A Long-Distance Beginning
Both employed by the Army, there were only three times Matt and Ally had ever been together in the same physical location. For one year, despite great distance and very tight schedules, the couple corresponded whenever possible. Then Matt proposed, and beyond any doubts, Ally said “Yes!”
One Week To Plan A Wedding
Thank you to mother-of-the-bride, Patrice Brock, for telling us her daughter Ally’s story. Together, they had only one week when Ally was on leave to plan as much of the wedding as possible.
Writing to The Bride’s Project, Patrice said, “You played a very special role in this experience – you made Ally feel like a ‘normal’ bride. You took the time to listen to her story and helped her find the perfect dress. She had to plan her wedding from 2000 miles away, often having to let her sister Julie and I make choices and decisions that most brides take for granted. Ally knew she and Matt would have precious few days together for their December wedding. For a short time on that morning last summer, you gave Ally, and Julie and me, the very special gift of a fairy tale start to a most unusual journey.
“Ally’s story is a true fairy tale – with a twist. She and Matt became friends and fell in love through letters, Skype and phone calls. It was obvious to everyone that they were meant to be together. They had only been in the same place three times when he proposed. You see, Matt is also in the Army. They have been posted on opposite sides of the country throughout their training. The wedding had to happen in December as that was the only time they would both be on leave.
The Wedding Day
“Ally and Matt are both ‘family-people,'” explains Patrice. “So one year after they started ‘dating’ and seven months after she said YES, they had a wonderful, fun-filled, memory-packed wedding with family and friends. The dress from The Bride’s Project was much more than a beautiful part of a beautiful day. Matt’s grandpa and Ally’s grandma lost their battles with cancer years before the wedding. To be able to help others in their fight through the support of your shop was never a question – it had to happen! On their wedding day, Matt carried his grandpa’s dog tags and Ally had a purple iris in her bouquet for her grandma.
“From the moment we found your shop online, we knew we had found a gem. You graciously accommodated her very tight schedule that week and made us feel so welcome. Ally is overjoyed to be donating her dress back so that another very special bride can look radiant on her very special day.”
Four days after the wedding, Ally and Matt were once again on opposite sides of the country. They spent the first six months of married life apart, but now rejoice that in June, they were able to truly start their life together at Fort Bragg, NC.
By Monica Miklosovic
Photos: JK Photography08
By Monica Miklosovic
Photos: Jalisa Mayer
An Iowa Bride
It is stories like this that make us reflect in awe on how one person’s act of trust and generosity can strengthen and impart hope to the community around them, even if they are only visiting! It is with deep gratitude that we are able to share the story of this Iowa bride, who was determined to incorporate a giving spirit into her wedding plans from the very start.
A Summer and a Wedding Dress in Ann Arbor
Two years ago, Shea Jorgenson spent a summer in Ann Arbor, MI and happened to see The Brides Project store one day when she was out shopping for groceries. Shea explains, “I made a mental note and knew that one day I wanted to get my wedding dress there. I live in Iowa and am a 10-hour drive away from Ann Arbor but make the trip once a year with my family to see my brother.”
In town with her family again a few months later, although not engaged yet, Shea asked her mom if she wouldn’t mind looking at dresses at The Brides Project. She remembers, “I tried on about a dozen and had such great help from the staff; it made my dress shopping experience special and unique. I fell in love with a dress and decided to get it, even though I had never even looked at wedding dresses elsewhere.” She admits, “My family was pretty surprised that I had a dress before I was engaged!” However, her confidence was well-founded. One month later, she and her now-husband Michael agreed that a wedding was to be in their future, and were married soon after.
As many brides do, Shea had her dress altered by a seamstress (who designed and added a shoulder strap) after she bought it, making it perfectly her own. In reflecting upon her time at The Brides Project, Shea relays, “I could not have asked for a better experience dress shopping, more beautiful dress, or better cause. I loved it! I plan to donate the dress back on my next trip to Ann Arbor.”
A Happy First Anniversary!
Shea and Michael are currently both medical students at the University of Iowa. With their first anniversary coming up on June 22, we are delighted to celebrate the life they have begun together. Thank you, Shea and Michael, for sharing your story! Your optimism shines through, and we are grateful for your contribution.
By Arielle Weingast
Photos: Paul Stoloff
It all started on October 26, 1999. He was 19, and she was 18; both Jessica and her boyfriend were just out of high school. They were together for more than ten years making plans and building their futures, when late in the fall of 2011, he proposed!
