Ruba tried on more than 100 dresses in Jordan and Syria before settling on a jeweled ballgown for her own wedding. Layers of cascading white fabric form a full skirt. Sequins, pearls and sparkling stones adorn the backless bodice.
“The moment I tried on the dress I thought ‘this is the one,’ and bought it immediately,” Ruba says. “I wanted to keep it for myself forever, I never imagined that I would give it away.”
The dress has since been passed from bride to bride at Azraq, including Rawan.
“I did not imagine that people would marry here.”
“It is a dream for a girl to wear a wedding dress and see herself with it in front of her parents,” Rawan says. “If not for CARE’s dress, I wouldn’t have been able to wear white in my wedding.”
Khaldeya, 35, left Syria to escape “chaos and war.” As her wedding approached last summer, she also learned about Ruba’s dress. “As a little girl I dreamed of a big wedding with music and dancing,” she says. “I would have cried if I had married without a wedding dress. … My wedding here was even better than I imagined. There was singing and dancing and fireworks!”
The white dress hangs in a glass case in CARE’s community center, a reminder of what’s possible.
“People here wanted to continue their lives, but they had some challenges in everything they wanted to do,” Ruba says. “The wedding dress is a start, a start for a new life.”
Additional filming by Raegan Hodge; Video edited by Brooks Lee.