Ma Cherie Bleue gives back with bridal gowns
On January 15th, 2018, Nathale Philips, founder and owner of Ma Cherie Bleue, launched a campaign giving brides the opportunity to share their personal love story in hopes of earning themselves a free wedding dress from designers such as Hayley Paige, Anais Anette, Anya Dionne, Astrid & Mercedes and Lea-Ann Belter. What prompted Philips and her husband Maxime Sauveur to do such a thing? Simple: “Ma Cherie Bleue was built on making bridal dreams come true and that includes brides in need.”
“Deciding to do this campaign was very easy. I have the best job in the world. I get to work with an eclectic mix of women everyday in one of the happiest times of their lives,” Philips says of the contest. “But what about the other women who are happily engaged to the love of their lives, but carry the financial burden of not being able to afford having a wedding or purchasing a wedding dress.” Within the two and a half month-timeframe of the contest, the boutique (located just outside Montreal in Rosemere) received over 100 applicants sharing their story. There to help Philips narrow the entries down to 16 lucky winners was a panel of judges: Sandra Parker, Monica Giliati -Stylist at Les Effrontés, Myriam Richard and Roseline Guevremont. By the end of the process, Philips and the other judges had selected 16 brides who would receive a gorgeous gown free of charge for their wedding day. “Thanks to the coordinated efforts of Petrona Joseph PR firm, we would not have been able to complete this without the aide of her PR firm.”
“Of the 16 winners, five brides had to give up their winning gown because they had purchased their dress before the end of the contest,” says Philips, “Two were from our boutique unbeknownst to us, and one (a double H bust size) was unable to find a dress (I am still sad about this).” Of the 10 brides remaining, eight were successful in picking their dream dress from the boutique. One gave birth last Monday to a baby boy and plans to visit Philips in a few weeks to choose her gown, the other sadly had emergency surgery the day of her appointment to select her gown. “I will keep the door open to her if she decides to contact us,” says Philips.
To gather all of the beautiful brides in one place, Philips hosted a “Bridal Giveaway Celebration” at Le Livart gallery last Monday with cocktails, sweets and, of course, complimentary magazines from Elegant Wedding. “Over the years, I have been deeply moved by the generosity of people who took the time to help me when I’d needed it most. Today my family and I have been so blessed and I am honoured to pay that kindness forward,” says Philips. “Giving back to those women gives me an undeniable satisfaction and joy. If possible, this is a project I would like to do once per year.”
Below are some of the brides who attended the event and allowed us to share their stories…you might want to keep some tissues handy! These women are inspiring!
I am not the type of person that complains or uses my situation to get sympathy but you are asking about my difficulties. Forget the fact that it took me many, many years to find my Prince Charming but I’m having many health issues that are slowing down the wedding planning process. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 and have been fighting ever since. I’ve had two surgeries, three radiation treatments but am happy to still be here and well today. However, recently I found out that I also have a rare case of fibroids that if untreated can lead to infertility. I started a very expensive treatment for it yesterday and a surgery will come in a few months. Buying a dress should be an amazing experience but now I’m just scared that I might not be able to afford a decent gown. I’m getting married in September and haven’t even started to look yet. Winning my dress would mean so much to me and be a huge relief financially as well. Thank you for considering me for this wonderful paying it forward experience!!!
Everyone has difficulties. I think what defines us is how we get through them, and not so much the amount we have had. I am 28 years old and have been dating my boyfriend for over nine years. I was born in Canada but moved to Florida when I was four years old. My father, mother (both immigrants from Uruguay), sister and I moved quite often for various reasons, usually money. But I never lacked love, support or food.
When we came to Canada in the summer of 1999 to visit family, my mother told us she was leaving my father and we wouldn’t return to Florida. My mother became a single mother of two and showed me what it meant to be a strong woman. I am still aspiring to be as strong as she is. My life continued in Canada after some adjustment to our new life in the cold. In 2002 my life seemed perfect. My grandparents lived with us, my mom was happy, until my grandfather passed away. It was a very difficult time for all of us. My mother, now a waitress working two jobs, was remarried and loved my stepdad (she even kept contact with my dad, occasionally visiting him).
