dance. Jerm, not so much. His excuse at first was that he didn't want to get sweaty before we went up on stage. So he stood, and I danced and whirled around him.

(FYI: He still didn't dance much even after the stage part...LAME!)

Really though, there was something magical about such an iconic evening. All night, I kept thinking, "I can't believe this is our senior prom," a classic rite of passage for any American teenager.

We were there at the Hyatt, all dressed up and celebrating with friends we'd accumulated over the better part of a decade. This was the last big hurrah before we went our separate ways. It just felt significant.

As the night went on, the songs got slower. And mushier. I remember slow dancing to "Freebird" (ha!) and "Time of Your Life." I held onto him so tightly. I'm pretty sure I cried a little. I knew it was a precious moment that we'd remember forever.

I had a feeling change was coming soon, and I was right. Just a few months later, we went our separate ways for a while as we figured out who we were on our own. (Not sure what we'll tell the grandbrownies about that part just yet.)

Confession #5: Our classmates are awesome - and maybe a little crazy.

Our freshman class started out with about 1200 people. By graduation, we were down to 950. Sounds like a lot, right? It was.

You wouldn't think you could really get to know many people well in such a huge school, but we did. Our hometown produces some really special folks (and a surprising number of "sweetheart" marriages!).

I think it's safe to say that we got along with everybody.

It was incredibly humbling to be selected for this "honor" by our classmates. As the "old married couple" of our class, year after year we'd be nominated for this or that. One of us would win, the other wouldn't.

The class election stars had never perfectly aligned before, and we weren't crazy enough expect them to for the last go 'round.

When they did, it was a storybook ending to that chapter of our story.

(Thanks again for that, guys!)

Confession #6: It really did feel like a movie, minus the mean girls part.

I mentioned that our class was made up of some great people. That means they didn't nominate meanies for stuff like this. Unlike the movies, the folks who got nominated for special recognition were good people. Nice, friendly people.

On prom night, we shared the stage with some of the kindest people in the whole bunch. That made the whole experience even sweeter.

I'm not gonna lie to you. When our names were called - both, together - it was pretty surreal. Seeing our friends jumping up and down on the dance floor in front of us was pretty fun too.

And breaking it down on the dance floor with them in the moments immediately following was even MORE fun :)

Confession #7: I still have the tiara. And the frog.

Friend, I really loved this tiara. (What girl doesn't love some sparkle?)

I'd gotten a little tiara for homecoming before, but this one was a big mama in comparison.

After the announcement, I danced around the room, sharing the tiara with girlfriends who wanted a spin with the sparkle. (Hey ladies - if you have pictures from that night, send 'em to me!)

I've still got the tiaras, the sashes, the mums, the posters, the dance team costumes, the dresses, the notes...way too many fire hazards...in boxes at my parents' house. I can't let 'em go just yet.

The same goes for the giant purple frog Jerm won for me at AstroWorld. We had a physics field trip at the (now-extinct) Six Flags theme park the day before, and with just $5, he made the "impossible" shot.

(Hey - he wasn't co-captain of the basketball team for nothin'! Should've seen his dunking skills.)

Seriously - how perfect? A purple frog with a crown?

If you need extra help with the appreciating foreshadowing here: We got our own crowns the next night, just months before I officially became a Horned Frog at good ol' TCU - where purple is the only color in the rainbow.

Confession #8: It wasn't all perfection.

Amidst all the fun, glamorous memories and perfect purple frog king, it's important to keep it real. For the grandbrownies.

While I certainly felt like a princess at certain points in the evening, the look took some work.

I had a spray tan, good Spanx (did they exist in 2003?), and had been using Crest White Strips for weeks to prepare. My amazing mama styled my hair, as she had done for all but two dances in my entire "school dance" career. My sister did my makeup - complete with fake lashes, my favorite part!

As for the ol' king and queen?

We had an argument right before hopping in the fabulous red stretch Hummer. I was upset because Jerm had stayed at the beach house the night before, when I wasn't allowed (or didn't really want to...see "goody-goody" reference earlier).

I missed hanging with my girlfriends. The nature of the beast was that there were only so many beach houses and so many people to fit in in each. We were scattered up and down the row, quite a walk away from my best girlfriends. I was sad to miss out on that part.

