Monte Durham Shares All That He Loves About Hosting ‘Say Yes to the Prom’

posted: 03/31/17
by: Rebecca Goldberg

TLC's annual 'Say Yes to the Prom' initiative is about more than just helping students find their dream prom dress and look. It also focuses on identifying and celebrating girls in need to help build courage, confidence and improve their self-image.

Selected from area high schools, local students are invited for a day of shopping and head-to-toe pampering to get them ready for a prom they will never forget. Each student gets to pick from hundreds of gowns, get glammed up at hair and makeup stations, be fitted with alterations, and then top off their look with accessory and shoe shopping areas.

While every piece of the day is extraordinary, what just might be the most exciting piece of the entire experience is the time that each student gets to spend with the incredible event host, and 'Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta' bridal expert, Monte Durham. Not only does he host the red carpet and runway events, but he is also on hand throughout the entire day to ensure his personal touch is given to every ensemble before each boy selects his perfect suit and each girl says "yes" to the prom dress.

After six years of hosting #SYTTP, we got a chance to speak with Monte Durham about what has become one of his most favorite experiences.

SYTTP 2017
What does SYTTP mean to you?
It means being supportive, inspiring, caring and giving.

How did you feel at your very first SYTTP event?
I was truly shocked and amazed at just how much we are impacting and inspiring these deserving students.

What is your favorite part of the SYTTP experience?
Having the girls (and now the guys too!), say yes to their look! We take them from sitting at breakfast in a sweatshirt, to walking the red carpet all glammed up and feeling confident. It's truly a dream come true for them.

Walk us through what it's like helping them pick their prom look.
First, I take time to talk to each of the students individually. I find out a little bit about them and listen to their personal story. This time affords me the ability to find their absolute dream dress. They get the opportunity to tell me things like, "I have never worn sparkles" or "I've always wanted to wear chandelier earrings." We are then able to make those dreams come true.

How do you remain positive when hearing their personal struggles?
It's very easy to stay positive when you hear of their accomplishments. They have achieved so much through such adversities, that it really makes you want to go the extra mile and truly help them to ensure they have an incredible and positive experience.

What is it like seeing their confidence grow?
It is my absolute favorite part of the day, because I don't' even recognize these deserving students anymore! They are all dolled up, heads held high. They are twisting and turning in the mirror and down the runway. It's wild to think that these are the same students that, just that morning, were so shy!

How does every SYTTP event differ for you?
While there is definitely a ribbon of familiarity to all the events, it is the students and their stories that make it different and rewarding each time.

What has hosting SYTTP taught you, over the years?
Hosting SYTTP has taught me even more about patience and respect for others and their individual situations. It has also encouraged me to live in the moment and celebrate all of life's achievements.

What was your prom like?
It was in the 70's. I was in a yellow and black tuxedo, with a matching shirt and big black bow tie. I looked like a bad bumble bee! I wasn't popular and just went with a group of friends, but we left early. It is because of my experience that I especially want to ensure that every deserving student has a truly great prom. That is my ultimate goal!

SYTTP 2017
See Monte Durham make prom dreams come true, when the 2017 Say Yes to the Prom Special airs this Saturday at 8/7c on TLC!
SYTTP 2017