Military Brides Get Their Dream Wedding Gowns Thanks to Heidi Janson

06/16/2013 at 12:00 PM EDT

  • ALLISON & JACOB CLAYTON: "That dress was stunning and made me feel the most beautiful I have ever felt," Allison says of her hand-sewn gown from Italy.
    Courtesy Rachel Austin Anderson Photography
  • ALISON & ALEX RAMOS: "I felt very blessed," she says. "It was like an impossible dream came true."
    Courtesy Motley Melange
  • KIM & BO BIDDLE: "I felt like a princess," Kim says of her glamorous gown – a welcome change from her uniform!
    Courtesy Wendy Jackson Photography
  • MEGAN & TOM CORRELL: The strapless gown was "absolute perfection," Megan says. It sells for $1,150, which she could not afford on her own.
    Courtesy Brides Across America
U.S. Air Force Captain Kim French sat in a dusty, sweltering pick-up truck in Afghanistan in her sweat-soaked uniform last year and fantasized about her wedding dress.

She and her fiancé, Marine pilot captain reservist Bo Biddle, 31, were on a tight budget so she figured she would have to find a gown second-hand.

"It was a very hard year of deployment," she says. "And, [there was] the depression and stress that follows."

Fast forward eight months and a radiant, beaming French is wearing a stunning, brand-new A-line halter gown at her dream beach wedding thanks to modern-day fairy godmother Heidi Janson, a bridal salon owner in Georgetown, Mass., and her Brides Across America organization.

In just five years the nonprofit has given away more than 10,000 gowns, bringing wedding bliss to active-duty servicemen and women across the country.

"To be able to help someone fulfill a dream is a great thing," says Janson, 48. "It's like a Cinderella moment, where just for a little while, you can help them smile and forget their struggle."

The brides say they are eternally grateful.

"I felt more beautiful than I have ever felt," says French, 30, of her May 18 wedding in Virginia Beach, Va. "Brides Across America made my dress and my wedding dreams a reality that I will cherish for a lifetime."

If you'd like to help a military bride, go to and follow the PeopleFirst buttons. 

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