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6 - Brides 2016

By Shannon Hicks

The Newtown Bee - January 29, 2016

Options Available For Gowns After

Wedding dresses do not have to be worn only once. Generations of women have carefully cleaned and then stored their wedding gowns with the hope that their daughters will someday wear them. Others hang on to them, not knowing what they will eventually do with what may be the single most expensive piece of clothing a woman will purchase in her lifetime. Still others decide to give their dress to Goodwill or other thrift shops, allowing someone else to have a beautiful dress for their big day. They may be one of the most emotional purchases of your life, but donating your gown after your big day can help someone else have their dream wedding. For those who want to donate their gown, many groups and organizations exist that will not only reuse a wedding gown, but will also give a second life with a purpose. Adorned In Grace provides bridal and formal wear to benefit victims of human trafficking. The AIG Bridal and Formalwear Shop, located in Portland, Ore., sells new and gently used wedding gowns, formals, petticoats, veils, and accessories. All

proceeds are used to promote awareness and prevention of sex trafficking as well as restoration for trafficking victims. A community effort, the store is staffed and managed by volunteers, and has received monetary and in-kind support from many local individuals, businesses, and generous brides who donate their gowns. Since June 2011, The Fred Meyer Corporation has provided a 2,800-square-foot retail space rent-free and all of the items sold have been donated. The proceeds from every sale are be used to combat the problem of sex trafficking in Portland. Gowns must be of circa 2005 or newer; formals, petticoats, bras, veils, hair accessories, jewelry, children’s special occasion and other wedding supplies and décor are also accepted. AIG accepts mailed donations, and asks that gowns are bagged to avoid water damage. US Mail and UPS are the preferred forms of shipping. Donors who include a self-addressed stamped envelope, or even a piece of paper with their email address, will receive a receipt for their taxes in return. Send e-mail to info@adornedingrace. com or visit adorned-in-grace.squarespace. com for additional information. The Arthritis Foundation Thrift Shop will sell donated bridal gowns to raise money for the foundation’s ongoing re-

search efforts to “find a cure for arthritis, advocate for better access to care, and connect families to the treatment and support they need,” according to the shop’s website (arthritis.org/new-york/about-us/arthritis-foundation-thrift-shop). Located in the upper east side of Manhattan at 1430 Third Avenue, the shop accepts donations weekdays between 10 am and 5 pm; an employee working on January 11 said they prefer to receive donations

after 10 — and not as early as 9, as stated online — because they don’t always have employees to cover both the sales floor and help those who bring in donations. Later in the day is better, she said. Gowns should be clean and in good condition so that AF Thrift Shop employees can immediately put them on a mannequin, and sell them. Gowns can be dropped off at the Big Apple location, or at Arthritis Foundation New England Region office in Rocky Hill; call 860-563-1177 for additional information. Gowns can also be shipped to the store, but shipping must be covered by the donor. The store cannot accept COD items. Deployments, financial hardships, and other challenges unique to servicemen and women can make it difficult to plan a wedding. Established in 2007, Brides Across America gives military brides a nearly free gown during the biannual Brides Across America Nationwide Gown Giveaway. Military brides are asked to make a $20 donation to Brides Across America per event. While BAA is headquartered in Andover, Mass., events are held twice a year in partnership with bridal salons across the country. The program has reportedly given away more than 14,000 gowns since its inception. Brides Across America tries to give away gowns that are currently in fashion. For that reason they only accept gowns that are no more than five years old. All sizes are accepted. Those interested in donating their gown should visit bridesacrossamerica.com/ give-a-dress and fill in the form on that page, which asks for designer, size, style number, year purchased, price, alterations if any, and additional items being gifted. There is also space for supplementary information. Former brides with unique and/or vintage gowns are encouraged to contact Brides Across America, however. Some such dresses are accepted, following email and photo submissions. BAA accepts veils, tiaras and accessories, but no undergarments or petticoats. Once a gown is accepted, BAA will send information on how to ship it. Tax receipts are also provided upon request. For additional information call 877-6503309, send e-mail to info@bridesacrossamerica.com, or visit bridesacrossamerica. com. The Bridal Garden is, according to its website, the only not-for-profit bridal boutique in New York City. Donated designer gowns are discounted up to 75 percent off their original retail prices, and

then proceeds benefit education for disadvantaged children. Prices start at $795 and can increase to several thousand dollars. Accepted gowns will range from size 0 through 18, will have been purchased within the past five years, and will be in “fairly clean, sellable condition.” Donations are tax deductible. Donations of veils, headpieces, sashes, boleros, shawls, and jewelry that can be worn on a wedding day are also accepted. Call 212-252-0661 or visit bridalgarden. org for additional information. St Mary’s Catholic Church in Barnesville, Md., has a twin parish, St Joseph’s

