The Mormon rites of courtship are instilled in the youth of the church at a very young age. Timeless lessons of chivalry are taught during Family Home Evenings, as are occasional lessons on the proper use of salad forks. The official timeline for Mormon courtship rights is as follows:
Age 5-12ish: The Cootie Years
Age 10-15ish: Members of the opposite sex become intriguing/frightening. Some interest begins. At this time, parents reinforce that there will be NO dating until age 16.
Age 10-15ish: Tweens and teens ignore parental guidance and carry out secret courtships without the luxury of dating, believing no rules are being broken since they just "hang out".
Age 16: Secret romances florish into official romances. Dating (in groups!) officially begins. Mormon dating practices are a boon to Chain Restaurants such as Olive Garden and Applebee's (please see Chain Restaurants post).
Age 18 (boys): Pre-mission years. Guys start to amass huge address books in the hope that 12 out of the 28 girls they are dating will write them on their mission. By age 19, this list will have dwindled to approximately 5-6. By the end of their missions, the one girl that has continued to write them will either be married or dump them shortly after their homecoming.
Age 18 (girls): Officially on the market for return missionaries.
Age 20-24: Prime marriage years. Please note, in many cases, young marrieds may have 2-5 children by the end of the Mormon prime.
Age 30: Older singles wards. While the secular world would have you believe that this is the marriage prime, Mormons, in general, consider this the point of no return. Hopeful women and men too self absorbed in their own comfortable way of life perform an awkward and chaotic over 30 dance in the hopes of finding someone good enough to settle in with for a comfortable eternal marriage.
While there are some nuances and exceptions to the Mormon dating timeline as previously outlined, what will never change (until approximately age 25 until past the point of no return) is the strange and sometimes horrifyingly stalker-ish ways in which Mormons will ask each other out on dates.
There are several important reasons for the pageantry associated with the complex invitations extended by Mormons, but this depends on the social standings of the two people involved in the transaction. For example, a popular boy asking a popular girl by filling her room to the waist with balloons, each containing a separate puzzle piece to solve the mystery of who asked her to what, only confirms what knowing observers already surmised; the young man is well versed in LDS etiquette, and his attention to detail and creativity mean that, after his mission, he would be a fine match for the popular lass.
There is, however, a seemier side to the stalker invites of Mormondom; social jumping. You see, an unpopular and socially awkward young man with bad acne can score a super hot Mia Maid or Laurel by simply executing an amazing stalker invite, such as cutting out multi-colored hearts on construction paper, pasting them to popcicle sticks, sticking them in the front lawn of the victim's home, and making sure that the parents are well aware of it. The parent is the key in this power play, as they will either 1) be oblivious to the social standing of the asker and force their daughter to date them, assuming them to be reasonably acceptable dating material because of their creativity and willingness to go to such great lengths for their daughter, or 2) be completely aware of the asker's social standing and force their daughter to go on a date with them, believing that it will be a character building experience, countable as service hours for their Young Women's medallion, a potential anecdote to be used in future testimony baring, or all of the above. This phenomenon has been well chronicled in "Napoleon Dynamite", as Napoleon draws a picture of his unwitting victim, essentially forcing the parent's hand.
Girls who wish to ask boys out are required to go to the same lengths. The same goofy stalker rules apply to them, and they may use this tactic to ask a boy out on a date other than the 2-3 socially acceptable times during the academic year of Preference, Girl's Reverse, and Sadie Hawkins. The only difference between the guys and girls is that guys have been known to occasionally say no.