No happy ever after for bride whose designer dress didn't fit
Ex-model loses case against shop owner
Published 20/11/2010 | 05:00
FOR any bride on her big day, it is a nightmare scenario akin to a runaway groom.
For Paula Casey, a former model, not being able to fit into her designer dress was worse than anything she could imagine.
Describing the night before the wedding, Ms Casey said that a drinks reception at her home "resembled a morgue" because the Julian Alexander-designed dress wouldn't fit.
"Everyone was afraid to talk," she said.
"There was a horrendous atmosphere at the house. We were refusing people entry at the door because of the stress."
Ms Casey told Ennis Circuit Court in Clare yesterday that her two young children were brought away from the home for a couple of hours because of the atmosphere.
As she walked up the aisle, she told the court, the stitches and last-minute alterations holding the dress together were visible. The photographer on the day had to "touch up" her wedding pictures.
Ms Casey, of 2 Oakleigh Wood, Ennis, was seeking damages and repayment of the €1,594 she paid for the designer dress for her wedding on October 12, 2007.
She took her case against Mary Murray, the owner of Scarlett Bridalwear, Parnell Street, in Ennis. But there was to be no happy ever after for the bride in this case.
Judge Frank O'Donnell dismissed her action for damages after finding no evidence that she had lost the required inch in size -- as directed by staff at the shop -- to fit into the garment.
At the outset of the case, the judge remarked to the legal teams that "this might cost more than the wedding".
Ms Casey described the night before her big day as extremely stressful, as she made frantic efforts to fit into the designer dress, keeping her up until 4am on the morning of her wedding.
Ms Casey's seamstress, Geraldine ('Gerry') Murphy, had been called to the Casey home in an effort to make the dress fit. Ms Murphy said that she made alterations to the dress and came back to the house at 8pm, 10pm, 12am, 2am and 4am with revisions to the dress.
"I fitted her as best I could," she said.
The seamstress, too, became emotional, the court heard.
"Gerry was very upset, but I had to keep it together because if I lost it, I wouldn't have been able to go to my wedding," Ms Casey said.
On the night before her wedding, she said, she only managed one hour's sleep.
"I was wretched," she said. "My hair and skin were wretched."
Ms Casey said that with all the alterations to the dress, it had lost its shape. She had to hold it up for the wedding, and the stitches holding it together were clearly visible as she walked up the aisle.
"It was like I was wearing a secondhand dress. I have modelling experience and I can carry off a dress that is too small or too big, but people on my wedding day were asking 'What's wrong with your dress?'" she told the court.
The dress was a US size 12 -- a size 14 here. Ms Casey tried on a sample of the same size in the shop on 22 May 2007 -- four months before the wedding.
Yesterday, she confirmed that staff had written on the sales order that she had to lose an inch on her waist and her bust in order to fit into the dress.
Ms Casey said that she did lose the weight to fit into the dress, stating that she had a personal trainer, was training six days a week and was on a strict protein diet.
However, defence counsel Pat Whyms said the wedding dress Ms Casey bought was the same size she tried on in May and that she didn't lose the inch as she was advised to do.
In his ruling, Judge O'Donnell said that he felt "very, very sorry for Ms Casey".
"No man, I believe, can fully appreciate the importance of a dress to a bride on her wedding day," he added.
However, he said: "I have to look at this in a cold, business-like manner and my sympathies for the bride cannot override logic."
"There is no evidence produced today that the inch was lost".
The judge said that Ms Casey had another fitting of her wedding dress at the shop on September 3.
"I don't accept that the dress would fit her because when she tried it on, it didn't fit her," he said. "Everyone agreed it didn't fit. She agreed it didn't fit her. The two people working there agreed it didn't fit her."
Judge O'Donnell said that Ms Casey didn't return to the shop until September 27 and didn't try the dress on with Ms Murray present and instead brought it away.
The judge put a stay of 10 days on the order to pay costs. Ms Casey declined to comment following the case.