Unfortunately, my stepdad passed away from cancer in 2006. My mother again was very strong for us. I started to work at a little bakery in order to buy my own cellphone and little things a teen really wants. I had to pay for my own CEGEP, university and everything in between. Winning this dress would be a great help for a part-time teacher struggling to find a contract but more than anything for my mom. My sister got married in August 2017 and my mom bought her dress and she wants to do the same for me but after all she has done for me, winning this would be helping her. We are about to tell this wonderful story for the very first time, hope you enjoy the ride, so let’s start this from where and when it all began.
I have three young children and in 2015 their father tried to take my life. We had a rough few years with lots of psychologist appointments and a very difficult custody battle in court. I never thought that I would ever find happiness again (or ever get married) until I met my fiancée. He has been my Prince Charming. We met in February 2017 and by June we began living together (along with his two daughters). Now in May 2018, we are expecting our first child together.
He has taught me that a single mom of three kids is not “damaged” as I had always thought I was. He showed me that real and unconditional love does exist. He is raising and providing for my children as if they are his own. I have never been married or even engaged and truthfully never thought it would happen. In November he had his mother (who lives in Dominican Republic) help him pick out a ring over FaceTime and send it back here to Canada. He proposed to me on my 37th birthday. When I came home and announced the good news to my kids, my eldest son told me that his wish had come true because all he wanted for me was to get married and make my Delon their “official” Dad.
We are a blended family with five kids (and one more on the way). Finances are tight and my kids always come before my wants. I never thought I would ever get the chance to marry the man of my dreams or even wear a wedding dress. I feel guilty spending money on a dress that I will only wear for one day. This dress would be the missing piece to my fairytale and something I could pass down to one of my three daughters.
As a Montreal wedding photographer, I have been witness to hundreds of couples over the last 10 years finding their match and pledging their love for one another in front of the most important people, while I have been unlucky in love. It’s been tough. I went through some professional turmoil a few years ago, and it led to the most amazing life I could have imagined, owning and running my own photography business, Studio Baron Photo. As it happens, the community of fantastic Montreal photographers had an outing planned on the same day that my professional world stopped spinning out of control and started on its amazing path. We all went bowling. As it turns out, that night led to me finding the man of my dreams because I learned about a new dating app, Bumble. That day, I was scrolling through profiles and one jumped out at me. He was a good looking Francophone. I decided to leap before I looked and messaged him. It didn’t take long for him to message me back, and with that I met Michel. It turnout out to be his first day on Bumble as well and I was the first person he was speaking with too. It turned out to be both our last day on Bumble! We had our first date just a few days later and then five dates in that first week, we just couldn’t get enough of each other. He says during that week he knew I was THE ONE.
Here we are now, two people who have finally found their other half a little later in life. We are still just as crazy about each other as we were that first week. No one knows me better than him, and vice versa. I knew he wanted to propose, but that he was struggling with it because I’m in the wedding world, and like he says, I have seen it all. So how do you propose to someone like that and make it amazing? Well…he involved my family and friends. I jokingly had been telling him he could even propose with a ring pop and I would say yes. (It should be said that I am Christmas crazy!) The man of my dreams tricked me into planning a trip to New York City and a visit to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Under it he got down on one knee and gave me a ring pop with happy tears in his eyes. I was so happy and crying too that I forgot to say yes! But then he had one more surprise for me, and tried to pry the ring pop off my finger (I wouldn’t let him have it. It was mine!) Somehow he managed to get it off and replaced it with the most stunning vintage-inspired ring that had my family’s diamond. He is the perfect man and we make each other better every day together.
I’ve come to the point in my life where I have to say the difficulties I’ve experienced have truly benefitted me. At 17, I had a son and found myself alone in an apartment with a child in my arms. Despite the little experience I had with children, my son ended up becoming the centre of my universe and thanks to him I became the person I am today. I worked 40 hours a week and went to school to finish my collegial studies. Once I graduated and got my diploma I took on a bigger role in my family’s business. A few years later I thought I finally had some stability but overnight I was told that the family business was going to be sold so I made the decision to go back to school. All the money I had put aside was used to pay the bills, rent and my son’s school. However, the time spent going back to school for a year and a half was just what I need to reorient myself. There wasn’t room to make any errors since I put everything I had into it. Thankfully near the end of my studies I met my fiancé who went to the same school. Ever since we’ve been living a beautiful life as a family. My son is now 10 years old and proud to be a big brother to a two-month-old sister named Mia.
