Brides-to-be await word on fate of wedding gowns
Alfred Angelo customers frantic after store closes
They thought they had found the perfect wedding dress.
But those visions turned into nightmares for thousands of brides-to-be who are now trying to learn the fate of the wedding gowns they purchased from bridal retailer Alfred Angelo, which abruptly closed its stores Friday and filed to liquidate its business under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
On Monday, the main avenue available to customers for information was an email address posted with an apology note on the retailer’s website.
“If you wish to be contacted regarding your order status once information is available please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org,” the company said on its website. “We will post additional information regarding the status of dresses on this web-site as it becomes available. We apologize for the inconvenience and hardship resulting from this event. We appreciate your patience. Thank you.”
In South Florida, Alfred Angelo operated locations in Boynton Beach, Sunrise and Coral Gables. Nationwide, the retailer operated at least 60 stores and maintained operations in Canada, Europe and Japan.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court appointed Margaret J. Smith of West Palm Beach to manage the estate. Efforts to reach her by phone and email Monday were not successful.
In an interview with the Sun Sentinel last Friday, the company’s Miami-based bankruptcy attorney Patricia Redmond of the law firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, said she planned to ask the trustee to release dresses that were in store awaiting pick-up. She also said she would try to persuade the trustee to release a $1.2 million shipment coming from China so that affected customers could get their ordered dresses.
Redmond also could not be reached early Monday for an update on the gown-retrieval process. Late Friday, she said her law firm email address had been deluged with inquiries from more than 7,000 people.
“Now we’re just waiting for a response,” Pembroke Pines resident Stephany Alvarez said Monday. She sent emails Saturday to Alfred Angelo and to Redmond inquiring about a $300 mother-in-law dress ordered from the Coral Gables store.
Although Alvarez’s wedding isn’t until Feb. 17, the store’s sudden closure and the uncertain fate of the dress, has left her mother-inlaw “upset and disappointed,” she said.
“When you fall in love with a dress, finding another one is difficult. It’s just not the same,” Alvarez said.
Finding the money for a replacement dress would also be an extra
“When you fall in love with a dress, finding another one is difficult.” Stephany Alvarez, Pembroke Pines
burden on her mother-inlaw, she said.
One customer, now scrambling to find a new dress, was at least fortunate to have received refunds of her deposit.
Erin Jones, of Altamonte Springs, had contacted Alfred Angelo as soon as she heard Friday the bridal shop was closing stores nationwide. But since she only paid a deposit, $500 of the $766 total cost, she was told she would not get the dress or her money back, she said.
However, she was issued a credit over the weekend by her credit card company.
“I was in love with that dress,” lamented Jones. “I kept envisioning walking down the aisle in that dress.”
On Friday she planned to begin the hunt again for a new dress at David’s Bridal ahead of her November wedding.
“Just hoping I find something that doesn’t take too long to come in,” she said.
A creditors meeting is set for 1 p.m. Aug. 28 at 1515 N. Flagler Drive, Room 870, in West Palm Beach, according to bankruptcy court papers. All proofs of claims against Alfred Angelo must be submitted by Nov. 27.
In the interim, other bridal retailers have been stepping up with discounts for the affected Alfred Angelo customers.
David’s Bridal and Camille La Vie, which both have stores in South Florida, are offering discounts ranging from 15 to 30 percent off select new purchases with the presentation of original receipts from Alfred Angelo.
“They are trickling in and we’re seeing about one to two [Alfred Angelo] customers a day, mostly bridesmaids,” said Yolanda Torricella, sales manager at the David’s Bridal shop in Sunrise. “It’s not a big amount, but people are taking advantage of the discount.”
On Friday, David’s Bridal tweeted it was offering 30 percent discounts on replacement wedding gowns to affected customers with an Alfred Angelo receipt and 20 percent discounts for bridesmaid dresses. It also said it is waiving rush fees on alterations for those with wedding dates around the corner.
At the Camille La Vie store at Sawgrass Mills mall, the retailer was offering 15 percent discounts for brides or bridesmaids who presented receipts from Alfred Angelo, said Catalina Eckert, an assistant manager.
Alfred Angelo Bridal store filed to liquidate its operations in bankruptcy court in West Palm Beach on Friday.
Last week’s shutdown left brides-to-be across the country locked out and with little information about their time-sensitive wedding purchases.