Planning a wedding has many moving parts. It can be downright overwhelming, even if you are lucky enough to have a wedding planner. When something goes wrong with any of the preparations, whether it is the catering, music, venue, or dress, it can send everything into a tailspin, ruining what is supposed to be one of the most joyous moments of your life. Especially when one of your bridal stores enters liquidation.
Such is the case for hundreds of brides-to-be after finding out two popular wedding dress boutiques have entered into liquidation.
The Bridal Atelier, a wedding dress boutique specialising in bohemian-style wedding gowns with stores in Sydney and Melbourne, was placed into voluntary administration this week.
As TikToker, Claudia Sokolova (known as @partygirlclauds), a wedding content creator and one of the first to break the news online explains,
“You put your trust in a brand and something like this happens. It’s completely earth-shattering when you’re planning your wedding. It’s like everything is already hanging by a thread when you’re wedding planning. You’re stressed enough as it is and having something like this on top of that is earth-shattering and devastating.”
Claudia has shared that she’s received messages from many inconsolable, blindsided brides, former The Bridal Atelier employees, and other wedding vendors since her post went viral.
She said many women have messaged her in tears and that the “devastation is palpable.”
Claudia completely understands what these distressed women are going through as she is getting married in August and just went through a similar situation in her wedding planning.
Georgia Schroeder, The Bridal Atelier’s retail and operations manager wrote a lengthy LinkedIn post in which she states she is a “broken woman” and that she’s received “hundreds” of calls from distraught brides-to-be “crying and begging” about their gowns and money.
She says, “The past few days have been the toughest I’ve ever had to deal with professionally and personally.”
Georgia goes on to further express, “I am personally completely crushed. And even though it won’t mean much to the hundreds affected. We have all been left in the dark.”
Not only were brides-to-be blindsided by the news of The Bridal Atelier’s shutdown, but some were strung along for months after paying for their gowns.
Rhiannon Mason, a bride who reached out to the designer to inquire about her fiancee’s dress was told it had been ready since April, having passed the quality checks.
But as she told Today “The owner of The Bridal Atelier called us and said the dress was late because of the designer.”
To Rhiannon, “That was brutal, I think on both ends we were being deceived and I think it’s the same for the staff, there are a lot of different victims here and a lot of people that have been treated unfairly.”
Another bride impacted by the liquidation, Louise Vella, is left having to pay twice as much as her dream wedding gown is worth just so she can get it in time for her October wedding.
Like many other brides, Louise is in shock and says,
“They must have known for months at least that they were going under and we still didn’t hear a word. They were still taking deposits the week that they closed. I feel disheartened and crushed that the only dress I loved is now going to cost me more than it is worth.”
Bridal stores enter liquidation – how did this happen?
The Bridal Atelier entered liquidation, posting a public notice to ASIC’s website on Monday, June 19th, 2023 as it abruptly closed its doors at its Sydney and Melbourne stores.
The boutique is now managed by joint liquidators Mark William Pearce and Michael Dullaway.
From the moment of the announcement, the boutique went completely off the radar with the owner reportedly having “disconnected her phone,” said Georgia Schroeder.
According to Claudia Sokolova, The Bridal Atelier has “no website, they have no social media, and they have not communicated to any brides that they are closing down or to pick up dresses that are fully paid for.”
According to Dullaway, “The two companies have ceased trading and they are unable to arrange for the completion of orders.”
He told 9Honey that “brides whose dresses have not yet been completed would not be receiving their orders.
Lifeline for Brides-to-Be
Claudia Sokolova urges brides affected by the sudden liquidation to make a claim with Fair Trading and the ACCC as quickly as possible.
She also advises them to contact their gown designer to see if they can get some assistance.
Thankfully, some brides have been able to reach out to the designers, who have committed to delivering their dresses on time for their special day.
Such is the case of bride-to-be, Hannah Connolly. She told Today, “I’m certainly one of the lucky ones, the designer has been phenomenal and I believe they have committed that to a tonne of different brides.”
She’s lucky as her wedding is still a year away. Other brides don’t have that kind of time and are left scrambling, trying to figure out what to do while being out of the money spent on their original gown.
Planning a wedding is no child’s play. It is fraught with stress and anxiety, even when there are no bumps on the road.
With the economic uncertainty faced by many and with countless couples on a tight wedding budget, we hope the brides affected by The Bridal Atelier’s liquidation can find a solution to such a dire situation.
We hope they are ultimately able to put this nightmare behind them, enjoy their special day, and start their married life blissfully.