Something old, something new. Something borrowed, something blue. And - oh, no! - something burned.
A fire at a strip mall destroyed a bridal shop and incinerated 3,000 wedding dresses, leaving hundreds of brides-to-be without gowns just weeks before their big day. No one was injured."My wedding is April 27 and I just don't have any idea of what I'm going to do," Laurie Simpson of Midlothian said. "You spend months finding the perfect dress, and then when it's gone the prospect of trying to find a new one seems very daunting."
Simpson, 37, was among the women who went to the shop Thursday to see the scene of Wednesday's fire firsthand. None of the gowns survived.
"There were several brides with their mothers that were in the parking lot, and they were just standing there sobbing," she said.
The fire gutted the inside of Bridal Elegance Inc. It blew out windows and left water and charred debris scattered in the parking lot of the shopping center five miles southwest of Richmond. The cause has not been determined.
Bridal shops typically ask women to order their gowns up to five months in advance to leave time for all the alterations and other work most orders require.
Mary Kieu, who helps operate the family-owned store, said some of the customers have weddings as soon as this weekend.
"We're in shock. The first time I saw it, it was like it wasn't real," Kieu said. "We're just going to try to do whatever we can for the women. That's our priority right now." The shop set up a hotline for customers.
In addition to the 3,000 gowns, which ranged in value from about $200 to $5,000, the store also had hundreds of rental tuxedos and expensive dry-cleaning equipment.