Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bridal Boutique Has Greater Cause

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bridal Boutique Has Greater Cause

Article excerpt

For many women, walking down the aisle in the perfect wedding gown is the most memorable moment of their lives.

Brides Against Breast Cancer, a nonprofit organization based in Lakewood Ranch, recognizes the life-changing impact of that moment, not only for the glowing bride, but for the millions of women whose lives are affected by breast cancer.

On the surface, the boutique looks like any other bridal shop -- a cute, feminine environment decorated in pink and filled with mannequins modeling matrimonial fashions. Staff members at the appointment-only boutique are dedicated to spending one-on-one time with each bride to ensure she leaves with the perfect dress.

The goals, however, extend far beyond style consults and dress fittings.

Seventy-three percent of the profit from each dress sold at the boutique is donated to the parent company, Center for Building Hope, an organization that offers free programs, services and information to cancer patients, caregivers and family members. The average dress is sold at a 55 percent retail discount, with prices ranging from $99 to $8,000.

"I would estimate that 50 percent of the brides who shop here come in for the deals, while the other 50 percent are here because they have a personal link to cancer," Jenny Alday, the community relations manager, said.

The boutique can afford to give away nearly three-quarters of the profits on discounted wedding gowns because the dresses are donations. Most come directly from the designers while others are lightly worn donations from former brides, some sent from as far as the United Kingdom and Australia.

Because of generous donations from designers like New York's Amsale Bridal, which recently donated 100 new couture dresses, Alday said the boutique is able to cut prices by as much as 80 percent. Dresses that typically retail at $9,000 sell for $2,000.

The breadth is not limited to local customers. As many as 1,000 dresses are on the road at any given time as the organization connects with brides across the nation in traveling shows that visit 70 cities a year.

"What I love about it is that it's a great opportunity to connect with brides-to-be, many of which are young enough that they aren't necessarily thinking about breast cancer," Amy Paulishak, vice president of development, said. …

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