Del Mar bridal shop donates dress to military bride

June 8 plays a big role in Jesca Daniels’ and Mark Daniels’ lives.

It’s the day that the San Diego couple will finally have a proper wedding ceremony after being married for eight years.

It’s also the day their world changed forever in 2013. Mark, a U.S. Marine, was traveling with his dog, Aura, and other service members in a vehicle after a patrol in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device detonated under the car.

Mark, who was sitting with Aura toward the front of the vehicle, was flung to the rear and knocked unconscious, resulting in a traumatic brain injury, Jesca said.

After being sent back to the U.S. and months of rehab, with Jesca helping him with daily tasks like getting out of bed and putting on clothes, Mark, 34, decided he wanted to have a proper wedding. He also decided to stay enlisted, despite being offered medical retirement.

“I never thought I wanted a wedding,” Jesca, 35, said. “We just decided back then we didn’t really need to do anything big. When Mark got injured in 2013, I guess that made him realize that he wanted those memories with all of our friends and family.”

Hope for the Warriors, which supports wounded soldiers and veterans, granted the couple’s wish to pay for a wedding in Mark’s hometown of St. Louis, Mo.

The ceremony, which takes place next week, will include about 60 of the couple’s friends and family members, Jesca said. Aura, who was injured with Mark in the explosion, is in the wedding, along with the Danielses’ two young daughters.

In addition to the free ceremony, The Bustle Bridal Boutique in Del Mar, offered to donate a dress and alterations to Jesca, totaling about $1,800.

The Bustle owner Jason Pasiut, who served in the U.S. Army and medically retired in 2010 due to injuries he sustained while serving in Iraq, said he felt a need to help the Danielses.

“I totally relate to that couple and would do anything for people like them,” said Pasiut, who had his hip replaced as a result of a combat injury three months before his own wedding. “I know all about having a disability. I know [Jesca’s] husband has disabilities that would allow him to retire but he decided to stay in. I have nothing but respect for someone who makes a decision like that. It was the icing on the cake for me to help his wife.”

The Bustle, which has donated dresses to military brides on several occasions over the years, treated Jesca to a private fitting room with consultants, champagne and cake as she selected through six dresses before ultimately deciding on “the one,” Pasiut said.

“It didn’t hit me until I actually put the dress on that [a wedding] was something I wanted to do, too,” Jesca said. “I started crying when I put it on. I felt so beautiful.”

She said she is grateful to The Bustle and Hope for the Warriors for their support.

“I’ve told them thank you 10 million times and I’ll probably say it 10 million more times,” she said. “I think it’s amazing that they help military brides. That’s an awesome thing because for newlyweds and military couples in general, it’s really hard to have an actual ceremony or that dream dress. They’re willing to help with that, and that’s a huge thing in its own way as far as morale goes.”

For more information on The Bustle Bridal Boutique, visit www.thebustledelmar.com.

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