Brides say yes to helping others

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

For brides Kelly Snyder and Lydia Wagner, it was about more than just saying yes to the dress.

It was about the bigger picture.

Each purchased a wedding gown from Brides Against Breast Cancer at a show in August at the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown Pittsburgh.

It meant a lot to Snyder, who works for a surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction.

“It was important for me to buy from Brides Against Breast Cancer,” says Snyder, who will officially become Kelly Nicholas after the paperwork has been completed from Antigua, where she and Mike married Dec. 12. “I see what women go through every day. It was important to me on a personal level. I love telling people where I got my dress, because I know I was helping someone else.”

As a physician assistant for Dr. Carolyn De La Cruz, a plastic surgeon, Snyder knows what breast-cancer patients endure. So, when she looks at photos of herself in the ivory dress with a sweetheart neckline, she knows it is more than a beautiful gown.

“It was perfect,” says Snyder of Shaler, who plans to have the gown cleaned and donated back to Brides Against Breast Cancer. “It made the trip in good shape, but it needs to be cleaned before I can donate it, because it has a lot of sand on it from the beach.”

For Wagner, who became Lydia Kolb on Saturday after marrying Alexander, it was about thinking of others. She bought a dress with a sweetheart neckline, made of taffeta with floral detail and a ball-gown style. It has pockets, which was a big selling point, she says.

“So much of a wedding is so commercial,” says Wagner of Bloomfield. “It's nice to do something that is about others and not just about me. It was so nice when I was buying my dress to see so many women looking at dresses and celebrating life and each other.”

There will be more opportunities for brides-to-be like Snyder and Wagner on Saturday and Sunday. Brides Against Breast Cancer is teaming up with the The Bridal Experience show at The Fez in Hopewell. Proceeds from gown sales provide education, information and outreach to people impacted by cancer.

Snyder and Wagner say their experiences of looking for a dress are ones they won't soon forget. They had more than 1,000 dresses to choose from, and both agree there were knowledgeable stylists who helped them sort through the inventory to find the perfect one.

That same level of quality service will be available this weekend, organizers say. The Fez and Brides Against Breast Cancer, which is run by a new organization, have teamed before. Because of the connection for past events, organizers wanted to keep the relationship with The Fez.

“It's been a unique relationship in that we do the event along with The Fez's bridal show,” says Amy Paulishak, vice-president of business development for Brides Against Breast Cancer out of Florida. “And we are developing more and more of those kinds of partnerships with bridal shows. Bridal shows can be so competitive that it is nice to do something that separates your show from the others. By teaming with The Fez, we feel they have found a way to offer something that other bridal shows don't.”

The weekend show is one of 100 tour stops this year. There are plans to make it to 200 shows in 2014.

With more people concerned about saving some money and continuing the green movement, this type of sale works well with the new and gently used gowns. About 40 percent have been re-purposed or are samples.

Seamstresses will be on hand to help determine the cost of alterations. The goal is to replicate a boutique experience.

It's a cash-and-carry sale, but there is a 12-month layaway program available with a 20-percent deposit.

Most of the nearly 1,000 dresses — from a variety of designers, including one-of-a-kind couture gowns — are ivory. There are white gowns and some in a blush pink. Sizes range from 0 to 28 and prices range from $75 to $3,000, with the average around $700.

Brides Against Breast Cancer is always looking for donations, which are tax-deductible for dresses from 2009 or newer. Older dresses are accepted if they are sizes 0 to 4 or 18 and larger.

“Buying or donating one of these dresses is about the bigger picture, which is helping a wonderful organization,” says Symone Ciencin, The Fez's marketing manager. “It's also a place to do a one-stop shopping from the dress to the photographer to the food to the reception,”

More than 50 vendors are expected.

“We just feel that Brides Against Breast Cancer is a wonderful organization, and they provide such a great service for families and the people who have this disease,” Ciencin says. “We are so happy to donate our space to them and help contribute to their cause.”

The timing of the show is perfect with a lot of couples getting engaged over the holidays.

“There are a lot of brides who aren't sure where to begin, so we give them a great place to start and to get some ideas,” Ciencin says. “And to, possibly, get the dress of their dreams. There will be plenty of gowns to fall in love with.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy