By Cristin Trosien
Photos courtesy of Eli Pitta, Eli Photography
A Classic California Wedding
The Imperfections Made It Perfect
Before they were officially engaged, Diana was walking Main Street in Ann Arbor with her future husband, Josh, when she saw a window display for The Brides Project. Recognizing that it addressed her budget-minded and environmental values, she knew she would be shopping at TBP.
A few months later when Josh popped the question, she searched out The Brides Project immediately. Diana came in to the shop with an idea of what she wanted, but her mom had a different idea, with her eye on a “dark champagne, off the shoulder, embroidered-crystal-1980’s” gown. Diana gave it a shot, but her God-sister, Monica, ultimately chose “the one” – a classic ballgown with a sweetheart neckline and ruched bodice. Diana loved the raw silk material the most. “The little imperfections made it perfect for me.”
Although Diana was already destined to buy her gown with The Brides Project, it became even more personal to her in the months surrounding their engagement and wedding: “About a month before we got engaged, my dad’s best friend died from a long fight with metastatic prostate cancer. A few months later, one of my mom’s best friends passed away from a devastating battle with lung cancer. It was a really hard time for my parents. They would have both been such an important part of that time.” Diana feels that donning her Brides Project gown was a way to “pay tribute to these two amazing people” and was “one more way they would be with us that day.”
Diana and Josh had a country-club wedding in Diana’s hometown of Orinda, California. Decorated like a 1920s hacienda, the club was a beautiful backdrop to their neutral color palette of creams, browns and blacks. The flowers were primarily hydrangeas, significant to the family since they come from the Azorean Island, Flores, which is covered in the beautiful white flowers. Her dress with ballgown skirt, dramatic train, and beaded sash fit the day perfectly and Diana’s family teased her about always having wanted to be a princess. “They were completely right, and I really do feel that’s what I had: a princess wedding.”
Say hello to our featured volunteer, Melissa Miller!
Volunteer Position: Bridal Consultant
How long have you been volunteering with us? April 2015 (I purchased my wedding dress in March 2015)
What do you like most about volunteering at The Brides Project? I, unfortunately, have many family and friends that have been touched by cancer. I love being able to help raise funds for cancer patients and families through a joyous occasion such as a wedding.
Favorite memory while volunteering: I had a plus size bride come in feeling extremely stressed and apprehensive. She had been to 5 other salons and she felt none of them catered to plus size brides. She was very fearful she would not find a dress and this was her last option. Not only did she find her dream dress, but she couldn’t decide between 2 of them. She couldn’t have been happier.
Current Celebrity Crush: Adam Levine
Any interesting hobbies/hidden talents? I am a runner and LOVE Zumba. My favorite race was the Disney Princess 10k in Orlando with my daughter. I also make bows for local cheer teams.
THANK YOU MELISSA AND ALL OF OUR WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS – We couldn’t do it without you!
By Cristin Trosien
“We Did Live Life, And Loved Each Other
Every Moment Of It.”
An Engagement and A Surgery
After two years of dating, Mike took a relaxed moment at home to propose to Kristen on her 25th birthday. Not wanting a long engagement, the couple planned to have their wedding only six months later. The bustle of planning quickly took a backseat only two months before the big day; Mike began to feel sick and was subsequently diagnosed with testicular cancer. During a time when most engaged couples are preparing seating charts and menus, Mike and Kristen found themselves preparing for a major surgery. The surgery left the doctors optimistic but just two weeks before their wedding, they found out that Mike would also need to undergo chemotherapy after the nuptials. Kristen remembers, “We were devastated, but determined to have an incredible wedding and to enter into this battle as husband and wife.”
An Absolutely Perfect Day
Kristen and Mike were married on July 17th, 2010, at Kristen’s grandparent’s church in Cheboygan, Michigan. After the ceremony they took pictures in front of the Mackinac Bridge and danced the night away at their reception, surrounded by family and friends. Kristen describes the day as “absolutely perfect in every way… Mike and I vowed that day to always love each other and to be together until death do us part.”
Mike Smiling Down
With Kristen by his side, Mike continued to fight his battle with cancer for the next four years, but lost to it in December of 2014. As this month marks their five year anniversary, Kristen decided to donate her gown to The Brides Project, feeling that it would be the perfect way to celebrate the brief but loving relationship that she and Mike shared. “To be able to help cancer families in need by donating my dress means the world to me and I know Mike is smiling down on this!”
Kristen and Mike may not have gotten to grow old together as planned, but in her words, “we did live life and loved each other every moment of it!” The Brides Project is so proud to represent the Cancer Support Community as it supports those families, just like Kristen and Mike’s, touched and scarred by Cancer. And, we are beyond honored to be entrusted to pass on Kristen’s gown – and all of the love that it represents – to another Brides Project bride.
Say Hello to our Featured Volunteer, Krista Gravatt!
Volunteer Position: Bridal Consultant and Volunteer Event Planning Assistant
How long have you been volunteering with us? Since Feb 2015
What do you like most about volunteering at The Brides Project? The fact that we are taking a positive experience (getting married) and using it to help support people who may be in a difficult situation (cancer diagnosis, chemo, surgery, etc). People who come into our shop usually have a passion for our mission and want to help. Also, the fellow volunteers are awesome!
