Tulle Bridal LKN, owned by sisters Donna Sada and Melissa Chase, was one of the host sites of Operation Wedding Gown, a campaign offered by Brides Across America, a nonprofit organization that honors active military and first responders by gifting them with wedding gowns.
Begun in 2008 by Heidi Janson, Brides Across America all started when she was listening to a news interview, shared Sada. In that interview she heard a soldier who was serving in Afghanistan make the comment that he hoped the “citizens of the United States don’t forget about us.”
This comment “totally resonated with her,” Sada continued, “and Janson said, ‘what can I do?’ ”
In the wedding business for a long time, Janson started the program “from her heart where she just said ‘I’m going to do something, and this is what I’m going to do.’ ” Since its beginning, 27,000 wedding gowns and 27 full weddings have been given to members of the United States military.
Because of COVID, this year’s event will include gifting gowns to first responders and COVID frontline workers, “who have put their life on the line to save all of us, our newest heroes,” Sada noted.
The local shop, which has been opened for 13 weeks and is located on Fast Lane in Mooresville, was able to make some brides’ dreams come true through their participation in the program.
Brides Across America, along with bridal retailers nationwide, will donate free bridal gowns to our heroes, it was noted in a release, and on June 11, six brides were able to come to the local bridal shop and search for the gown of their choosing for their special day.
A second event for military, scheduled for July, will be held at Tulle Bridal LKN as well. Those wishing to register for a wedding gown can go to the Brides Across America website at www.bridesacrossamerica.com. Brides must be vetted and certain criteria must be met in order to be provided a gown by the organization, said Sada. Once that has been done, they can get an appointment with the local shop.
It was an exciting and emotional day for those being able to realize their dream of selecting a wedding gown.
Andrea Straughter of Carolina Beach shared that this day meant “getting a nicer gown than I probably otherwise would have and to be a part of such a special organization.”
She also noted a lot of sacrifice by both of her parents who had served in the United States Army, and her fiancé who is an Air Force veteran. “I think it’s amazing,” she said.
Her mom, Rosemary Straughter, was on hand to witness her daughter find her special dress.
Kimberly Schwartz of Cape Fear, who serves as a resident physician in the emergency department there, arrived to search for her gown, noting that being able to receive one of these gowns “was overwhelming. It’s very much a blessing. It’s a gift to me,” she said with great emotion.
And being able to participate was also very special to the shop owners as well.
“I absolutely love it,” said Sada, who commented on how special Brides Across America is to her because of the fact that their father and brother are both in the military as well as lots of other family members.
During a portion of the day, Marine Corps League Commandant Dick Camery and Senior Vice Commandant Luca Cotrone, Sada and Chase’s dad, were on hand to have their pictures taken with the brides. They both noted that it was “a great event” and commented about the people they had been able to meet.
Sada noted that she had been able to meet Janson’s mom on a recent flight to Chicago and later met Janson herself in Boston and is now serving on the Brides Across America board.
For a shop to participate in the program, they must visit the website and sign up. She noted that there is a fee involved because of shipment of wedding gowns and “then you just open up and gift these wedding gowns to amazing women.”