Frantic brides-to-be descended on Alfred Angelo Bridal stores across the country Thursday amid reports that the company was closing all of its locations by the end of the day.
Police responded to at least one location in Washington state where a group of angry customers gathered outside, banging and rattling the locked doors. And in Texas, San Antonio police tells NBC they received at least three 911 calls from desperate brides seeking help to retrieve their time-sensitive dresses.
The bridal retailer boasts on its website that it helps brides "realize your wedding dreams," but by the end of day Thursday the promised wedding fantasy of so many had quickly turned to nightmares.
The abrupt closure of Alfred Angelo's more than 60 stores threw brides-to-be into limbo, leaving thousands of customers distraught over the prospect of finding another dress on short notice.
"Panic, complete and utter disarray," Julie Jones, a bride-to-be who ordered several gowns from one of the retailer’s Southern California stores, told NBC San Diego. "I am crying hysterically. My poor fiance is tired of hearing about it because I can't stop crying about it."
The Wall Street Journal reports, citing company sources, that Alfred Angelo Bridal hired Miami-based law firm Stearns, Weaver, and Miller to guide the company through legal proceedings for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. NBC has not independently confirmed the WSJ report and Alfred Angelo and the firm did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Friday, the company filed to liquidate its operations in bankruptcy court. According to documents filed in the Southern District of Florida, the company lists its assets at $50,000 or less.
At Alfred Angelo’s headquarters in Florida, employees were reportedly seen leaving the company’s corporate Delray Beach office Thursday “en masse,” according to the Palm Beach Post. And as social media buzzed of a rumored bankruptcy, the bridal retailer remained silent.
Angry customers turned to Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustrations over the sudden closures and the Delcompany's lack of a response
"@AlfredAngelo seriously your closing and half my bridal party doesn't have their dresses. #banruptcy," Jamie, of Pennsylvania, wrote on Twitter.
Ohio bride-to-be Amber McGraw said she didn't know how to describe the "sick feeling" she had paying "for a wedding dress I won't get." She added: "I'm getting married in 64 days and now have to look for a new dress and hope I find the money to pay for it #robbed."
"Alfred Angelo sounds like they won't honor the three bridesmaid dresses already ordered and paid for for mine & @JLynnWorden's wedding," wrote Twitter user Danny Surman.
Some customers say they were notified earlier Thursday to pick up their orders before stores shuttered their doors for good at the end of the day. Others learned of the closures through social media and arrived only to find the locations closed.
Brides who ordered Alfred Angelo dresses say they aren’t sure if they will ever get their dream gown while several customers reported stores were unable to process refunds because the credit card machines were no longer working.
"They said, 'We can't do any refunds, we can't do anything to help you,'" said Kathy Hunt, who told NBC Los Angeles she was out $1,100 for her daughter's dress.
But it's not just customers who were caught off-guard. Mollie Frish, a seamstress at the Alfred Angelo store in Manchester, Connecticut, said employees were advised at the beginning of their shift on Thursday morning that it would be their last day of work.
"Many of these girls, this is their livelihood and they are without a job suddenly. Are they going to get paid? We don't know," Frish told NBC Connecticut.
Founded in 1933 by Alfred Angelo Piccione and Edythe Vincent Piccione, the company eventually grew to operating more than 60 stores nationwide and selling merchandise in more than 1,400 retail stores across the U.S. and around the globe.
Valen Studios Bridal Boutique, which carries Alfred Angelo dresses in its Chicago store, says it has about 50 orders pending and the company has been vague about what the closure means for her customers. The shop's manager, Erica Janel, told NBC Chicago that if Alfred Angelo Bridal doesn't fulfill her brides' orders, Valen plans to refund those customers out of their own pocket.
David's Bridal, a rival bridal chain, offered brides a light at the end of the altar: a special discount to bride's affected by the closures.
Customers with outstanding orders or who want to file a claim are directed to contact:
Patricia A. Redmond, Esquire
Stearns Weaver Miller
150 West Flagler Street
Miami, Florida 33130
Phone: (305) 789-3553
Fax: (305) 789-3395