Brides have been left in tears at the sudden closure of a popular wedding shop.
A number of ceremonies may be cancelled after Dan Kerr Brides said it had ‘no alternative but to close’.
The family-run company, with stores at Preston and Blackpool, shut after more than 100 years in business, leaving some couples just a few days to find replacement suits and gowns.
Bride-to-be Beth Whiting, 26, pictured, from Ribbleton, was devastated to learn the news via Facebook. She said: “When I got (to the shop) there were around four brides outside crying.
“The shop had been completely stripped and it’s just an empty shell. I’m completely devastated. I just feel sick – it’s been horrendous.
“I haven’t a clue how I’m going to afford to replace the items I’ve ordered.”
Dan Kerr Brides has been a mainstay on the Preston high street for more than 100 years.
But the family-run company, which also has shops in Blackpool, has said it has had ‘no alternative but to close’ sparking a flood of concern from brides now frantically trying to find replacement gowns for their big days.
The Post was flooded with calls from customers who handed over hundreds of pounds for their dream dresses – and now have nothing to show for it.
One father-of-the-bride said he “is one of the lucky ones”, having been able to retrieve his daughter’s dress from the Preston branch yesterday afternoon.
It was only late on Saturday afternoon that his wife and 28-year-old daughter visited the shop in Lancaster Road and saw a sample dress perfect for the big day next May.
The father, who has asked to remain anonymous, said: “It had just been reduced to just over £700, so we paid for it on our debit card. I commented on Saturday night that I was glad she’d got it from there as they’d been going for 100 years and wouldn’t close down over night.
“Then today my wife rang me to tell me what had gone on. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that the man had sold the dress to them and was selling others to other girls knowing what was coming.”
He said that he drove to the shop and arrived “like a man possessed”, desperate to get the dress.
He added: “There were two removal vans there and all these girls outside all upset.
“I probably shouldn’t have done, but I went in and started rummaging through the stock, trying to find my daughter’s name. Luckily I bumped into the seamstress from the next door property and she told me she had the dress, so I was able to get it. I think I’m one of the only ones though.”
Bride Beth Whiting from Ribbleton was left devastated when she learned the news via a Facebook post.
The 26-year-old, who works as a sales assistant for Ann Summers, said: “One of my friends sent me the post this morning and told me to get to the shop straight away.
“When I got there, there were around four brides outside crying. The shop had been completely stripped and it’s just an empty shell.
“I’m completely devastated. I just feel sick it’s been horrendous. I haven’t a clue how I’m going to afford to replace the items I’ve ordered.”
Another bride-to-be from Leyland, who is getting married in eight weeks, said she has been left unable to get her dress despite paying in full.
The health worker, who asked not to be named, said: “A letter arrived last week to say it was at the shop, and I was literally about to ring them to arrange alterations when my mum called about it going into administration.
“She managed to get through, but was told that we can’t have the dress. But surely if I’ve paid, it’s my dress, just on their property?
“I don’t think that the letter they say is going out to customers is going to be helpful, it will just be a generic letter.
“I’m still hopeful of getting my dress, but if we have to put a claim in, how long will that take?
“And I haven’t had any alterations done to it yet. We’re running out of time.”
A 29-year-old bride-to-be, due to be married in September, said she went into “meltdown” after reading about the closure on the Post website.
She said: “A letter isn’t going to cut it. I want to know what is going on now, they have got half of the money which is £1,500.”
Another bride from Preston, who asked not to be named, said she visited the store on Lancaster Road and was told she couldn’t have her dress.
“I asked for my dress and was told I couldn’t have it as it was going into storage,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I told them that the dress was mine and it wasn’t theirs to take.
“I told them that I wouldn’t leave the premises without my dress. They eventually gave me my dress, but they still owe me money for suit hire.
“They’ve really managed the situation badly. It was a horrible way to find out the shop was closing. This is the biggest day of many people’s lives and they’ve been left in the lurch.”
Susanne Hesketh, a spokesperson for Sovereign Jewellers said: “We have been inundated with messages and calls. Everyone is so shocked and some brides are really panicking.”
Charlotte Cartwright, 23, is due to get married at the Preston Marriott Hotel in early June and has handed over £2,070 for six bridesmaid dresses, 10 suit hires, two page boys suits, and two flower girls’ dresses.
She said: “I’m absolutely raging. It’s my worst nightmare really.”
“It took four months to get the dresses into the shop from ordering. How are we going to get some new ones in just five weeks?”
Tom Wheatman, of The Mede in Freckleton, said he paid around £550 for five suits – for him, his two best men, his usher, and the father of his bride-to-be Victoria Smith, 31 – for his wedding at Ribby Hall on Saturday.
The 31-year-old said: “I was meant to pick them up on Wednesday. I don’t know what I’m going to do. We don’t have the money. I’m devastated.”
Ryan White, and fiancee Natalie Burgeen, both 22, face a race against time get ready for their Wrea Green wedding in July.
He said: “I feel angry and let down. There was no warning, or sign, or email. I got a text message on Monday saying, ‘We are looking forward to seeing you for your suit fitting’.”
A just giving page for Beth Whiting has been set up by Preston City wrestling organiser Steven Fludder to help her replace her lost items. Donations can be made here