Above, AFA Journal writer Hannah Harrison Meador (pictured right in inset with her husband Dalton) will be donating her wedding dress to provide more angel gowns.
December 2021 – Shopping for a wedding dress can be one of the most exciting experiences in a bride’s transition from Ms. to Mrs. But what happens to that elegant gown after the wedding? One ministry, Real Imprints (RI), allows brides to have their dresses transformed into something meaningful. Through RI’s national and international Angel Gowns Project (AGP), donated wedding dresses are sewn into angel gowns for babies who never come home from the hospital.
Two programs, one project
Lindsey Thomason, founder and director of RI, learned about angel gowns when a ministry partner could not continue the endeavor, and Thomason’s team inherited the project. After a viral Facebook post, former brides from around the world began donating their wedding dresses for the cause.
The process of donating a dress consists of going online, selecting the preferred national or international program, filling out a form, and mailing the dress to the AGP team with a monetary processing donation. The dress is then reconstructed into multiple angel gowns that are donated to NICUs. A bride may also have angel gowns mailed back to the her so she can donate the dresses for local needs.
Thomason said that altogether, more than 16,000 angel gowns have been made from about 1,000 donated dresses. Other U.S. organizations participate in their own version of AGP, but the unique aspect of RI is its international program.
Realizing purpose, trusting God
In 2018, Thomason was on a medical mission team in Africa and was faced with a stunning global reality. She found herself beside a father whose daughter was stillborn. His wife remained ill in the hospital when he was handed his daughter’s body in a cardboard box.
Then Thomason remembered she had packed an angel gown from the States. She quickly retrieved it, and the dress was a perfect fit for the tiny baby. Thomason witnessed the blessing of the burial dress and how faithful God is to the brokenhearted.
“God brought a dress all the way from Idaho to Ghana for that family,” said Thomason. “Even though the memory is difficult and makes me cry every single time, it is a great reminder of why we do what we do and that God is the One in charge.”
Empowering women, ministering to moms
Shortly after the trip, Thomason and her family moved to Guatemala, and she quickly saw the dire financial status of many women. She and her team decided to craft more angel gowns by employing and training Guatemalan seamstresses.
“Some of our seamstresses shared stories of burying their angel babies with a rag over them,” Thomason continued, “because they didn’t have anything else.”
Most gowns are delivered directly to NICUs, so RI does not have direct contact with the parents. However, RI’s AGP director Marci Preece knows that the Lord is making Himself known and reaching the hurting.
“Thousands of angel gowns have been made in the history of the Angel Gowns Project,” Preece said, “and we hope that any mother who needs one can receive one for her angel baby, no matter her location or circumstances.
“The Lord is aware of each of us. He is aware of every tear, every heartache, and every hurt. Through the hands of many, He dries those tears and helps mend heartaches with little bits of beautiful fabric and willing hearts.”
Learn more about donating gowns to the Angel Gowns Project, visit theangelgownsproject.org.