For years, the St. Rita monastery in Cascia, Italy has operated a secondhand wedding dress depot, once frequented mostly by young women from disadvantaged families. But as Italy continues to suffer from the fallout of a prolonged recession, what was once an act of charity for a few young women in need has become popular with growing numbers of brides who want to keep their wedding costs down.
Brides-to-be arrive every week at the monastery as if they were visiting a wedding showroom. The bridal operation has become a full-time job for Sister Maria Laura who oversees the vast collection of donated wedding gowns. Before she entered the monastic life at the age of 28, Sister Maria Laura was a designer and seamstress in Tuscany.