Wedding belles donate to the Brides' Project

Westboro’s Amanda McKay, with some recent donations to the Brides’ Project. Photo by Meagan Curran.

Amanda McKay’s Currell Avenue home is full of wedding gowns. It’s become a popular drop-off point for newly wed women who want to do something positive with the wedding dress hanging in the back of their closet.

McKay is a volunteer for the Brides’ Project, an organization that accepts donations of gently used wedding dresses and sells them in its Toronto bridal shop to soon-to-be brides at affordable prices. The organization gives 100 per cent of the profits from those sales to cancer charities.

McKay began collecting wedding dresses for the Brides’ Project just over a month ago and has already received and shipped about 30 dresses to the shop.

“One lady who dropped off her dress was with her friend who had a double mastectomy and she was on her way to take her dad who was starting his chemo,” recalls McKay. “She said ‘there’s no reason for me to keep this in a closet,’ so she gave it away,” she says.

“People are starting to spread the word, but it’s still so new,” says McKay.

Though McKay has only been collecting dresses in the Ottawa region for a short time, the Brides’ Project has been accepting donations for much longer. The organization is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

The Brides’ Project’s enduring popularity seems to stem from its unique two-fold purpose to both provide affordable wedding dresses and raise funds for cancer charities.

“The idea came to me when I was getting married… and had no idea what to do with everything after the big day. Nor did I want to spend a whole lot of money in the first place,” writes Helen Sweet, founder of the Brides’ Project, in a recent email exchange.

“I chose cancer charities because I had lost my best friend to cancer when we were both nine, and several other loved ones since.”

Sweet estimates that the shop receives between 500 and 1000 wedding dress donations each year, including larger corporate donations.

Buying a wedding dress from the Brides’ Project can be about more than just saving money. For some brides, it is also a way to include thoughts of loved ones lost to cancer in their wedding days.

“I had one bride who specifically said that by buying her dress here, it was like having her deceased father walking her down the aisle,” says Sweet.

Ottawa brides who’d like to donate their wedding dresses can contact Amanda McKay at For more information go to

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