Wellington hospice shop receives $80,000 worth of wedding dresses

NZ 27/07/2018

Choosing the perfect wedding dress is an expensive and stressful part of any wedding - but a Petone hospice has come to the rescue.

A one-off donation left Te Omanga Hospice with $80,000-worth of gowns - so it decided to kit out the region's brides-to-be, transforming into a bridal boutique for one night only.

"Oh it's fun, we actually even hope we get a Bridezilla tonight because we're going to work really hard to find that perfect gown for her!" says Te Omanga Hospice shop and retail support manager Margaret Williams.

As many as 160 wedding dresses, veils, and ballgowns were up for sale, all looking to be part of someone's special day.

"There are dresses here that are $4000-5000 each in value," says Ms Williams. "We want them to find a new home."

However they're on sale for a fraction of that - the most expensive just $500.

"I think all of these would've been worth one of what I'm getting, so it's pretty fantastic," says bride-to-be Katie McGruddy, who's bought everything she needed in one go, just a couple of weeks after getting engaged.

It's all come from the generosity of local couple Brady and Emma Dyer, who bought a bridal business and decided to donate the excess stock to somewhere worthwhile. Emma picked Te Omanga, who had cared for her grandmother.

"The hospice touched her life and her family, so it was her wish that she wanted to support the hospice by making this overwhelmingly generous donation," says Ms Williams.

However, Te Omanga found that the donation was going to take up space in their shop too.

"We decided that instead of putting all the dresses into the shop and trying to squash them in - because there are so many - that we needed to serve the donation with the respect it was due," explains Ms Williams.

So the hospice held the event to help members of the community, like Mark Betti, who queued for three hours after spotting the perfect dress for his fiancée Sherie Holmes.

"I always wanted brand-new but thought, 'No no, we'll cut back on the budget'. This is just amazing," says Ms Holmes.

Mr Betti helped to do some heavy lifting to set up the event and that all paid off, with hospice volunteers paying for the dress out of their own pocket.

"I guess good deeds come to those who do a good deed," he says.

Generous acts, all paid forward - and in case you're wondering, Bridezilla never arrived.