In 2004’s blockbuster hit Mean Girls, Kady Heron rushes to prom after winning a math decathlon, hours late but still in time to win prom queen and receive a crown, which she then proceeds to break and toss into the crowd. However, had Kady Heron been going to this year’s Lick-Wilmerding prom rather than her own North Shore High School prom, she would not have been there to accept her crown. Why? Because the prom venue would have been long gone.
This year, Lick-Wilmerding’s prom was held on the Cabernet Sauvignon Commodore, a four story yacht against which the classic streamer-and-balloon-decorated high school gym pales. The yacht cruised around the Bay, giving students splendid views of all the beautiful sights the Bay has to offer. Getting such a grand prom venue, however, was no easy task.
Student Council vice Presidents Alex Sahai ’16 and Kevin Hou ’16 shared about all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into finding, choosing, and securing a prom venue.
Sahai explained, “Usually we get a list of venues the previous VPs looked at and start emailing representatives at those venues. After we got responses from venue representatives we spent a day in the summer visiting six venues and we ultimately chose the Regency Center [for formal] and the Cabernet Sauvignon [for prom].”
When choosing a venue, the VP’s weigh in factors such as price, decor, location “classiness,” style, layout, and size.
In their decision on such a unique prom venue, Hou shared, “In our time at Lick, we have never had prom on a boat, but a few of our friends at different schools had their proms on cruises so we started looking into some options. We thought it would be a cool way to make prom more exciting and unique. We looked at several cheaper venues than the Cabernet; they didn’t feel nearly as exciting to us. A lot of the venues we saw were in hotels and had a ‘multi-purpose-like’ quality to them that we didn’t think would work well with our prom. The boat is beautiful and the Bay will be too!”
Sahai added, “The boat absolutely took our breath away and we knew we wanted it for prom 2015!”
In addition to quality, the VPs have to consider the price of the venue. The budget for prom is between $15,000 and $20,000. Sahai and Hou were able to negotiate the cost of this year’s prom venue down $1,000, but the venue was still quite expensive. The cost includes a catering requirement, linen and furniture rentals, a DJ, docking fees, and emission fees. In addition, student council also has to pay separately for other decorations and for a photo booth. In fact, they usually run a deficit for prom because there are so many costs.
In the past, Student Council has broken even on dances, such as Howth and Winter Formal. However, high attendance rates this school year provided increased profits from both dances, generating money that was then funneled into a larger budget for Prom. In addition, Student Council did a lot of fundraising to make up for the financial loss that comes as a result of Prom. Student Council Treasurer Katie Vestal ’15 organized several fundraising campaigns over the school year, such as a raffle and the mobile bake sale, to contribute to the prom fund.
Even with all this fundraising, this year’s Prom ticket prices increased from last year’s prices. This was a big concern among students. One senior asked, “Is the venue really worth the higher ticket prices?” Last year, prom tickets were $60, with a sliding scale of $45-55 for Flex students. However, this year, tickets cost $70, with Flex students paying $55-65.
Other students have echoed the potential problems of having Prom on a boat. One student said, “I’m worried that people will get seasick.” Another asked, “But what if we want to leave early?”
On Prom night, a couple of hundred Lick students crowded around Pier 40, waiting to get on the Cabernet Sauvignon. At 8 pm, students boarded the yacht to find four stunning floors—the first two sitting lounge areas, the third a dance floor, and the fourth an open deck. Overall, most students seemed to love the venue.
Senior Frankie Lewis ’15 thought, “It was cool that you could go up onto the open deck and see the view.”
James Rich ’15 added, “It was a really fun venue — there was a good vibe; I just thought it was a little too big for the number of students who attended.”
Another senior shared, “I thought the boat was a fresh new idea but I didn’t like that it was rocking a lot.” The rockiness of the yacht seemed to affect many students, a few of whom felt a little seasick. Despite this, they still were impressed by the size and the elegance of the venue.