Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 17:37 UK

Angry brides left without dresses

Arvella Bridal
Brides-to-be arrived on Tuesday to find the shop shut down

Angry brides-to-be have turned up at a Hampshire bridal shop to find it closed down and no sign of their outfits or thousands of pounds of their money.

Arvella Brides, in High Street, Lyndhurst, closed on Tuesday.

Couples have been turning up to find the shop abandoned and the windows white-washed with paint.

The owner of the store was unavailable for comment but one supplier, Charlotte Balbier, said she was told liquidators were due to arrive on Wednesday.

Liz Bright, of Copythorne, said her daughter, who is getting married in two weeks, was at her "wits end".

I'm gutted, I don't know whether to laugh or cry
Emily Stokes
Bride-to-be

She said the family had ordered six men's suits and ties from the shop and had already been let down by their caterers.

"I just couldn't tell her that this is what's happened now, it's just so upsetting."

She said they had paid between £700 and £800 upfront but said no one from the shop had tried to contact them.

Emily Stokes, of Totton, who is getting married in three weeks, paid £1,500 on bridesmaids dresses and suits.

She said she tried to contact the shop all of last week.

Miss Stokes added: "I'm gutted, I don't know whether to laugh or cry."

Stuart Waterman and Emma Shawyer, who are getting married on 15 August, paid £800 for a wedding dress.

Inside Arvella Bridal
Customers say they were not warned about the closure

While trying to arrange a fitting last week they were told the shop owner Lisa Clarkson was ill.

By Tuesday they found the shop closed down and reported it to Trading Standards.

When the BBC called at Mrs Clarkson's home, there was no answer.

Clarissa Percy from Wickham is to marry fiancé Chris on 5 July and was due to pick up her dress on Wednesday having paid for 75% of it.

Her mother Rosemarie has found another designer who can order the same style of dress and they have been inundated with offers from people willing to help with alterations.

"I feel very sorry for all the other brides that are going through this right now," she said.

"My emotions were just shock."

Rosemarie and Clarissa Percy
Rosemarie and Clarissa Percy were due to pick up the dress on Wednesday

Wedding dress designer Charlotte Balbier said a number of brides had contacted her and another designer, Amanda Wyatt, about the whereabouts of their dresses.

She said the shop owed four or five designers money.

"It's a lot of money" she said.

"We reckon we've got the most orders - more than 30 outstanding and they're the ones we know about.

"I've had someone contact me today who put an order in that I didn't know about.

"My main concern is that if anyone ordered a Charlotte Balbier dress, that they will get to wear one on their wedding day."

Hazel Paloma Blanca, another designer and supplier, said she was owed about £15,000 and had not been paid since February.

She said she had no way of contacting the brides-to-be.

Both designers urged people who had ordered outfits to get in touch with them.




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