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Friday, May 27, 2011

Fashion With Compassion: Wedding Dresses that Heal

Last night my friend Margot and I got together to get some frozen yogurt. (It was delicious by the way). Like me, Margot is planning her wedding in New Orleans, while living here in DC. It is nice to have someone to commiserate with about planning a wedding from afar! 

Me, with Andrew and Margot- showing our love for NOLA, food, and charity at the Dear New Orleans event in DC.
With my wedding now only months away in October- I’m really getting down to the nitty-gritty. What will the bridesmaids’ hairpieces look like? What type of transportation will we use? What music will we have at the ceremony? Margot, on the other hand, whose wedding is in June 2012, is still enjoying the earlier (albeit stressful) phase of wedding planning. With her ceremony and reception sites booked, she has now moved on to the dress search. After relaying to her my limited knowledge of bridal boutiques in the DC area and my even more limited knowledge of designers- I decided I needed to brush up on my wedding dress IQ.

You might remember my previous post on donating dresses, rather than "trashing them." Donating your dress to a worthy cause is a great way to help others and keep your dress from becoming an unused ornament in your closet.  Thanks to the I Do Foundation, I’ve run across Dresses that Heal, a great organization that allows brides to help others by giving them the chance to “honor the strength and journey of breast cancer survivors” through their gown purchase.

Dresses that Heal was founded by Rachael Rivard, a bridal consultant in Madison, Wisconsin, after she shared an emotional moment with one of her brides. The bride, Laura, seemed to be like most brides - excited to be on the search for "the dress," but Rachael noticed that she was even more moved by the experience than the typical bride. This was because Laura, who was only 28 at the time, was already a breast cancer survivor.  There had been times that Laura had thought she would never even see herself in a wedding gown or have a wedding day. Touched by the young bride’s courage and unique perspective, Rachael decided she wanted to find a way to give back to others like Laura.

Rachael wanted to find a way to combine “fashion with compassion.” So, she founded Dresses that Heal and began looking for an organization to partner with. She found the perfect fit with the Breast Cancer Recovery Foundation, Inc. (BCRF)  Unlike other organizations, which are dedicated to finding a cure for the disease, BCRF aims to help women with the spiritual and emotional side of recovery.
BCRF offers “Infinite Boundaries” wellness retreats for women in all stages of breast cancer, from the newly diagnosed to those in treatment and even to those in remission. Since its founding in 1997 by Ann Haney, countless women, ages 20 to 71 have attended the Infinite Boundaries retreats to begin the healing process by exploring their feelings, fears and life wishes and by having the chance to share their stories with others who are facing the same challenges. BCRF also offers an annual educational conference, Sharing the Knowledge, every November in Madison, Wisconsin.
Some lovely ladies at a BCRF Infinite Boundaries retreat.
Through the “Compassion Collection,” Dresses that Heal offers gowns that are donated by some of the top names in the industry – Marisa, Amy Michelson, Cheryl King Couture, Stephanie James Couture, L’ezu Atelier, Henry Roth, Judd Waddell, Matthew Christopher and more.  The designers designate a particular dress from their regular collection as part of the “Compassion Collection,” which is marketed by Dresses that Heal and benefits the Breast Cancer Recovery Foundation. All the gowns, along with other donated items, are auctioned off at the largest bridal show in the Midwest to benefit BCRF and are also available at the Wedding Channel Couture show in New York City in October. 
Help others heal with the Josephine dress by Stephanie James Couture.
So, for all you brides-to-be still on the dress search- visit the Dresses that Heal website to find out other places where the Compassion Collection is available. For those who would like to donate to Dresses that Heal you can find more info on the website as well.


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