Bride finds her 'dream dress' with the police

Fort Collins Coloradoan (Colorado)
BYLINE: PAT FERRIER,

Fort Collins, CO

When Morgan Vencill-Barwick walked into the Fort Collins police station last week hoping to find a replacement dress for her Sept. 19 wedding, she was stunned to find the same Pronovias gown she ordered from the now-closed Mountain Avenue Bridal.
She tried on the sample - perfect fit - and walked out with a dress, a veil and a smile.

The Fort Collins woman is among the nearly 80 brides whose dresses were never ordered or never arrived from Mountain Avenue Bridal, which closed abruptly Aug. 4.

Owner Patty Burling has not been available for comment.

A former Mountain Avenue Bridal employee was at the police station helping brides find new dresses. She had pulled five for Vencill-Barwick from among the 50 dresses piled on the evidence room floor. Police confiscated the dresses.

"I said, 'Oh, my gosh, there's my dress. I put it on in the evidence room, and it fit me perfectly," Vencill-Barwick said.

The evidence room lacks the personal amenities of a fitting room, including mirrors, so Vencill-Barwick used the reflection from the window to make the call on the dress. "This is my dress," she said. "I was so excited."

"It turns out it's probably a size smaller than what I ordered, and it fits perfectly," said Vencill-Barwick. She's arranged for some minor alterations and cleaning, courtesy of a Boulder bridal shop, but otherwise will still get married in her dream gown.

"I had called many different bridal shops to see if they could sell me a dress off the rack," she said. "I was overwhelmed by their positive responses. I feel like out of this I have run into some great people along the way."

Vencill-Barwick's veil was in the evidence room, too, with her name on it.

As far as Burling goes, Vencill-Barwick said she was a great help when she and her family went in the day after Christmas to buy the original dress. "It was such a special day. I had all the women in my family there," she said.

Burling "was very helpful and very thorough and knew how to take care of a customer," she said. "Overall, maybe she made some bad business choices, but she was really good at what she did. It's unfortunate that it transpired this way."

Friends of Burling are defending her as a good person who meant well and provided fairytale weddings for hundreds of brides prior to closing.

"Despite all of the horrible things being said - and against the urgings of those closest to her - Patty is still trying to make things right," longtime friend Kamron Atkinson wrote in an e-mail to the Coloradoan.

Atkinson said once Burling can retrieve her files, she will be contacting the brides. "She is scared to death to do this but said she can't live with herself if she didn't at least try.

As friends defend Burling, complaints against her mount.

The most recent numbers from the police department show about 80 complaints filed by brides who didn't get their dresses or refunds, from customers whose credit cards were allegedly refunded, then charged again, and by families who paid but never received services from Burling's wedding planning business, Simply Elegant.

The investigation has been turned over to the Fort Collins police department's financial crimes unit.

Once the investigation is complete, it will be up to the Larimer County District Attorney's Office to decide whether to file charges.

Vencill-Barwick, who works at Alexa's Angels in Windsor, a store that sells inspirational jewelry, has given her statement to police.
She believes her positive attitude helped get her through the "adventure" and put it in perspective.

"I know the man of my dreams will be waiting at the end of the aisle, and yes, I know what I'm wearing is a side note, but it is kind of a dream dress."

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