Virginia Beach bridal shop gives free dresses to military women, first responders

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – For brides-to-be, there’s a lot of stress that goes into planning the big day.

Many people in Hampton Roads are also planning around military deployments, whether it’s their own or their future spouse’s.

One local bridal shop wants to ease that stress a little bit, by giving some future brides free dresses.

Inside Ava Clara Couture Bridal, the excitement was tangible.  Military women, future spouses and first responders getting the chance to take home the dress of their dreams for free.

“It’s incredibly rewarding,” said Alexandra Fleear, who owns Ava Clara.  She says this is the sixth year her shop has partnered with “Brides Across America.”  Future brides pay a $25 registration fee to the national organization, then get to take their pick.

Fleear said, “That’s one little part towards their big day, especially serving our country.”

Catina Lewis is one of those brides, at the shop to pick up a dress she found a few weeks ago, but Fleear told her to wait until this day.  Having a husband in the navy Lewis says a gesture like this means a lot.

“I fell in love with this dress, I cried in this dress,” Catina Lewis said.  “I think it’s amazing because not many people know that we actually sacrifice a lot.”

Some dresses were donated by Ava Clara, others from designers themselves.  For the first time, first responders were included in the project.

Fleear says hearing the stories of all of the women makes it worth it.

“Nothing better than to say thank you to our community in Hampton Roads by being involved with Brides Across America,” Fleear said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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