Planning a wedding can be difficult and expensive, but a free wedding dresses for military brides giveaway organized by Brides Across America is able to take some of the financial and emotional stress off engaged couples serving in the armed services.
The Stress of Military Weddings
Planning a wedding is a challenge for every couple, but it can be even more difficult when one or both individuals is on active duty in the military. For many engaged military couples, wedding dates must be postponed multiple times, even for years, while deployments are extended and tours of duty are arranged. Some couples must plan quick weddings between tours, and often the available dates are not known far enough in advance for a dream wedding plan to come true. Furthermore, in addition to the wedding planning stress, couples must also endure lengthy separations while their significant other may be stationed in dangerous situations.
Military Wedding Gown Giveaway
Heidi Janson, the founder of Brides Across America, wanted to find a way to help active duty servicemen and women plan their dream weddings with less stress and less of a financial burden. In July 2008, Janson called upon her contacts from more than 25 years in the bridal industry to collect wedding gowns for a giveaway to military brides, and in two days she gave away 50 gowns to ecstatic and grateful brides. The wild success of that first giveaway prompted a second event in honor of Veteran's Day, and bridal shops in more than 15 states participated to give military brides their dream gowns - for free.
About the Dresses
These free dresses for military brides are primarily sample gowns or overstock items, though the styles range from Cinderella wedding gowns with sequins and full skirts to sleek strapless dresses to curvy mermaid styles. The exact styles and sizes vary at each participating bridal boutique, though many shop owners have tried to include a range of sizes from 4 to 22 so both petite and plus size brides can find the perfect dress.
Dresses have also been donated by prominent designers who have elected to sponsor the giveaway. Designers include Allure Bridal, Jim Hjelm, Maggie Sottero, Private Label by G and many others.
The exact dates and times of the giveaway, as well as the number of free dresses, varies by store. Visit BridesAcrossAmerica.com for an updated list of participating salons.
Qualifications for Free Wedding Dresses for Military Brides
Dresses are available on a first come, first served basis to eligible brides. To qualify, the bride or her fiancé must be on active duty in the armed services and have been deployed previously or will be deployed in either Afghanistan or Iraq. A military ID and deployment papers or other verification will be necessary. Couples are still eligible for the giveaway if they had a civil ceremony prior to the overseas deployment and separation but are now planning their wedding.
Brides who do not receive a free wedding dress in the current giveaway can choose to sign up at participating salons to be notified about future events.
Where Can I Find a Free Donated Wedding Gown
A free wedding dress is a wonderful thing for military brides, but there are inevitably more brides available than there are dresses. Fortunately, there are other ways to find a free donated wedding gown, whether a bride is in the military or not.
- Ask relatives about the possibility of borrowing a wedding dress.
- Ask friends who have recently married about wearing their dress.
- Consider getting a bridal shop to sponsor your wedding so you can wear a dress for free.
- Investigate free dresses or dress loans from local churches or women's charities.
- Check online free exchange communities, such as FreeCycle.
- If you have special circumstances, such as medical concerns, contact related charities and organizations about donated dresses.
More Options for Discounted Dresses
Even if you can't find your perfect wedding dress for free, there are many ways to find gorgeous cheap wedding dresses.
- Choose a casual dress or party dress instead of a bridal gown.
- Shop at thrift stores, consignment boutiques, or clothing resale shops.
- Visit discount bridal gown outlets for affordable styles and clearance wedding dresses.
- Buy your wedding dress at a bridal show or trunk sale when samples are heavily discounted.
- Choose a gown that is a few seasons old to take advantage of older discounts.
Finding free wedding dresses for military brides - or any bride in a budget pinch - can be easy with the help of generous organizations and the caring support of a community of individuals who understand that a wedding can still be a dream come true without costing a fortune.