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This woman gave her wedding dress to a stranger, and inspired others to do the same

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Sometimes the most important outfit you'll ever wear is a hand-me-down. When Gwendolyn Stulgis went to buy a wedding dress, the two most important things to her were price and cut.

GWENDOLYN STULGIS: So I literally said in my head that my budget was $1,000 because it wasn't something that I wanted to spend a super amount of money on.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

After trying on different options at a bridal shop, nothing quite struck a chord with her. Just as she was about to leave, the saleswoman asked her to look at one more gown.

STULGIS: The lady that was helping us had said, well, hold on a second. I think I have something for you.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING))

STULGIS: It was champagne in color. It had long sleeves, sparkly lace all over it. It had these buttons that literally started down the middle of the back, all the way down into the train, which I absolutely loved. I, like, stood there and kind of got tears in my eyes because it really was the dress that I really wanted.

SUMMERS: Now, the dress was a bit over budget, but with a little encouragement from her future mother-in-law, she decided to buy it and wore it down the aisle in May. But after the wedding, Stulgis just knew she didn't just want that dress to sit in her closet collecting dust, like mine is.

SHAPIRO: So she decided she would give it away to someone who really needed the dress.

STULGIS: I couldn't figure out quite how I was going to do it. I ended up putting something on Facebook.

SHAPIRO: And she got more than 70 messages. Each future bride explained what the dress would mean to them. She eventually decided to give it to another woman who lived nearby, Margaret Hyde.

STULGIS: And, you know, her way of saying thank you was giving me this jar of banana butter, which my husband absolutely loves.

SUMMERS: Stulgis also got messages from other women who also wanted to donate their wedding dresses. Her next step was to create a Facebook group, Shared Dream Dresses. Stulgis estimates that since June, more than 200 dresses have been exchanged.

STULGIS: For me, it was also a different experience because I'm a plus-sized woman and finding a wedding dress in plus sizes is really, really difficult. So if I could take that stress away from somebody by passing along a beautiful plus-sized gown, I was like, this is this - I have to do it.

SHAPIRO: That's Diana Bowman, who was inspired to join the group after reading about Stulgis' story in The Washington Post. She offered her dress in the group on the condition that it continue to be passed on.

DIANA BOWMAN: I hope that this dress gets passed from bride to bride to bride, and it just gets worn out and is in tatters at the end of its life because of all the celebrating that's done in it.

SHAPIRO: And that's one way to get to happily ever after. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michael Levitt
Michael Levitt is a news assistant for All Things Considered who is based in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science. Before coming to NPR, Levitt worked in the solar energy industry and for the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C. He has also travelled extensively in the Middle East and speaks Arabic.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
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