Southern California

Mystery of the Freeway Wedding Dress Solved, And There's a Heartwarming Twist

The bride -- and the woman who found her dress on the freeway -- planned to donate the gown to West Coast Angel Gowns.

A wedding dress discovered on the 210 Freeway Sunday in Rancho Cucamonga kicked off a search for the mystery owner -- and now the original owner has been found, unveiling a heart-warming coincidence. 

When the strapless gown with beading and a fluff of tulle was found, people on social media theorized:

Was it the ultimate "forget you" as the bride tossed it in fury on the road? Was it a case of newlyweds not being able to wait to get to the honeymoon suite? Or a big mistake?

The mystery was solved Wednesday after NBC4 implored the public to help find the owner. 

Cathy Peters discovered the gown, in good condition, on the side of the 210 Freeway as she came home from church with a friend and her grandkids. She thought she saw a white dress laying on the side of the road.

"I couldn’t believe it. A wedding dress on the side of the road?" she said. "I never stop but, we take the car, flip it around, and are like, 'Oh my god, it is a wedding dress!'"

Peters immediately began the search. She was determined to find the mystery bride. 

Peters had planned to donate the dress to the West Coast Angel Gowns program if the bride had not come forward in 30 days.

Then, Rob and Rebecca Schwandt got a call.

"We had a friend who was watching NBC and she was like, 'Hey, remember the dress you were telling me about? It’s on TV! Your wife’s wedding dress is on TV,'" Rob Schwandt recalled.

The Schwandts were doing some spring cleaning when they found the dress collecting dust in their garage Sunday.

"The dress has been sitting in a box in our garage for seven years. I felt that no one was really appreciating it there," Rebecca said. The couple agreed to give up her old dress to the Southern California chapter of West Coast Angel Gowns, an organization that turns the donated wedding dresses into small gowns for premature infants who have died. The nonprofit "transforms donated wedding dresses into beautiful infant burial garments called 'Angel Gowns,'" the organization's Facebook Page reads.

That Sunday, the two set off with the wedding gown and a whole box of items they were planning on donating.

"It was in the box and it was light, so we figured we must have lost it on the freeway," Rob recalled. "We were going to go circle around and come get it but, we were like, 'Oh, we have other things to do.'"

After his friend called him, saying his wife's wedding dress was now a celebrity in its own right, he found the story on Twitter.

Sure enough, it was the dress they had lost that Sunday.

"I read the story and figured that must be it," he said. 

NBC4 facilitated a reunion with Peters and the happy bride and groom, now married for almost eight years. During the exchange, Rebecca Schwandt told Peters about her intention to donate her old wedding gown to West Coast Angel Gowns so it could be turned into gowns for premature babies who had passed away.

Peters immediately burst into tears revealing that she, too, had planned to give the dress to the very same organization. The teary-eyed women embraced upon the discovery that the wedding gown was meant for a greater purpose all along.

"It’s just a beautiful ending to know that it was going to end up in the same place," Rebecca said. 

If you would like to donate your old wedding dress or make a monetary contribution to the West Coast Angel Gowns chapter in Southern California, you can find their Facebook page here.

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