X

Sara Blakely’s act of kindness sparks a wedding dress sisterhood

LeJeanne and Daniel Thomas recently tied the knot despite challenges from the pandemic. LeJeanne Thomas wed in a dress borrowed from Spanx founder Sara Blakely. CREDIT:  Michelle Davina Photography
LeJeanne and Daniel Thomas recently tied the knot despite challenges from the pandemic. LeJeanne Thomas wed in a dress borrowed from Spanx founder Sara Blakely. CREDIT:  Michelle Davina Photography

Credit: Michelle McDowell

Credit: Michelle McDowell

LeJeanne Capers Thomas and Spanx CEO and founder Sara Blakely never met.

The two women, though, now share a special bond.

Thomas, a Smyrna entrepreneur and media strategy manager, walked down the aisle this past Sunday wearing Blakely’s strapless, tea-length lacy wedding dress from her 2008 nuptials to entrepreneur Jesse Itzler.

Two other brides had worn the dress before.

Blakely once loaned the dress to a childhood friend and a second time to a woman she met on a hiking trip in Idaho.

Blakely decided to do it again as one way to help people affected by the pandemic.

She turned to Instagram: “Calling all brides to be … do you want to borrow my wedding dress from me? I have already loaned it out twice … once to a good friend and once to a girl I just met,” Blakely posted.

During the wedding celebration, Blakely also wore a dress worn by her grandmother, also named Sarah, in 1918.

Thomas reached out and, as a result, became the first bride-to-be selected to wear the newer dress.

She had planned to marry her fiance, Daniel Thomas, on April 25 in New Orleans’ historic Jackson Square with about 50 guests attending. The pandemic had other plans.

Spanx founder Sara Blakely at her wedding in 2008. CONTRIBUTED
Spanx founder Sara Blakely at her wedding in 2008. CONTRIBUTED

The bridal shop she was using temporarily closed its doors as the virus spread across the state, and rather than have guests travel during a pandemic, the couple decided to tie the knot in Georgia.

“Everything was so beautiful, it was just like a dream,” said Thomas. “It’s phenomenal to see a need and to effortlessly do what you can. It’s courageous and brave and shows true leadership. Those are the things I admire about her.”

Thomas knew about Blakely and her success in business. She heard her speak in Atlanta last year.

“It’s inspirational to see someone have an idea and not just have an idea, but execute on that idea. That’s one thing that I, from a business standpoint, take away from her legacy.”

This was actually the Thomases’ second wedding. Rather than keep postponing the wedding, they decided to get married on April 11, her birthday, in a smaller wedding with her mother, who is a minister, officiating.

Related: The Atlanta Spirit: Tough times brings out the best in people

“We really never considered putting if off,” said Thomas, who has a young son. “We had bought a house and we didn’t really want to live together and not be married.”

Thomas was able to get her original dress, a creamy, off-white A-line dress, right before the wedding, so like Blakely, she decided to wear both dresses during the big day.

Since posting her offer, Blakely said dozens of women had commented. About 30 women had reached out about wearing the dress, but it will depend on the timing of the weddings. So many are still up in the air.

“It was such a great experience,” she said in an interview. “Why not offer it to brides right now who are going through hard times because of the pandemic. I’ve had so many great reactions.”

And Blakely is getting a gift in return.

Thomas plans to pay it forward and loan her original dress to another bride-to-be.

Several of the women wrote Blakely that they never thought loaning out a wedding dress would be so cool. It has sparked other people to do the same act of kindness. “I love the idea of the sisterhood of the traveling wedding dress.”

Blakely is considering doing a coffee-table book about the dress or a video.

“There are wonderful stories already connected to this dress,” she said. “It’s so cool to see all the different brides in this dress.”