Wedding dress snafu leads bride to take Nova Scotia seamstress to court

Women browse wedding dresses for sale at the Original Bridal Swap at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday April 3, 2016.
Women browse wedding dresses for sale at the Original Bridal Swap at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday April 3, 2016. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

A wedding is considered to be one of the most special days in a person’s life but for one couple, getting there still came with some hardship in nailing down an important piece — the dress.

In a decision released Wednesday, Ginger Kim Roy was awarded $591.26 for special and general damages from a seamstress who delivered a wedding dress in a way that it could not be worn.

In total, Roy was awarded $300 for the cost of the original purchase price of a wedding dress, $100 in general damages for the “disappointment, upset and stress as a result of the breach of contract” and $191.26 in costs.

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Roy had bought two dresses — she liked the top of one and bottom of the other. She hoped that a skilled seamstress would provide her with a dress that would be greater than the sum of the two parts.

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In April 2016, she hired Ruth Ryan, who had 10 years of professional sewing experience.

The two settled on a price of $300 and Roy was assured the dress would be ready on time for her wedding date of July 30 — but work would not begin right away as it was prom time.

Ryan was also hired to create the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Roy returned for a fitting on May 2. On June 14, she called and was told it would be ready in two weeks. That stretched to a month.

On July 14, just over two weeks from her wedding day, she picked up the dress, paying Ryan $300 plus a $100 tip.

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When she tried on the gown that evening, she says she found the seams moved as she walked, the sides of the bust were different sizes and the train didn’t gather properly behind the dress.

She sought a second opinion from Pauline Mullin, a Kentville-based seamstress with almost 20 years’ experience. Mullin told her the dress could not be altered. Roy then hired Mullin to sew a new dress and work on the bridesmaids’ dresses as well.

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Meanwhile, Ryan offered to make more repairs to the dress but Roy said no.

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Instead, Roy took the battle to small claims court where she claimed $1,140 from Ryan, which included the added cost of alterations as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses. She also sought $191.26 in filing and service costs.

In his decision, adjudicator Gregg W. Knudsen said that while the job was “left later than Ms. Roy was comfortable” it would require a large amount of time and effort, “but her (Ryan’s) efforts do not reflect a rush job.”

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He said under contract, work should be done “in a skilful and workmanlike manner” which can mean different things. But the dress must fit properly and be consistent in both symmetry and design. He said had Roy not provided photographic evidence, the claim would’ve been disallowed.

Time also plays a factor, Knudsen said. He found Ryan had had little success in the dress being “near any stage” of completion and that it was “not in suitable condition” when Roy took the dress about 10 days before the wedding. He found the bride-to-be was within her right to say no to the dress and find another place to get it finished.

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Though Roy paid for and accepted the dress, Knudsen said the Consumer Protection Act applies regardless whether the dress is delivered and paid for. As the problems are supported by evidence, the gown was found “not completed in a skilful and workmanlike manner.”

Knudsen dismissed her claim for the original two dresses purchased, lost wages and babysitting charges for fittings, work done by Mullin, or the bridesmaids’ dresses, which were deemed separate contracts.

He added that despite what Roy and her now-husband Eric went through, “by all accounts, the Roys’ wedding was a happy occasion.”