There’s something magical about walking into a room full of smiles, laughter, and teenagers running around finding their perfect prom dress/tuxedo. 

From Feb. 6-7, Atlanta Public School (APS) students were in for a treat. The “Say Yes to the Prom Tour”, which is described as the “ultimate prom shopping experience” was back in town in time for the upcoming prom season.

Monte Durham of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta (left) assists a young man as part of the Say Yes to the Dress program. Photo by Isaiah Singleton/The Atlanta Voice

Students were able to choose from a selection of 1,000 on-trend dresses, tuxedo rentals, as well as shoes and accessories. Also, students were able to have one-on-one styling sessions with Monte Durham of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. Stylists from CNN were also onsite to help cultivate the student’s personal prom style by providing hair, makeup consultations, and barbers for the guys.

Additionally, in partnership with retail giants Macy’s and Men’s Wearhouse, the tour aimed to  help give 1,000 deserving students nationwide the perfect prom look. This year the event is kicking-off prom season not only in Atlanta, but also Los Angeles in March.

A barber station was also part of the Say Yes to the Dress two-day event. Photo by Isaiah Singleton/The Atlanta Voice

Durham said Warner Bros. Discovery’s belief is “to give back to the community”.

“Hopefully, we are inspiring, encouraging, and motivating these deserving students to continue the pathway of education. We do a lot of outreach programs in the communities and this one we also educate the students on career paths with Warner Bros. Discovery as well,” Durham said.

DM Therrell High School senior Emma Amevo said she is “really excited and happy” to have guidance to be able to find her perfect prom dress.

“I don’t have a lot of fashion sense and it was only until my senior year where I got into looking nice so I’m happy to have guidance,” she said.

DM Therrell High School senior Emma Amevo (above) said she wanted help with her dress because “I don’t have a lot of fashion sense.” Photo by Isaiah Singleton/The Atlanta Voice

Amevo said events that give back to students like Say Yes to the Prom are so important.

“Sometimes, people like me who have a role model in their life or just somebody that helps them out telling them, ‘Yeah you look good’ and ‘you got it’, means so much,” she said.

Another senior from DM Therrell High School Andre Bowman said he feels amazing about being able to shop for prom wear, which will help his mother.

“This is going to help my mom a lot because it’s me and my mom helping to take care of the family. What they gave me here, I’m grateful and I feel like I look good in it. The jewelry is my favorite part,” he said.

Prom can costs anywhere from $150 to $2,000 or more, according to Fashion company Amarra.

Bowman also said it’s events like this that are important because not everyone can afford prom.

“Depending on household situations, some students/parents may not be able to afford dresses, tuxedos, and everything that comes with prom. I think it’s nice that we have events like this to help students and parents out because we never know what someone’s going through at home,” he said.

Although prom is a night of celebration, Say Yes to the Prom isn’t strictly about dresses or tuxedos, but giving back and witnessing various smiles, excitement, tears, and joy. 

Designed to go beyond the dress to prepare students for college and careers, the program also features scholarship, internship, and mentorship opportunities as part of educational and youth workforce partnerships with the Emma Bowen Foundation, The Posse Foundation, and the T. Howard Foundation.

“Prom is a big moment, but prom, although a celebration, is just a start of there’s so much more to come,” said Tammy Shea, group vice president at Warner Bros. Discovery. “We’ve made connections with organizations to help kids find internships and programs. Maybe it’s with Warner Bros. Discovery, but it could be outside of that in the industry. There’s so much opportunity, so we really try and get these kids connected. We’re reaching 1,000 students this year.”

Durham said it’s “very rewarding” to see students come in and are bewildered.

“They don’t know what they’re set up for and all of a sudden we have Oprah giving an introduction,” he said. We have all our staff members here to help decide and find the perfect dress or suiting for prom perfection.”

The Say Yes to the Dress event had both Macy’s and Men’s Warehouse involved in dressing and styling the young men and women in attendance.
Photo by Isaiah Singleton/The Atlanta Voice

LaQuavious Bailey, junior from DM Therrell High School, said although he was lucky enough to attend prom as a tenth grader, his junior year will be “his year”.

“I’m feeling good. Everything looks good for the ladies and the men and everyone around us has been nice helping us out to get ready for prom,” he said.

This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Atlanta Voice through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the country.