For a few years prior to dating my husband, I had in my large walk-in closet a bridal gown from my first, albeit very brief, marriage. For years, the beautiful designer gown, with its delicately beaded bodice and flowing organza train, along with its full-length, poofy crinoline petticoat, handmade headpiece and elegant veil ensemble literally took up one-third of a corner of said closet.
It was like having a gigantic marshmallow in my wardrobe, and every time I glanced in its direction the memories it evoked were usually in the form of “WHAT were you THINKING?” and “WHEN are you going to get rid of that dress?”
I was not keeping the gown for any sentimental reasons – I simply didn’t want to deal with it or the huge blunder I had made while wearing it. But after ignoring its obvious presence for too long, I realized it was time to be an adult and come up with a solution.
At first I thought the easiest answer would be to consign it. I called around to a slew of Orange County “gently used” and designer clothing consignment stores, to no avail. While many of these boutiques had formerly carried bridal dresses, I was told that they simply didn’t have the space or patience to deal with the complicated gowns anymore.
Unfortunately, I could relate.
So I decided the next best idea would be to donate it, and I turned to the Internet to help find an appropriate organization. After much ado, one appeared on my screen: Brides Against Breast Cancer.
It never occurred to me that there would be an organization dedicated to providing wedding dresses, along with all the accessories, to breast cancer patients. But there it was. And because I have at least five girlfriends who are breast cancer survivors, I decided it was a fit for my situation. A good solution made itself known to me, and I was going with it.
Brides Against Breast Cancer has a very special mission, in that it provides “an opportunity for metastatic breast cancer patients’ dream or wish to be fulfilled by providing a special time of ‘Making Memories’ together with their families.” Meaning that the majority of the clients they serve have been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.
BABC is a fundraising division of Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), based in Milwaukie, OR. While the organization’s primary goal is to help to fulfill the wishes of brides with breast cancer through the sale of thousands of donated gowns they receive, they also make lots of other dreams come true, including trips to visit family and friends, perhaps for the last time.
By holding charity wedding gown sales in dozens of cities across the nation each year, BABC raises the necessary funds to grant these wishes and provide opportunities for memory-making events as well as giving suffering families a respite from the realities of a terminal diagnosis.
Once I had the solution, shipping the dress could not have been easier. I went to the UPS store in Corona del Mar, bought a large box, went home and carefully packed everything up, lock, stock and barrel, and took it back to be shipped within the hour.
Although it cost me a few bucks to send it on its way, as I walked away from the store a huge sense of relief flooded over me. I had finally dealt with a chore that I had been putting off for too long, and the idea that somewhere, someday, my beautiful gown would make a woman I would never meet feel special felt really good.
Life may give us lemons, but this was a small way for me to give back and make a little glass of lemonade out of a chapter in my life best left behind.
If you or someone you know would like to donate a wedding gown, bridesmaid dress or other appropriate clothing, jewelry, hats or shoes to Brides Against Breast Cancer, visit www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org for more information about what they accept and shipping instructions.
With the busy wedding season approaching, I’m guessing there might just be a few brides out there who might think of this as a unique way to share their happiness, by helping a breast cancer patient create lasting memories of her special day. Or perhaps, not unlike me, you’ve got a dress that’s been hanging in your closet just waiting to find the right home…
Lynn Selich is a marketing and public relations consultant residing in Newport Beach. Contact her at [email protected].