Couture Miss Bridal & Formal, located on Main Street in Upper Marlboro, has joined the movement to honor America’s troops. The bridal shop is offering gowns to women who serve in the military or are engaged to military personnel.

“We are doing the Brides Across America initiative,” said Ephonia Green, the shop’s owner. “We’re providing gowns to the military at no cost whatsoever as a way to say ‘thank you’ and to help support them while they’re supporting us.

“We take for granted every day that these people are fighting for us,” she continued.

It’s a national program, but one that is near and dear to Green’s heart. As a former military wife she empathizes with the women who have to endure the hardship of active duty.

“I had a lot of friends who would say ‘I have orders today so I have to run and really quickly’ or those who had plans and their plans get changed,” Green said. “It just touched me to be able to help someone.”

It’s the second year in a row for the initiative. In order to qualify, a bride must be engaged and planning a wedding in the next 18 months with either the bride or the fiancé on active duty scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq or other places in the Middle East.

The program is even open to women who’ve already gotten married in civil ceremonies. One such woman is Cinthia Salazar, who received her dress on July 12.

Salazar and her husband met two months before he deployed to Iraq. When he returned home the two had a civil ceremony. However, the two families wanted to be a part of the couple’s celebration and demanded that they have a real ceremony.

“We didn’t want to hide it anymore and we decided to change our relationship status to married on Facebook, but our families got really upset at us because of the way we did it,” Salazar said. “While he was in Iraq he decided to give me the princess wedding that I always wanted. He is making my dreams come true in a few weeks so we can celebrate it with our loved ones.”

Green says Salazar and the other women that received the dresses are some of the strongest women she’s met, but even they get emotional when they find the right the dress.

“To see their face light up when they find the right gown is amazing,” Green said.

Green says the shop will give away 70-75 gowns this year and plans on doing it again next year.

“I’m going to continue to allow it to grow,” she said. “Hopefully we’re able to add to the areas where they have served as required by their orders like Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq to see if maybe we can add some other locations to those qualifications.”


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO