The Wedding Closet

It’s June … a popular month for weddings — and Stephanie of Angelic Accents is hosting her 2nd Annual To Have & To Hold Wedding Blog Party. We’re all invited!

I love weddings!

 

I love the anticipation …

 

and the flowers …

 

the dresses …

This is my youngest daughter — Little Man’s Mommy. These are her wedding pictures. She and her husband celebrated their 5th anniversary last week.

 

the details …

 

the venues — however elegant or simple …

I love the romance …

And, oh please, when a couple marries — let there be commitment …

 

I love the “whatever we face, we’re in it together” …

I love the hope …   that unseen faith of a beautiful life that couples have when they begin the journey into their future.

If you’ve read this blog for very long, you know that hope holds a special place in my heart. I’ve told you stories about our kids at Hope Unlimited for Children. If you missed them, I invite you to read these posts: HERE and HERE
 
A few years ago, Renaissance Man returned from one of his trips to Brazil and told me that it would be really great if we could find a way to put together some kind of wedding closet for Hope’s graduate girls to borrow from whenever they married.  He said he’d learned that it costs 2-3 months’ wages for our girls to RENT a wedding dress … and the expense had caused a real financial burden for some of our recent brides.
 
Every girl wants to feel beautiful on her wedding day, but Renaissance Man and I know how especially important that is for our girls. As you know if you’ve read my previous posts, the poverty and culture our girls knew before coming to Hope told them that their only value was in being a sexual object.  Many of them have been prostituted since the time they were 10 or 11 years old. That’s beyond anything most of us can imagine …
 
While in the care of our wonderful Christian houseparents and social workers, these wounded girls learn — usually for the first time — about dating and healthy relationships, family and fathers, and our Heavenly Father whose love never fails.
 
So … a wedding closet it would be!
 
Over the next year I searched eBay and shopgoodwill.com and thrift stores. Eventually my guest room closet looked like this — and you’re only seeing half of it.
 

 
There were 29 wedding gowns in a variety of sizes, fabrics, and styles …
 

 
Simple dresses …

 
and heavily beaded ones …
 

 
Designers like Oleg Cassini, Mori Lee, Nina Canacci, Jacqueline, St. Patrick’s, Gloria Vanderbilt, Alfred Angelo, Lana Bissett, Scott McClintock.  Many of the gowns were brand new. The most expensive one still bore its $980 price tag.
 
It was the dress I paid the most for:  $40.03 including shipping.Yes, I’m very serious.
 
Average cost of the dresses (including shipping): $20.62.
 
Such beautiful details …
 

 
There were also 10 pairs of shoes … from simple to elegant. Most of them were brand new; a few were worn for only a couple of hours.
 
Dolce, Nina, Frederico Leone, Michaelangelo, Mondolfo
 
Average price (including shipping): $8.13
 

 
and 5 veils …
 

 
There was nice costume jewelry …
 
and two tiaras still in their original boxes with their $99 price tags.
 
I paid an average of $7.28 each.
 

 
Many of us have experience with wedding dress sizes varying greatly between designers, so the dresses were labeled according to bust, waist, and hip measurements (after I converted to metric and translated the words into Portuguese!) … then stored in dress bags and packed into several large boxes. Over several trips, we got them all to Brazil.
 
Months later, Renaissance Man learned that Alex, one of our graduate young men was getting married to one of our former day students.  He asked Alex if his fiancee had a wedding dress yet.  He sadly shook his head “no” — so Renaissance Man told him about the dresses.  I could hardly wait to see which one Adriana (not her real name) chose!
 
When we finally saw wedding pictures, Renaissance Man smiled at me — knowing how much I must be loving seeing the beautiful young bride in a dress that I had lovingly chosen. But I wasn’t smiling. I had never seen that dress in my life!
 
As it turned out, Alex and Adriana decided upon a very simple ceremony — and a short dress for the wedding.
 
