Dressed in Love

It’s prom season, and Dressed in Love Ministries is now in their eighth year of serving young women by providing formal dresses, shoes and jewelry for the big day. Throughout the year, they collect the items, then have a grand giveaway. This year, the ministry team provided dresses for 27 young women on April 1 at Christ Community Church of Ashton.

“Dressed in Love” Founder Jennifer Williams, a member of Redland Baptist Church, began the ministry in 2015 while a member of Ashton Baptist Church as a way to help families struggling with the cost of prom, with the ultimate hope of building relationships with the community and sharing the love of God.

A joyful recipient shows off her new dress! (Photo courtesy of Dressed in Love Ministry).

Proms, which have become an iconic rite of passage for many, can have a big price tag. In 2023, the average cost to have an Instagram-worthy prom post, with the gown, shoes, jewelry, hair styling, makeup, prom tickets, and incidentals, can conservatively tip $1,000. That’s a burden for many families; for some, it’s impossible.

Describing the process, Williams said girls, usually 16-18, will arrive with friends, parents, or guardians. Ministry volunteers greet the young ladies and help them find just what they need. “We have a great group of volunteers,” Williams said. “Our ‘personal shoppers’ stick with the girls from the beginning to the end, finding the right dress, shoes, and jewelry and ushering them to the dressing rooms.” When the teens decide on their dresses, volunteers clip on a “price tag” with “Dressed in Love” with the ministry signature Bible verse, Colossians 3:14 (NLT) “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

While there is one focused giveaway day, Jennifer said there are sometimes other needs for dresses throughout the year, and she and her volunteers accommodate as they are able.  Williams said she’s very thankful for those who have been partnering with her — Community Christian Church of Ashton, for allowing Dressed in Love to use their facility to store dresses and host the annual event; and the members of Redland Baptist Church, Derwood, and Seaside Church, Lewes, Delaware, who pray for the event, that God would open opportunities to share the gospel. She’s also thankful for the many volunteers, including her husband, David, her father, Charlie Arnold, the pastor of Seaside Church, and her mother, Erika.

Regarding outreach, Jennifer said, “People aren’t surprised when a church has an event and charges, but for us to give the dresses away stops them, and they want to know more. It’s a unique opportunity to witness, show love, and meet a need,” Volunteers also register their visitors so they can follow up for future events.

Jennifer hopes to expand giveaway days for more occasions. She welcomes churches and individuals to partner with the organization, either through volunteering or donations of dresses, shoes, jewelry, and funding. Dressed in Love Ministries is now a 501(c) non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

Visit their contact page for more information.