SINGAPORE - At least 40 couples have been left in limbo following the sudden closure of a longstanding bridal salon.
Sophia Wedding Collection, which specialises in pre-wedding photoshoot packages and the rental of wedding attire, allegedly shut down without notice, customers and staff told The Straits Times.
Word of the salon's closure spread on Saturday evening (Oct 10).
While its Facebook page and website remained operational, calls to the shop's listed number went unanswered.
Concerned customers who visited its office along Amoy Street during operating hours on Saturday claimed that the shop was dark and the interior empty.
"Everything in the office was gone - even the computers," said customer service coordinator Cheryl Poh, 25. "This is really a shock to all of us - most of us thought it was a reliable and reputable shop that has been in operation for a long time."
Sophia Wedding Collection was part of a wave of bridal salons that opened along a stretch of Tanjong Pagar Road between 1997 and 2000. It shifted to its Amoy Street premises in mid-August this year.
Ms Poh, who signed up for a $3,688 package late last year that included a local pre-wedding photoshoot, bridal wear rental and photography services for her wedding in December, paid $2,000 upfront. She forked out a further $800 when she attended a gown fitting at the shop last month.
She only found out about the closure on Facebook late on Saturday night, and started a chat group on WhatsApp for affected couples. The group has since swelled to more than 50 members, most of whom are women.
The Straits Times understands that at least five people have lodged police reports against the shop.
"At the moment, there are a lot of sad and angry couples, but what can we do? I was advised to file a claim at the Small Claims Tribunals, but I think it will be difficult to recover the money," said Ms Poh.
"What's worse is that our wedding plans are affected - some like me have not even gone for their photoshoots, others have done it but are unable to collect their photos, and there are even a few who are now scrambling at last-minute because their weddings are taking place next week."
A make-up artist working at the shop, who wanted only to be known as Candy, told The Straits Times that the shop's owners had left the country.
Wedding photographer Pierre Ooi, who has his own studio, said he started working freelance for the company three years ago and is still owed about $4,000 for an overseas wedding shoot that he did with five couples at South Korea's Jeju Island back in April.
"They've always been late with their payments - I usually get paid only a few months after completing a shoot for them. But recently, I heard they ran into some financial difficulties. And now this," said Mr Ooi, 39.
Meanwhile, several bridal salons who learnt of the closure have extended help to affected couples by offering discounted rates for their bridal wear rental services.