Better Call Behnken: Brides-to-be in panic mode after Lakeland bridal shop closes

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — More than a dozen customers are waiting for custom-made dresses or accessories from a bridal shop that closed its doors in July.

Southern Bride Boutique announced the pending closure in June, and now some women who still don’t have items they paid for are worried.

They called Better Call Behnken for answers.

Kayla Shapiro is worried she’ll never see the dress she paid $1,800 for in April. Shapiro’s wedding is planned for Dec. 1.

“I’m really frustrated,” Shapiro said. ‘I’m thinking I’m not getting my dress.”

Another bride, Courtney Wheary, is also growing more concerned. Both brides say they don’t have what they paid for, and the former boutique owner stopped communicating.

We found that the former owner, Chris Barnes, started a pressure washing business. The number listed on the front of the closed Southern Bride Boutique did not go through. But Barnes answered the phone number advertised for the pressure washing business.

He assured Better Call Behnken that he would make sure every bride gets what they paid for. He said the company told brides to expect to wait six to eight months to get their custom-made dresses. He said he has not missed any wedding dates and has no control over the how quickly the manufacturer works.

“We understand the concern of brides, but it’s out of our control,” Barnes said of the business he ran with his wife. “We want to get this stuff to brides so we can move on, too.”

Barnes explained that the wedding business is tough and that he and his wife tried hard to keep the business going but got to the point where they could no longer afford their expensive rent.

Shapiro is hopeful.

“This isn’t just a dress for dinner or something like that,” she said. ‘”This is my wedding gown. I only plan to do this one time.”

After calls from Better Call Behnken, Shapiro said she received an email from the business, with an estimated delivery date of late next week.

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