, the online maids and bridal e-commerce site that appeared to be on a fast track of expansion, has ceased operations and closed its five corporate stores, impacting approximately 3,500+ maids and brides who have not received dresses they paid for, and sticking designers with six-figure uncollectable debt.

The site, though still live, features a “We apologize. Brideside is not taking orders at this time” banner.

In an email to its customers Monday, co-founder Nicole Staples blamed the business disruption caused by COVID-19 as the primary reason for its closure.

“It is with great sadness that we must inform you that Brideside has shut its doors. For eight years our goal has been to support women during life’s most meaningful moments. Our team worked tirelessly throughout COVID to support impacted brides and bridesmaids. But with two-thirds of weddings cancelled in 2020 and an uncertain year ahead, our chapter has come to an end,” she wrote.

She also directed customers with unfulfilled orders to contact the designer of their dress directly as it is “no longer able to field inquiries.”

Though this abrupt closure caught many of its designer partners by surprise, within a day of the announcement all were actively responding to and/or reaching out to individual Brideside customers to help get them through this added disruption…. a process made a bit easier as Brideside reportedly provided each designer a list of customers purchasing dresses from their collections.

Design partners included Amsale, Beccar, Dessy, Jenny Yoo, Peter Trends, Sorella Vita and Watters.

VOWS’ questions, however, about the status of dresses in now locked-up stores and how maids and brides can retrieve their dresses, went unanswered.

Regardless of where the purchase was made (in a Brideside store or online), consumers are advised to work with their credit card company to cancel the charges, follow up with the designer of the dress they purchased, and/or to consult with their local bridal store.

Brideside was founded eight years ago on the premise of selling maids dresses (and subsequently bridal gowns) direct to consumers through virtual shopping appointments, and try-on-at-home programs that included the option of trying on three maids’ dresses during the selection process for a $30 fee.

Its rapid expansion was fueled in part late last year when the firm secured reportedly $7 million in funding that enabled Brideside to open additional stores and expand into bridal and special occasion categories.

Its demise, though blamed on COVID, may actually be symptomatic of an inherent weakness in the online bridal e-commerce model, following as it does the closure of, the bankruptcy filing and potential sale of, and the restructuring of and