Dressing up military weddings

Published 8:13 pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It’s not likely to top their wedding days, but Monday will surely turn out to have been one of the most memorable days in the lives of 27 prospective brides, and when they look back on their adventure, they’re likely to remember that Maya Holihan made it happen for them.

Holihan, who owns Maya Couture on Main, the bridal shop that opened a downtown Suffolk location in January, brought an excellent tradition to town when she hosted a gown giveaway as part of the Brides Across America event. The event helps women who are in the military or are marrying members of the military make their wedding day extra special by providing them gowns free of charge.

She started the local version of the event about seven years ago at her Norfolk store and brought it to Suffolk this year, the first year the Main Street boutique has been open.

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“Being in the largest military market, probably, in the country, I thought, ‘What a great way to say thank you to our service members,’” she said this week. “Their planning can change in an instant. This is a way to ease some of the other stress they go through.”

For their part, the ladies receiving the gowns on Monday were a bit overwhelmed. “Are you serious?” asked Karen Morrell-Fermin, a U.S. Navy sailor stationed at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. “This is happening right now?” She expressed delight at being able to take finding a dress off her list of things to do. Others expressed similar joy at being able to have fancy wedding gowns, even with little or no money in their budgets.

Other businesses in the downtown area also got into the spirit of the event, offering the brides-to-be first-class treatment during their visit to downtown Suffolk. By the time they left, the ladies were sure to have understood how much the city — and especially Maya Couture and the other participating businesses — appreciate their various sacrifices for the safety of their nation.

And they’re all likely to be very glad they can look forward to wedding photos that feature them in actual wedding gowns, rather than digital camouflage.