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2/14/2013 10:06:00 AM
Wedding dress sales help fight human trafficking
Catholic Sentinel photos by Clarice Keating
Adorned in Grace volunteer Amanda Kraft helps Sarah Ross try on wedding dresses.
Catholic Sentinel photos by Clarice Keating
Adorned in Grace volunteer Amanda Kraft helps Sarah Ross try on wedding dresses.
Kraft helps Ross pin on a veil.
Kraft helps Ross pin on a veil.
Wedding dress shopping tips
Amanda Kraft, professional wedding planner and owner of Amas Veritas Events, provides a few tips to make wedding dress shopping easier and more fun.

• Pre shop online or flip through a few wedding magazines so you have ideas of dress styles you like. But stay open to new ideas because you may discover a different style of dress fits you perfectly.

• Know your body type. A-line dresses fit almost anyone; lace-up corset-style gowns are very forgiving, Kraft advises.

• Keep your shopping entourage small. Adorned in Grace has seating for a few friends and family, but like most shops, there isn’t space for more than a handful of helpers.

• Wear appropriate undergarment, and wear shoes that are the same height as the ones you plan to wear during the wedding.

• Don’t try on anything that costs more than your budgeted amount. You may fall in love with a dress you can’t afford to buy.

• When you’re trying on dresses, verbalize what you like and dislike about each dress, so store employees can single out dresses that suit your taste.

• Choose dresses that are appropriate for your wedding venue. “It’s common sense. Don’t buy a see-through Pnina Tornai wedding gown if you’re getting married at the Cathedral,” Kraft said. Church weddings have an advantage over secular venues, Kraft said, because air conditioning and flooring mean the bride can choose any fabric without worrying about collecting leaves or twigs in a tulle ball gown or being too hot in layers of satin.

Clarice Keating
Of the Catholic Sentinel

Compassion is always fashionable.

At Adorned in Grace, women can buy bridal and formal wear knowing that proceeds from sales help prevent human trafficking. All the traditional choices can be found on the racks — satin or silk; strapless or off-the-shoulder; A-line or sheath. But the women who buy dresses here walk down the aisle in solidarity with victims of modern-day slavery.

 “Talking about sex trafficking isn’t always comfortable for everyone, but there are always ways to get educated,” said volunteer Amanda Kraft. “When people are shopping for wedding dresses, they may also click on our website’s links and see what human trafficking is about.”

Proceeds from sales of donated new and used dresses at the boutique in Southwest Portland are channeled toward human trafficking advocacy, awareness and prevention. The nearby Fred Meyer donates a space and volunteers staff the shop, so almost all of the nonprofit’s revenue goes toward its mission. Last year the organization raised nearly $60,000.

In connection with the boutique, Adorned in Grace runs a design studio in East Portland where at-risk youth learn how to up-cycle donated dresses into fashionable and fun clothing. Teens from the foster care system are disproportionally represented in the numbers of girls who are trafficked, so the nonprofit invites girls in the foster care system to be mentored at the studio. Money is also channeled to an organization that provide safe shelter, mentoring and support for women for girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking.

Kraft, a St. Cecilia Church (Beaverton) parishioner and professional wedding planner, discovered Adorned in Grace when she stopped in with a wedding show inquiry. As a collegiate member of Alpha Chi Omega, she and her sisters in the Greek system have a national philanthropy of domestic violence. Her past year of volunteerism with Adorned in Grace is an extension of the social justice work she began as a student.

“Oregon is a hot spot, with its agricultural zones and robust adult entertainment industry that feeds the need to exploit women,” she said. Kraft owns Amas Veritas (True Love), an events planning company. With her extensive knowledge of the wedding industry, she fills a consulting role at the boutique. She advises volunteers on store setup, appropriate pricing, what’s in fashion, how gowns are supposed to look and fit.

Founder Linda Tribbet launched Adorned in Grace after witnessing the radical transformation of a survivor. She and her husband invited a girl back in 2005 to stay in their home while she recovered and turned her life around. Five years later, the woman had a new life and was engaged to be married.

Tribbet’s church community wanted to help. The bride would need a dress, of course, but also decorations and everything else included in a fantasy wedding.   

“I found a place where I could buy wedding dresses cheap, and volunteers at my church were cutting up the tulle, silk and satin to make decorations for the wedding,” she said. Some of the dresses, however, were too beautiful to be disassembled, so Tribbet sold them and turned a profit. That extra cash helped pay for the wedding.

Friends, family and other supporters had heard about Tribbet’s dress collection push, and kept sending gowns, even after the wedding was over. Tribbet’s closet, and then and all of her friends’ closets, were filled with hundreds of donated dresses.

It was clear there was enthusiasm for the cause and an abundance of used wedding dresses.

So Tribbet opened Adorned in Grace’s first location in Fairview. In 2011, the shop moved to its current location, at 4949 SW 76th Ave.

“I think this was the Lord’s idea and we are always just running to catch up,” she said.

Kate Wilkins, store director, said Adorned in Grace’s focus is on sustainability, social justice and style.

“Brides are very affirming of the work we do,” Wilkins said. Sometimes, she said, brides who busy dresses from their shop re-donate them after their weddings.

Stock includes designer dresses, as well as vintage gowns. Brides are advised that items in the store are one-of-a-kind, so coming with a particular gown in mind may make for a challenging search. New donations are always arriving, however, so the stock changes almost daily. No appointments are necessary, but brides should arrive at least an hour before closing time if they hope to try on dresses. The shop’s hours are Monday through Friday, from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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