Veterans, first responders receive wedding dresses of their dreams for free

One veteran said the event "meant so much" to her as a bride-to-be.

Veterans, first responders receive wedding dresses of their dreams for free
Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs
February 21, 2024, 5:26 PM

When Alfred Angelo, a New Jersey bridal boutique, went out of business in 2017, hundreds of wedding dresses were donated to Camden County.

The new bridal dresses were donated under the condition that they eventually go to military families and first responders.

"It had started in 2019 when we had the first bridal dress giveaway and we had 500 dresses that were donated to the county," Camden County Commissioner Melinda Kane told "Good Morning America."

PHOTO: Alfred Angelo, a bridal boutique in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, had gone out of business and donated the wedding dresses to Camden County under the condition that they eventually go to military families and first responders.
Alfred Angelo, a bridal boutique in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, had gone out of business and donated the wedding dresses to Camden County under the condition that they eventually go to military families and first responders.
Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs

The coronavirus pandemic paused the so-called "Salute the Dress" event, but it returned this month and was held at Camden County Boathouse in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

Among the brides-to-be who attended on Feb. 13 to search for the dress of their dreams was Amala Sanders, a retired Army motor sergeant, who heard about the event through a friend.

"I was nervous and excited. I didn't know what to expect and I thought it was just gonna be one of those 'hurry up and grab-and-run' things, and so when I got there, it was a really amazing experience," the 50-year-old said. "I had a wonderful person that helped me throughout the whole process and she did a really amazing job."

PHOTO: Amala Sanders, a retired Army motor sergeant, found her wedding dress through a New Jersey county’s wedding dress giveaway event for veterans and first responders. Sanders is pictured with Camden County Commissioner Melinda Kane.
Amala Sanders, a retired Army motor sergeant, found her wedding dress through a New Jersey county’s wedding dress giveaway event for veterans and first responders. Sanders is pictured with Camden County Commissioner Melinda Kane.
Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs

Sanders tried on several dresses before eventually finding the one.

"It's a beautiful dress. It [has a] mermaid style flare out at the bottom. It fit well at the top," Sanders said. "It's really nice. It has a little bling in there, a little dazzle, a little sparkle, a little shine."

PHOTO: Every veteran and first responder left with a wedding dress after the Feb. 13 dress giveaway event.
Every veteran and first responder left with a wedding dress after the Feb. 13 dress giveaway event.
Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs

For Sanders, the wedding dress giveaway for first responders, active duty service members and veterans like her "means so much."

PHOTO: Camden County’s most recent wedding dress giveaway event was held on Feb. 13 at Camden County Boathouse in Pennsauken, New Jersey.
Camden County’s most recent wedding dress giveaway event was held on Feb. 13 at Camden County Boathouse in Pennsauken, New Jersey.
Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs

"It's amazing and they made me feel absolutely gorgeous. So thumbs up all the way and I salute them," she said.

Kane noted the county's event was "the least we could do to show our gratitude for those that give back to our country and our community."

"Many women serve in the military. It's not just a man that puts on the uniform and goes to defend our country," she said.

She added, "We wanted to just say thank you, and we wanted to help them for their special day."