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Brides’ Stories

Bride Spotlight: Meg and Ben & Mari and Brian

By Cristin Trosien

Photos of Meg and Ben courtesy of Gary L. Howe, Photographer
Photos of Mari and Brian courtesy of Chloe Jackman Photography

One Dress, Two Stories

A Vintage Woodsy Feel

Meg & Ben's Wild Michigan Wedding

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

Meg & Ben's Wild Michigan Wedding

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.”

Bride Spotlight: Idolina and Matthew

By Cristin Trosien
Photos courtesy of Siri Salonen Photography

A Very Michigan Wedding

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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

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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.

Homegrown Details

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.”

Donor Spotlight: Amal

amalBride, 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.”

Bride Spotlight: Diana and Josh

By Cristin Trosien
Photos courtesy of Eli Pitta, Eli Photography

A Classic California Wedding

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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.”

A Tribute

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.”

Princess Wedding

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.”

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Bride Spotlight: Kristen and Mike

By Cristin Trosien

“We Did Live Life, And Loved Each Other
Every Moment Of It.”

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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.

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Bride Spotlight: Julie and Derek

By Cristin Trosien

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 2.08.31 PMPhoto 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

Julie felt both beautiful and comfortable as she walked down the aisle in her pickup ball gown to the tune of a bagpiper, and married her now husband, Derek.  The perfect backyard September wedding wrapped up with a party, and Julie had a “great time dancing all night” in her dress.

 A Donation She’ll Never Regret

After its one-night-only appearance, Julie opted to donate her gown, although she admits that it was a tough decision.  Now, two years later, she doesn’t regret her choice at all.  “It has been over 2 years since I decided to donate my dress and I NEVER think about it. I did hesitate, thinking I would regret my decision. I NEVER have, not once.”

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

Bride Spotlight: Kelly and Brode

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.

TheBridesProjectKellyandBrodePhoto courtesy of Kelly Vantrease

Bride Spotlight: Samantha

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.”

Downtown Detroit  The DIA wedding photograph

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.”  


Grosse Pointe Academy Chapel Grosse Pointe Farms MI wedding photograph


Special thanks to Special Moments Photography for all photos.

Bride Spotlight: Hannah Lowe

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!

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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.

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– By Monica Miklosovic
Special thanks to Natatlie Franke Photography for all photos.

Bride Spotlight: Ally and Matt

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!”

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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.


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By Monica Miklosovic
Photos: JK Photography08