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Vickroy: Brides-to-be, fabric lovers can save money, help others

Volunteer AngelBoomsmholds gown thwill be featured Together We Cope's discount bridal gown sale July 13 14 Tinley Park.  |

Volunteer Angela Boomsma holds a gown that will be featured in Together We Cope's discount bridal gown sale July 13 and 14 in Tinley Park. | Donna Vickroy~Sun-Times Media

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If you go ...

What: Together We Cope’s discount bridal gown sale

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 13 and 14

Where: 18219 S. Harlem Ave., Tinley Park

Information: Visit togetherwecope.com or call (708) 633-5040

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Updated: August 3, 2013 6:06AM



Love may be blind, but it also can be expensive, especially if you’re looking to legalize that sentiment with a rockin’ wedding.

In a recent poll of 18,000 couples conducted by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, Chicago was named the second-most-expensive city for weddings, with the average cost topping $50,000.

Keep calm and keep reading. We’ve got a way to bring that mean cost down, and help some needy folks in the process.

For the second year in a row, Together We Cope, a Tinley Park social service agency that helps people in temporary crisis, has received a large donation of high-couture gowns from Eva’s Bridals in Oak Lawn.

The agency plans to sell the 700-plus dresses, some of which were originally priced between $5,000 and $8,000, for $75 each in an upcoming sale.

Prospective brides may recognize designer names such as Vera Wang and Marisa.

Some of the dresses feature Swarovski crystals; others have handmade French or Italian lace. None of the gowns has been worn in a wedding, but some were used as samples or were displayed on mannequins. Others are making their debut from the warehouse at this discount sale.

Gina Rydz, chairperson for Together We Cope’s event, said, “Any donation is wonderful but this is especially nice because it benefits everyone — brides and the people who need our programs.”

She said the sale allows Together We Cope to make thousands of dollars, which will be applied to all of its programs, including the food pantry. Together We Cope bridges the gap for Southland residents in temporary crisis by providing food, shelter, clothing and referrals, empowering them to return to self-sufficiency.

This year’s sale will be different in that the focus solely will be the bridal gowns, as well as the 100 or so bridesmaids and flower girl dresses. Last year’s event featured other local vendors but with so many gowns to be displayed this time, Rydz said they didn’t want anything to be a distraction.

The sale will be held at a donated store, 18219 S. Harlem Ave., Tinley Park, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 13 and 14.

Dress sizes run from 4 to 22. Bridal gowns cost $75, while bridesmaids dresses will be $50. The donated store has fitting rooms and full-length mirrors to make shopping easier and more efficient.

This is Ronia Ghusein’s second gift of wedding gowns to Together We Cope.

You may recall the original Eva’s Bridal’s, at 95th Street and Cicero Avenue, was destroyed in a devastating fire in November 2010. The community came to the rescue with generous donations of gowns. Those that went unused were donated to Together We Cope, which had its first bridal gown sale in January 2012.

This spring, Ghusein decided to give Together We Cope hundreds more high-end gowns she had acquired for an outlet store that she operated briefly before the fire, and then put into storage. While most of the gowns look brand new, some need minor attention, such as a cleaning, and some were not fit for sale — not as gowns, anyway.

Those that had a broken zipper, a tear or stained fabric are being taken apart, their components salvaged for other uses.

“The value of many of these gowns is the elements used to make them. Some of the laces are not even made anymore,” Ghusein said. “This sale is not just for brides. It’s for anybody who understands fabrics and who realizes what a French or Spanish lace looks like.”

Beading, lace and fabric pieces will be sold to crafters and seamstresses.

Angela Boomsma, who volunteers at Together We Cope, said her mom, like many crafters, uses fabric samples to sew clothing for American Girl dolls.

“One woman told us at the last bridal fair that she cuts the tops off of old wedding gowns and makes blouses from the bodices,” Together We Cope spokeswoman Marge Seltzner said.

“There are so many crafty people out there who can do a lot with the pieces,” volunteer Gina Golem said.

Golem, who was married three years ago, immediately recognized the label on one of the gowns because it was made by the same designer of the gown she wore: Marisa.

“Wish I had gotten my gown for $75,” she said.

“Plus, I think it’s a good omen to start your marriage off with a wedding ceremony that benefits people in need,” Golem said.

Ghusein said while she often donates handfuls of gowns to fashion schools, she felt it was important to donate a collection of this size to a local organization.

“It’s nice to give back to your community,” she said.

Kathryn Straniero, executive director of Together We Cope, said the agency was surprised and delighted with Ghusein’s second generous donation.

“This is an opportunity for a lot of women to get a beautiful gown at a great value,” she said. “It’s an honor to have her think of us.”



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