TORONTO – Margaret Perdue started bawling when she heard on the radio that the bridal retailer responsible for her wedding gown had abruptly closed its doors.
“This is how bridezillas are hatched,” said the 33-year-old Toronto resident.
“I was distraught. When you try to plan for your wedding in advance and things come crashing down, it’s a hit in the heart.”
With her wedding in October, she had already put down a $1,056 deposit on an ivory floor-length number — named after Princess Elsa from Frozen — back in May. Suddenly, Perdue found herself scrambling to find something else.
But she’s not the only bride-to-be panicking.
Florida-based bridal retailer Alfred Angelo shuttered its 60 U.S. stores and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in July, leaving brides-to-be around the world without the gowns they had already ordered.
Many of them took to social media to complain. At the same time, some women have offered up their own gowns.
“Size 12/14 dress. Detachable straps,” one tweeted on August 5. “I would love to donate my wedding dress to any bride who has been shafted by Alfred’s #AlfredAngelo.”
This month, Alfred Angelo posted a statement on their website: “The Chapter 7 Trustee greatly regrets the upset that Alfred Angelo’s July 14 bankruptcy filing has caused its customers,” it said.
“While we have been successful in obtaining customer records and delivering many dresses and accessories for customers all over the country, even after the bankruptcy filing date, it has now become apparent that the logistical and financial strain of fulfilling each and every open order makes continuing that course of action no longer possible.”
Alfred Angelo’s bridal wear was sold at 1,400 locations, including many in Canada.
Marcella Lico, manager at Best for Bride in Hamilton, said her store has 79 clients who were affected, 19 of whom are brides. And that’s not even including the ones at the company’s three other locations in Ontario.
She said she is “repulsed” by Alfred Angelo’s treatment of the people buying and selling their dresses.
“For a company that’s been around for as long as they have, it’s disgusting,” Lico said.
Luckily, most of the affected clients have time, she said. Her store has only issued five refunds so far, which amount to about $8,000 in lost business.
Lico said she was on vacation when the news broke and many clients started calling the store before her staff had a chance to reach out.
“In the first couple of weeks, we didn’t have much info to give them. We didn’t know if we would be getting the (dresses),” she said. “We still haven’t heard from Alfred Angelo at all.”
Lico said the fact that Alfred Angelo filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection indicates they had financial issues for a long time.
“They should have advised retailers like me that they are restructuring and taken the moral road, where they stop taking orders until they figure things out,” she said. “This way, they are not leaving millions of people in the lurch.”
Lico said she has been allocating samples to brides, who get up to 40 per cent off, so that at least some of them can continue with the vision they had for their wedding.
“When you go shopping for a dress, you get emotional,” Lico said. “You plan your whole wedding based on it. You develop a bond with the dress. It’s not that easy to get over.”
And it’s not just brides who have had to change their plans.
Taylor’s Bridal Boutique, which is based in Elmira, Ont., has four bridal parties who were impacted, three of whom received refunds.
“We would have never considered holding the money they paid and making them choose other dresses from Taylor’s they were not 100 per cent happy with,” said owner Linda Taylor.
“This was a very unfortunate situation and one I would have never expected after working with this company for 20 years.”
In a July 25 email to Taylor, Patricia Redmond, a lawyer who represents Alfred Angelo, wrote: “Unfortunately, the dresses due to be shipped after June 24th will not arrive…At this point you will need to find alternative dresses for your clients.”
Woodbridge, Ont.-based Amanda-Lina’s Sposa Boutique did just that for Perdue.
“Our store sympathized with the situation,” said president Sam Pollari.
The host of Say Yes To The Dress Canada reality TV show doesn’t carry Alfred Angelo, but that didn’t stop Pollari from rushing to save the day.
During the consultation, Perdue tried on about three dresses before falling in love with a sparkly ivory ball gown and matching cape from Calla Blanche’s fall 2017 collection, which isn’t in store yet.
Three hours later, Amanda-Lina’s received confirmation from Calla Blanche that the dress would arrive the week of August 21, while her cape would come in five days before her wedding.
“Everyone was excited,” Pollari said. “Hallelujah!”
Perdue said she is “mesmerized” by her new dress from Amanda-Lina’s, which made her cry a little, but they were tears of joy this time.
“I am over Alfred Angelo,” she said.