NORFOLK -- Dozens of women in the military or engaged to people in the military picked up a key item for their nuptials: their wedding gowns. The designer dresses came at no cost as part of Brides Across America.
"We work with military couples every single day and see, you know, some of the sacrifices that they have to make and the decisions that they have to make that are really hard," said Maya Holihan, owner of Maya Couture Bridal Salon. "It's an honor to be in this position, and be able to just say, 'Thank you,' and to let them know that we haven't forgotten about them and that we really love working with them and just make their dreams a little bit sweeter."
Brides Across America started in 2007 at a bridal boutique in New Hampshire, growing into a nationwide event that, to date, has given away more than 5,000 wedding gowns to people with a military connection.
"I'm really, really excited. I had a 7-8 month deployment, and I didn't get to have a wedding," said Johna Nance who was on board U.S.S. George H. W. Bush for its maiden deployment. "We were out there for a very long time in a lot of heat, and we didn't get any time to actually get married, so, and my husband was out there, too, so we did a justice of the peace, and we always were gonna postpone our actual wedding, and, now, we're getting my dress, and I'm very, very, very excited to be here."
Krista Merry is a speech pathologist. She and her fiance, a Navy rescue swimmer, will exchange vows in December.
"I think my family will be very surprised, because they think my dress was from Amazon.com, 'cause that's the dress that I have. It was free 2-day shipping," Merry told 13News. "I just think it's incredibly generous of everyone to take their time and for the designers to donate their dresses which I know are expensive, and that's why I didn't have one."
A large percentage of the sale of accessories during the Brides Across America event went to the Navy SEAL Foundation.