VIRGINIA BEACH — Zoie Henry was glowing the minute she put the gown on.

Henry was certainly one of 10 brides-to-be chosen for this 12 months’s free robe giveaway for engaged restaurant staff Monday at Ava Clara Couture Bridal in Virginia Seashore.

A lead bartender at Oscar’s Oceanside, a restaurant on the oceanfront, Henry utilized two weeks in the past and mentioned she cried when she heard of her acceptance.

“I used to be so shocked and excited,” mentioned the 25-year-old.

Nicely-versed on what her preferrred gown can be, Henry tried on 5 robes earlier than she mentioned sure to the gown.

As soon as the veil was positioned on her head, she turned to her mom, Elizabeth Dalton, and future mother-in-law, Patti Driscoll, and let the tears movement.

“You realize it is the one when you do not wish to take it off,” she mentioned.

Henry’s alternative, a surprising lace robe made by Casablanca Bridal, carried a price ticket of about $2,500.

“This isn’t a gown I might have the ability to afford,” she mentioned. “My price range was round $500.”

Henry’s 2-month-old son, Ozzy, napped peacefully within the dressing room as his mom checked off a serious merchandise on her to-do listing earlier than her wedding in October 2023 to Ozzy’s father, Robbie Driscoll.

“It is difficult to plan a wedding. Not less than this piece of stress is off her plate,” Dalton mentioned.

Within the restaurant trade for 9 years, Henry is aware of all too nicely the stresses that come together with it. In the beginning of the pandemic, the bar she labored at closed for 3 months, and he or she struggled to seek out one other job to make ends meet.

That is exactly what led Alex Fleear, proprietor of Ava Clara Couture Bridal, to focus her nonprofit Tulle four All on engaged restaurant staff for this 12 months’s giveaway.

In enterprise for 13 years, she mentioned she established the group a month earlier than the pandemic began. The occasion targeted on well being care professionals in 2020 and academics in 2021.

“We wish to say thanks,” she mentioned of the restaurant staff. “It is a robust subject … particularly with COVID and them not realizing in the event that they have been going to have a job. I do know so many companies have closed. These women are robust.

Hallie Spengler, a server at Massive Sam’s Inlet Cafe and Uncooked Bar in Virginia Seashore, mentioned the small family-owned enterprise shut down for just a few months at first of the pandemic.

“I discovered one other job within the meantime, however it was not the identical kind of cash I used to be making earlier than,” she mentioned.

After they reopened, a makeshift eating space was arrange within the restaurant’s car parking zone.

“It made me a stronger server,” she mentioned.

Ready to seek out the proper robe for her wedding subsequent 12 months to her fiancé Cody Corridor, Spengler mentioned she can’t wait till the day they are saying, “I do.”

The couple, engaged on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, set their huge day for Oct. 6 on the Lesner Inn in Virginia Seashore.

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Spengler’s mom, Kelly Ordille, and stepmother, Carly Spengler, shared within the morning’s emotional occasion.

“You look lovely in all of them,” mentioned Ordille.

However, Spengler made up her thoughts and stored going again to the identical gown.

Graduating in December from Previous Dominion College with a bachelor’s diploma in biomedical sciences, Spengler mentioned the free robe is an unimaginable present that helps alleviate some monetary stress.

Henry agreed and mentioned cash is tight, however their small intimate wedding will probably be magical it doesn’t matter what.

“It could be good to really feel like one million bucks,” she mentioned. “Even when we do not have a dime.”

Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]

Restaurant workers get free wedding dresses in Virginia Beach – The Virginian-Pilot

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