By Cristin Trosien
One Dress, Two Stories
A Vintage Woodsy Feel
Bride and Groom, Meg and Ben, celebrated their wedding in Huron National Forest, Ben’s “favorite place in the world.” Their wedding was uniquely them, with a vintage woodsy feel, and a theme of “adventure, because that is how we view every day.” To go along with the vibe, Bride Meg chose a vintage style tea-length gown for this Northern Michigan wedding celebration.
“I am a big fan of vintage and of twirling around in pretty dresses. My gown was exceptionally twirlable. It was everything I could want.”
A Perfect Fit
After their special day, Meg knew she wanted to donate her unique gown, and found The Brides Project a worthy recipient. “I was very fortunate to have a fantastic, joyous wedding. But a lot of people were missing. I’ve lost many family members to cancer, and my aunt couldn’t come because she was (successfully!) battling fallopian tube cancer. I want our celebration to benefit other families… The Brides Project seemed like a perfect fit.”
It’s a Sign!
Upon Meg’s suggestion, her friend and future bride, Mari, visited The Brides Project for her own special dress. She was looking for something with simple details, and without any sparkles or appliques. Though she found several dresses she liked, it wasn’t until she tried a tea-length dress from a mannequin the window, that Mari felt that she had found her gown. “It was the first dress I tried on that really made me dance, which seemed like a sign!”
Before ringing it up, Mari realized that her friend Meg had donated her tea-length gown to TBP a few months before. “I checked photos and it looked awfully similar. I decided that I was ok with wearing the same dress as long as she was comfortable with it.” After sharing a few photos and a phone call, it was confirmed that she had in fact chosen her friend’s gown. “Thankfully, she was generous enough to give me her blessing!”
Fall in California
Mari and her groom, Brian, were married in Oakland, California on the edge of Lake Temescal Beach. “I really wanted to play up fall colors…so we included rich reds, oranges, and yellows.” Mari added to the jewel tones and made the travelling gown her own by adding a deep red ribbon and bow around the waist.
“My dress is now hanging in my closet, waiting to be donated again to the Brides Project. As Meg likes to say, it has some pretty great juju. We wish its next owner the same happiness we’ve found.”
By Cristin Trosien
Photos courtesy of Siri Salonen Photography
A Very Michigan Wedding
Lake Michigan Love
Although she’s a downstate resident, Idolina has always held a place in her heart for Northern Michigan. Upon her engagement to Matthew, she knew that their wedding would celebrate both their love for each other and their love of the “Mitten State.”
The couple’s August ceremony was ultimately held on Lake Michigan, at Visions in Traverse City. The setting provided a beautiful bayside ceremony and reception overlooking the water – the perfect spot for their intimate celebration.
From Southern Michigan to Northern Michigan
Idolina visited The Brides Project upon a referral and immediately felt at home during her appointment. She remembers that her consultants were “very patient and helpful, and they did an excellent job choosing dresses that I really liked.” The classic bride fell in love with a timeless fitted lace gown by Esposa, and after making a few alterations – including removing the cap sleeves – she and her gown were ready for the Up-North nuptials.
Idolina and Matthew chose to write their own vows, and the bride DIY’d much of the décor, including the centerpieces and bouquets. To provide their guests with a close-to-home getaway, and the true Northern Michigan experience, the couple served s’mores along with pies from the Grand Traverse Pie Company. They also gifted their guests with locally-made cherry jam.
By purchasing her gown with The Brides Project, Idolina is keeping her money local, too. All of the funds collected by TBP support the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor, which in turn offers services to those suffering from, confronting, and coping with Cancer. Our bride, a medical social worker, made a choice she can be proud of: “I can appreciate the unique difficulties individuals and families experience as a result of life-threatening illnesses. What better way to justify the cost of something that is only to be worn once? By choosing to purchase by gown at The Brides Project, it was my wish to contribute to this great cause with the hope that those lives could be impacted in a positive way.”
Bride, Amal, learned about The Brides Project while shopping for her wedding gown last year. Though she loved the idea of directing the money spent on a dress toward a worthy cause, she did not end up finding her gown with us.
After her recent wedding she remembered The Brides Project and returned to donate her gown. Amal said she donated her gown for many reasons, but mainly because “it felt like the right thing to do.
My husband and I both know people who have passed away from cancer. I wanted my dress to help support cancer patients and their families.”
She went on to share that in the Islamic tradition, there is the belief in continuous charity – “that even after you pass, you will continue to receive blessings and rewards from God for your gift. I hope my dress will be a continuous charity- a gift that keeps on giving.”
Volunteer role: Volunteer Sales Consultant
How long have you been volunteering with TBP? About 1.5 years
What’s your favorite part (or favorite story) about volunteering with TBP: I love that we get to establish a personal connection with all of our brides. Learning about what brought them to the Bride’s Project and hearing about their wedding plans is so much fun. We get such a diversity of brides in at our shop, and I love hearing everyone’s unique story!
What do you do outside of TBP? I work in downtown Ann Arbor in the online advertising industry.
Any fun hobbies? I love to travel, but currently most of my free time is spent planning for (or obsessing about!) our first baby, which my husband and I are expecting in February!
Best place you’ve traveled recently and why? My husband and I went on a two-week European vacation in May, during which we visited Dublin, London, Bruges, and Paris. The whole trip was great, but I especially loved visiting Dublin since I’m Irish and had never been to Ireland before.
Favorite dress in the shop? About 6 months ago I sold an amazing Vera Wang gown. It had big, bold stripes and was so unique. The bride loved the dress, and looked gorgeous in it!
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.