- Bride Gwendolyn Stulgis posted on Facebook that she was giving away her $3,000 (R47,500) wedding dress on the platform.
- Stulgis picked Margaret Hyde "because she is always the one doing the giving," Hyde's submission read.
- Since passing her gown to Hyde, Stulgis told Insider that 12 more brides have donated their dresses.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Gwendolyn Stulgis began her wedding dress shopping experience looking for the gown that made her feel the most beautiful.
After looking in several shops near her home, Stulgis found "the one" at a local boutique, Evaline's Bridal & Tuxedo, in Warren, Ohio: a champagne-colored wedding dress by Allure Bridals that included beading, lace, and sheer fabric on the long sleeves. But the cost was high for the bride: $3,000 (R47,500).
Stulgis told Insider that although it was out of her budget, she loved it too much to pass on it. She had originally set a budget of $1,000.
"I got emotional looking at it because it was everything I really wanted," she said. "I don't think I could have pictured myself in anything else. That dress was just made for me."
Stulgis wore it for her marriage to Frank Stulgis on May 6. She told Insider that her favourite part of the dress was the beading that ran from her back down the extended train.
After the wedding, Stulgis first stored her dress — then decided it could be useful to another bride
After the celebration, Stulgis, like many brides, hung her dress in the closet. Then, it dawned on her that it wasn't much use to her, or anyone else, stored away. She decided she would give it to another bride that could wear it on her wedding day.
"I want someone else to feel the way I did on my wedding day — to look beautiful," Stulgis told Insider. "I want the person to feel like they are worth something. I want them to get the dress of their dreams without worrying about buying one. A wedding dress shouldn't just be kept in a closet."
On May 19, Stulgis posted on Facebook that she wanted to pass her wedding dress on to a future bride. She also shared her post on a selection of local Facebook pages.
In the post, Stulgis stipulated two conditions: the bride's wedding date would be within the next three months and the bride would promise to pass it on too.
The winner said she looks forward to 'feeling like a princess for a day'
Stulgis and her husband, Frank, looked at submissions every night until they picked the winner, Margaret Hyde, on June 4. Hyde's future sister-in-law, Alycia Ashley, secretly submitted her on May 27, just three days before the bride-to-be submitted herself.
Ashley told Insider that she anonymously submitted Hyde because the bride-to-be had mentioned wanting to enter but hesitated.
"Margaret is just an amazing person," Ashley said. "She is the type of person that will give you the shirt off of her back. She's always the one doing the giving."
On June 4, Hyde found out she had won thanks to Ashley's submission. The bride-to-be told Insider that she had planned on making her own wedding dress before seeing Stulgis's post. Ashley added that Hyde had been planning the wedding herself, including thrift shopping.
"I was in complete shock; I feel extremely loved," Hyde told Insider. "I'm a simple girl that wears jeans and T-shirts, so I don't normally wear dresses. I'm looking forward to feeling like a princess for a day."
Hyde said she plans on passing the dress along, just like Stulgis wants.
Stulgis started a small online movement with a Facebook group and more brides are giving away their gowns
Since her original May post, Stulgis told Insider that 12 brides are giving away their dresses in the "Shared Dream Dresses" Facebook group that she started.
Stulgis has also seen donated shoes, accessories, and even mother-of-the-bride dresses, like that of Stulgis's own mother, to be reused by other women.
"I want to help as many women as I can find their dream dress," Stulgis said. "I honestly didn't think it would get this much traction but I am excited to see it blossom. Everyone should feel the magic and beauty I felt the day I married my best friend."