VA-based bridal shop giving away 75 wedding dresses to healthcare workers

By JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News

(HAMPTON ROADS, Va.) — As many wedding plans have shifted due to the global coronavirus crisis, one bridal shop is doing something to help ease the minds of brides-to-be working on the front lines.

On Instagram, Ava Clara Couture Bridal announced a wedding gown giveaway event for hospital nurses located in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area.

With this initiative, the bridal shop stated that 75 dresses will be given away to health care workers.

“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,” Alex Fleear, Ava Clara Couture Bridal president, told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

“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,” Fleear added.

Ava Clara Couture Bridal’s efforts were birthed under a non-profit organization, “Tulle 4 All”, which previously hosted a similar giveaway for teachers in 2018.

“The idea was to segway ‘Tulle 4 Teachers’ into a giveaway for other occupations,” said Fleear. “Then, coronavirus hit, and it immediately threw us into a giveaway for nurses as a way to show our support and appreciation for them.”

To qualify for the giveaway, you must be a currently engaged nurse that can provide valid hospital identification. There also must be documentation confirming they are working at a hospital with COVID-19-related cases.

Qualifying nurses can register on Ava Clara Couture Bridal’s website, under the events tab where they will find an option to click Nurses Gown Giveaway. From there, they fill out a form and answer a short questionnaire.

Winners will be selected based on their field history as well as responses to the questionnaire and contacted via email to confirm that they are one of the qualifying brides to sign up to receive a free bridal gown at an in-store event that will be held on August 16 at 9 a.m. EST.

The in-store event will be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis, and brides will fill out registration paperwork and tickets to hold their place in line. To allow for an intimate and relaxing experience, three brides at a time will be serviced and given 30 minutes to make their selections along with the help of on-staff bridal stylists.

Some of the designer labels included are Casablanca, Ella Rosa, Kenneth Winston, Blue Willow by Anne Barge, and several others with a maximum retail value of $4,000.

Ava Clara Couture Bridal has been directly impacted by the coronavirus crisis due to the Chinese government shutting down bridal gown manufacturing in addition to the Virginia government ordering non-essential businesses to close on March 16.

“That was the hardest day of my life as I have never closed the Ava Clara’s doors since opening my store in April 2010,” said Fleear.

Fleear also confirmed that the bridal boutique has lost 80 percent of monthly revenue, had to decrease employee hours, and cut down on most of the staff.

“Though this time is trying, we are focusing on the good by organizing this event,” she said.

So far, feedback from the gown giveaway has been great, and there are already 50 applicants.

“Hopefully, this will impact our community to show we are all in this together,” said Fleear. “We really want to rally around our heroic health care workers as they are truly the ones who have impacted us the most since this outbreak.”

Registration for Ava Clara Couture’s Bridal gown giveaway ends on April 24.

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