KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Claiborne County woman is looking to thank a stranger for paying for her wedding dress at a consignment store in Knoxville. Hope Ervin and her husband of 20 years are getting a re-do to say I do.
“We didn’t have a wedding. We got married in someone’s house so we wanted to renew our vows and kept putting it off. And then just decided it was time,” Ervin said. Five children and a few grandchildren later, she said it was about time.
But, she and her husband are getting married at their happy place: Bunch Hollow Campground in Claiborne County, so she really was looking for something simple. She found it at Rue 21. “I thought I already found the dress. Just a simple dress. Didn’t give but 30 something dollars for the dress. No bid deal. Wanted it to be simple,” Ervin said.
Then recently, Ervin and some of her friends and family decided to have a girls trip in Knoxville to go shopping. She still wasn’t planning to go on the hunt for another dress, until they walked into Katie’s Kloset.
Her friend saw some wedding dresses and convinced Ervin to try some on. “So she handed me three dresses. Sharon (her friend) did. And I tried the first one on and I said, ‘there’s no way I’m coming out. This is awful,'” Ervin said.
She went ahead and tried on the second dress. She soon learned she didn’t need to try on the third.
when I tried the second one on, I was like, ‘OK. This is nice. This is, maybe I, maybe…’ So I stepped outside the dressing room and Sharon was in the chair. She immediately said, ‘Oh, you look beautiful. Oh my gosh, you have to look at yourself, you look beautiful,'” Ervin detailed. She was on the fence about buying that dress until a stranger came up and started asking questions about why she was getting the dress. This stranger also chimed in with the compliments.
“She says, wow. You need to buy that dress if you don’t have a dress.’ And I said, ‘well, I have a dress or thought I did, but everybody’s saying how beautiful this is on me.’ She says again, ‘you’re stunning. You need to get that dress,'” Ervin said.
Ervin was sold at that point. She said the stranger turned the dress into a great story. But, a FaceTime chat with her daughters truly sealed the deal. She was getting that dress. However, there was a slight snag. Ervin forgot her debit card at home and didn’t have enough cash for the wedding dress.
“So I walked up to the register and I said, ‘hey I want to put this on layaway and then I wanna come back and get it next week if that’s okay,'” Ervin asked the cashier.
The next words that came out of the cashier’s mouth surprised Ervin and brought tears to her eyes.
“She said, ‘the lady that was asking you all kinds of questions and she was standing here wanted to pay for your dress and said you had a beautiful story,”‘ Ervin said. Ervin said random acts of kindness have happened to her before, but nothing on this scale.
Being in business for 21 years, Julia Carver, co-owner of Katie’s Kloset, said they are used to people paying for others every once in a while. “Someone may come in and buy clothes or a student just starting high school, or whatever the situation may be. And we are so happy to help with that,” Carver said.
Carver said sometimes husbands will come in and buy their wives handbags as a surprise. She said Katie’s Kloset just recently started offering brand new bridal gowns, and has a large selection of formal dresses.
“We love, love helping our ladies find these beautiful dresses, and usually when they try on a formal, or whether it’s for prom, or teen board or for a wedding, they know right then that’s the dress. And we just love helping them out to find that special dress for whatever the occasion may be,” Carver said.
Carver said she doesn’t believe anyone has paid for someone else’s wedding dress. Ervin said before she could thank the woman who paid for her dress, she was gone.
“It was amazing. And it was kind of sad in the same sense because I wasn’t able, I’m a hugger. I wanted to hug her and thank her cause she’ll never know. I mean, she had us, my friend, my daughter, we were in tears,” Ervin said.
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So, she did this story in hopes her gratitude reaches the woman, and at the same time send a message of hope.
“The act of kindness. There’s still good people in this world,” Ervin said. She said that’s what was her favorite part of her new dress. Ervin also wants to pass along the kindness to someone else after she wears her dress on her re-do wedding day.
“If the dress holds up, and I re-gift it to somebody, I want them to re-gift it to someone so it can help others and the story goes on with the dress,” Ervin said. She did not try on or share a picture of her dress for this story. She wants to keep the dress a surprise for her husband.