Favorite memory while volunteering: We had a wonderful, good-humored family come in-a mother and two daughters. They were bilingual and the bride said something to her
mother through the dressing room curtain, and I asked if she was telling her mother how much the dress cost. Her mom started laughing and said I must be bilingual too. We had a good laugh about it. She ended up buying that dress!
Current Celebrity Crush: It’s a tie between Bradley Cooper and Channing Tatum.
Any interesting hobbies/hidden talents? I was a fencer in college, I play piano by ear, and I’m a licensed Zumba instructor.
Would you like to volunteer with The Brides Project? Contact us!
By Cristin Trosien
Photo courtesy of Kat Foley Photography
The Brides Project loves to extend its family of fabulous brides to those who didn’t happen to purchase their gown from us, but do find us after their big day and decide to donate. Bride, Julie McGill, was one such bride.
A Great Time Dancing All Night
A Donation She’ll Never Regret
She goes on to offer this advice to brides, struggling with the same decision: “If you are hesitating about donating… Think about your wedding dress in a box in the back of your closet. You may think you want to save it for your daughter…but IF you even have a daughter, don’t you think she will want to shop for her very own wedding dress, just like you did? You are NEVER going to wear this dress again. Love your photos and memories and share it with someone else!!! It is truly the best thing to do. Just DO it.”
Thank you, Julie! We couldn’t have said it better. Your donation is greatly appreciated, and inspiring. Donation information is always available at http://www.thebridesproject.org/donate/
By Cristin Trosien
A Laguna Beach Wedding
Kelly Vantrease and beau, Brode, got married early in the morning of October 18th, 2014, on a cliff overlooking the ocean at Laguna Beach. Kelly is a California-native and always knew that she would love to get married at this, her favorite beach.
Kelly found her West coast-bound gown at The Bride’s Project after visiting other bridal salons in both Ann Arbor and her hometown of Los Angeles. Upon visiting TBP, she was “surprised with the number of dresses available, certainly more than [she] had seen in any store.” She found her dream dress, albeit different than what she had pictured initially, thanks to the help of three volunteers in the shop. “They were warm and funny and it was like having three personal shoppers.”
On their wedding day, the morning marine layer in the air made for beautiful pictures on the sandy beach, and the couple kicked off their shoes and had some fun. However, the couple underestimated the surf and both got wet! Kelly’s dress still has sand stains, but she plans to keep it forever – dirt and all.
On her December wedding day, Samantha’s dad saw her in her dress and said she “looked like a princess…like the one from Frozen.”
The classic winter-wedding feel was exactly what she was going for. The traditional, elegant gown featured beading and detail-work that happened to resemble snowflakes from afar. Samantha accented the look with a fingertip veil and blusher purchased at The Brides Project, personalized with 100 Swarovski crystals by Samantha herself.
Samantha and her prince, Timothy, met when they were only five years old. Samantha and her gown were not as quick to find each other. With her mom and sister, she visited The Brides Project and tried on a variety of different dresses with the help of four volunteers.
Samantha remembers, “The combination of it being for a great cause and the dresses being so reasonably priced hooked me right away! I knew I was going to buy my dress there. It was just a matter of narrowing down the options.” Ultimately, the “Frozen Princess dress” took the wedding cake, and our own Jan Lee worked her magic to make the too-big dress fit just right for the big day.
On her wedding day she looked radiant, and had a fairytale day with her groom and 220 guests. “I loved my dress and received so many compliments on my wedding day of how beautiful it was.” She adds, “I have told everyone about The Brides Project and recommended that they at least go shop there once while looking for their dress.”
Special thanks to Special Moments Photography for all photos.
First she bought a dress. Then, she volunteered. Now, she manages The Brides Project. Today, we’re very proud to introduce you to our very own Hannah Lowe!
A Move to Michigan
Hannah and Mark began their relationship in Maryland, where Hannah’s professional background was in the banking industry. Then, a job opportunity for Mark brought the couple to Ann Arbor, Michigan. In her new town, Hannah’s search for a wedding dress ended at The Brides Project store. There she not only found her dress, but also decided become a volunteer consultant. As a consultant, she was able to meet and assist others whose purchases would also provide cancer support.
Bride-to-be; Volunteer; and A New Job
After finding her dress and then volunteering for some months, in the fall of 2014, Hannah accepted the job of coordinator for The Brides Project. In this capacity, she manages all volunteer activity and day-to-day operations. She has brought a great amount of diligence; attention to detail; and a warm, effervescent spirit to her new position. In just three months, her leadership has notably included the monumental task of moving the store into a fantastic new space; hosting a successful trunk show; and organizing an ever-growing team of people. Hannah began her new work with incredible competence and grace, all while simultaneously beginning her own married life.
Hannah and her husband Mark were married on December 6th, 2014 in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The joy they brought to each other, together with their families, shone through in this tropical paradise. Hannah, we are so grateful that you found The Brides Project! Your dress suited you perfectly, and that was only the beginning.
– By Monica Miklosovic
Special thanks to Natatlie Franke Photography for all photos.