By Aisha I. Jefferson
Jonesboro High School seniors, India Jones, Toyleya Hand and Rachel Harris huddled around the counter as they flipped through the Jonesboro High School 2004 prom memory book.
The girls, who met at Savvi Formalwear at Southlake Mall where Hand and Jones work did not hold back when judging their peers' appearance.
"I don't like that blue," Hand said, pointing to a girl wearing a powder-blue dress. But there is a shade of blue Hand does prefer for her dress.
"Turquoise that's what me and my prom date decided," Hand said. "I was aiming for red, but I changed my mind because it was common last year."
Hand and her friends are three of thousands of high school students in Henry and Clayton counties who will be attending prom this spring.
This year's proms are scheduled to take place from early April through mid-May.
Although Jonesboro High's prom is April 2, neither girl has yet purchased prom tickets which are $65 each now. The price will go up to $75 through March and $85 afterward.
"They are talking about opening it up to freshmen and sophomores, because the seniors aren't buying the tickets," Jones said. "The only reason we are not buying the tickets is because we don't have the money right now."
Either way, Jones, Hand and Harris say their dates will pay for the tickets.
As the junior class sponsor, Morrow High School teacher Deborah Fagin said prom tickets for many schools are expensive because they choose locations in Atlanta.
"You pay big bucks to got to Atlanta," she said. "It's expensive to book one of those hotels."
Fagin said her school chose to host its prom at the Merle Manders Conference Center in Stockbridge because it is nice and "the deposit is cheaper."
But prom tickets are not the only expense. The trio expect to spend about $500 on their dress, hair, makeup, shoes and accessories.
While Jones, Harris and Hand said they are not really worried about prom, 16-year-old Tara Loudermilk is.
"I don't why," said Loudermilk, a junior at Luella High School in Henry County. "I guess because I've never been to a big dance before."
Loudermilk vaguely remembers her two older brothers going to their proms.
She, however, has been busy with plans to attend two proms at Luella High and Henry High. Loudermilk said her boyfriend has a baseball game the day of her school's prom, so she is going with her friend Steven. She will later attend her boyfriend's prom at Henry County High.
Loudermilk said she did not want to buy two prom dresses and decided to borrow a dress from a friend.
"One of my dresses is a poofy, Cinderella dress," Loudermilk said.
She also said she, her date and 12 other friends will rent a stretch Hummer limousine for prom.
"I think it was $1,800 to $2,000 for seven hours," Loudermilk said. "I'm not paying anything."
Loudermilk said her Luella High prom date, Steven, is picking up the limousine tab. She and her boyfriend plan to drive to Henry County High's prom.
Jones will drive her mother's SUV because she does not think paying for a limousine is economical.
"You can just drive your own car and pay $3 for parking in Buckhead," Jones said.
While girls may have a heavier burden getting glam for prom getting hair and makeup done, buying the perfect dress, shoes, and other accessories it is the boys who usually have to foot the bill for everything else.
Luella High junior Carson Walker said guys typically are responsible for prom tickets, transportation, after prom plans, dinner, tuxedo rental and flowers for their dates. His parents will help.
"You also have to make sure you have money to pay for it," he said.
"To an extent, it is expensive," Luella High junior Dominique Glover said. "(But) you want to show the girl respect (buy paying for it)."
In addition, Chabe Durham, a Luella High junior, said guys also have to have a back up plan in place.
"It's a lot of money; you don't want things screwing up on you half way through the night," Walker said.
Luella High junior Markis Fortener said coordination also is key.
"You hate to show up in a blue tux and she has a red dress," Fortener said. "You also have to coordinate with the corsage."
Fortener did warn that guys should wait a month before prom before they coordinate outfits with their dates because plans may change.
Savvi Formalwear's Gale Perry said quite a few people ordered tuxedos for prom last month.
"A lot of kids come in and want the longer styled jacket," Perry said.
Walker, who modeled a white tuxedo with a long jacket for Luella High's recent prom fashion show, said he likes the tuxedos with the long jackets.
Walker's mother, Cathy, said they did not buy his tuxedo but plans to go shopping with him in the beginning of March.
Perry also said a lot of boys are looking for bright colors for vests and cummerbunds.
"That says a lot about the dresses," Perry added.
Rich's-Macy's spokeswoman Marla Shavin confirmed Perry's observation, saying girls are buying more color this year, with coral, yellow and blue among the popular color choices.
Many formalwear stores have everything young men need to dress themselves from head to toe for prom. The price for a three-day rental, including tuxedo, shirt, cummerbund and bow tie, begins at $49. Shoes can be rented for $10.
Perry said most of the time, boys come in by themselves to pick out a tux.
Jones, who has worked part-time at Savvi for the past year, recommended that guys order their tuxes as soon as possible.
"If your prom is in April, come two months before," she warned.
Attending a prom fashion show may help teens decide what look to wear. Luella High's girls softball team sponsored its first prom fashion show recently in the school gym. Jonesboro High will have a prom fashion show at 6 p.m. Monday in the school gym.
Jones said senior walk is one of the main reasons why she is attending prom.
"It's one of the only times the whole senior class is together other than graduation," she said.
All of the girls said they are worried about someone else wearing the same dress they have to prom.
Jonesboro High senior Carrie Wilson said two of her friends had the same prom dress last year, which is why she is glad to have found information online about Prom World Mega Store on Collier Road in Atlanta.
"If someone goes to that store, all the dresses are registered by school so once I bought my dress, nobody can by that dress from my school," Wilson explained.
Wilson said, "after trying on 50 million dresses," she spent just over $300 on a yellow "poofy ball gown."
"That (one) was my favorite," she said.