Brides Across America
It’s a common story throughout the services; a couple discovers a deployment in their near future and push their wedding date up, often times having a very small ceremony with a judge or the base chaplain. Meaningful, but not quite the romantic ideal that many couples envision. Then life generally gets in the way, especially in terms of finances, and a formal wedding is forgotten.
Brides Across America wants to help. It provides wedding dresses for military brides with a two basic considerations; deployment and time. Eligible brides must be:
- Planning a wedding within the next 18 months or have gotten married in the past five years without a formal ceremony,
- One of you was deployed to qualifying area within the next 18 months (for future weddings) or past five years (if already married).
Qualifying deployment areas are Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Japan, Korea, Qatar, Bahrain, and Libya.
Bridal gowns are new, samples, or gently used, in the most recent of styles and by well known designers. Depending on donations, veils, tiaras, jewelry, and other accessories may also be available. What is not available is alterations; brides must pay for these on their own. Each bride may choose one wedding gown.
Bridal salons across the country are hosting these shows throughout the year; however, not every state is represented (a full list of stores is located on the right side of the home page). Pre-registration is required; there are a limited number of gowns available at each show. If your salon is fully booked, you are put on a notification list for the next give away.
Bring with you your military identification or driver’s license and deployment papers that list time and location of deployment. Entrance to the show is $20 per bride, which is fully tax deductable. This fee goes toward fundraising for another military assistance group, Patriot Rovers, matching formerly abandoned dogs that are now trained for ADA assistance to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury, free of charge.
There are a few general rules of thumb when attending a bridal event, especially a non-profit bridal event.
- Don’t bring everybody. One, possibly two people, but not the entire entourage. It’s going to be a bit crowded.
- Get there when it first starts. It’s a first come, first serve environment. You’ll have a larger selection.
- Wear comfortable, easy-on, easy-off clothes. Sweats are good, as are leggings.
- Have patience. These stores are doing this for free. Granted, many hope to make side sales, but they are donating their employees, time, and square footage for a good cause. They may be a bit slower than they usually are because of the sheer number of brides.
- If you don’t find something you like, don’t feel guilty. Walking away empty handed is better than having a dress you loathe. Another bride will love it.
Brides Across America is a 2012 Joining Forces Community Challenge Finalist, White House initiative to help support programs that support the military and their families. Financial donations to Brides Across America, as well as donations of lightly used bridal gowns and accessories, may be made here.