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.
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/
Hadley is our second charming Southern Bride. She hails all the way from Georgia and we are very happy to have connected with her!
When we asked Hadley about why she wanted to donate her dress, she told us she wanted to donate to a smaller organization that is really involved in the community. What a heartfelt compliment!
Hadley’s dress is a Casablanca design (orignal cost of $1,000) which she loved because of the train for a more elegant look (during the ceremony), and the bustle for dancing during the reception. We couldn’t agree more about this functional and beautiful dress and we are thrilled to have been chosen to receive it for our salon.
“I hope that the dress brings as much happiness and love to the marriage of the next woman that wears it as it has me.” – Bride Hadley
After Hadley’s sweet wishes for the next bride that wears her gown, who wouldn’t want this dress to be theirs? Thank you, Hadley, for finding us and passing on a part of your special day!
We are fortunate to be able to connect with brides from nearby and far away. So, it’s exciting that we can do to a two part feature on two very lovely “Southern” Brides who generously donated their wedding gowns to The Brides Project!
Our first Southern Bride is Amanda, who is from Florida. She donated a beautiful Maggie Sotterro lace gown that originally cost $1,100 (see Amanda above). We asked Amanda why she wanted to donate to us, and here is what she said:
“I knew when I bought my dress that I didn’t want it boxed up after the wedding and taking up space in the closet. My husband and I wanted our wedding to help others as much as possible, from our charity registry and to sending our centerpieces to a local hospice, so donating my dress seemed obvious. My wedding day was perfect and I love the idea that another bride can use my dress to create a perfect day of her own.
After inquiring with a similar, but larger organization that just seemed too impersonal, I was very excited when I came across The Brides Project on the internet. Like everyone, I’ve known too many people affected by cancer and the mission of the Project and the Cancer Support Community seems to fulfill patient needs that are often overlooked. Coincidentally, my mother grew up and most of her family still live near Ann Arbor, so I even feel somewhat connected to the community being served.”
Amanda looked stunning in her dress and we are thrilled that she found us and donated her dress to support our mission and those at the Cancer Support Community. Thank you, Amanda, for finding us and believing in what we are working to do!
Stay tuned for Southern Brides Part II coming soon!
Love this beautiful dress? You can thank one of our volunteers, Hilary, for donating it to our salon!
Hilary learned about The Bride’s Project from viewing the great logo on our salon door. Soon after, she replied to a request from one of our founding photographer volunteers, Melanie, to help photograph the larger dresses available for sale. Hilary photographed about 7 or 8 of our beautiful dresses and was hooked.
“It all seemed so organic, that these cherished dresses would more than double their value by being donated to support such a crucial cause. And allow brides to wear high end unique bridal gowns for a great savings. Beyond that, I love that the dresses live again, rather than getting stiff in a box in the attic.”
After learning about The Brides Project, and getting to know the better designers, Hilary saw a wonderful 2nd-hand Maggie Soterro Dress, for such a great price, and knew she had to pass it along to the project.
“This dress is so easy to wear, to move in comfortably, and to look like a movie star. I love the rhinestone spaghetti straps, and the flattering line. It feels like a summer dress, with the added grace of really good lace.”
Hilary hopes the bride that wears this dress feels amazing, gorgeous and at ease. We hope so too!
Thank you Hilary, for your wonderful contributions!
You can contact Hilary through her website.
The Brides Project is happy to introduce two local women, Kim and Sherry, from the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. Both have donated their wedding gowns to our salon. Without donations from brides and bridal salons around the country, we would not be able to continue our mission. We are very grateful to generous women like these.
Our first donor is Kim Andrus of Ann Arbor who got married in 2006. Kim gave us her beautiful Jasmine Haute Couture 100% silk gown that originally cost $2,000. It’s a great addition to our inventory and we know it won’t sit long on our racks.
Wedding gowns are very special and hold so many memories of that special day. We asked Kim why she decided to donate to us and here is what she said:
I learned about the Bride’s Project through a Facebook post from my friend, Kelly. When I read about the Project and the Cancer Support Community, I knew that donating my wedding gown was the right thing to do. Not only did the thought of my gown spending eternity in my basement seem a ridiculous waste, but I had also lost my dear Aunt Johanna just over a year ago to cancer. My ultimate reasons for donating were twofold: I wanted to provide a beautiful gown, that I was blessed to have, for a new bride to purchase at a lower cost; and knowing those funds would go to help people suffering with cancer, like my Aunt Johanna. This touched me in a very personal way. Maybe Aunt Johanna’s quality of life would have been better if she’d had the type of support that the CSC provides. She contributed towards our wedding and did so much for me during her entire life. It’s fitting that I can now give something back to help others facing the same situation.
Sherry Perkins is from Ypsilanti and is another very generous woman. She got married in December 2011, just a little over 3 months ago. She donated a gorgeous Sottero Midgley gown originally priced at $1,530. We love this dress! We contacted Sherry to ask her how she found us and why she wanted to give her special gown to our organization. Here is what she told us:
At first, I was actually looking to re-sell the dress. I contacted a business networking partner, Caroll of “Encore” (eBay resale in AA). She indicated that wedding dresses do not sell well on eBay and gave me the contact information for The Brides Project. As I reviewed The Brides Project website and learned of your Cancer Support Community, I was sold. Before being a new Bride on 12/17/11, I was a widow. My late husband died of melanoma cancer on Nov. 7th 2005. Had to be that the blessing bridges in both directions through The Brides Project.
The Brides Project thanks both Kim and Sherry for helping us continue our mission at the Cancer Support Community. Our organization helps cancer patients and their families cope with the everyday trauma of cancer treatment. We offer support through programs and activities, all of which are free of charge.
When Patrycja talked to her health team at UM Hospital about finding a patient to give her wedding dress to, they told her about the Brides Project.
“As soon as I talked to Barb – I think I got more excited than she was! It’s just such a great idea,” she says. “Now, I’m trying to recruit people everywhere to give dresses – my friends, at work. I tell them, you may as well do something with it, this way, you get value and the new brides get value, too.”
Diagnosed with cancer in February of 2006, Patrycja really understands the importance of a group like the Cancer Community Support of Greater Ann Arbor, and what The Brides Project is doing.
“Ultimately, the people are great, I like the fact that 100% of profits go to support – it’s just pure. Everything goes to helping other people,” she says. “I was fortunate enough to be able to finish school, get a good job, and get a really great dress. And I just want somebody else to feel the way that I felt in it.”
Here’s a link to see how she hopes someone else feels in her dress: http://www.scottcampbellphoto.com/slideshow/palakmuch/patrycjachris
For Andrea Darden, becoming involved with The Brides Project just seemed like a natural fit.
“My father had gone through prostate cancer, and just after my wedding, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with lymphoma,” she said. “Donating my dress – it was a very emotional gift for me. The Brides Project let me give another bride a way to get a great dress, and have that purchase support cancer patients and their families. It’s such a unique opportunity – I wish I’d been able to buy a dress and have the proceeds go to charity when I got married.”
Andrea, who is also a member of the Board of the Cancer Support Community of Ann Arbor, has also been impressed with the people working on the project.
“Barb, Molly, Jyoti, just everybody. It’s been amazing how all these people all came together. And people have come out of the woodwork to help,” she says. “It just seems like it was meant to be.”