05/05/2015 03:40 EDT | Updated 05/05/2016 05:59 EDT

Popping the question in style: Social media helps propel popularity of promposals

TORONTO - Charlotte Stoody has long known her boyfriend would be her prom date, but Devon Oates was still determined to pull out all the stops when asking her to the big dance.

Stoody joined her friends outdoors during lunch at their Toronto high school, thinking she was going to witness someone else's promposal only to discover she was the centre of attention.

Oates rolled up in an SUV with the word "Prom?" in large blue bubble letters across right side of the vehicle. He emerged with a bouquet of flowers and another boy, who was carrying a vanilla cake featuring a photo of the couple with "Prom?" etched in blue icing. Oates and Stoody were surrounded by a group of students each holding signs reading "Yes."

"I was shocked," recalled Stoody, 18. "It was sort of scary, everyone watching and screaming and stuff. But it was exciting. I was really happy about it."

Stoody later shared the promposal on Twitter and Instagram for all her friends who weren't there to experience the event in person.

"Talking to my parents and older kids, it wasn't that big of a deal to have a huge celebration about it before," Stoody said. "I think now everybody likes the attention. And with social media, we like to post about it online and have everyone know that this happened to us."

While promposals — elaborate invitations to proms that are often similar to marriage proposals — are more popular in the U.S., social media has helped boost their popularity north of the border, said Amanda Bloye, editor of Vervegirl Canada and Vervegirl Canada: The Prom Issue.

And while over-the-top promposals tend to generate the most buzz, Bloye says the gesture has more to do with making the moment meaningful than spending a lot of money.

She recalled a memorable promposal where a boy offered a fresh take on the famed "Roses is red, violets are blue" rhyme, subbing flower references with doughnuts. Instead of presenting his would-be date with a bouquet, he offered a dozen doughnuts with "prom" and question marks etched in icing.

"Some are much more grandiose... but for the most part, it's just someone doing something nice for another person," said Bloye.

Since Tristan Rouse and Alex Donnelly attend different high schools in Oakville, Ont., the 18-year-olds are taking turns popping the question. Donnelly made the first move.

Rouse arrived at his girlfriend's home around 10 p.m. to see Christmas lights duct-taped to her garage door spelling out "prom." A question mark fashioned out of candles was on the driveway.

"I knew she was going to prompose to me, but I had no idea the day or the time that it was going to happen," recalled Rouse, who has been dating Donnelly for about a year.

He plans to return the gesture with a personalized scavenger hunt.

"You only get one promposal. You only get one prom," Rouse said.

"It's not like an event like a dinner-dance where you can go every year. Everyone's promposing to the people that they care about and they love. Even though you're dating, you still want to show them that you care."

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