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Defunct bridal chain reneges on promise to ship dress orders

  • Wedding insurance can be an inexpensive way to head off expensive problems (like having to find a replacement dress at the last minute, if your bridal retailer goes out of business).
  • Vendor issues are the most costly claim, according to insurance company Travelers.
  • Attire accounts for 7 percent of total wedding claims.

Brides who bought a dress from defunct retailer Alfred Angelo are out of luck.

Alfred Angelo closed all of its 62 stores July 13 and filed for bankruptcy protection the next day. At the time, the bridal retailer promised to fulfill orders already purchased.

Now it has reneged on that promise. According to a statement from the Chapter 7 trustee on AlfredAngelo.com, the company has been able to deliver many of the pre-ordered dresses and accessories, but "the logistical and financial strain" prevent it from continuing to do so.

"Thus, to the extent any order has not been fully delivered to a customer, it shall have to remain unfilled," the company said.

The company advised customers who wanted a refund to submit proof of their claim for the bankruptcy proceedings. (In line behind the retailer's major creditors, those brides may not see any money from that.)

Some brides affected by the shutdown are facing less stress than others though, because they have wedding insurance, also referred to as special events insurance. This under-the-radar coverage is relatively inexpensive and especially helpful for situations like these when a vendor goes bankrupt.

A woman tries on a wedding gown at Alfred Angelo Bridal.
AP Photo | Mel Evans
A woman tries on a wedding gown at Alfred Angelo Bridal.

Twenty-four percent of total insurance claims involved vendors that were hired for the wedding and didn't deliver as promised, according to 2016 data from insurance company Travelers. Vendor issues were also the costliest wedding insurance claim, according to a different Travelers survey that collected data from 2011 through 2015.

Attire made up approximately 7 percent of total claims from the past 10 years, the company said. Those claims include dresses and tuxes paid for but never received, as well as clothes that are damaged, said Todd Shasha, managing director of personal insurance product management at Travelers.

In the case of a retailer closing, like Alfred Angelo did, an insured bride who doesn't get her dress would receive reimbursement for her purchase, up to the limits of the policy.

Basic insurance coverage can cost anywhere between $155 and $550, depending on the amount of coverage you want, said Kristen Maxwell Cooper, executive editor of The Knot, a wedding media platform. General liability insurance, which covers up to $1,000,000 for accidents, runs about $185, she said.

That's inexpensive peace of mind, she said. In 2016, the average bride spent $1,564 on a wedding dress, according to data from The Knot. (A damaged dress may also be cheap on the scale of potential wedding problems.)

Yes to the dress

Brides affected by the shutdown aren't without recourse to find a new dress, quickly.

Several stores are capitalizing off their competitor's downfall, offering brides discounts. For example, David's Bridal is offering former Alfred Angelo customers 30 percent off wedding dresses and 20 percent off bridesmaids' dresses, while bridesmaid rental service Vow To Be Chic is giving 10 percent off.

Brideside, one of the largest retailers to carry Alfred Angelo, has been working directly with other designers to arrange discounts and rush options — free of charge — for any brides and bridesmaids affected by Alfred Angelo's closing, said Cooper. (Customers also have the option of receiving a refund or credit.)

Brides may also be able to find a secondhand dress using social media.

"Check out the hashtag #AlfredAngelo," Cooper said. "The to-be-wed and married community is extremely sympathetic and helpful with other to-be-weds who need help, and there's a chance that someone can lend you their dress or other items you may need."

July 14, 2017

Any women in the SoCal area that need a wedding dress ASAP bc of #alfredangelo closing, I will lend you mine! pic.twitter.com/LyCwfMD3Jn

— Macie Hanrahan (@maciecakes13)

There's also a Facebook group with more than 1,950 members, specifically focused on the current situation, working to find other brides and bridesmaids around the country to share gowns, Cooper said.

How to buy wedding insurance

Customers should select coverage based on how much they plan on spending on the wedding. Average weddings in the New York City metro area are running $50,000 or more, Shasha said.

Besides dress mishaps, most wedding insurance plans would also cover incidents including:

  • Event cancellations and postponements due to weather, illnesses or accidents
  • Damaged or bad photographs
  • Loss or damage to presents, rings, cake and flowers
  • Vendor no-shows
  • Liability insurance in case the venue gets damaged or a guest gets injured.

Buy insurance as soon as possible, Shasha said.

"You should buy wedding insurance as soon as you start placing deposits, although you can purchase a policy as close as 14 days before the event," he said.

However, before purchasing, you should check up on some things, said Loretta Worters, a vice president at the Insurance Information Institute. Find out:

  • Whether the insurance company is licensed to do business in the state where you live
  • How much the policy will cost and how much reimbursement you can expect if a loss occurs
  • What specifically is and is not covered by the policy
  • Whether you already have coverage elsewhere through credit cards, warranties or through home, auto or liability insurance policies