Don’t they look
 
 
 

 
They should be! You see, unlike  Alex, Adriana has a rich heritage of family. On their wedding day when our missionary friend drove Alex to his wedding, they were tasked with stopping to pick up Adriana’s parents. Before Adriana’s father would leave his home, he said, “We must first commit this important day to the Lord.”  He instructed everyone to hold hands as he prayed a prayer of protection and blessings upon his daughter and Alex. What a wonderful thing for Alex, rescued from the streets at age 12, to be “adopted” into a solid, loving family in his 28th year of life!  We could ask for nothing better for the children of Hope … except that when they have children of their own, they become the parents they once dreamed of having.
 
A carpenter by trade, Alex chose to build his and Adriana’s house on a bluff overlooking Hope Mountain … in gratitude for what Hope did in his life. You can just see it inside Alex’s “embrace.”  This is the same Hope Mountain I told you HERE a few weeks ago we almost had to close — but God intervened …
 

 
Last year, Alex shared his dream of working for Hope in full time ministry. It was an answer to our prayers because we needed someone with his charismatic, tough-love ability to relate to the kids.  He can certainly relate … and has become our most valued youth counselor.
 
Adriana works in a fancy downtown hair salon using the skills she learned as a day student in our beautician classes.
 
Their home is visible from Hope Mountain … barely more than a bump on a ridge. But every day, it serves as confirmation that 20 years ago three men were following God’s will when they went to Brazil to see if they could do something about the systematic killing of street children. They did do something. They provided a haven in a heartless world. With God’s help, they provided hope … and a future … for thousands of children like Alex and Adriana.
 
And those wedding dresses?  I just learned that Hope graduate and friend Nayara is getting married in September. I may even get to attend her wedding! I wonder if she’ll wear one of the dresses?  I hope so, but if not, that’s okay. I’ll admit … I was disappointed that Adriana didn’t wear one of “my” dresses, but I had to be honest with myself. The dresses weren’t about me. They never were, but I almost forgot that …
 
Well, it’s been a long post, but I warned you … I love weddings! If you made it to the end, you probably do, too.
 
I’m glad you stopped by. I’d love to hear from you.

The Wedding Closet … MORE FUN FACTS
 

29 dresses
6 new w/ tags
4 new w/o tags
11 excellent condition
7 very good condition
1 slight lace repair necessary

 

Dress styles
13 A-line/Princess
7 Empire
5 Ball gown
2 Drop-waist
1 Column
1 Mermaid

 

Known value for 9 of the dresses:  $ 6,160
Estimated value of all 28 dresses:  $ 12,000
Actual amount paid (including shipping): $ 577.31

 

Polyester wedding dresses with sewn-on beading CAN be hand-washed in the bathtub and hung to dry in the garage!

 

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In addition to Angelic Accents, I’m linking to At The Picket Fence for Inspiration Friday and How Sweet the Sound for Pink Saturday.

 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Comments

  1. You and your husband are awesome people. I had to read through this twice! Blessings to you and your family, xo

  2. This is such a blessing–and such a giving, beautiful idea…WOW!!! You are such an angel–a bridal angel!!
    XO
    Cindy

  3. Very pretty. Thanks for sharing. Karie

  4. Beautiful bouquet! Great wedding story and memories!

  5. What a wonderful blessing you have provided … every woman wants to be beautiful and feel special on her wedding day. Thank you for sharing this with us!
    (())

  6. Hi Susan,
    WOW this is incredible and so your are amazing.
    So nice to meet you and thank you for stopping by my wedding party too and your kind comment. I have so enjoyed my visit here and look forward to stopping by again soon.
    Hugs from Texas,
    Celestina Marie

  7. Beautiful post and what an amazing thing to do! May you be blessed!

  8. This story is so wonderful and touching! Your collection is amazing, but the story even better! Beautiful post!

  9. This story is so wonderful and touching! Your collection is amazing, but the story even better! Beautiful post!

  10. You have such big hearts! How nice that you do this for brides! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story!

    ~Trisha

  11. Such a lovely post and precious story of The Wedding Closet for the girls of Brazil and the Hope Unlimited ministry.

    A joy stopping by to visit with you!
    Kindly, Lorraine

  12. LOVED this post! If you want to part with any of those dressed in the closet… let me know!!!! So glad Alex & his bride have such a happy story & such wonderful friends as you! GREAT POST!
    Charlene

  13. I am really moved by you, Susan. How beautiful you are.

    Loved the precious story. TYSM for sharing.