Parish, in Carcasse, Haiti. Among the North American church’s ongoing missions is Brides For Haiti, which collects gowns to give to brides in its twin parish. BFH also sells gowns to raise money to fund its outreach in Haiti. Vintage wedding gowns are not accepted, nor are gowns older than seven years old. The program accepts wedding gowns, as well as prom and Quinceañera gowns. Donors are asked to clean gowns before donating them. The church provides tax receipts for those who send an SASE with their gown donation. Contact Brides For Haiti Donations Director Patti Bohr at pabohr164@ yahoo.com for details. Success In Style has a mission of assisting women and men in crisis become employed and self-sufficient. The nonprofit provides free business attire, practical fashion advice, and interview counseling. Its sister organization, Cherie Amour, sells donated wedding dresses to help fund Success In Style. This is one of the few organizations found that accepts not only contemporary gowns but also antique and outdated styles. “Puffy sleeves, awkward waistlines, difficult fitting? No problem! Our skilled designer volunteers and interns can transform and renew old dresses to make them ready for the sales floor,” Cheri Amour’s website promises. “Give an antique gown another chance to be appreciated down the aisle,” it also suggests. Cherie Amour also accepts and resells related wedding attire including tuxedos and bridesmaid dresses. Donations are tax deductible, and donors can receive a $20 gift certificate to Charity’s Closet, one of Success In Style’s thrift shops. For details including donation guidelines, call 301-498-5035, send e-mail to donations@successinstyle.org, or visit successinstyle.org. Fairytale Brides on A Shoestring, out of Rockville, Md., sells wedding gowns for up to 75 percent off their retail price.

The nonprofit boutique (501c3) is operated by volunteers; there are no paid staff members. All net proceeds are then donated to charities helping women. Fairytale Brides has contributed to Victims’ Rights Foundation and Rockville Pregnancy Clinic. It has also donated to Brides Across America. Donations, which are tax deductible, should be five years old or less. Fairytale Brides also accepts mother of the bride, prom dresses, bridal accessories, veils, jewelry, and flower girl dresses. Donations are received from former brides, as well as salons and designers. Dresses should be cleaned, but if that isn’t possible the salon asks that donors cover the cost of a cleaning. Dresses can be delivered to the salon or shipped; visit fairytalebrides.org/dress-donation for details. NICU Helping Hands was created in

the summer of 2010 because of an “overwhelming need in Fort Worth, Texas,” according to the group’s website, for a local organization that could support parents of babies wh ve care unit, or NICU. One of NICU Helping Hands’s programs is The Angel Gown® Program, which takes donated wedding gowns and pale colored bridesmaid dresses and turns them into handmade gowns for final pho-

tos and/or burial services for babies who are stillborn or die shortly after birth. Wedding gowns are distributed to any one of more than 700 volunteer seamstresses through the United States, who convert the gowns into garments that a family can use to wrap their baby in for their final journey. At this time, however, the program is not accepting any more wedding gowns. The program has been overwhelmed with gown donations, and is doing fundraising to cover the cost of shipping Angel Gowns across the country. Those who are considering a gown donation are being asked to hold on to their gown, and watch the program’s website, NICOhelpinghands.org, for updates. St Anthony’s Bridal helps lower and moderate income brides in the Washington, D.C., area purchase a gently used gown for $150, regardless of their value — and St Anthony’s has been gifted everything from Christos NYC and Jim Hjelm to Vera Wang and Hailey Page. The 501(c)(3) organization also offers educational workshops to help couples learn how to have a beautiful wedding on a budget. Workshops also teach wedding crafts for those looking for more DIY activities. Currently located in Bethesda, Md., St Anthony’s Bridal began a closeout sale in December to liquidate all 700 gowns in its inventory… so that the project could relocate from its original location within a dog daycare and boarding service business into a space of its own, with an entrance of its own (until now, St Anthony’s Bridal clients had to access the bridal project by going through the dog daycare business). The new location, in a commercial space in northern Virginia, will also provide space for workshops to be held more frequently; a meeting location for brides-tobe and past brides to exchange reception ideas and items; and church programs for the community “to encourage marriage in a culture that typically delays marriage,” according to the program’s website. The new location will also allow St Anthony’s Bridal to increase its hours from two hours each Saturday to 15 hours per week. St Anthony’s accepts wedding gowns, veils, belts, and other bride accessories, including reception items. It does not accept crinolines, bridesmaid gowns or prom gowns. For additional information visit stanthonysbridal.com. Founded in 2010 in Santa Clara, Calif., Wish Upon a Wedding is a nonprofit organization that provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation. The 501(c)(3) charity expanded its reach in 2014 by granting weddings for individ-


Brides 2016