By Ellen Spitaleri
As tradition has it, June is the most popular month for weddings, but with pandemic restrictions in place, large gatherings are not recommended. However, two things remain eternal: couples are still going to get married and the bride is going to need a dress.
Fortunately, Erin Scharf can help brides get the perfect dress for the right price, with the purchase benefitting women-focused charities in the bargain.
Scharf is the founder of Brides for a Cause, located in the Ford Building at 2505 SE Division St. The nonprofit organization collects and resells donated wedding dresses to raise funds for charity.
Since 2012, Brides for a Cause has collected over 23,000 wedding dresses and given away over $1,200,000 to various local and national charities across the country.
“Anyone can shop at our store. Our dresses are sold at a discount and are purchased off the rack, so our brides get to take it home that same day,” Scharf said.
90 percent of the organization’s net income goes directly to charities supporting a number of women’s causes, including those promoting positive self-esteem for young women, support women in the military, provide relief for single mothers, abused women and women who are disabled and that promote opportunities for women’s education and women in the workforce.
Locally, funds raised have gone to a variety of women-focused charities, including Abby’s Closet, Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, Dress for Success Oregon, Human Solutions, and Bradley Angle, Scharf noted.
“Our mission is to provide free prom dresses for high school girls so they can attend the prom and look gorgeous,” said Sally Egland, a member of the Abby’s Closet Board. “Brides for a Cause has supported us since 2012; without their support we would not be able to do what we do,” she said.
Since proms at area high schools have been cancelled because of COVID-19, this year Abby’s Closet has given away $9,000 in college scholarships and 3,000 dresses to 19 high schools so “students can have beautiful dresses for next year,” Egland said.
Brides for a Cause moved into the Ford Building in 2016 and Scharf said she loves the location, for its accessible parking and roomy space that provides a perfect backdrop for the wedding dresses.
“We offer a relaxed, welcoming and stress-free environment. Our stylists help guide our brides through the wedding dress process,” she said.
“Our dresses are always changing since we’re off-the-rack, so we always encourage our brides to come back if they don’t find a dress during their first visit,” Scharf added and noted, the price is right.
“We have a new 2021 sale to cater to the 2021 brides, who might have been affected by the pandemic. Brides are able to shop on the 21st of any month and receive 21 percent off their entire purchase,” she said.
The shop will host Brides Across America, a nonprofit committed to gifting weddings and wedding gowns to military and first responders July 5-11.
The 50-percent-off Blow Out Sale will be held all month long in August for selected dresses. The entire store will be 21 percent off on Aug. 21.
Scharf said there are several ways to support Brides for a Cause. “We rely heavily on word of mouth. People can donate their dress, buy a dress from us, volunteer, make a monetary donation and even spread the word,” she said.
The organization accepts wedding dresses five years old and newer, as well as bridal accessories, like veils and slips. For more information or questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brides for a Cause has locations in Seattle and Tacoma and will expand into California this summer.
Scharf said, “Currently, our stores are open by reservation due to the pandemic. We encourage brides needing a dress in a hurry to come visit us.
“We offer a sustainable, charitable and affordable way to shop for a wedding dress.”
Brides for a Cause
2505 SE 11th Ave., #120
Brides for a Cause is located in the Ford Building. Photo by Spotted Stills.