From April to June 2017, Newsday attended more than 40 proms on Long Island, taking photos and writing stories to capture the glitz and glam from each special night. Here are some things our reporters learned from their experiences.
Selfies always come first
There's always time for a celebratory selfie. On the way into prom, Long Island students constantly whipped out their phones and got photo-ready. They also snapped pics of each other, always making sure there were many options and angles for their friends to choose from when it came time to pick the best shot for Instagram.
Boutonnieres: Timeless but tricky
A boutonniere is a staple for anyone who wishes to don a tuxedo on prom night. But, of course, they can be difficult to put on. We've learned that no matter how many years go by, boutonniere adjustments will always present an adorable, candid photo opportunity.
Some of our reporters look like your kids
If you're covering a prom and you look kind of young, like Newsday.com's own Rachel Weiss, teachers will mistake you for a student. Trust us: This will happen even if you're wearing jeans and a press badge. That's why at the last prom of the year, Weiss fully embraced it and took this shot in the photo booth. Which brings us to our next point...
Photo booth = crowd-pleaser
Nothing gets Long Island students hyped like a photo booth with wacky props. If you're looking for a memorable photo, be sure to opt for an outrageous hat and oversized glasses.
Everyone screams when 'Despacito' comes on
Long Island students always dance like no one's watching. And throughout prom season, we saw all the dance moves and heard the same mix of songs over and over...and over again. "Cupid Shuffle," "Bad and Boujee," and, of course, "Despacito" reigned supreme. But the most memorable music moment came from Mattituck High School's junior-senior prom, where the DJ played a mash-up of "All Star" by Smash Mouth and "Closer" by The Chainsmokers.
We can't name that tune
It doesn't matter if you're 25 or 40: The majority of songs you'll hear at a Long Island prom will be unrecognizable. And the struggle continues -- especially for photographers -- when the students break out into a fully choreographed dance that you've never seen before. On the bright side, by the end of the season you might end up with a fun new playlist.
Plenty of awesome food choices
We've learned that millennials love to make decisions, especially if there's food involved. At prom, buffets always seem to be the most efficient. Students grab what they want and head back to the dance floor. Some standouts we've seen: Taco bar at Patchogue-Medford High School junior prom, mashed potato bar at Hampton Bays High School prom, and tables full of decadent, fancy hors d'oeuvres at Sacred Heart Academy's prom. Needless to say, our staff was just as delighted as the students.
Students celebrate their differences
Every year, we notice more and more LGBT couples attending proms across Long Island. In addition, we went to the Long Island LGBT Network's annual prom celebration, which had more than 200 guests. This year, Long Island teens embraced each other's differences and expressed themselves in creative, jubilant ways, from sporting their favorite outfits and accessories to showing off new moves on the dance floor.
Sometimes, the shoes complete the look
It wasn't just Long Island students rocking fashionable footwear this prom season -- their teachers got into the spirit, too. Left, Lawrence Woodmere Academy prom adviser Laura Murphy showed off her amped-up heels, and right, a Farmingdale High School student lit up the dance floor with these dazzling sneakers.
And sometimes, you have to lose the shoes
If the heels are too high or too tight, those fancy prom shoes will be tossed to the side or deserted under a table as soon as the dance floor opens. At Patchogue-Medford High School's junior prom, the advisers thought ahead and brought flip-flops for all. Needless to say, lots of ladies were grateful.
Student-athletes faced a stressful choice
This year, several Long Island student-athletes had to make a difficult decision between attending their big game or their special night. Seniors on the St. Anthony's High School softball team either had to leave for prom after their semifinal game in Staten Island with no time to spare, or stay and play in the championship game. A similar scheduling conflict occurred leading up to Connetquot High School's prom, which was held the same day as the Empire Challenge at Hofstra University.
In the case of these Mattituck High School lacrosse players, a celebration was in order following their county championship victory, which took place just hours before the junior-senior prom.
Creativity never goes out of style
Long Island high school students aren't afraid to express themselves and rock bold fashions, whether it's a bright hair color or homemade dress. In the case of Valley Stream Central High School student Kuiahna Marks, it's all of the above.
Students rock classic prom fashion
Amidst the flashy colors and sparkling sequins, we've also learned that to this day, a black dress is simply timeless.
Best friends party at prom, happily pose for photos
One of the most rewarding parts of covering a high school prom is seeing big groups of friends come together and enjoy the night, with plenty of laughs along the way. Getting a crew together for a group photo is a great way to capture the joy of prom night and the sincerity of high school friendships.
Always coordinate with your date
When it comes to color-coordinating with your prom date, Long Island students still stick to tradition. But some couples went above and beyond this year, like Matthew Cullen and his girlfriend, Abigail Lang. At the Hauppauge High School senior prom, he arrived in a pink vest and bow tie, and she showed up with cotton candy-colored hair.
So much Snapchat
Long Island students are more likely to Snapchat on the dance floor than actually dance with their dates. And if there's a prom filter, you'll surely hear about it all evening.
These phones will never die
Long Island students came prepared to prom. We saw tons of phones charging on the sidelines while seniors filled up the dance floor or enjoyed their dinner and dessert.
Make an entrance
Ward Melville High School's prom never disappoints, with a fun theme and elegant red carpet arrivals every year. These students made heads turn when they showed up with two very special dates -- a dog and a pizza. The lesson we've learned here? When it comes to this school's prom, get ready to be entertained.
No stress over getting a fancy ride to prom
You don't always have to show up to prom in a limousine. We've come across plenty of students who took an Uber to their prom venue. And in the case of these Earl L. Vandermeulen students, a big rig will also get the job done.
LI students give back
Many Long Island high schools hold special "proms" for senior citizens, including Comsewogue. The girls leaders club held the event the day after Comsewogue High School's junior prom, serving food, teaching dance moves and transforming the cafeteria into a starry Paris evening. The students even elected a senior citizen prom king and queen, making the celebration even more special.