Dawnetta Heinz had just celebrated her first wedding anniversary and was getting ready to move into a new house when she took another look at her wedding gown. She could have preserved it for her daughter to wear one day. She could have packed it up with her other things. Instead, she posted it on a buy/sell/trade group on Facebook, offering to give it to a bride who couldn’t afford to buy a wedding dress of her own. Now it looks as though Heinz will be donating her dress to not one bride, but 12.
“If we can help somebody else feel good on their special day, I would love to do that,” Heinz, a personal trainer in Omaha, Neb., told Yahoo Style. The gown is from David’s Bridal and originally retailed for $1,200. And though she got it on sale for less than half that, it wasn’t very long ago that such an expense would have been inconceivable to her.
“We were homeless,” Heinz says reflecting on her past. “We sold shakes and were barely getting by, living out of our car. Then we stayed through it, were always faithful to each other.”
Arianna Pro was casually browsing Facebook when she saw Heinz’s post. Though she and her husband had been married for six years, they wanted to renew their vows.
“We had just lost a son, and we just needed a little light, a little love,” Pro said of her wedding. “We got married at the courthouse. Now we have four children and kind of have the means to do it right, and have them be there with us to let them see that mommy and daddy love each other still.”
Pro wasn’t the only one to respond to the post.
“I had so many people messaging me telling me their story, how they couldn’t afford it, how they’d have to go to Goodwill,” Heinz says. She wanted to give it to them all. “Then I just commented on the post, ‘What would you guys think if we just passed the dress on to the next person?’ And one of the girls said, ‘Yeah, it could be like sisterhood of the traveling dress!’ ”
Pro, as the first in line, was fully onboard with this idea. “Who am I to keep the dress and not share the happiness?” she wrote.
That’s why after Pro and her husband renew their vows on a yacht in San Francisco this week, she will pack up the dress to send to another bride. Altogether, Heinz has a list of about 12 women who have signed on to use the gown in the next year. Heinz said she hopes brides will keep passing it on, as long as it will hold up after wear and dry-cleaning. She plans on gathering photos of everyone wearing it.
Just like the jeans passed around among four friends in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Heinz’s gown fit Pro almost magically. “When I tried the dress on for the first time, there was no altering, there was no nothing. It fit like a glove,” Pro said.
Of course, that is also probably because of the gown’s adjustable corset, but the women involved are most definitely forming a sisterhood they couldn’t have with something merely store-bought.
“I’m really excited and honored that I get to be a part of something so cool,” Pro said. “Women message me and we’re just keeping in contact. There’s a lot of feelings involved. I wouldn’t give that up for anything. … A dress doesn’t talk back to you. I’m more happy with the people who have come into our lives. Dawnetta — she’ll always be in my heart. She is the one who made all of this possible.”
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