The Heroes Collection, an initiative to provide health care workers with free wedding dresses was first initiated by Pronovias, a designer bridal and wedding dress brand in Spain.
When Something White owner Rebecca Somnitz saw an advertisement for the Heroes Collection, she immediately made a special request to bring five of the dresses in a variety of sizes and styles to her boutique and give back to the many brides stationed in Cleveland’s health care hub. Among the requirements, the brides-to-be had to have been working in a hospital setting, dealing with the pandemic, have a hire date no later than March 2020, and, of course, be getting married.
Out of the nearly 20 brides who signed up for the waitlist, seven snagged fittings, and five hardworking ladies walked home with the Pronovias-designed dress of their dreams and one less thing to worry about. (The other two didn’t find dresses they loved.)
“[The brides] were just so thankful,” says Somnitz. “It’s almost magical how well it worked out.”
Margaret Wilcoxson, a registered nurse at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and a veteran herself, first heard about the giveaway on Facebook. When she tried on the first gown — a high-collared vintage sheath dress with a long train — she broke down into tears.
“As soon as I saw it on me, I knew that it was my dress,” she shares. “That dress was made for me.”
Carrie Kolk had a similar experience with her gown, a princess-style dress with sequins on the top and a full skirt blooming out from the waist. After rushing to sign up and worrying there wouldn’t be any dresses left, Kolk, a registered nurse at the Cleveland Clinic, didn’t take long to decide.
“I actually saw a picture of all five of the dresses [in the Heroes Collection], and the one that I really liked in the picture is the one I tried on,” she says. “I immediately knew that was the wedding dress I wanted to wear.”
Lisa Pizzillo’s fiance Todd Corley actually found out about the promotion and told her. The registered nurse at Southwest General Health Center hadn’t even been dress shopping yet when she had her appointment at Something White.
“When you put it on and you feel like that’s the one, it was actually pretty special,” she says of the sleeveless A-line gown adorned with beautiful lace detail all the way up to her neck. “I mean obviously who wouldn’t like to get a free dress?”
The enthusiasm extended beyond just the brides, all of whom had to push their wedding dates to next year in hopes that life would be a bit more normal. As a someone who has worked with health care workers and is part of a family of nurses, Somnitz also found joy in alleviating any part of the stress the brides faced, not only in their occupations, but in wedding planning during a pandemic.
“I think [my excitement] was a level above what I normally am when a bride finds her dress,” Somnitz laughs. “I feel like when you can glean any sort of goodness out of [COVID], it makes you happy.”
7:00 AM EST
September 17, 2020