Virginia Bridal Salon Gives Free Designer Wedding Gowns to 75 Healthcare Workers

Tara Liebeck Photography

A Virginia Beach bridal salon gifted 75 designer wedding dresses to healthcare workers in recognition of their hard work and sacrifice amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ava Clara Couture Bridal was inundated with more than 600 applications when they announced the giveaway in April, leading them to expand the original giveaway from 50 dresses to 75. The event was coordinated through Ava Clara’s non-profit organization, “Tulle 4 All”, which previously hosted a similar giveaway for teachers in 2018.

Last week, after months of waiting, the lucky brides were able to choose their free gowns during socially distanced appointments spread out across three days. The gifted wedding dresses were valued up to $4,000 and included designers such as Casablanca, Wtoo, Anne Barge, Justin Alexander, Kenneth Winston, and Tara Keel.

“We need to be giving them the utmost support and appreciation,” Alex Fleear, the owner of Ava Clara Couture Bridal, told WTKR. “They’re putting themselves out there. They’re the real heroes.”

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Izzy, a 10-year-old golden retriever, has been punching the clock at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the majority of brides were from the Virginia Beach area, 15 were also specifically selected from states most impacted by the virus.

Brianna Shollenberger, a nurse from Cayuga, New York, and was one of 75 medical workers chosen to receive a free gown. Unfortunately, New York’s COVID-19-related travel restrictions forced her to cancel her trip to Virginia at the last minute.

So, Fleear brought the store to Shollenberger online. She was able to pick out her perfect dress, and Fleear will make sure she gets it by the end of this week.

“This special event is our way to express our appreciation and give back to the brave hospital workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic,” Fleear, Ava Clara Couture Bridal president, told Good Morning America back in April .

“We couldn’t think of a more worthy group of women to receive these free wedding gowns than the brave ladies who are risking their lives every day to help save ours.”

Now these brave women have one less thing to worry about on their wedding to-do-lists.

“It just took a weight off our shoulders, and I’m very appreciative for the opportunity,” bride Taylor Bass told WTKR.

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