I Lost My Wedding Gown When the Store Went Bankrupt, but a ‘Fairy Godmother’ Saved Me

Bride-to-be Amber McGraw never got this dress she purchased from now-closed Alfred Angelo.
Bride-to-be Amber McGraw never got this dress she purchased from now-closed Alfred Angelo. (Photo: Courtesy of Amber McGraw)

Many brides are still anxiously waiting to see if Alfred Angelo will deliver their already purchased wedding gowns after the company closed and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this month. On July 14, when Yahoo Style spoke to one of the affected women, Amber McGraw, she was distraught about the $1,000 check she had given to the Alfred Angelo retailer in Dublin, Ohio, the day before the store closed. It was all the full-time student, who also serves in the National Guard, had to spend on her wedding gown, particularly after recently fracturing both feet during her military training exercises. With her wedding just two months away, she didn’t know what to do next. This is her story, as told to Yahoo:

The day Alfred Angelo closed, I lost my dress, lost the money, and I didn’t hear back from anyone. The attorneys in charge of the bankruptcy and the trustees, neither one emailed me back. I was getting down on myself and trying to figure out what I was going to do to get a new dress.

I had multiple brides reach out trying to offer their dresses to me, which was awesome. I kept telling them, “I’m waiting to see if this dress shows up before I have you ship yours.” I appreciated all the offers. I had multiple backups. None of the offers were in my size, but they could be altered to my size.

Right around that time, one of my bridesmaids set up a GoFundMe to try to recoup the money that I lost. Within three hours, we hit our campaign goal, which was $1,000 — the amount I had lost between the dress and accessories. It was crazy! A majority of the donors were people that I knew, but the biggest contribution was $800 from an anonymous donor from New York, who said she felt really bad about what happened, and she hoped that I would have a beautiful wedding and could find a beautiful dress.

I was rolling on a high from the GoFundMe, and the next thing you know, another woman was commenting on my post on Facebook.

“Hey, please check your inbox,” she wrote. “I was reading the news and I saw what happened to you. I want to talk to you about something.”

I checked in my inbox, and she said: “Hi, my name is Aly I’m from Chicago. Every year I purchase gowns and I donate them to an organization. Before I donate these gowns that I have, I want to give you one.”

Aly later told Yahoo that for the past four years, she’s worked with an organization that donates gowns to military and first-responder brides. She shops on eBay and contacts the manufacturers, who sometimes sell her dresses at a discount, knowing they’ll go to these brides. She sends one or two shipments of about 20 to 22 gowns a year. “My mom taught me how to shop wisely, and my goal was to be able to donate new couture wedding gowns, so that at least the brides I was giving a dress to would have something that was brand new and could be their very own,” she said. “So far I’ve donated 150 at a cost to me of about $50,000. This is my only charity, and I’m not wealthy by any means, but this is the one place where my heart feels full by doing the donation. I started reading about these [Alfred Angelo] brides, and I felt really bad. I was married twice … where every wedding has a hiccup, I never had one where mere weeks before my wedding my dress was in jeopardy.” She said the fact that Amber is in the National Guard and her fiancé was in the Marines inspired her to reach out directly to see if she could help.

I had already been dealing with the trolls on Twitter for the last two days, so I was sitting there thinking, This has to be another hoax. There’s no way somebody’s going to send me a brand-new dress for free. But she sent me an email with all these pictures of these dresses that she had in her house.

“I’ve got this really gorgeous Ian Stuart gown, and based off the picture of your Alfred Angelo dress I saw, I feel like you and this dress are a perfect match,” she said.

I was like, “Well, I’m a size 16-18. I don’t know if you have anything in that size.”

“It’s an 18,” she said.

I’m sitting here thinking, “This woman’s giving me this gorgeous dress. She’s sending me pictures, so I know it’s real, and this is my size. There’s no way this is happening right now.”

I joked to Aly, “This is a Cinderella story. You’re my fairy godmother.”

A detail of the Ian Stuart gown and train Aly sent to Amber McGraw.
A detail of the Ian Stuart gown and train Aly sent to Amber McGraw. (Photo: Courtesy of Amber McGraw)

This all transpired on a Saturday. Sunday morning, I wake up to a message from her: “I’m going to ship this out to you today. I’d love to give you a sash, and it comes with this gorgeous matching cathedral veil. I’m going to give that to you, and I’m going to give you a hair comb. I want you to not have to worry about that stuff.”

On Wednesday, I sat at my front door all day, waiting for the box to come in. As soon as the Fed Ex man pulled up, I jumped on Twitter and wrote, “Aly, it’s here!” I sat there for 10 minutes, because I couldn’t believe it was in front of me. My hands were shaking, I was so excited. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just stared at the box. But I took it out, and it fits like a glove. That dress was meant for me.

Someone has offered to do my alterations for free, and I might have to get it taken up an inch because I fractured my feet during my military training, so I can’t wear heels.

I’m using some of the GoFundMe money to get shoes hopefully, depending on how my MRIs come back today, and then I’m going to use the rest of it to help my friend Becca pay for her wedding next weekend. She got her dress from Alfred Angelo, and the seamstress is holding it hostage, because Alfred Angelo never paid her for those alterations, so she wanted Becca to pay her. One of her bridesmaid’s dresses got lost too. It’s a fiasco. Her bridesmaid is pregnant, so we’re going to have to find a dress and rush alterations, if anyone will take us.

The least I can do is pay some of this kindness forward. It feels good to be able to help, now that I can. There are so many brides that have been affected by this.

My bridal consultant from the Dublin location called me yesterday crying, poor girl. She told me to find another dress because they didn’t ship it out. They thought a store in Kansas was going to ship it out. I said, “It’s OK. Stop crying. I’ve got a great story to tell you.”

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