There are many peculiar traditions involved with wedding planning, and sometimes we don’t stop to wonder if they make any sense. For instance, brides often spends thousands of dollars on an elaborate, custom-made wedding dress—only to never use it again after the big day.
While it’s nice if you can afford it, this prevents many financially struggling brides from feeling like they’re having a proper wedding.
Dawnetta Heinz, a 22-year-old personal trainer from Omaha, Nebraska, realized this when she was preparing to move and noticed her dress from her 2016 wedding sitting in her closet.
So she came up with an idea—to give her dress a second life and help out a struggling newlywed in the process.
She offered the dress up for free.
“I never put much thought into what I would do with the dress,” Heinz told Inside Edition. “I am moving so I had the idea to give the dress to someone less fortunate.”
Heinz understands what it’s like to be less fortunate herself. Before their wedding, she and her husband faced harsh financial struggles, but made it through.
“We were homeless,” Heinz told Yahoo Style. “We sold shakes and were barely getting by, living out of our car. Then we stayed through it, were always faithful to each other.”
“If we can help somebody else feel good on their special day, I would love to do that.”
According to Yahoo, Heinz originally bought her dress from David’s Bridal. While she got it on sale, the dress’ retail price was $1,200.
So when she posted it to a Facebook marketplace group, she received plenty of feedback.
“I just posted in there saying if a bride is in need that would like the dress they could have it for free, they’d just need to have it dry cleaned,” she told Inside Edition.
“I didn’t expect it to blow up like it did.”
But Heinz also felt she couldn’t turn anyone down—all the future brides had their own story about their financial hardships—something Heinz knew too well.
“I had so many people messaging me telling me their story, how they couldn’t afford it, how they’d have to go to Goodwill,” she told Yahoo Style.
Instead, Heinz had an idea: To pass the dress from bride to bride.
One bride would wear the dress for her big day, then pass it along to the next, and so forth. The brides were enthusiastic about the idea, comparing it to the book The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
One woman, Arianna Pro, was fully on board: “Who am I to keep the dress and not share the happiness?” she replied, according to Yahoo.
Pro was the first recipient of the dress, and had an unexpected reason for wanting it: she had already been married for six years, but wanted to renew her vows.
“I just so happened to be browsing on Facebook. I saw the beautiful dress and I was the first one to comment,” she explained to Inside Edition. “When my husband and I got married, it wasn’t a necessity to have the big dress and the big party.”
That’s because Pro was originally married under bittersweet circumstances:
“We had just lost a son, and we just needed a little light, a little love,” Pro explained to Yahoo Style. “We got married at the courthouse. Now we have four children and kind of have the means to do it right, and have them be there with us to let them see that mommy and daddy love each other still.”
And borrowing Heinz’ dress was a chance to get that bride experience she never had.
“When I saw the dress, all the feelings came back. It was overwhelming,” she told Inside Edition.
“It was so amazing to get the recognition as a bride. You are wearing this beautiful dress and everyone is gawking at you. It was a surreal experience.”
Miraculously, the dress fit her perfectly with no alterations:
“When I tried the dress on for the first time, there was no altering, there was no nothing,” she told Yahoo Style.
“It fit like a glove.”
When her experience was complete, Pro happily paid it forward to the next bride. “I know how I felt when I wore the dress and we get to pass that feeling on,” she told Inside Edition.
The dress has continued its travels, and is set to reach all 12 brides who contacted Heinz. The most recent one was married this Sunday.
And Heinz couldn’t be happier that her idea has brought such joy to people’s lives:
“It is literally a blessing,” she told Inside Edition. “It’s amazing to see other people happy and knowing they are going to feel good in it.”