BY SARAH MURPHY
SPECIAL TO THE BEE
AUGUST 24, 2021 11:56 AM
If you are heading down the aisle soon, there’s a new bridal shop to check out on 21st Street — only this isn’t your usual wedding dress boutique. Brides for a Cause is a nonprofit that offers both a unique, upscale experience for shopping and the chance to do some good with your purchase.
Brides for a Cause is new to Sacramento, but the organization has three other stores in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland. It’s a unique model. Dresses are donated to the organization from all over the country. Sometimes, they come gently worn from a previous bride; sometimes they were floor samples from a boutique that needs to clear out some inventory. Donations come from individuals, bridal stores, designers, and manufacturers. Those dresses are curated into a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, with dresses priced as low as $150. And the organization has helped recycle over 23,000 dresses so far.
“I was thinking about how these dresses are only worn once,” said founder Erin Scharf, “and I wanted to turn it into a green option supporting women’s charities. A lot of people want to be able to give back with their wedding.” Now she’s giving brides on a budget a sustainable option for their dress, and it benefits charity. “We want to accommodate all sizes, shapes, budgets, and even wedding dates.” They are also open seven days a week to accommodate anyone’s schedule.
The new shop in midtown has over 700 dresses available, sizes 0 to 24. Customers are buying “off the rack,” so you can walk out that day with your dress in hand. The immediacy is a huge bonus for people who might be on a tight schedule, or making last-minute changes to their special day. There’s no ordering your dress months in advance here.
“Buying dresses second-hand doesn’t mean they are dirty,” says Scharf, “you are getting designer dresses in great condition for less. Not all of them are even used.”
There are several ways to help Brides for a Cause supports charities. First and foremost, you can buy your dress and accessories there. They even have a few bridesmaid options. Shoppers are invited to make a reservation for a private shopping experience, which can be done through their website bridesforacause.com. They are not accepting walk-ins during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another way you can help is by donating a dress. Brides for a Cause is looking for dresses and accessories in good condition that are from the past five years, to keep with current styles. Donations are tax deductible, and tax receipts are available. Donations can be dropped off in-store any time they are open. Or if you have a bridal shop and are looking to donate multiple dresses, they have a bulk donation process as well.
“We can give bridal stores a resource for the dresses they no longer need,” Scharf said.
Do you love the concept and gushing over brides? They also have a volunteer program for people to donate their time, from weekend work in the storefronts to helping out at a road show. And of course if none of those options work for you, they accept monetary donations on their website, too.
The charities are the heart of the organization, not an afterthought. Even with fewer weddings last year and store closure during COVID-19, they were able to give $210,000 away to women’s charities. Another way you can support their efforts, especially with Sacramento being new to them, is to nominate a charity you think they might be interested in. Whether it’s a national charity you feel helps women everywhere, or a local women’s shelter, they are looking for suggestions on their website.
Last year they were able to help support Loveland Foundation, which focuses on communities of color. They help provide mental health resources and therapy, among other things, to Black women and girls in particular. This year Brides for a Cause is again supporting the organization Baby Quest, which helps provide financial assistance to women seeking fertility treatment. Scharf says this year they will be able to sponsor two couples through their treatment. They have also given financial support to Mary’s Place, which is a women’s shelter in Seattle. Hayden’s Helping Hands gives financial assistance to help parents pay medical costs after a stillbirth. And that’s just a few of the 21 different charities they supported last year.
Brides for a Cause is excited to serve and support Sacramento. If you are interested in learning more about their organization or how you can help, visit their website at www.bridesforacause.com.