By Jasmine Smith, 18, West Los Angeles College
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Jasmine had dreamed of a gorgeous silk custom gown inspired by Jessica Simpson’s wedding dress, but it came out so badly ...

Prom—a day I had been waiting for as long as I could remember. It was going to be this "princess-like" fantasy day when everyone had to cater to ME. I loved that I would get to dress up and be the center of attention. I love outdoing everyone and prom was the perfect chance.

I started planning for my prom at Inglewood High School five months before it actually happened. I started to live prom 24/7. In class, instead of doing class work, I worked on my schedule and checklist. I was obsessed with selecting a theme for the pre-prom party that was going to be held at my house, picking a dress color and looking for a date. My grades on my progress report even dropped from As and Bs to Cs and Ds because I had trouble focusing during the day on subjects besides prom.

I shopped for dress material in February with my best friend Reyanna. Her design was inspired by a dress she saw Beyoncé wear in a magazine. My dress was inspired by Jessica Simpson’s wedding dress with a princess cut, a long train and an elegant shawl. I ended up with lovely sage green Christian Dior sequined material for the top that cost $250 a yard, and silk Christian Dior material for the skirt that ran $300 a yard. In the end, it cost me several thousand dollars for the material, plus $300 to have it made. My parents allowed me to spend whatever I wanted as long as I was happy because they knew prom was the most important event of my senior year, even more important than my graduation ceremony.

Time passed and all I could do was wait. It was killing me! I continued to follow my schedule and check everything off step by step, like finding accessories and shoes to go with the dress and deciding on catering. It felt magical. I was anxious because I was ready to see my fantasy turn into reality. I even modeled my tiara in the mirror twice a day.

It wasn’t until two days before prom that things started falling apart. The limo company couldn’t find proof that I had made reservations with them. Oh my GOD!! I panicked; I didn’t know what to do. I had three other couples and NO way to get to prom. My mom made me call around to other limo companies even though I was convinced they were all rented out. I called everywhere until it hit me, literally! I had given up and was going to the store with my aunt when a flyer hit me while I was crossing the street. It offered a 10-passenger limo for prom night, 10 hours for $1,000—which was a deal. I walked across the street, filled out the papers and paid.

A hideous dress

My friend Reyanna’s dress was too big, but it wasn’t as bad as mine. The day before prom, the seamstress gave me my dress and it was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. It was too puffy around the waist and in the back—it looked like there was a hula hoop sewn into the waist. All I could do was cry to my mom. She felt so bad for me that she grabbed her checkbook and said "Go ahead." Now I was on a search to find a new dress at 5:30 p.m. the day before prom, thinking to myself, "I really don’t want to go to prom." But I felt obligated to go because my mom and dad had spent so much money and time to make it the perfect night. I went to David’s Bridal with my dad and two hours later I found a dress. But I still didn’t want to go. I knew I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it because I would be dwelling on the problems.

..., she had to rush out and buy a $300 bridal shop dress.

Finally, it was May 27, prom day. I woke up in a bad mood. I tried to be happy but it just kept getting worse. I called my date, but he wasn’t answering his phone. I didn’t think he was going to show up. At the hair shop my curls were too big. All I wanted was a simple style with a few curls so it wouldn’t take away from my tiara.

I got home and my date was there, so I was relieved for a second. But for the next few hours, nothing went right. My younger sisters and cousins were setting up and destroying the party at the same time. They were running around the house, breaking champagne glasses and hitting each other with the balloons.  Most of the balloons ended up popped or let loose into the air. This really annoyed me because I spent $50 dollars on them and they were our class colors, cranberry and champagne, and my dress color red.

I decided to get dressed. The day felt really crazy to me and I just wanted to prepare alone. But then my friend Ebonye arrived late and Johnna arrived with 20 family members, more than expected. I started to cry because I felt so overwhelmed. Everything I planned was falling through.

I settled down and we took group pictures on the front lawn. By now it was 7 o’clock, time to leave. Time slowly passed and it was 8. My dad called the limo company, to hear the owner say she was getting her daughter ready for the same prom. At 9:55 she finally arrived, we ran down our red carpet and into the limo. An hour and a half later we arrived at Universal Studios Hollywood. There weren’t any tables available so we went to take our pictures. After pictures we danced to three songs and prom 2005 was over.

My friends said they felt prom was a waste of time and money. All they wanted to do was go home. I felt it was all my fault. We rode home without a word!

When I got home I collapsed on my bed and prayed to God for the answers to why all this stuff happened to me! Did I plan too much? I realized that if I hadn’t had such high expectations, I would have been OK with a few disappointments. This taught me not to get my hopes up about big events, to just go with the flow. For example, for my 18th birthday I let my boyfriend have control of planning it, which was really hard for me, but it turned out fine. My advice to all 2006 prom-goers is: don’t let prom take over your life because it is only one night.