In April of 2013, they finally set a wedding date of September 28 of that same year, and Jessica launched into full wedding planning mode. Jessica was speaking to her friend about the wedding and her friend mentioned The Brides Project. The more her friend told Jessica about the Project, the more she felt touched by the cause. Jessica lost her grandmother, aunt and her best friend’s mother all to cancer, and has two close friends who are breast cancer survivors. Jessica has seen “all this disease can do” and decided that she would only buy her dress from The Brides Project.
As soon as she made an appointment, Jessica felt the excitement and magic of The Brides Project. Jessica says, “When I showed up I was nervous, overwhelmed, excited, happy and anxious.” Brides Project Consultant Jill helped Jessica search for the perfect dress. She tried on a ton of dresses and narrowed the selection to two. Being very overwhelmed, Jessica decided to take a break and come back another day with her mother.
On her second visit, she found the perfect dress and immediately knew her search was over. She was even more excited that she could buy her veil and slip at The Brides Project as well. Jessica used the preferred alterations specialist, who took her vision and made it better than she ever could have expected. The dress was originally a few sizes too big, but the alterations made it look like it was custom-ordered just for Jessica.
From the moment she made the phone call to make her appointment, all the way to the end of that adventure, Jessica was truly cared for through the whole process. Jessica says, “When you lose a family member to cancer, or you know a cancer survivor, you really, truly understand what a horrible disease it is.” Jessica believes it was hard going through this process knowing those loved ones would not be with her on her wedding day. However, it did put a smile on her face knowing she was helping the organization that will support people facing cancer every day, and that this work could help someone else experience joy (and maybe even a wedding!) in their own family.
67 Volunteers; 21 Wedding Dresses Sold; and $8400 for Cancer Support
A Showcase of Gorgeous Gowns
On what seemed like the snowiest day of January (and that’s saying a lot!) the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor (CSC) was transformed into a gorgeous, bright space for our first-ever Trunk Show. The CSC is always safe, nurturing, and supportive place where families touched by cancer receive care. On this day, it served a second purpose. The Brides Project welcomed over 40 brides through our doors to shop for a dress that goes beyond its outward beauty, and offers a hand to those facing the daunting circumstances surrounding cancer.
Brides, Volunteers Support
Fundraising for Cancer
“We set a goal of raising $5000 at this event,” said Beth Foley, Development Coordinator for The Brides Project. “Despite the difficult travel conditions that day, we sold 21 gowns and raised over $8400. That is usually how many are sold in a month!”
Sixty-seven volunteers worked together to receive our new-found brides. “I’d like to express my most sincere thank you to all the volunteers and interns who helped make this event possible. Consultants, runners, photographers, makeup artists, marketing team, setup crew, gown transporters… it all came together beautifully and we couldn’t have done it without you! Beth conveyed.
“We were so honored to meet all the brides and families who braved the weather to come. I hope a good time was had by all, and I hope you know how much your contribution is appreciated by everyone at the Cancer Support Community.”
The dress is just one part of a new beginning. As 2014 unfolds, we hope to hear back from all the brides we met that day!
By Arielle Weingast
For this week’s Bride Spotlight, we interviewed Christy Cook about her “happily ever after.” Christy found The Brides Project while searching online for bridal shops. She decided she would purchase her dress at The Brides Project in honor of loved ones who have been touched by cancer.
Photo by Regina Starkey, Honeysuckle Hills
Wedding Dress Shopping in Michigan
Christy recalled, “We arrived in Michigan on July 14, 2013 for a family visit from South Carolina and I was so grateful when The Brides Project was able to make an appointment with me that week!”
She and her sister, Trisha, made the drive to beautiful Ann Arbor together. Despite a few setbacks on the road, when they finally arrived at the store, the two sisters were blown away by the large array of dresses. They found the store to be warm and inviting, and felt as if they were VIP clients during their one-on-one appointments. With the assistance of their consultant, they began pulling and trying on dresses immediately.
Six dresses in and feeling discouraged, Christy threw on one last dress and instantly fell in love. “The Brides Project also ha[s] accessories to go with my dress of my dreams, so I was able to get my veil and the under skirting all within my budget,” Christy exclaims! She purchased a Karelina Sposa gown that was perfect for her rustic mountain wedding.
Christy’s first look at her wedding dress in at The Brides Project shop in Ann Arbor.
Christy and her husband got married on September 29, 2013 in the breathtaking mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The wedding involved good food, great company and gorgeous weather all enjoyed while wearing a magnificent dress. “What more could a bride ask for?” Christy asks.
Christy is so appreciative she found The Brides Project, because it made saying yes to the dress of her dreams not only easy, but affordable.
