Seeing the Silver Lining: A Bride’s Generosity Inspires a City

By now, almost all of Seattle has heard Dana Olsen’s story.  In case you haven’t, here it goes…
She was engaged to her high school sweetheart. After a relationship of 10 years, he cancelled the wedding just a month before the event and dumped her. Anyone who has thrown a wedding knows this is in the nonrefundable period. They had the venue paid for, catering, music and 250 guests invited. Instead of letting it all go to waste, Dana and her mom (who helped her plan the wedding) decided to make something good of this unfortunate situation. They donated the entire wedding to Mary’s Place – a shelter for women, families and children.

dana cohen

Dana Cohen and her mother

Mary’s Place provides support services for homeless families in Seattle. They provide night shelters, day centers with hygiene, shower and laundry services. They provide housing and employment services, medical care and hot meals for its families. The families who receive help from Mary’s Place do not usually enjoy the luxury of relaxation, much less partying, which made this event even more special – an evening to enjoy dinner together, dance and have fun!

ali hair

Charlotte Wheelock, employment coordinator for Mary’s Place, gets her hair done by a few stylists, including Ali Schneider, left, an apprentice at AFH Salon, and Gloria, at the Mary’s Place Family Center before a special donated event Saturday. (Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times)

After receiving word from the bride that she would donate an entire wedding party, Mary’s Place contacted us and asked if we would participate in getting families ready for their big night. We joined other stylists and makeup artists from our community to glam up women and children. Their smiles were infectious,  the spirit was light and everyone was excited for the party!


annie hair

Annie works with another stylist to get this young girl ready for the big party at SoDo Park!

As they say: it takes a village. That’s why we love to participate in community events where we can take care of people, especially people who otherwise spend their lives taking care of others. From the bride who donated her wedding to the stylists who donated their time to the employees of Mary’s Place, we all have a space to provide care and compassion. This was a really special day to be part of, and we’re thankful for the opportunity.


This isn’t the first time we work with Mary’s Place. Annie has volunteered to cut hair at the downtown shelter before, we are always collecting toiletries to be donated to the organization and we recently participated in Runway to Freedom – a runway show and concert fundraiser for Mary’s Place. We will continue to accept donations for Mary’s Place. From now until February 12th, in addition to toiletries, we will be accepting men/women/children-sized underwear, shoes, socks, tampons, bras, toothbrushes, travel mugs, snacks (granola bars, chocolate bars), lip balm, nail polish, reusable grocery bags. This Valentine’s Day, let’s show these families some love!

Mary’s Place website lists items they are always in need of, and we’re happy to accept smaller items (think tote bag size or smaller) for a Valentine’s Day drop.


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