TAMPA, Florida - The sound of satin isn't the norm here, but in a backroom at MacDill Air Force Base, hundreds of wedding dresses are being sorted and straightened.
"Did you see these, Wanda? These are so pretty," remarked one woman going through the racks.
The gowns will be the stars of a bridal show on Sunday and, on Friday, some volunteer models tried to find their favorites. "I look like a princess; I feel like one," says Erkica Warren with a laugh.
The group Operation Homefront is sponsoring Sunday's event called Operation Bridal Gown 2011. It takes place Sunday, August 7th at the Mainsail Hotel, 5108 Eisenhower Boulevard in Tampa. It runs from 10 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and is open to military members and their families.
And here's the best part of the event - after the fashion show, about 200 lucky brides-to-be will be able to pick out their favorite dress and take it home for free. Cindy Gierke, who works at the base, says helping organize the event has been gratifying. "With the cost of weddings...so one less cost to worry about, it's just fabulous and it's been so much fun."
All the wedding dresses were donated by designer Alfred Angelo. Model Yolanda Sanders says on Sunday it's going to be fun playing dress-up. "Anytime you can dress up and look great, it's always an exciting time," she says, looking down at her ivory gown.
When you're a military family, there is already often a lot of worry and Operation Bridal Gown aims to remove the stress of the dress.
To receive a free dress, you or your sweetie must be an active or reserve service member and your wedding must be within the next 12 months. You can register for a free gown online or attend the event. If you attend the bridal show, please bring your military identification.