For eight decades, Alfred Angelo Bridal was the go-to place for many excited brides preparing for their big day. Even though the business was mainly recognized for its wedding dress fashions, it also sold a broad range of wedding accessories. AlfredAngelo.com was the company's official website.
Today, a search for AlfredAngelo.com comes back with the words no user of the internet wants to read: “This site can't be reached.”
What could have happened to the worldwide retailer that once invited customers to “choose from hundreds of wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses, and special occasion styles at more than 2,500 retailers in the US and worldwide, as well as 50 Alfred Angelo Bridal Signature Stores located across America”?🧐
We took some time to find out what happened to AlfredAngelo.com. We follow the history of the company, the services it provided, its achievements, and challenges.
Alfred Angelo Bridal was established by the couple Alfred Angelo Piccione and Edythe Vincent Piccione in 1933. The company's headquarters were in Delray Beach, Florida. The website AlfredAngelo.com appears on the internet for the first time in November 1998.
In an archived web page from 2016, AlfredAngelo.com tells visitors why brides had preferred the company’s personalized gowns for over 80 years. Some of the reasons include that the retailer offered affordable luxury, had sizes for all kinds of brides, and understood the importance of speedy delivery.
According to the Hartford Courant, a daily newspaper in Connecticut, Mr. and Mrs. Piccione worked together for 45 years. The same newspaper reports that following the couple's death, the business was taken over by their children Vincent Piccione and Michele Piccione. Vincent Piccione would later become the CEO of the company.
Any business with the tenacity to last for more than 80 years, and have its merchandise in 2,500 stores and 50 of its own outlets, can convincingly call itself a success. Alfred Angelo would grow to become the second-largest bridal retailer in the United States. Its annual revenues were counted at around $90 million.
The company’s success resulted in collaborations with some of the industry giants like Disney. In 2014, Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons announced the creation of “a wedding dress inspired by the Disney animated feature, Frozen” in collaboration with Alfred Angelo.
The partnership between Disney and Alfred Angelo started in 2010. It resulted in what the television station ABC 7 Chicago described as “an entire signature line of wedding dresses inspired by the princesses within many Disney films, including Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid.”
In 2016, Alfred Angelo was the winner of the Best Bridal Collection award at the inaugural UK Wedding Awards. According to the organizers of the award, Immediate Media’s Wedding Network brands, “the winners, across 23 categories, were voted for by over 20,000 readers and received 130,000 votes after being shortlisted by a panel of industry experts from hundreds of entries.”
Anyone who had watched the Alfred Angelo executives walking up the stage to accept the Best Bridal Collection award in 2016 would not have guessed that the company would file for bankruptcy only a year later.
Many brides who were excited about their upcoming weddings woke up to shocking news on July 14, 2017. The New York Times reported that Alfred Angelo had closed its chain of stores without warning. The bridal retail giant would later confirm that it had filed for bankruptcy on July 14, 2017.😞
Writing for The New York Times following the announcement of the Alfred Angelo bridal chain's closure, Micah Maidenberg paints a picture of panic. He reports that “the closings added an element of panic to a wedding process often filled with stress, and brides and bridesmaids shared their exasperation on Twitter and Facebook.”
Maidenberg reports that some customers only realized that the company was closing when they arrived at the stores to find “signs posted on locked store doors.” He also reports that the fall of the bridal retail giant presented an opportunity to competitors. David's Bridal, a competitor, told Alfred Angelo customers that “if they can show a receipt from the store,” they could get a discount.
Consumerist, a publication of ConsumerReports.org, reports that some former employees of Alfred Angelo tried to rescue the situation. Without permission, the employees delivered orders to some of the brides who had already paid for their wedding gowns.
However, the attempt to rescue the situation seemed to make the situation worse. Consumerist quotes an unnamed bankruptcy attorney who said, “The actions of the employees may constitute theft or grand larceny under state law and could subject them to state criminal prosecution.” The attorney adds, “Third parties [the brides who received the items they had paid for] receiving stolen items could also face state criminal charges and prosecution.”
Alfred Angelo's demise did not only affect the brides. Marcia Heroux Pounds reporting for the Florida daily newspaper, the Sun Sentinel, says that the “closure left thousands of disappointed brides, shuttered retail stores across the country, and left 300 to 400 employees without jobs.”
In an August 2017 article published in the Hartford Courant, Pounds says that the company's demise “is a cautionary tale of a once-storied business that failed to change with the times.” She cites interviews with the professionals hired to rescue the company and concludes that “the company was losing too much money to do anything but permanently shut its doors.”
There is no clarity about whether the thousands of customers who didn't get the wedding gowns and items they paid for eventually got their money back.
Reports from 2018 indicate that the company had decided that it was better to “liquidate its assets and go out of business rather than seek to restructure its debt.”
The rescue practitioners seem to have sold the company’s property, including the intellectual property. The website was captured on the internet for the last time in October 2019.