June 30, 2010; Source: Detroit News | Thanks to a Detroit nonprofit, former brides are able to share the same joy and memories they associate with their wedding dresses with women who can’t afford to buy pretty gowns. Operating out of a 5,300 warehouse, Every Girls Dream lets brides-to-be facing economic hardships pick from as many as 200 gowns that have been donated from across Southeast Michigan.

The nonprofit was started by Darlene Richards shortly after her daughter’s wedding in 2008, when it occurred to her that for some women the cost of wedding dresses must be out of reach. She also figured that there must be another life for all the wedding gowns hanging in attics. Her husband suggested she place an ad on CraigsList inviting women to donate their wedding dresses. The response was huge, and within days Richards trekked to Michigan’s capital, Lansing, and formed her nonprofit.

Initially Richards ran Every Girls Dream out of her house, with her dining and living rooms serving as storage places for all the dresses she’d collected. But this past Spring, Kevin Crute, a commercial real estate owner in Troy, gave Richards free use of a vacant warehouse. Remembering the time his bank had helped him out, Crute said it was time to “pay it forward.”

To get a gown, brides-to-be fill out an application to prove their economic hardship. For women like Leatric Dickson, who makes less than $9 an hour working at an airport, the idea of getting married in a wedding dress would be just a dream were it not for Every Girls Dream. Two days before her marriage she decided she wanted a wedding dress, but worried whether she could really afford a nice one. Thanks to Every Girls Dream, Dickson was married in a sleeveless white satin dress that she said made her feel more beautiful than ever before.—Bruce Trachtenberg