Yes to a vet’s dress

County holds giveaway of clothing for women who've served in the military

Emily Liu/The Sun
Brides-to-be could choose from up to 100 wedding dresses at the Camden County boathouse during the one-day, county giveaway.

The Camden County boathouse was transformed into a wedding dress boutique on Feb. 13, when veteran and first-responder brides-to-be could “say yes to the dress” at no cost.

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It was the second Veteran Wedding Dress Giveaway for the county; the first was in 2019, after a major retailer donated more than 500 new dresses for family members of veterans and first responder.

County Commissioner Melinda Kane noted that “the response was enormous” for that first event.

“We still had dresses left that were brand new and had been stored properly in the five- year period, and we thought it was time to see if there were military families who would be prepared for a wedding, she added.

“(We) had the opportunity to take one of these gorgeous gowns and to save money and to feel the appreciation that Camden County has for all who have served.”

On one side at the boathouse, more than 100 dresses were displayed in rows and organized by sizes. Diverse styles to choose from included mermaid and ball gowns, and each bride-to-be was escorted by a county volunteer during the selection process. The other side of the boathouse became a fitting area.

The hope was that no bride would leave empty handed.

“The percentage that have served in our nation is very small, particularly for women,” Kane explained, adding that the dress event enables partcipants “to be recognized as someone who has given back to our country and to be treated like a princess and have a wonderful shopping experience.”

Bride-to-be Brittany Wright expressed her gratitude for the county giveaway.

“I’m really happy and thankful that they have dresses to donate because I’m on a budget,” acknowledged the Franklinville resident, who’s engaged to a retired Air Force veteran. “… It’s been easy. Everyone has been very helpful here.”

The average cost of the donated dresses was about $2,000, according to the county. But a dwindling number of donations may mean this month’s giveaway will be the last. Still, upcoming activities to celebrate veteran women will include the Empower Her, Camden County Women Veterans Event on Sunday, March 10, at the Collingswood Ballroom.

The county-sponsored free event is a collaboration with the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center and the Camden County Veteran Advisory Committee. Hours will be noon to 3 p.m.

“It’s a luncheon and a paneled discussion specific to female veterans who have served,” Kane pointed out. “The hope for that is just to bring recognition. When you’re talking to women who have served, very often the perception is, like, if they’re pulling into a parked spot that’s saved for veterans and getting out of the car, the perception is that she’s the spouse and that it couldn’t possibly be the woman who has served.”

Topics at the March event will include mental and women’s health, trauma incurred in the military and self-care. It is open to veterans, their spouses and family members who want to learn more about the experience of females in the military.

Registration is required at

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