My boyfriend and I met in Kuujjuaq, Northern Quebec in 2009, got engaged in Venice, Italy in 2011 and had a little girl in 2012. We both started masters degrees so it was decided that our wedding would be celebrated in a few years. We had the joy of welcoming a healthy little boy in summer 2015 after our studies. Life was perfect! In fall 2016 we had the big joy of pregnancy again… our last baby… making our family a total of four kids (including my boyfriend’s daughter born in 2005).
We were very happy and wanted to really enjoy the last pregnancy and baby, so we sold our home when I was seven months pregnant and found our perfect house the first day we started visiting. We thought the stars were aligned for us. I started my maternity leave on May 29, 2017, were doing boxes for moving on June 7th at 35 weeks of pregnancy, but life had something difficult waiting for us. My boyfriend received a cancer diagnosis June 1st—stage 4 tonsil cancer. He had to go through radiotherapy and chemotherapy. We struggled to finish packing, taking care of the kids, see many medical specialists and deal with this terrible news. I had to be induced because I wanted my boyfriend to be present for the birth of our child. It was a very difficult moment because I had the happiness of welcoming a little perfect baby boy, but was so fearful for the health and life of the father of my children.
I had post-partum hemorrhaging and ended up having a surgery and transfusion before being hospitalized for three days. My boyfriend was under treatment five times a day with more than an hour-long drive to the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). Luckily, my family helped very much and I could stay home and take care of the kids and my newborn. My future husband had all the complications he could. He couldn’t talk or eat because of the massive ulcers in his mouth and ended up getting a nasal tube to eat. He was hospitalized for 10 days. It was for sure the most difficult period of my life. I couldn’t enjoy the happiness of motherhood, moving, having a third baby because one of the most aggressive treatments for cancer was happening to the love of my life in the same months. Nevertheless, we got through this with resilience and strength. We learned in November that the tumour and metastasis were gone! I had a party with my friends and family to celebrate life and health and we decided that it was now time to get married. We would be so happy to win a free gown! Thank you for this contest!
Both the future bride, Jennifer, and groom, Jean-Marc, were stepping out of highly toxic relationships when they met. The kind of relationships that leave bad memories for a lifetime, put doubt in your mind day after day, leave scars on your soul and have you seeking professional help to heal. The type of relationships that force you to put one knee to the ground and ask, is this life really worth living?
But right there and then, probably at the worst point in both their lives, something magical happened. Not knowing how to get through this life, not knowing where to go, not knowing what to do, both turned toward a powerful prayer on the exact same date: August 8th, 2017. The bride, coming from the top of Mont St-Anne in Gaspésie, and the groom coming from the St-Anne Cathedral near Quebec City made a cry for help and demanded to be healed since they both didn’t believe in love anymore.
About three months later at a Halloween party, the bride (dressed as a witch) and the groom (dressed as Batman) were magically pushed towards each other. In just a couple of hours, it felt as though they had been together for years. Since that day, their love has grown into something stronger. However, this past summer, life decided to send them their biggest challenge yet. Before they met, Jennifer was raising two son’s by herself (one with a language disability and the other, continuously going to court to protect himself against his father), and Jean-Marc was raising two daughters. But a new challenge came in a wave of seven deaths from people close to Jean-Marc for 15 years. On top of that, a bad business partner robbed him completely and threw him out on the street after a 30-year friendship. Despite all of this, the two were still a positive couple.
Unfortunately, more tragedy hit last summer, when one of their kids assaulted the other. It was the type of tragedy that destroys couples and only heals with time. But the day this happened they understood that they were going to face their worst emotional storm ever. They needed to stay closer now more than ever, and let their love help them get through it. After hours of investigation, therapy, rage, sadness, destruction, court and crying, they’re proud to still be standing strong as a couple against all odds. One thing is for sure: they now know that since they got through this, they can get through absolutely anything in their next 50 years of marriage.