    TTFN ~
    Marydon

  14. What a beautiful post!

  15. Susan~
    What a blessing you are to those girls. I know that your idea was God inspired, but would you share more? How did you decide to do this?
    God bless your work!

  16. What an amazing thing to do for these individuals. i applaud you and your husband.

  17. Susan, what a wonderful idea for a wedding closet. Thanks for all you’re doing for Hope Unlimited. What an amazing ministry.
    Have a great weekend!
    ~ Julie

  18. Oh Susan, your wedding closet has me in tears. What an amazing privilege and honor to serve our beautiful Savior this way. It goes to show that He is so detailed about the intricacies, hopes, and desires of our heart. What a perfect Bridegroom we await.

    I love the pictures of your daughter’s wedding, especially those flowers. I also love the pics of Alex and Ana–too, too cute those two.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Much love!

  19. Holly, my first thought was to contact David’s Bridal and apply for a contribution. I did that, but you never know if anything will ever come of something like that (and it didn’t), so I didn’t want to wait. I had the luxury of wanting beautiful dresses in good condition in a variety of styles and sizes — I wasn’t a bride looking for “THE” dress — so I could be more patient and pay less. After watching online auctions for awhile, I realized that I could almost certainly limit my cost to $35 per dress (including shipping!) and get some gorgeous options for our girls. So that’s what I did.

    Of course, what good is a wedding dress without a veil…and shoes…and jewelry…

    So now you know how I decided to do THAT part of the project! 🙂 After several months of “all things wedding” taking over my guest room, I was more than happy to ship the beauties off to Brazil. Who knows what the next leg of their journey will include? I can’t wait to see!

  20. I’m back already. Just want to ask if you’d mind me featuring this post on my blog. I can’t get over this wedding closet. Let me know please.

    Thank you.

  21. Wow…what a fabulous feel good post. I loved reading this. I always marvel at the wedding dresses I see in the thrift stores and wonder how and why they ended up there. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. 🙂

  22. Oh, Susan, what a wonderful post about weddings! Where to start….first, your daughter was so lovely on her wedding day. Love all the detailing on the back of her gown, the lace, the buttons ~ just stunning! I really wish everyone could understand that the commitment to God is sooo important.

    I am amazed at the wonderful work you and your husband have been doing for the unfortunate. How fun it must be to “shop” for others and how fulfilling to help these girls imagine their dreams. I so hope you get to attend the next wedding! Thanks so much for sharing your story of love and hope ~ it is very uplifting! May God bless you always in your endeavors!

    Big TX Hugs,
    Stephanie
    Angelic Accents

  23. This is an incredible story! It’s truly amazing the kindness of both you & your husband to begin this for those in need.

    Your daughter was a beautiful bride & her photos are lovely.

  24. I wish there were more ‘yous’ in the world!! This is an amazing service that you offer.
    I loved the dresses all lined up in the closet. Very pretty veils too.
    Rhonda

  25. Oh Susan! This was one of the most amazing posts I have ever read! You and your hubby just blow me away not only with your generosity and your ministry but your complete creativity in how you are able to bless these young women/couples as they enter into this sacred union. It really makes me think about how I can be praying for God to reveal to me unique ways in which I can be serving Him…not just sending checks, you know? Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Inspiration Friday…your posts are always the epitome of “Inspiring”! 🙂
    Blessings,
    Vanessa

  26. Just stopped by to let you know I featured your post after all, Susan. It is under my post titled, Honored Wedding Guest. I hope many more are blessed by it. Thank you again for sharing with us.
    Blessings!

  27. What a fabulous ministry to those girls at HOPE! Thanks you for listening to God’s request and making it happen! What a blessing your post has been to my heart!

  28. what a great idea this is!! I’m sure the girls really appreciate it.

  29. I am so behind on reading the wedding party entries.. I did one too but nothing as great as yours.
    I loved this post and you are a awesome lady
    Love
    Maggie

  30. I came over from the “picket fence” to read all about the wedding closet. Wow! Love what you’ve done!

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