Originally published in the DC Spotlight: http://www.dcspotlight.com/features/limelight/top-10-10-ephonia-green-a-fairy-godmother-for-military-brides/
Most brides-to-be fantasize about their wedding gowns. But for many military brides, the lustrous dresses that should put the finishing touch on their fairytale weddings will never leave the racks of their local bridal shops. Ephonia Green of Prince George’s County hopes to change that.
Green is the owner of Couture Miss Bridal & Formal, a full-service bridal boutique located in downtown Upper Marlboro. For five years, Green and her team have been giving away wedding dresses to active-duty military personnel and their fiancées.
“They give to us, and, you know, when you’re getting married … that’s that dream,” Green said. We “just [want] to help with some of the expense and the cost.”
The giveaway is part of a program called Brides Across America, a national charitable organization that unites military brides and bridal shops across the country in an effort to help troops and their families achieve their wedding dreams. Through Brides Across America, Green has given away 275 wedding gowns to military brides.
Crystal Wesby, whose now-husband served in the military, received her wedding gown through Brides Across America and Couture Miss Bridal & Formal in 2011.
“I would recommend for anyone … either their fiancées or themselves who are in the military, to go in and do it,” said Wesby. “It’s so easy and it’s a great experience.”
In order to participate in the Brides Across America wedding gown giveaway, brides-to-be must be engaged, or have had a civil ceremony, and be expecting to wed within the next 18 months. They or their fiancés must have been deployed in the past five years, and they should not have had a prior formal wedding. If the bride-to-be meets those criteria, her next step is to register with Brides Across America online, which will then connect her with a participating bridal boutique.
Couture Miss Bridal & Formal offers a varied selection with well-known designer brands like Enzoani, Casa Blanca, Impressions, LaSposa and many more, along with various other private label merchandises.
“We actually have such a variety of gowns and sizes, we haven’t had a problem servicing anyone at all,” Green said.
In 2000, Green bought her own wedding gown from Couture Miss Bridal & Formal, which was then called Country Miss Bridal & Formal. After working as an employee for the boutique, Green became the owner of the shop in 2008.
The 30-year family-owned and -operated bridal shop assists future brides in finding their wedding gowns, helps to coordinate a look for the wedding party, and also offers on-site alterations and gown preservation.
Green plans to continue participating with Brides Across America and the bridal gown giveaways. In the future, she’d also like to provide military discounts on headpieces, shoes, and other accessories during the annual event, which kicks off every July.