Woman Who Nearly Died of COVID Surprises Nurses With Free Wedding Dresses

A wedding dress is the garment many women dream about from a young age. What little girls don't know, however, is just how expensive the gowns can be.

So, dozens of nurses from Tampa Bay in Florida were delighted to be given free wedding dresses, thanks to a local businesswoman who organized a giveaway after her recovery from COVID.

Shannon Keil, CEO of a wedding venue called the Regent, wanted to say thanks to local health care workers for their tireless efforts during the pandemic.

The brides-to-be were nominated for the program by friends and loved ones, and the dresses, valued at between $800 and $2,500, were donated by a local bridal boutique called Satin & Lace.

Keil came up with the idea after she became seriously ill with coronavirus. She was hospitalized and doctors did not expect her to survive.

Keil told Newsweek: "This at first was just a great idea, but a couple of months into the process, I got COVID and landed in the hospital with Acute Respiratory Failure.

"I saw the healthcare workers from the other side and have a greater appreciation for the work they do. They saved my life, so giving them a wedding dress is the least I can do. A wedding dress is an expensive part of a wedding and taking that burden off the bride allows them to add things that maybe were not going to be a possibility."

Now recovered, Keil hosted an event last week where 50-60 dresses were handed out.

According to local news outlet WTSP, Keil said during the presentation: "COVID has taken from us but it's also given to us. It's given us relationships.

"I wasn't sure exactly how this was going to go, but once we got started the momentum kept building and building … That was exciting to watch and watch all the joy in the room."

Nurse Stacy Hudson, who received one of the gowns, explained what the gift meant to her, saying: "I was dreaming about it at night. I brought my grandmother with me.

"We looked at the rack, she picked one out, I tried that one on first and that was the one. She loved it. I loved it. It was a great experience."

Revealing why she had donated the dresses, Alison Farman, the owner of Satin & Lace, told Fox13: "So we're left with dresses at the end of the season and, you know, you can keep them, you can hang onto them forever.

"But why not bless somebody that's worked really hard for the community with the dress?"

Keil added: "These are next-level wedding dresses. Some of them are worth about two and three thousand dollars. So, they're not just like your basic, run-of-the-mill dress. These are beautiful, beaded, handcrafted, amazing dresses."

Another dress recipient, Elizabeth Nickerson, told Fox: "We all chose to go into health care because we love it, but it is nice to have a little bit of recognition from our community. And who doesn't love a free wedding dress?"

Dresses of a bridal party
Stock image of a bride and bridesmaids. Nurses in Tampa Bay, Florida, were given free wedding gowns by two local bridal businesses. Getty Images

Update 10/05/2021, 3:51 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include comment from Keil.