I am so excited to tell you guys about my favorite thing I discovered this week. It’s called The Brides Project. It is an all-volunteer-staffed bridal store located in Ann Arbor with the biggest heart! Why? Because ALL of their proceeds go to support FREE programs for families impacted by cancer at the Cancer Support Community (CSC) of Greater Ann Arbor through the sale of once-worn gowns donated by brides, or unsold gowns donated by bridal shops.
Every gown that they sell has been donated by either a very generous bride who wants to see her gently-used gown give someone else joy, or directly from bridal salons—with the tags still on them! Many of the gowns they sell are from some of the most sought-after designers in the wedding gown industry. And here’s the best part: they are all priced at approximately 50% off their original retail price! Talk about a win-win-win!
I had the privilege of speaking with Kim Nowaczyk, the Acting Director of the Brides Project in order to learn more about how The Brides Project started, who they serve, and how people can get involved.
The Brides Project opened in September 2011 when the founder, Monique Sluymer’s father was going through his battle with cancer. Struggling to find a way that she could make a difference, Monique—who is originally from Canada—reached out to her fellow Canadian, Helen Sweet. Helen had been successfully running the first Brides Project in Toronto since 2004. After visiting Helen’s store and receiving overwhelming encouragement to bring this concept to the U.S., Monique returned to Ann Arbor and started her own Brides Project.
Since they opened in 2011, they have grown to serve approximately 1,200 brides per year, with donations to the Cancer Support Community (CSC) of Greater Ann Arbor totaling over $300,000 annually (roughly 30% of the CSC’s revenue)! And the brides they serve aren’t just from Michigan; they have had brides fly in from as far a Mexico and Alaska just to support their cause! And it’s not just the brides that come from far away—they’ve been donated dresses directly from Kleinfeld Bridal in New York and Vera Wang’s store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills! They even had a bride ship her gorgeous designer dress directly from Australia!
Because let’s be honest—we ALL have been affected by cancer. I lost my Dad to pancreatic cancer 9 years ago. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, my Uncle and Grandmother both perished from Colon cancer. And I’m just one of the millions who can rattle off such morbid statistics. So how can you help them with their incredible cause? There are several ways:
- You can donate your gently-used gown. Please note, it must be less than five years old (which means my 20-year-old beauty is out 😞)!
- You can make a cash donation directly to the Cancer Support Community (CSC) of Greater Ann Arbor via The Brides Project website.
- You can volunteer at the store as a bridal consultant; most volunteers donate 4 hours of their time per month. Click here to learn more!
And don’t think that just because the dresses are mostly “designer” that they don’t carry a full range of sizes! They carry from size 0 to 30, and have over 1,200 dresses in stock—so everyone has the opportunity to find their dream dress…and contribute to a wonderful cause!
I want to thank Kim Nowaczyk for taking the time to talk with me about this amazing project. I hope that you all consider putting this unique shop on your list of places to visit when you start shopping for your dress! It’s a little bit of a drive to Ann Arbor from West Michigan, but it’s worth it! Plus then you have an excuse to stop for lunch at Zingerman’s Deli!!
I’d also like to give a shout-out to Maggie at Renee Austin Wedding, as they are one of the many bridal shops that generously donate to The Brides Project! Love your giving spirit!
Learn more today at The Brides Project. And also, please take a few minutes to educate yourself on the amazing work being done by the Cancer Support Community (CSC) of Greater Ann Arbor!
Happy Wedding Planning