Service of Nightmare for a Bride: What You Don’t Anticipate is What May Go Wrong

July 20th, 2017

Categories: Bankruptcy, Retail, Wedding

1930s wedding dress. Photo: nafdress.com

Last weekend an NPR segment made me cringe for those involved. Bill Chappell’s headline sets the stage: “Brides Scramble For Dresses And Information After Alfred Angelo Stores Close Abruptly.” Brides and their attendants who’d bought and paid for their gowns at the chain’s 61 stores—as well as the chain’s [unpaid] employees–were given little if any warning, according to Chappell.

The 80 year old business, started in Philadelphia by Alfred Angelo Piccione and his wife Edythe, filed under Chapter 7, so no restructuring will happen, and its headquarters office in Delray Beach has an eviction lawsuit against it.

Photo: richmond.com

Refunds from Alfred Angelo don’t appear to be in the wedding parties’ cards. As important: What to wear? Chappell wrote: “To help those who might not get their dresses, some former brides are now offering up dresses for free — and member station KPCC in Southern California is using the #dressmatchmaker hashtag to orchestrate dress exchanges.” Others are sharing contact information of seamstresses they learned were altering dresses.

Customers of the Tulsa, Okla. branch are lucky. Employees there, knowing that they probably wouldn’t be paid, opened the store anyway and planned to ship dresses to brides. In addition, they weren’t charging if money was still owed on a gown.

One bridesmaid who expected to wear her gown in a fall wedding “told KPCC that when she called Visa about the situation, ‘They said that if the company doesn’t follow through then they will give me my money, and they will go after Alfred Angelo.’”

In subsequent coverage, Peg Brickley and Michelle Ma wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the reason for the failure is [still] unknown and acknowledged that at one time the business was “considered one of the top bridal designers in the country.” The gowns were “priced in the midrange, where most of the money is spent,” according to an industry research firm.

The article reported that retailers, both online and actual, that depended on the manufacturing and wholesale divisions, were also both surprised and left in the lurch. While competitors anticipated an immediate uptick in business, one may have spoken for many small wedding dress enterprises when she expressed concern for the future. She predicted that customers would be reluctant to buy from them for fear that they, too, might go out of business in a flash.

Apart from the biggest hiccup—a bride or groom no-show—or when the photographer’s results fall flat, the wedding glitches I know of, though traumatic at the time, pale by comparison to a lost dress. They range from a florist who shorted the number of bouquets and dashed to get a replacement that didn’t match the others to a mom who left her flower girl daughter’s dress shoes at home. Do you know of other wedding calamities and how they were resolved? How can you protect yourself from similar misfortunes when dealing with a small business?

Photo: pinterest

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8 Responses to “Service of Nightmare for a Bride: What You Don’t Anticipate is What May Go Wrong”

  1. Nancy Farrell Said:

    I always tell engaged couples that all that they need is each other, someone to perform the ceremony, and a couple of witnesses. The rest of it, while lovely, is not critical. I wouldn’t want to plan a wedding today, as these days they have turned into 4-day events–something that was not as common when I planned mine 30 years ago. I can’t imagine the stress of it all! My gown had been worn once in a fashion show so I bought it off the rack and had it hemmed by a seamstress my landlady knew. Easy. My wedding was scheduled to take place a few months after we both graduated college. We were looking for jobs and studying for finals so we didn’t have time nor the interest to plan anything elaborate. My sister bought her wedding gown in a vintage shop and didn’t have any alterations done. She sent her bridesmaids dress patterns and fabric and had us make our own (or in my case find someone who could sew). One of my favorite wedding stories happened in Baltimore. It was a second marriage for both the bride and the groom. Unfortunately, the bride had left her gown at her son’s house in Philadelphia. Luckily, she had invited her ex-husband to the wedding and he offered to fetch the dress for her. He returned to Baltimore with her dress in time for the ceremony.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Nancy,

    You are spot on in what you tell couples but my bet is many don’t listen and that most are not as smart as you were–and you were so young to be so smart when you married!

    It’s lucky I wasn’t asked to sew my dress–I can’t get a seam right. Envy those who can though. Trouble with most bridesmaid dresses is that they are rarely appropriate for use again.

    Reading about the ex husband invited to his ex wife’s second marriage what popped into my head was “The first husband was a keeper!”

  3. Nancy Farrell Said:

    Yes, the first husband was probably a keeper. I’m certain he was a good father, as he made his sons’ mom very happy on both of her wedding days! My sister got married in December and I have to say that I did wear the bridesmaid dress again. The dress was red and tea length so suitable for holiday parties, as well as for Halloween when I dressed as the Queen of Hearts. My sister wore a matching, long hooded red cape over her gown and I borrowed that cape for my own fall wedding. You’re kind to say I was smart but I think I didn’t know any better and I’m glad I didn’t.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Nancy,

    I fear that many young couples start out their lives in deep debt especially these days between college loans and outrageous expectations about their wedding day leading to more knee-shaking bills. I’ll never forget the bride who told me her honeymoon was ruined because she was so worried about all the bills they faced as a result of it and the wedding. How sad.

    Your dresses sounded wonderful and the red cape, fabulous!

  5. HB Said:

    You do us all a real public service by pointing out how vulnerable the American public is to getting badly hurt, through no fault of its own, by our “no holds barred” capitalism, which lets one or two manufacturers corner a market. We are being sold a bill of goods that consolidation and specialization means better goods and services at a lower cost. It may in the short run, but not the long.

    Your bridal gown story made me wonder what it would have been like should the bankruptcy have occurred in a chain of funeral parlors instead of the garment industry. How would the public have responded to having a bunch of unburied bodies lying about unrefrigerated?

    We badly need another Teddy Roosevelt to take charge, curb the monopolies and protect us consumers!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    HB,

    A Teddy R like person isn’t being honed these days, at least at universities offering MBA degrees, nor is such a person held in high esteem. Au contraire. That person, to use 45’s parlance, would be considered a LOOSER. Restrictions on corporations fall by the wayside as quickly as July grass under an oncoming professional lawnmower. The climate in Washington is to let ’em loose to increase profits and forget the victims. They’re too small to matter.

    Bernie Sanders uncovered a movement of people who have had enough of that approach, but he’s too little too late. I don’t see someone on the horizon with his creds and likeability.

    All this said, we can always hope. Isn’t that what weddings are all about?

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    No disasters to report, but there are tales about bridal shops closing & even vanishing on slow news nights. Then there’s the law suit involving a bakery which refused to accommodate a same sex couple, which threatens to make headlines once the Supreme Court rules either way.

    Stay tuned…..should be interesting!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I noticed, since NPR first covered the bridal disaster, that coverage about the business failure has appeared in towns around the country and for good reason: We are coming into heavy wedding season. June is no longer the top month–“According to The Knot’s 2016 wedding statistics, 16% of couples choose to get married in October and September (a tie!), with June in third place at 13%.” I read this on Redbook, http://www.redbookmag.com/love-sex/relationships/a49747/most-popular-wedding-month/. I would estimate thousands, if not millions, are impacted by a closure this big and that it’s grist for more than a slow news day if you consider the retail and online customers of the wholesale business on top of the bridal parties in the 61 branches.

    As for the bakery/Supreme Court ruling, it will be interesting to learn the decision which will affect far more than wedding cakes or same sex marriage customers!

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