Brides Against Breast Cancer

“Photography Courtesy of Kathryn Brown Photography”

Last January I received a phone call from a sister wedding planner asking me if I would be willing to help coordinate the Brides Against Breast Cancer Gown Tour in Jacksonville. Little did I know then, but I was embarking on an adventure that would impact my life. Over the past six months, we have searched for a venue, begged for donations, spoke at rallies, posted flyers, posted on Facebook and Twitter daily, answered emails, scoured the city for free advertising and asked for volunteers to pull the Gown Tour together for the weekend of July 23-25, 2010. On Friday morning the 23rd, it all came to realty when I met Allison Caudle and Barbara Raskin with Making Memories at the Channel 4 News Station. I watched as our models displayed a sample of dresses and listened to Allison explain the purpose of the gown sale. Allison explained that she was the one that actually got to grant the wishes and this organization had not turned any down so far. She went on to explain that the Making Memories Foundation has an extremely high grossing percentage that actually makes it to the “wish” fund. Most of their work is done by volunteers and the overhead is kept to a minimum amount. A little unknown fact about these dresses is that they are not all used. Many of the gowns are couture that have been donated by the designer or manufacturer and still have the original price tags on them. I knew the profits from the gowns went to Stage IV breast cancer patients, but I did not realize the impact this charity had on individuals.

“Photography Courtesy of Kathryn Brown Photography”

As the morning progressed we met up with the owner of a local gown shop (Park Avenue Bridal Mandarin) who donated 30 brand new gowns to the cause. Then shortly before noon volunteers started arriving and the truck pulled in with THE DRESSES. Immediately the “crew” (again, all volunteers) from South Carolina started unloading the truck and to my amazement ran the operation like a fine tuned instrument. It was obvious they had done this many times before. Within no time the empty ballroom, donated by our co-host, the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, transformed into a bridal gown shop complete with veils, tiaras and shoes. All we needed now were the brides.

“Photography Courtesy of Kathryn Brown Photography”

Our VIP Night began with registration and a very unique raffle. The brides and their guests were able to purchase raffle tickets for $10.00. The catch being they were given as many tickets as they could wrap around their breasts for the $10.00. Everyone was getting into the spirit of the measuring and having fun. We had approximately 53 people show up for our first VIP Night in Jacksonville with 18 of those being brides. The Hyatt treated us all to a signature “pink” cocktail and hors d’oeuvres while our other co-host, David Hanscom with Y? Entertainment kept the crowd entertained with door prizes and raffle drawings. The brides gathered around to receive excellent advice from our professional volunteers who served as an Expert Panel. Then it was time to unveil the dresses!

“Photography Courtesy of Kathryn Brown Photography”

As we moved into the ballroom, the ooohs and ahhhhs were heard everywhere. It was so exciting seeing these girls trying on dresses and coming out to show their mothers and bridesmaids. Our local professional volunteers got in to the spirit by providing free make-up and hair advice. Some even gave complete make-overs. The photographers added to the fun by setting up a dummy runway and taking pictures of the brides in their dream dresses. In addition to the make-up, hair and photos, we had several local florists donate exquisite bouquets for the brides to sample with their dresses. We closed our VIP Night selling 9 dresses and making just over $6,900.00

“Photography Courtesy of Mel Roby Photography”

Throughout the rest of the weekend, we shared stories with many brides coming in to either donate a dress or buy a dress and telling us of someone in their family who was stricken by this awful disease. It was a very touching and rewarding time for all us. I urge each and every one of you that has not had the opportunity to work at one of the BABC gown sales to volunteer! It is an amazing experience that you will treasure. It touches the heart and soul of so many people, in the giving of the dresses, the buying of the dresses and the wishes that are granted by the Foundation. All in all, we feel our gown sale was a success. I had set a personal goal of $15,000.00. At 6:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, we sold our 21st gown and made just over $17,510.00. This event has brought many of us in the wedding industry closer together and we are already working on another sale for next year. Please keep posted for an update on our progress and the date of the next sale.

“Photography Courtesy of Kathryn Brown Photography”

A special shout out and thank you to these Professional Volunteers who helped make this weekend a success:

Alina Castillo – alinacastillo@mac.com
Bethany Walter – www.madyjoe.com
Casey Powell – www.caseydoeshair.com
Cheryl Raby – www.avowtwokeep.com
Chris Kennelly – www.kenneticproductions.com
Christy Whitehead – www.christywhiteheadphotography.com
Dan Harris – www.danharrisphotoart.com
David Hanscom – www.youreventanswer.com – Y? Entertainment – Co-Host
David Weast – weastd@live.com
Elizabeth Cohn – www.jacksonville.hyatt.com –
Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront – Co-Host
Hope Dempsey – www.d-vinecuisine.com
Jason Christley – www.kategardinerphoto.com
Judy Brown-Scott – www.judys-cakes.com
Kate Gardiner – www.kategardinerphoto.com
Kathryn Brown – www.kathrynbrownphotography.com
Kimtasha Armstrong – www.kimtasha.com
Lauren Atwaters – www.ten23designs.com
Linda Gail Rowe – lindarowe@marykay.com
Lisa Burnett – www.elegantweddingsbylisa.com
Lori Robinson – www.caydenlanephotography.com
Mel Roby – www.melrobyphotography.com
Paulina Perez – www.paulinaperez.com
Shawnee Doster – www.Shawnee.AllAboutHoneymoons.com
Sonia Garza – soniagarza1225@yahoo.com
Tania Phillips – www.clearskiesphotography.com
Tanya Hendricks – www.southerncharmevents.org – Southern Charm Events – Co-Host
Wanda Hanscom www.youreventanswer.com – Y? Entertainment – Co-Host

“Photography Courtesy of Kathryn Brown Photography”

Our lovely bouquets were provided by:

A Fantasy in Flowers | www.fantasynflowers.com | 904-268-7022
Blossoms and Accents, Inc. | www.blossomsandaccents.com | 904-993-7677
Rose of Sharon | www.roseofsharonflorist.net | 904-737-8655
Kelley’s Bloom Room | www.kelleysbloomroom.com |904-387-4474
From the Heart Flowers & Gifts | www.fromtheheartflowersandgifts.com|904-531-9450