Sometimes its really nice to be able to give back, and this is the reason Abi Neill was inspired to get all frocked up for the Help For Heroes charity.
So it was decided that it was time that something fabulous was done to raise money for the cause.
Essex based bridal shop ‘Abigail’s Collection & The Groom’s Room’ have just raised £4000 at their ‘Wear Your Wedding Dress Again Charity Party’ on Sunday which took place at Prested Hall in Feering, Colchester.
The event was in aid of Help for Heroes, and funds will be directed to Chavasse VC House (one of the four Help For Heroes Recovery Centres based in Colchester).
I hand over to Abigail to tell you about the Event…
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’ve just hosted?
“Well I’m Abigail Neill and I own a wedding dress and menswear business called Abigail’s Collection & The Groom’s Room.”
“We’re based in Colchester and have just celebrated 10 fabulous years in the bridal industry!”
“We love this business and have proudly enjoyed loads of success over the years, last week we were crowned by The Wedding Industry Awards ‘East of England’s Best Bridal Retailer’ of the Year and ‘Menswear Retailer of the Year’, they are our 21st and 22nd awards so we’re on cloud nine at the moment!”
“I’m also a Columnist for trade mag Bridal Buyer which is another professional passion.”
“On Sunday we hosted our second ‘Wear Your Wedding Dress Again Charity Party’, all in aid of Help For Heroes.”
“It was absolutely AWESOME, we had such a fabulous evening, we entertained over 100 brides who all wore their wedding dresses again and together with Prested Hall and our event sponsors we managed to raise a lot of money.”
“We are so pleased and really proud of the achievement, it was a superb evening raising money for a great cause and everyone had a thoroughly brilliant night.”
Tell us a bit about the charity and where the money will go?
“The event was in aid of Help for Heroes and funds will be directed to Chavasse VC House, a Help For Heroes Recovery Centre.”
“The Recovery Centres are there to inspire, enable and support wounded, injured or sick military service men and women and their families.”
“The centres provide a launch pad-to-life where the wounded and their families can access psychological, financial and employment support.”
“These people have risked their lives and have suffered life changing injuries whilst bravely serving our country and this is my way of trying to make a difference and I suppose saying thank you.”
“In 2013 our money was used towards the installation costs of the Hope on the Horizon Garden at the recovery centre, it’s a place where beneficiaries can reflect, it’s a very calm, tranquil and beautiful garden space.”
“I recently visited it, it was quite emotional for me, there are a few powerful inscriptions in the area and the garden itself is designed to visually reflect the journey that the beneficiaries are on, I found it all very moving.”
“The money this time will go towards the build of a new wellness centre in the grounds.”
“Holistic therapy is a really important part of the recovery and rehabilitation journey and the wellness centre will provide a dedicated area for beneficiaries and therapists to work together, I can’t wait to see it develop, it’s a much needed space at the centre.”
So take us back to your original idea and tell us why you did this?
“Basically our brides have always said they would just LOVE the chance to wear their dresses again, and in 2013 having decided that we wanted to do some charity work for Help For Heroes we realised that we should combine the two and basically we decided that a wedding dress themed charity party was what was needed.”
“I got together with a few of our awesome recommended wedding suppliers and together we decided we’d throw a party where the dress code was strictly tuxedos and wedding dresses, visually we knew it would be awesome but it really was utterly magnificent both years!”
Tell us about the evening
“This year we had a fire act and stilt walkers all in wedding dresses!”
!They were on the red carpet to welcome guests which is where EPS Photography shot papp’ style red carpet pics, it was buzzing and he’s a fabulous photographer, we are in LOVE with this year’s event photos!”
“Our gorgeous Butlers in the Buff looked incredible (the girls were very impressed) as they served welcome bubbles.”
“We were blessed to have two awesome bands this year.”
“The Bombshells were amazing, they are a 1940’s harmony trio and, literally, they sounded stunning, some of our guests couldn’t believe that they were singing live!”
“We also had The Hotshots playing, they’re a gorgeous and uber talented bunch too – they got everyone on their feet dancing and partying the night away!”
“Dreamwave Events DJ’d and helped us MC the evening, they also lit Prested Hall in beautiful Help For Heroes colours, and along with Jade’s Flower Designs beautiful floral arrangements and Aurora Pearl’s LED dancefloor the place looked sh-mazing!”
“We enjoyed a fabulous luxury raffle and Prested Hall proved to be the perfect venue once again, they were amazing joint hosts.”
“Lots of our brides get married there so we felt right at home and nothing is ever too much trouble for the Prested Hall team!”
“The whole evening was stunning and we are now so excited about the film that is being made by the mega talented Toby of TSJ Films, his films are absolutely fantastic, infact his wedding films make me cry, they’re beautiful!”
“I just cannot wait to see what he produces and have been promised film release first week of December.”
What were your highlights of the event?
“Being told that we had smashed our 2013 fundraising charity effort by raising £4000 was amazing!”
“That was what it was all about, a great time, but at the heart of it we wanted to raise as much money as possible so we feel very proud!”
“The butlers in the buff sold so many raffle tickets on the night, so putting them in charge of selling raffle tickets was a wise and fairly strategic move on my part for sure, lol!”
“Another highlight was at the end of the evening when several brides came to say thank you and hug me, two of them said it was better than their own wedding day, I was really touched and just so thrilled that everyone had such a brilliant time.”
It sounds as though the event was another huge success, will you do another?
“I say no just as I’m recovering from the event, it’s quite hard work but actually I think yes!”
“2017 would probably be the next one, we find that every other year works best.”
“It gives us a chance to plan for bigger and better, plus it gives me a chance to recover and focus back on my team at the shop and our wonderful customers who haven’t said ‘I do’ quite yet.”
Abigail wishes to extend a warm thank you to the event’s Financial Sponsors: Dreamwave Events, Mon Cheri, Modeca, Lillian West, White Rose Bridal, Private Label, Veromia, Mark Lesley, Peter Posh, Torre, Michael George and Lambtons.
Also a BIG thank you to Event Partners: Prested Hall, TSJ Films, Dreamwave Events, Four Ace Entertainment, Halo Entertainment, The Hot Shots, Aurora Pearl, Colchester Press, Premier Crew, Heart & Soul Cakes, Butlers in The Buff – Mitch and Andrew, The Bombshells, Jades Flower designs, and EPS photography
And thanks also to the fab luxury Raffle Sponsors: Prested Hall, Barkers Shoes, Blue Strawberry Vouchers, Cooper / BMW Chelmsford, Perrywood, Abigail’s Collection & The Groom’s Room, Smile and Wellbeing Dental Studio, Poplar Nurseries