As a bride, finding that perfect dress for your big day is an important part of getting ready for a wedding.
So what if that the store where you bought that gown shut down and isn’t offering any answers about your dress or the money you already paid for it?
Thousands of women across the country, many of them in the Houston area, are living that nightmare right now after what appears to be an abrupt closure of Alfred Angelo Bridal stores.
“We saw the sign that said ‘Store Closed,’ and I was just like, ‘Wow.’ I don’t know how,” said Traci Arceneaux, a former Alfred Angelo customer who stopped by the Webster store Friday to see if it was still open.
Arceneaux bought her wedding dress from that location just more than a year ago.
"About this time last year, I was waiting for the phone call to come pick up my dress here,” she said. “If this would have happened to me, I probably would have had an anxiety attack right here.”
An anxiety attack is essentially what April Nolan describes experiencing when this store’s staff emailed her Thursday afternoon.
“They were going to close their doors, and I had to rush down here, because I hadn’t gotten my dress yet,” Nolan said.
Crying all the way to the store, she learned her dress wasn’t there.
"The manager actually went and looked on the rack. They had the exact dress I picked out, just in a different color,” Nolan said.
It might not be her dream dress, but Nolan says she knows she’s lucky to have any dress.
“It’s a relief, to be truthfully honest with you,” she said.
Many brides, bridesmaids and flower girls, including little Ryleigh Gateley, say Alfred Angelo staff told them they will not get the dresses they ordered. A picture posted on Facebook shows Ryleigh holding a sign that reads, “She said yes to her dress at Alfred Angelo.”
Her mother tells KHOU that order – paid in full – will not be fulfilled.
The sign posted on the window of the Webster store directs questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, which tracks back to attorney Patricia Ann Redmond of law firm Stearns Weaver Miller. KHOU 11 News emailed and called Ms. Redmond. We also called all three local Alfred Angelo locations and emailed the corporate customer care account. So far, no one has responded.
With so many questions, and the company not providing any answers, Houstonians are offering to help. Some, like Monica Vann, are willing to dig into their own closet. Vann posted on Facebook that she has two wedding dresses, which she would like to see go to a bride in need.
“I have these two dresses and I don’t know what to do with them,” she said. “They’re beautiful dresses, and they’re just sitting in my closet.”
Others local residents, like Renegade Bridal designer Natalie Harris, want to make those brides the dress of their dreams.
“I’m really passionate about brides being able to self-express themselves. So the idea of someone settling or wearing a dress just because it was what was laying around, it breaks my heart,” Harris said.
She’s offering a 20-percent deposit match, as well as free sizing and pattern-making for her custom dresses.
“I wish I could give them free dresses,” Harris said. “The hope being that that eliminates the massive amount of major alterations that they would need later and saves them a few hundred bucks down the road.”
Impression Bridal in Houston is also offering to help. They're offering 50 percent off special order and off-the-rack wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses with an original Alfred Angelo receipt. For more information, tap/click here.
Amore Bridesmaids in Spring is also offering help with a 25-percent discount on bridesmaids and flower girl dresses with a proof of purchase needed. They're also offering 10 percent to those who planned to order their dresses from Alfred Angelo. The store has a sample sale currently with about 50 dresses in stock ranging from $50 to $100, sizes 8 to 18. For more details, call (832)-823-5183.
Alfred Angelo stylists are also trying to help. KHOU 11 News spoke to one who didn’t want to go on camera, but told us that as soon as she learned the store was closing, she grabbed the inventory for her brides. She spent Friday out delivering those gowns.