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Brides-to-be scrambling after Toronto bridal store closes its doors without notice

To-Shanna Halstead’s wedding day is around the corner, but just three weeks from what’s supposed to be the happiest day of her life she’s discovered the dream dress she thought she ordered may not exist — and the thousands she and her bridesmaids paid for their dresses may not either.

Halstead, and many other brides-to-be who are telling their stories on social media, are scrambling after Jolie Bridal, a dress shop in the St. Clair West neighbourhood, abruptly stopped returning their calls and closed with no notice.

“I didn’t expect this to happen to me,” Halstead told CBC News through tears. “I saved money for this dress, so to have someone take it away is not fair.”

Halstead chose Jolie Bridal after trying on around two dozens dresses at various other bridal stores around Toronto. None of them quite matched the vision she’d had in her head since she was a little girl — until she tried one on at Jolie.

“It was perfect,” she thought at the time.

$800 deposit

Halstead says she ordered her dress on April 13. She’d hoped to wait until she could bring her grandmother in to see the dress, but says the owner pushed for her not to delay and offering a discount if she paid up front.

“I told them I didn’t have the budget to do that,” she said. So the owner let her pay a deposit of $800 for the wedding dress and her bridesmaids, a deposit of $200 each. They were to pay the remainder when the dresses came in, Halstead said.

In June, Halstead says she received the call she’d been waiting for. Her dress was ready, the store told her. She went in to pay the balance and was told the store would now be sending the dress for alterations to a location in Mississauga, which would be in touch with her to arrange for a fitting and alterations.

Her bridesmaids were waiting for their phone call too, but Halstead says no call ever came.

“My maid of honour and bridesmaids kept calling and they just kept receiving voicemail, so they decided to go show up,” she said.

They pulled up to the store to find two letters posted in the window.

“You are in arrears of rent due in the amount of $32,770.00,” the notice from St. Fidelis Properties Limited says, listing outstanding amounts of approximately $6,500 dating back to March 2019 — a month before Halstead says she ordered her dress.

‘I can’t afford to purchase another dress’

Halstead managed to track down the bailiff with a little bit of help from some of the other brides affected by the closure and says she was told he would be going into the boutique Saturday morning. Brides who can prove they paid for their dress will be able to collect them, she says she was told.

The problem? Halstead has no idea if her dress is at the store or whether it’s at the Mississauga location. In fact, she has no way of knowing for sure if the orders for her dress or those of bridesmaids were processed at all.

She’s now out $3,000 and desperate for a solution in time for her wedding day on Aug. 3.

“I can’t afford to purchase another dress,” she said. Besides, she points out, most bridal stores just can’t turn around an order that quickly.

CBC News attempted to contact the owners of Jolie Bridal but didn’t receive a response in time for publication. Emails and phone calls to the store went unanswered, as did a knock at the home of the owner’s front door.

Halstead and her husband-to-be, Diego Wilson, say they plan to take legal action, but for now are focusing on trying to salvage their wedding plans.

“I definitely know how much it meant to her that she found the dress and it definitely gets me right here,” Wilson said, pointing to his heart.

Halstead says she hopes telling her story can help other brides who might be left in the lurch.

“I hope that more brides who shopped at Jolie Bridal are aware of this now so they can take the proper action of getting their dress,” she said.

“It’s not fair they’re ruining people’s dreams … and it seems like they’re OK with it.”

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