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Military couples treated to free wedding gowns in Killeen | Military

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When Jessica Garner went to try on wedding dresses, she knew two things: One, that wedding dresses can be ridiculously expensive; and two, that she had been waiting for more than 16 years for her very own wedding dress.

So back before they did away with “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military, said Garner, “my spouse and I had a civil service (union) because it was not legal here in Texas. So, we had to go far away — to Iowa — in order to get married legally and none of our friends and family were there.”

Times have changed, and now, same-sex couples can get married in all states.

The couple decided to have the wedding they never had in Texas later this month in Central Texas.

With a date set for June 27, Garner is looking forward to having her wedding with her active-duty spouse thanks to a local Killeen bridal shop that chose to give back to military brides as part of the nationwide Brides Across America project.

The local event was organized by Cinderella Couture Bridals on Stan Schlueter Loop in Killeen. Brides Across America a national nonprofit which puts on events twice a year as part of a national giveaway that many bridal salons participate in across the country. Through private donations and collaborations with bridal salons and designers, the nonprofit has been able to donate more than 22,000 gowns to thousands of military and first responder couples since its inception in 2008.

“Every girl wants to feel that she has found that dream dress. When she finds that dream dress, nothing else really compares,” said Betty Lockhart, manager at Cinderella Couture Bridals.

Also present was Jessica Washington, owner of Jessica Blends, a bridal makeup artist and photographer.

The local event had 14 brides signed up, with 30 dresses available, Lockhart said. Prospective brides have to register and qualify through Brides Across America.

Within the first hour of the event in Killeen Thursday, consultants had already matched two brides-to-be with a free dress of their choice.

Many of the dress recipients came from across Texas to include El Paso and Rio Grande City, with one traveling as far as Oklahoma.

Iliana Mojica Lara, a bridal consultant at Cinderella Couture Bridals, told one future bride, who called to say she was going to be late, not to worry as they were open until 6 p.m.

“We want to give them the full experience that they signed up for,” Mojica Lara said.

For the brides like Garner and others, the gesture and the early wedding gift are very much appreciated.

“You don’t realize how much this has a huge impact on all these women. It is just amazing,” Garner said.





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