Brides-to-be across the country were left standing at the cash register Thursday after learning that dressmaker Alfred Angelo had abruptly closed its stores -- seemingly all of them.
The Palm Beach Post reported Thursday morning that the company's corporate offices in Delray Beach, Florida, experienced an exodus of employees carrying "boxes, plants and other personal belongings" out of the building. By the afternoon, every single one of its desks sat empty, many with framed photos of wedding dresses still hanging on the walls.
Sudden closures aren't unheard-of in the world of business -- Dick's Last Resort in Newport was shuttered overnight last year -- but in the world of weddings, they send out ripples of alarm that touch far more lives than those of their employees and shareholders.
Brides who had ordered Alfred Angelo dresses aren't sure anymore whether they'll end up getting the gowns or their money back.
Even the chain's business partners, such as Bridal and Formal owner Andy Star, don't know what happened. Star said Alfred Angelo was taking dress orders Wednesday.
He added that, from a business perspective, it's not the worst thing that could happen to him -- he only hopes he'll be able to help all the brides who might have been left in limbo.
"We've been through this kind of thing before, we know how to handle it and it's not a problem on our end," he said. "We try to help the brides and get it done. It can be a very traumatic time for a bride because she may not know what's going on."
Alfred Angelo has designed and sold wedding gowns for the better part of a century; it was founded in 1933 and grew to include 60 specialty stores. Its gowns are sold in 800 bridal shops nationwide.