For the fifth year in a row, a Blaine bridal salon has vowed to make wedding-dress dreams come true for military brides-to-be. The shop is giving 100 couples gowns and tuxedo rentals to say thank you.
Heather Perry, 26, gave an animated positive response as she tried on a gown at Angelique’s during a fitting with her parents. Perry is among the 100 brides who will receive a free dress. Her fiancé, Nathan Welch, is in the Army. The couple plans to say “I do” later this year after he returns from Afghanistan.
Jacquelyn Basney isn't giving away the bride, just the bridal gowns. One hundred of them.
For the fifth year in a row, Basney will salute 100 couples with military connections. Her store in Blaine, Angelique's Bridal Gowns, will give away bridal gowns Sunday, along with free rental tuxedos and flowers, to 100 couples willing to share their love stories. The deadline for entries is Friday.
"You don't realize the sacrifices these people make until you hear their stories," Basney said. "I grew up in a very patriotic household and, frankly, on an emotional level, I need to do this."
The wedding dresses are models that have been discontinued, but the brides aren't complaining.
For Sharon Brockberg, 41, of Minneapolis, an older model still means a new start. She and her husband, Rick Brockberg, 44, were married in January 2009. He was later deployed to Kuwait. During that time, Sharon received a breast cancer diagnosis.
Sharon said she faces three more surgeries and seven additional chemotherapy treatments. Her final surgery is scheduled Sept. 26. Rick came home to stay in February, she said. The couple hopes to renew their wedding vows in January in Las Vegas.
"I would like to start a new beginning with a beautiful dress," she said in her essay. "It would mean more than anything to look pretty on this special day."
And the dress will be beautiful, Basney promises. The models may have been discontinued, but the dresses are "like brand new," she said.
Heather Perry, 26, recently moved to Blaine and couldn't wait to submit her essay. She and Nathan Welch, 29, met through an Internet dating site and she knew instantly "he was the one."
She was living in Colorado at the time. After a few Skype dates, he flew her to his Texas Army base -- Fort Bliss. He was deployed to Afghanistan, but returned to Texas for a two-week break, she wrote.
According to her essay, Welch took Perry to a shooting range one afternoon to teach her how to shoot. When she reached to pick up a target that had dropped to the floor, she noticed an engagement ring tied to the laces of his combat boots. He got down on one knee and proposed.
"Of course, I said YES!!!" Perry wrote. "It was the most romantic and sweetest thing ever!"
Welch has since returned to Afghanistan and is expected to return by late fall, Perry told the Star Tribune. She's hopeful of a December wedding.
The gown giveaway will be held Sunday, noon to 4, and it will be first come, first choice, to the first 100 participants.
In addition to having written an essay, contestants must bring two forms of proof of military affiliation. Go to angeliquesbridalsalon.com for contest rules.
"We want to help give these people their dream wedding," Basney said. "With what some of these people have given us, it's the least we can do."
Paul Levy • 612-673-4419