Tina Nguyen has a track record of helping people in need, whether it’s providing homeless women and children with care kits or fundraising for a local Minneapolis, Minn. pie shop owner put out of business by the pandemic. But her latest deed of offering her wedding dress for brides getting married during this unprecedented time is gaining nationwide attention as women across the country join her effort to give every bride an unforgettable day.
“What a privilege it was for me to have everything I wanted, to have the beautiful dress, the beautiful day,” Nguyen tells Yahoo Life of her September 2019 wedding. “To look back with the economic downturn that we are facing, especially with George Floyd, all of the racism and all of the pain that our cities face, I wanted to do something. I wanted to bring back joy. I wanted somebody’s first next life… when you get married it’s another chapter of your life. I want that chapter to be filled with beautiful memories.”
Offering up something “as small” as her wedding dress is something that Nguyen felt compelled to do, as she explains how her mother and grandmother raised her to be a strong and empathetic person. Nguyen shares that her grandmother was a widow and her mom a divorcee both making a life for their children in Vietnam as single mothers.
“Every day of my entire life my grandmother and my mom told me about the privilege that I have, as well as the responsibility I need to carry is to lift up other women, lift up other people who don’t have the privilege,” she says.
The particular idea to lend out her wedding dress came when Nguyen celebrated her wedding anniversary with her husband who suggested that she wear the dress to celebrate. “I don’t want to wear it just for myself. I want to wear it with a purpose. If there’s a purpose for wearing it, then I would,” she says. “So I finally was like, I’m just gonna put it out there. So I just put it on Facebook.”
Nguyen posted her dress to Facebook Marketplace where she explained the meaning that it had to her and how she was ready for it to “be loved by a new bride.” Many responses to her post were out of confusion at first, as she says people questioned if it was even a real offer. Others led to the idea that more women should lend out their dresses to offer more options in terms of sizing and style. The latter then came to fruition when Nguyen’s wedding photographer, Madalyn Vermeer, saw the Marketplace post and decided to offer her own dress as well.
“So I started a group and now we have over 80 members in less than a week. And we already have five or six dresses being offered on the page,” Nguyen says of the “Sisterhood of the traveling wedding dress” Facebook group. “It warms my heart.”
As of Monday evening, the Facebook group has 92 members and even more women from numerous states posting their dresses to lend out. Nguyen and Vermeer have even posted suggestions like establishing a security deposit to cover the cost of dry cleaning in an effort to make their community feel their most comfortable while lending their dresses.
“I came to this country alone as a child, as a 14-year-old, and Americans were the ones that opened their homes and their hearts to me. So of course, I think I’m just trained and raised that way to open my heart and whatever I have to others,” Nguyen says. “That’s what’s been done for me, and look where I am now. I want to do the same.”
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