Bridal boutique set up by a former model is slammed by customers who say they paid hundreds in deposits for dresses that never arrived – leaving them without gowns DAYS before their weddings
- Brides left devastated after ordering wedding dresses from boutique in Leeds
- 50 brides have claimed Laura Stanley’s store never delivered their gowns
- Said they lost hundreds of pounds after ordering from Abigail’s Bridal Boutique
- Bianca Esterine, 28, ordered a gown and paid £586 by bank transfer to the store
- Said she contacted the designer who said they’d never had order from Stanley
Dozens of brides who ordered their dream wedding dress from a glamorous boutique set up by a former model have been left furious after their gowns never arrived – and they are still awaiting refunds.
It is claimed Abigail’s Bridal Boutique in Leeds, founded by Lauren Stanley, 26, has left as many as 50 brides in the lurch sometimes just days before their wedding.
Lauren, who has appeared on the cover of Playboy and also featured in other magazings including FHM, has left brides in tears and in some cases hundreds of pounds out of pocket, they claim.
Bride-to-be Bianca Esterine, 28, ordered a £1,300 gown by Stella York from the store to wear when she marries her partner Jessica Richards next year.
But after contacting the dress designer directly, she was told they had not received an order from the outlet, despite her putting down £586 deposit with Abigail’s, which she claims she has now lost.
Dozens of brides who ordered their dream wedding dress from Abigail’s Bridal Boutique in Leeds, founded by Lauren Stanley, 26, have been left furious after their gowns never arrived – and they are still awaiting refunds
Bianca said: ‘I loved the dress as soon as I tried it on in Abigail’s Boutique, it was exactly what I was looking for and I was asked for a £200 deposit to reserve it.
‘It was agreed I would then pay the rest in instalments of £77.26 until our wedding in September next year.
‘I was thrilled that I’d found the dress I really wanted and had a simple payment plan.
‘But in October I was sent a text telling me that the business had changed its bank account, which seemed strange and suspicious but I didn’t want to lose the dress so I paid it as asked.
Lauren, who has appeared on the cover of Playboy and also featured in other magazings including FHM, has left brides in tears and in some cases hundreds of pounds out of pocket, they claim
‘While I was doing that I kept trying to contact the shop and noticed some really negative comments on the Facebook page, which was then taken down.
‘Through comments from other brides on social media I became aware of the group – but by then I had paid £586 by bank transfer which I can’t get back.
‘When I contacted the dress designer directly they said they had not received the order for me from Abigail’s bridal.’
Stella York wrote to Bianca to tell her that Abigail’s Bridal was no longer an authorised retailer and they would send her to another branch to fulfill her order.
Bride-to-be Bianca Esterine, 28, ordered a £1,300 gown by Stella York from the store to wear when she marries her partner Jessica Richards next year
Bianca said: ‘It was a shock to discover the dress I thought I was getting had never even been ordered. I have seen another one I like, but I’m £586 out of pocket and don’t know how I’ll pay for it,’
For solicitor Carrie Pearson, 37, the problem wasn’t her own gown, but the seven bridesmaids’ dresses she discovered had never been ordered.
Carrie said three dresses were ordered in 2019 for her wedding, which was due to happen in April 2020, but was cancelled due to Covid.
By August this year she and her partner were able to reorganise their cancelled wedding, by which time her bridal party had increased to seven.
However, Carrie said that the original three dresses were not in the shop as expected when she returned and she contacted Dessy – who confirmed they had not received the order.
Bianca said she was ‘shocked’ to discover the dress she had thought she was getting from the wedding shop had never been ordered (pictured right, with her partner Jessica)
Bianca said she has now seen another dress which she likes but after losing £586, she doesn’t know how to pay for it
Carrie ended up ordering all seven dresses direct from the designer.
She said: ‘The wedding was coming up and I just had to pay for all the dresses, with Abigail’s agreeing to give me a £1,500 refund for the original ones.
