Attention NYC/Jersey Brides!
CBS 2 HD Makes A Bridal Bust!
Bankrupt Bridal Shop Owner Takes Soon-To-Be Brides, Designers For A Ride Just Weeks Before Big Day
Kirstin Cole LIVINGSTON, N.J. (CBS) ― Your wedding is not only the biggest event of your life it comes with one of the biggest price tags. But as CBS 2 HD found out recently one wedding dress shop is jilting women just weeks away from their big days.
Bride to be Meaghan Buchan was in the dream dress she never thought she'd see. She paid thousands up front for the dress but became a victim of an elaborate scheme to bilk brides and designers.
Elga Koehler, owner of Calvary Bridal in Livingston, N.J., is bankrupt, but she's still open for business. She's taking money for and promising brides beautiful gowns, but dozens say she's not delivering.
"It's a dress mess," Buchan said.
Or as former employee Michelle Barrera put it, Koehler was "scamming people for money."
Laura and Keith DiCarolis were married in September. She ordered a custom silk gown adorned with Swarovski crystals, but just weeks before the wedding the dress was a no-show.
"I don't think I'm ever going to get my money back," Laura DiCarolis said. "She knowingly lied to me."
Laura was panicked. Her phone calls to Koehler went unreturned. Even a letter from her lawyer had no impact, so she tracked down the designer of the dress, Jane Wang.
"The gown had been ready for some time but the store had not paid her, so she was not able to release the gown to the store. I paid in full and she never received a dime from Calvary Bridal," Laura said.
Wang isn't the only one. She said she stopped making dresses for Koehler because Koehler didn't pay her $30,000 tab. And she's not Koehler's only creditor – from dozens of brides complaining of missing gowns to the IRS and even Koehler's former landlord.
CBS 2 HD then confronted Elga Koehler. We tracked her to her new showroom.
Kirstin Cole: "I counted up almost $400,000. Can you tell me if you think that's an accurate number? It's been very hurtful for these women to be placed in this position two weeks before a wedding they have no dress."
Koehler: "Please leave."
Koehler wouldn't answer, but one of her former employees had plenty to say.
"She was running a scam," Barrera said. "She was taking money from people and she wasn't delivering on a promise."
Said DiCarolis: "No order was ever placed. This woman swiped my credit card knowing she would never place an order for my dress. It's despicable, horrible, disgusting … I cannot fathom doing this to another bride."
Wang came to the rescue of a half dozen brides jilted by Calvary, sewing day and night to make sure they'd walk down the aisle. But it was only last week that Buchan learned she would not be getting the dress in which she had already paid $3,700.
But now the designer of Buchan's dress, Lazaro, stepped in and has promised to get her dress done in time for her New Year's Eve wedding.
"A lot of brides are left thinking, 'How am I going to get my dress?' And we try to help as many as we can," Lazaro said. "Not to worry. We're going to make this work for you."
Technically, Calvary Bridal is breaking the law, but little is ever done to enforce it. And because the shop owes $400,000 to so many creditors, these brides will not likely ever get their money back.
Those poor women! Losing that much money is awful!
Ironically, I was planning on visiting the store. Good to know!
P.S. Where else do you think I could post it? I'm going to the Knot Local Boards next.