We were recently delighted to receive a letter from a Paige, a Michigan bride who was married August 31, 2013. She said:
“The Bride’s Project of Ann Arbor is truly a project worth supporting! From the helpful staff and volunteers, to the wide variety of styles and sizes at such great prices, I had a one-of-a-kind experience choosing my wedding dress at The Bride’s Project. In addition to their worthy cause, it was their in-house alternations service that particularly impressed me. Knowing they were a small business, and non-profit, I wasn’t sure if they would offer extra services beyond helping choose the dress. I was pleasantly surprised when my fitting began and there was no middle man—that the same people who helped to see my vision to choose the right dress, were the same people offering alterations if I needed them. I was able to keep my business with The Bride’s Project, and knew my dress wouldn’t leave the store until it was time for me to take it home.
“The dress was perfect (at least I thought so), thanks to the unfaltering work of Jan Lee, my incredibly talented alterations consultant. She customized this dress for me, making it truly my own style and design, knowing I was looking for something special to fit the barn wedding we had planned. I added the black lace bolero (purchased from Angelika Liv’s shop on Etsy), and Jan replaced the dress’s original sequined-banded waistline with a flowing black ribbon I purchased myself. She really made sure every detail was just as I envisioned it, and made our meetings fun and personal. I had a great experience supporting this project, and I thank the entire team for all of the work they are doing. I have certainly been spreading the word!”
We thank you, Paige! We strive to offer a totally unique and personal experience to every bride we meet. Our volunteer consultants are incredible indeed, their work being our heart and soul. We look forward to meeting many more brides this fall!
On Sunday, September 30th, The Brides Project participated in Ann Arbor’s Whimsical Occasions Wedding Event Show. Held in Weber’s hotel, many of our volunteers came out to help with pictures, meeting brides-to-be, dress fittings, etc. The show also included vendor tables with offerings such as flowers, catering, and photography. It was a one-stop-shop event for a variety of wedding needs!
The event was hugely successful and a number brides left very happy to have found a perfect dress. In addition to finding an amazing selection of gowns, one guest told us, “This is a cause that is very important to me.” We wish all these brides-to-be a wonderful wedding day, and are grateful to have met you.
Below are some pictures of our volunteers hard at work. Our consultants were available, as always, to walk brides the whole way through finding the dress to finalizing the purchase!
All photos courtesy of bamphoto.
Courtney married Chad on August 11, 2012. She originally purchased her wedding dress at The Brides Project because she was looking for a more affordable alternative. From the moment she walked into the salon, she felt as if she were the only bride in the world, compared to the snooty places she had tried before. When Courtney discovered more about the mission of the project, she was so excited to be a part of it, and she promised to herself the day that she bought her dress that she would donate it back to The Brides Project after her big day.
Courtney feels that The Brides Project is not only a blessing to the people for which it creates support, but also to the brides-to-be who visit. Since her family is scattered, she only had one friend who came with her to try on dresses. Without a huge entourage, Courtney felt a little vulnerable during the experience. Yet, over the course of her appointment, Courtney felt that the volunteers at The Brides Project not only acted as consultants, but had become part of her entourage of friends.
Courtney believes in The Brides Project and is so grateful that it has become part of her history!
Gloria first became aware of The Brides Project from another volunteer, Fiona Nowlin. Fiona worked for Gloria’s company, Humantech, last summer, and they instantly bonded over their love of music, fashion (J Crew!), and new restaurants. Prior to working at Humantech, Gloria was traveling frequently to Florida for her old job. Now that she is settled in Ann Arbor, Gloria has been searching for a way to become more involved in the community.
Thanks to Fiona, Gloria learned about The Brides Project, and has been involved in consulting as well as with the recent fashion show at Briarwood Mall. While Gloria is blessed not to have had a family member touched by cancer, the mother of one of her best friends unfortunately passed away at only 54 due to breast cancer. To this day, Gloria vividly remembers the night she took her friend’s long-distance phone call and heard her voice break when she shared the tragic news. Due to her experiences, Gloria admires and supports The Brides Project’s initiatives. It encompasses so many people: brides who can donate their dresses for cancer support, brides-to-be who can purchase gowns that might have been out of their financial reach and/or who want their funds to go a great cause, and the people who are able to participate in the thoughtful programs developed and provided by The Cancer Support Community of Ann Arbor.
Gloria has spent the majority of her career in reference publishing, including stints as a Macmillan Reference editor, and as a product manager for online newspapers and the National Security Archive. As a word geek, Gloria is looking forward to providing writing and editing support at TBP, and selling gowns to happy brides-to-be!