After her own wedding, Gwendolyn Stulgis launched Shared Dreams for Dresses with the hopes of donating her gown to someone who couldn't afford one
Gwendolyn Stulgis is helping brides' dreams come true.
Something of a wedding dress matchmaker, Stulgis created a Facebook group called Shared Dream Dresses to help women connect with brides-to-be and gift their wedding dresses to them for free.
She tells PEOPLE the group was inspired by her own quest to donate her gown following her May 2022 nuptials. "My wedding came and went, so I had this stunning dress with no home," she says.
After her dress was dry cleaned, Stulgis posted it on Facebook to see if any of her friends needed a wedding dress or knew someone who did. "I decided I was going to give [my dress] to someone who couldn’t afford one," she recalls.
Her one-off Facebook post soon led to the start of Shared Dream Dresses, although she had no idea at the time how quickly the private group would take off. Nearly 19,000 people have joined so far, and 200 successful dress connections have been made.
"I created the group with the intention of just sharing my dress and five other brides’ dresses that had been gifted," Stulgis says of the additional dresses that were donated after she first went onto Facebook to give away her own gown. "I never in my wildest dreams thought the need was so great or that the group would turn into women helping and empowering others in such a beautiful way."
Describing the group as "special," she adds, "Many are here just to be kind and lift up each other."
As explained by Stulgis, the matchmaking process is fairly straightforward with people sharing photos, as well as size and fit details, of the dress they'd like to donate. Then, brides who are interested can reach out. From there, the donor selects the lucky recipient and arranges to have the dry cleaned dress shipped to them.
In most cases, the bride pays for the shipping fee, but some donors choose to cover the cost. Dresses for donation can also be sent directly to Stulgis, who takes care of posting them onto Facebook.
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Some brides have shared compelling stories with the Facebook group. One lost the original dress she chose for her wedding in a fire, and reached out to Shared Dream Dresses to help her find a replacement.
As the group has grown, Stulgis now has people offering bridesmaid, mother-of-the-bride and flower girl dresses as well as veils, shoes, jewelry and other wedding-related items.
She says it's been incredibly rewarding to see the impact of this community grow from the spark of an idea. "You see so much beauty in this group. A small gesture such as a dress means the world," she shares. "This isn’t just any dress — it's the dress you marry the person of your dreams in."
Stulgis adds, "We’re sharing one’s dream, one dress at a time."
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