Best part because it turned out fine: Jerm went to the emergency room the next day after a freak allergic reaction to peeling crawfish. HA! Seriously. Scary at the time, hilarious in retrospect. Poor guy.

That was not a fun way to spend "skip day."

10 Years Later

Mysterious allergic reactions and spray tans aside, it was a pretty magical night.

Now, ten years later, we've been married and living in Hawaii for going on five years. Our little one is almost 18 months old.

If you'd told me then that we'd be here now, I wouldn't have believed you.

I had always considered that we'd end up together, but that night, all I could think about was the next few months. Going off to college, starting an entirely new chapter.

It was such a bittersweet but exciting time.

So. To my future grandbrownies and all high school seniors across America, here's my advice:

Chill out. Yes, college is important, and yes, relationships are too, but take a deep breath. Stop worrying so much. You'll look back and laugh at the things you take so seriously now. 
Cool it with the self-portraits. I'd tell you to take more pictures, but let's be honest. In the age of digital photography, you're probably taking too many already. Take pictures of the special stuff, and the everyday stuff you want to remember, but then delete the others. And never take pictures of something you wouldn't want your grandma to see :) 
Love on your buddies. The friends you made in high school (and before!) will always be special to you, even if you don't see them nearly as often as you'd like. Who knows? You may even live across an ocean one day and have to miss weddings and babies and stuff you swore you never would. That part stinks. But it's life. So take advantage of these last few months when you're all in the same five-mile radius.  
Let each other go and grow. After almost five years together, Jeremy and I broke up that summer after high school. It was ridiculously tough, but I'm so thankful for that time. So don't be afraid to let your "person" (boyfriend or best friend!) go. It's important to know who you are independently before you can truly appreciate who you are together!
Don't rush. Whether you had a great high school experience, you can't get out fast enough, or both, this is a special time in your life. 

Live. it. up.

Okay, "grownups," what's your favorite prom story - good or bad? Do tell. Bonus points if you send photos.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at www.nikkielledgebrown.com!


  1. Dang. Such babies! Who'd have thought it would have lead to marriage.... Oh, yeah, right... EVERYONE!

  2. No pictures...they are all my Mom's house in a scrapbook (plus I absolutely hated my senior prom photo [I looked like I had a double chin], but if I could find junior year I'd share that one. 1 quick story b/c it's fun to reminisce with you: For my junior prom I actually went to prom with my friend Hunter who lived in Lafayette, Louisiana and skipped my own prom. His prom was way better then mine I had concluded the fall prior and so the 2 of us saved for months to reimburse my Mother for my plane ticket there. I bought my dress at a tiny shop in Colorado where my Dad lived & I paid him back for it every month in installments from December until April. I was convinced after that "wild" adventure I would marry Hunter (I just laughed out loud at the naivete of my youth) even going so far as to apply & be accepted to the University of Louisiana- Lafeyette. I didn't go there obviously and Hunter & I have married other people. And wow that story was lengthier then intended. Haha! Loved your story, BTW! :-)

    1. Too funny, Liz! I bet Avery's quite glad Hunter was outta the picture after high school :)

  3. I love your "confessions," and especially your spoiler alert. I had a couple of three proms, Nikki, including one in New Orleans. But none with the man of my dreams. That would come at freshman orientation at Lamar University. However, being from near Houston, we went to the beach for the after-party party. A tradition that continues today, lo these many years later.

  4. So...I listened to your interview with Pat Flynn earlier this year and this week listened to you again with Amy Porterfield and then I stalked you SO HARD I got all the way to here. I feel like a LEGIT stalker. (Is there a prize for that?) This post really resonated with me. As a former prom queen who ALMOST didn't have a date for the dance and had to ask a guy that I had said no to if he might reconsider going with me...well. Yeah. This was great! I didn't end up marrying my date, but we are still friends and I talk to his mom regularly. :)

    I am going to track you down to send you an email about a podcast interview, but I wanted to just say how much I appreciate and love your site and your style. I have an MFA in fiction, but didn't study copy and so I'm totally excited to get your recipes and am now securely signed up on your list...possibly twice.