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.”
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.”
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/
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.
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.
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!