For 12 deserving soon-to-be brides, it’s almost time to say yes to the dress. On July 9, Franklin Square bridal shop Lily Saratoga will partner with the national nonprofit Brides Across America (BAA) to host an Operation Wedding Gown event that will gift a dozen dresses to first responders, healthcare workers and military brides.
Before partnering with BAA in 2019, Lily Saratoga owner Lauren Mullen struggled with what to do with all of the leftover sample wedding gowns in her shop. “It broke my heart to give the dresses to a Salvation Army and not know where they were going,” Mullen says. “I heard about this and thought it was such a wonderful opportunity to find a home for these dresses and help those who have given up so much to help other people.”
Each year, BAA hosts dozens of “Operation Wedding Gown” events on or around Independence Day and Veteran’s Day at participating bridal salons nationwide. Last year, the organization opened the program up to healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Lily hosted a two-day giveaway event to accommodate the schedules of those frontline workers. The boutique ended up gifting $53,000 in wedding gowns and accessories to 23 BAA brides, one of whom drove all the way to Saratoga from Tennessee.
“When I found out from a coworker about the Brides Across America program with Lily Saratoga, I was insanely excited but never thought I would get in,” says Danielle Cogan, a respiratory therapist at Albany Medical Center who received a dress last year. “I was absolutely stunned with my dress I found at Lily and I am so grateful for this experience. It brought so much joy to these times for me.”
This year, the boutique will host 12 brides, most of whom are COVID-19 nurses or US military service members. “It is an honor to be able to give back to our community this way,” Mullen says. “We are so happy to work with so many exceptional women who may not normally have the opportunity, time or resources to shop for a wedding gown.”