Donate your wedding gown to The Brides’ Project

The Brides' Project

Guest post by Leah Morrison

Shopping for a wedding gown is one of the most monumental tasks on a bride’s to-do list. One Toronto company is making the experience both delightful and affordable, while giving to an importance cause. The Brides’ Project is a volunteer-run organization that collects donated wedding dresses and resells them at a lower price. One hundred percent of the proceeds are then given to various cancer foundations. (Talk about starting off married life with good karma.)

Founded by Helen Sweet in 2004, The Brides’ Project has a dual mission: to help brides on a budget, and support the cancer charities working to improve the lives of those fighting the disease. “Our 10-year anniversary is on July 10,” Helen says. “To date we have donated $380,000 to cancer charities. We’re hoping to reach the half million dollar mark by year’s end.”

Registered nurse and bride Carolyn Huffman recently bought her wedding gown at The Brides’ Project. “I went on the suggestion from a friend who had purchased her own dress there,” she says. “She said you would have to actively try not to find a dress to leave empty-handed.”

Located in an old Victorian in Toronto, ON, The Brides’ Project stocks about 500 wedding dresses that are crammed into every corner of the house. “Each room has dresses organized by size,” says Carolyn. “You’re put in the room that coordinates with your size. There’s also a room of veils and accessories downstairs.” The most recent gowns are from last season, so don’t expect to find this year’s designs. Though bridal salons sometimes donate brand new dresses, most gowns have been worn previously. All gowns in stock are less than five years old and are sold at roughly half the retail price, capped at $1,250 (for the really fancy stuff).

To begin, the proceeds from dress sales went to children’s cancer foundations. Today, the range of charities is quite broad. Approximately one-third of the proceeds go to cancer social care organizations (charities that support those with cancer, as well as family and friends), and two-thirds go to cancer research facilities.

Run entirely by 20 volunteers, the shop is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Sharing an enthusiasm for helping brides and supporting cancer charities, everyone has been trained in gown styles and sizing. “I tried on many dresses with one of the volunteers coming in and out to see if I needed help,” Carolyn says. “It was a nice change from the sales pressure to ‘say yes to the dress’ that salons have. We found the dress I wanted, paid, and took it home that day.”

“The era of daughters wearing their mothers’ wedding dress is gone,” Helen says. Donating dresses for a good cause is a trend she’s looking forward to seeing in the marketplace. “Not only does your gown make a lasting impression on your own wedding day, you get to fight cancer and provide a bride with a perfect, affordable gown.” It’s a simple idea with a major impact.

Carolyn made her donation as soon as she could. “I returned my dress to The Brides’ Project two weeks after my wedding,” she says. “I’m hoping a future bride will have as amazing a day in it as I did!”

Need to find other ways to save when wedding gown shopping? Here are seven tips for your dress budget.

Photo courtesy of Wedding Dress Factory Outlet