Sharing love by donating wedding gowns

Ngayawon Shimray and Khevito Elvis Lee.
Ngayawon Shimray and Khevito Elvis Lee.

‘Happily Ever After Campaign’ using donated wedding gowns to help children’s homes

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | April 5

There is a lot of sentimental value attached to wedding gowns. However, while people spend a lot of money ranging from at least Rs 20,000 to one lakh or more, they are rarely re-worn. When Ngayawon Shimray decided to get married last year, she realised that the overall preparation of a wedding can take a toll on a person.

“I bought my wedding gown from Dimapur and the cost was of course high, and that made me think—Why waste a beautiful gown which I wore only once and keep it hidden in a cupboard afterwards, I’d rather donate and share with someone who needs it. The gown will do much better out there making someone look her best and beautiful than inside a dark cupboard,” she said while speaking to the The Morung Express.

“I have to wear it only once. I can’t wear it every day, and for a gown to be worn only once, we are spending so much. Especially for the Naga tribes and the Christians in North East, wedding gowns have become the symbol of Christian weddings,” she added.

It was through this personal experience that she formulated the idea of renting out wedding gowns through donations from brides who are willing to part with their dresses. She has been promoting the concept of reusing clothes for a very long time now. Shimray also works with Burmese refugees in Delhi. 

“We don’t reuse our own clothes and people who can afford, keep buying them. So, I thought why not start donating old clothes to those who need it. It is also environment friendly,” she said.

Prior to her own wedding, she talked with wedding planners and friends, who also shared the same sentiment of reusing wedding gowns. Shimray is starting off the initiative with her own wedding gown under the banner ‘Happily Ever After Campaign,’ as an undertaking of the BASIC Team. 

BASIC which stands for ‘Be Aware, Support, Inform & Care’ is an ongoing quest which began in August 2011 to bring about positive social change through various social innovations and collaboration with diverse social contributors. She along with her husband Khevito Elvis Lee and other friends from different walks of life are part of the team.

Shimray works with an NGO in Delhi while her husband- Khevito Elvis Lee runs a restaurant.

Talking about the Campaign, she said that they have received very good positive responses from those who have contacted them so far. About 5 gowns have been donated by people from places like Nagaland and Delhi. The donated wedding gowns will be given to Tabitha Home in Imphal- a children’s home for HIV Positive persons, for the upkeep and also to manage the renting of the gowns at minimal rates.

Whatever money is generated from it, she informed, will be used for the children in the home, whose need for education is also very high. 

More than ever, she felt weddings are becoming challenging. 

“Somehow, I want to inculcate this culture—if people spend more than I spent for a wedding gown, and if somebody else can reuse, it is for a greater purpose and you’d also feel less guilty. I want to encourage people to think and approach from that perspective and also for the whole cause of supporting children as well,” she put across.

There are currently about 50 children at Tabitha Home. She hopes that through this initiative, the children’s home will be able to continue their renting business in an eco-friendly manner and sustainably raise funds for the children. BASIC will be sending the wedding gowns to Tabitha Home by mid-April to kickstart the campaign.