Brides-to-be who are – or will be – with the military community: Apply now for a new free wedding dress thanks to a new program launched by the non-profit operation Deploy Your Dress.
The deadline to apply for the first wave of dresses is 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, June 18.
the Operation Unfold Your Dress: Wedding the launch includes 227 new tagged wedding dresses, valued at $ 1,200 to $ 3,000, offered by Revelry. Once a bride-to-be is chosen by a selection committee and her eligibility is validated, the dress-choosing process is done virtually, in a carefully planned operation.
Wedding dresses are a new effort of the association Operation Unfold your dress, started in 2015 by military spouses who wanted to provide a way for people to donate their prom dresses and defray the costs of military balls for families. Since then, they have “deployed” more than 14,000 dresses for military and eligible family members, and have just opened their 10th boutique and first overseas location in Landstuhl, Germany.
âWe have heard so many stories of military marriages that were postponedâ during the pandemic, said Noreen O’Neil, head of business development and partnerships for Operation Deploy Your Dress. “We hope this can help the feeling of returning to normal and ease the financial burden.”
The association is in talks with other seamstresses and distributors about donating wedding dresses to the program to continue it once the initial inventory is ârolled outâ.
Unlike stores with prom dresses, this effort will not accept used wedding dresses. The new wedding dresses donated will be ârolled outâ for free on selected ones, but the association charges a flat-rate shipping and handling fee of $ 35.
Those eligible to apply for the dresses are active duty or retired military personnel; currently serving members of the National Guard and Reserve; the fiancÃ©es of the military; and military dependents (including elderly dependent girls). Applicants must have an expected marriage between 90 days and two years from the date of their application.
The dresses, in 24 different styles and in a variety of sizes, are all stored in protective bags at a distribution center in Colorado Springs, Colo., In a space donated by the Salvation Army and the Association of the US. Army Pikes Peak Valley Chapter.
Brides-to-be will be matched with a stylist who is part of their Bridal Recon team. This stylist will guide them through the process from start to finish. The bride will need to get a professional measurement before the virtual date, as it is assumed that the standard size of the dress will be different from the size of the bride. Brides can invite anyone to join their Zoom call by selecting the dress from the available sizes and styles specific to the bride’s professional measurements. Styling appointments will be scheduled for one hour.
The dresses will be carefully packaged and shipped in special boxes, O’Neil said.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for over 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families “. She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Florida, and Athens, Georgia.