When my fiancée was dress shopping, she came across The Brides Project, a local dress shop with a neat twist. They sell donated dresses, and proceeds go to cancer support programs in Ann Arbor. We visited them during their Wednesday open hours, and were thoroughly impressed with their humble professionalism and diverse dress selection.
They're the real deal. (And yes, we bought Marsie's dress from them.)
The Brides Project runs on volunteer power, so I offered to help with their runway segment at a bridal show over the weekend. The original runway group had to pull out at the last minute, so Monique and her crew of volunteers bravely stepped up on short notice.
Two dozen dresses were shown. With just three volunteer models, it was an extremely quick turnaround to change dresses - but they didn't miss a beat.
This is just a small sampling of the dresses available at The Brides Project. And it really begs the question: why spend four figures on a dress you'll only wear once, when you can find a great, clean, very-lightly-used dress for much less?
I'm going to editorialize for a bit. Let's think for a second about wedding dresses: after placing an order, a new dress gets made halfway around the world by someone who probably doesn't make a lot of money, then gets shipped thousands of miles to America, where it gets worn once. That is an incredible amount of resources to put into something you wear for one day.
The idea of reusing a wedding dress does not seem to be a popular one in America. However, in Toronto, where The Brides Project got started, brides-to-be are quite receptive to reusing dresses.
Considering what I saw on the runway, and my fiancée's experience buying a dress from them, I think The Brides Project makes an incredibly compelling case to be put on any bride-to-be's shopping list.