Brides for a Cause gives away gowns to first responders

Multnomah County

One bride who received a free dress said it's "a huge blessing"

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Wedding costs can add up quickly, but Brides Across America is on a mission to ease some expenses for healthcare workers, military members, and first responders. 

Brides Across America is partnering with Brides for a Cause in Southeast Portland to give 20 brides in the area a wedding dress for free. It’s part of Brides Across America’s Operation Wedding Gown event. 

“They can come and shop any time during the event dates starting today,” said Erin Scharf, founder of Brides for a Cause. “We love hosting this event because brides are very gracious and excited that they can come in.” 

The event takes place at Brides for a Cause every July and November. The current event lasts July 5-11. 

Jodi May, whose fiance is a volunteer firefighter in the Stayton area, said she was excited when she saw the event advertised on social media. 

“I was like, ‘This is going to be a huge blessing if I can get on the list for it,’ because my fiancé’s been a first responder for five years now and it got pretty crazy with COVID and we had some wildfires in our area, so that kept him pretty busy, too,” May said. 

Those eligible for the free gowns include military members, first responders, and their future brides. The event also opened up to COVID-19 healthcare workers in 2020, but the bride must be a healthcare worker and must interact directly with COVID-19 patients, Scharf said. 

For May, she said being partners with a first responder has its own challenges. She remembered the stress she experienced while her fiancé fought the wildfires in 2020. 

Erin Scharf, left, shows Jodi May, center, a photo she took of May holding the dress she received from the Operation Wedding Gown event at Brides for a Cause on July 5, 2021. (KOIN)

“I didn’t see him for like four days while we were worried our house was kind of in the fire zone,” she said. “You never hear from him, so you just don’t know what’s going on out there.”

She said she’s glad to be recognized in some way for the sacrifices they make and wishes there was a similar program available for her future husband where he could get a free suit. 

Brides for a Cause has participated in Operation Wedding Gown for years and Scharf said after such a challenging year, it means even more to help people out. 

“With COVID, it has really put a damper on a lot of people’s wedding planning and just with, you know, people having to work in this environment, but, we’re excited to be hosting this and being able to offer up our inventory for free,” she said. 

The July Operation Wedding Gown is fully booked at Brides for a Cause, but Scharf said they’ll have another in November. She recommends brides keep an eye on the company’s Instagram page to see when it will be. 

Anyone interested can also see the screening questions on Brides for a Cause’s website.

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