MINNEAPOLIS — One Minneapolis woman's decision to offer her wedding dress up to other brides is catching on.
Tina Nguyen knows she was lucky to have a dream wedding in September of last year. As she watched other couples navigate the shifting sands of getting married in a pandemic, she wanted to do something.
A daughter and granddaughter of powerful women, Tina is an immigrant from Vietnam and knows what it is to be helped by others - and to help others. She says she learned from her grandmother to always lift up other women.
"She always reminded me of where we came from, the struggle," Tina said. "She's like, you are privileged to live in a life that you currently have, and that privilege, you need to know and always, always recognize that."
So instead of selling her designer wedding gown or leaving it in her closet, she had it cleaned and pressed, and posted it online labeled "FREE."
Tina wants to lend the dress out to as many brides as she can find who want to use it for their wedding - and can't afford their own.
"I love, love my dress," she said. "It's just beautiful. It's silky. It's soft. It made me feel like a bride. I wanted that for all other brides out there, especially during this time, I want that for them."
When Tina's wedding photographer, Madalyn, heard about what she was doing, she decided to offer up her dress as well. The two women started a Facebook group encouraging others to do the same - and dozens of people have joined, with a couple of them already seeking to lend their dresses.
Tina likened her "Sisterhood of the Traveling Wedding Dress" idea to the story of the woman throwing beached starfish back into the sea. There are a lot of people struggling - but you can focus on helping one at a time.
The starfish was the theme of Tina's wedding last year. She had a chalk artist draw them on a brick wall.
But Tina doesn't see herself as the rescuer. She knows she's the starfish.
"That's just a reminder for the rest of my life, too," she said. "It's like, yeah, just one starfish at a time, one starfish."