‘That was agreed in August and it still hasn’t arrived, I’m wondering now whether it ever will, given other people’s experiences.
‘Even after I’d ordered them direct from the designer I was still being told by Abigail’s that the dresses would be arriving at their shop soon, which I knew to be untrue.’
Lynette Procter, 50, was livid that five appointments made for her daughter Ashleigh Sheppard, 26, to have her final dress alterations were cancelled at Abigail’s.
Lynette Procter, 50, was livid that five appointments made for her daughter Ashleigh Sheppard, 26, to have her final dress alterations were cancelled at Abigail’s (left). Meanwhile for solicitor Carrie Pearson, 37, the problem wasn’t her own gown, but the seven bridesmaids’ dresses she discovered had never been ordered (right)
She explained they were forced to pay another seamstress and were promised a £300 refund by Lauren Stanley’s boutique, which has not been paid.
She said: ‘We received excuse after excuse about why the appointments were being cancelled, including that her seamstress had Covid, which we knew not to be true because we asked her.
‘The wedding day was getting closer and closer and Ashleigh’s dress was still no closer to being ready.
‘It was incredibly stressful and upsetting for Ashleigh and for me. In the process of all this stress she fell out of love with the dress and it cast a shadow over her big day, which is heartbreaking.
‘The last message I received from Abigail’s on October 18th said their bank account had been ‘blocked’ so they couldn’t send or receive payments. I’ve no confidence I will ever see this money.’
Cathy Hateley, 44, who runs her own bridal boutique, became aware of the plight of the brides when she began to do business with Ms Stanley’s shop last year.
Model Lauren, who has over 60,000 followers on Instagram, said Covid and the lockdown was to blame for difficult trading conditions
She said: ‘I started to get very suspicious of the way she was doing business and when I looked into it further I discovered there were dozens of furious women who had lost out.
‘These are people preparing for the biggest day of their lives and they’ve been left heartbroken because the dress they’d set their heart on and imagined themselves walking down the aisle in simply hasn’t materialised.
‘In some cases brides have discovered this within days of their weddings.
‘We set up a group which is getting bigger by the day. It so far has 52 people in it and all of them have a grievance against Lauren Stanley and her business.’
Cathy deals in ex-sample wedding dresses – those that have been previously tried on by brides-to-be – and agreed to buy some from Abigail’s Boutique.
At first business began well but then Cathy realised dresses she had ordered weren’t turning up.
She said: ‘I didn’t want to bite the hand that was feeding me so at first I didn’t say anything, but then more and more dresses weren’t turning up as promised.
‘At one point I was owed £2,000 and 21 dresses but every time I rang the shop I’d get a different person and could never get hold of Lauren.
‘I’m currently owed six dresses and I’m calling the shop five to 10 times a day but never get an answer.’
However Lauren has hit back – blaming Covid lockdowns that have decimated the finances of those in the wedding sector for her cashflow problems
The brides have organised themselves into a pressure group to push for refunds and to warn other prospective customers to be wary of using Abigail’s Bridal Boutique in Leeds.
However Lauren has hit back – blaming Covid lockdowns that have decimated the finances of those in the wedding sector for her cashflow problems and insisting she is working flat out to meet orders and make sure no customer loses cash.
Lauren said Covid and the lockdown was to blame for difficult trading conditions.
She told MailOnline: ‘Covid has put many small businesses on the brink including us. We have had no help from the government.
‘However we are open to solve issues for our customers because we have a duty of care.
The model, who has posed for Playboy, told MailOnline her shop had been ‘closed for months’ because of Covid
‘We have been closed for months but the bills still have to be paid and we have had supply issues since opening.
‘However we are focused on staying open and servicing our customers the best we can, that is because we have a duty of care.’
She said she was unwilling to comment further because the situation had caused her depression and illness.
Despite this assurance the disappointed customers in the group remain fiercely critical – saying the shop should not have continued to take orders that it had no hope of meeting and clamouring to get their money back.
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